The bus driver sang, my neighbour told us, all the way into the city. He was no Pavarotti, in fact he was completely tuneless, she said. He sang the most banal ditties imaginable. He sang about stopping at the lights and about how he was not going to start off until the woman and the baby had sat down; he sang about how much he liked to sing and about the way the rain ran in patterns down the windscreen – anything seemed to get him going. Anything at all.
Each time someone new got on the bus, my neighbour would look to see whether they were discomforted by the singing. People are such very good actors, she said. They would walk to their seats as if everything was ordinary.
Most of the passengers would smile now and then, but all the same, when they did, they would avoid each other’s eyes and would smile, instead, at the rain. My neighbour said that there were some that gave no reaction at all but stared fixedly ahead.