Monday, October 5, 2009

Racism and Xenophobia on London bus, with a Drunk joining in the fray

London buses tend to attract the weirdest people... (image source)

Despite being a London icon, which stands up there alongside the red postbox and red telephone box, travelling by the red London bus is something that I wouldn't recommend to tourists. If you have just arrived in London, I would suggest give it a couple of days before hopping onto the notorious London bus. For some reason, the buses tend to attract the weirdest possible passengers.

After Taste of Singapore on Saturday, Wife and I were heading back home on a bus. The bendy bus was packed but we somehow managed to squeeze our way in. There was this man who appeared slightly intoxicated sitting right in front of us. The reason why we could tell that he was drunk was because he was slurring his words through a tune, absolutely oblivious to the world. Let us just refer to him as the Drunk.

10 minutes into journey, a woman (let's call her Woman for simplicity sake) who was standing two metres to my left raised her voice,"Driver! This man is harassing this woman, can you stop him?!"

After I made sure that she wasn't referring to me (you never know...), I noticed that there was this minor commotion near the bus exit between another man (Aggressor) and a woman (Victim). Let me just put things into context, Aggressor was a white and Victim was a black, and both were obviously foreigners given their accents.

That was when the Drunk stirred into action.

"Hey you!" He waved his hand to the Aggressor, "Yes you! This is not Poland mind you. This place is run by rules!" That was rich coming from someone who was slumped on his seat with breath reeking of alcohol.

The Aggressor wasn't too pleased being singled out by Woman and Drunk but chose to take it out on the Victim instead. He leaned closer to the Victim and muttered menacingly, "What do you want? Huh? What do you want?"

The Victim, emboldened by the gathering support from the other passengers on the bus, raised her voice, "You bad man, get off the bus, get off the bus!"

"I won't get off the bus, why should I? Are you discriminating against me just because I am white?" the Aggressor stood his ground.

Determined not to be ignored, the Drunk made his views known to the entire busload of passengers, "HEY! Don't be a racist. It's not good to be a racist..." and promptly decided that it was too much effort and drifted into a deep slumber.

To give the Driver some credit, he did stop the bus eventually and got down to placate the Victim, Woman and Aggressor. Well, the Drunk obviously needed no placating.

We didn't find out what happened in the end as we hopped off the bus at that point and walked the rest of the way back home through the blustery winds that was sweeping through London.

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FĂ«anor said...

ha. the only altercation i've seen on a bus was when an enormous old man thrust his face at me and demanded to know why i was laughing at him. if his wife hadn't intervened, i suspect i wouldn't be here to tell the story.

Nomadic Matt said...

a story without an ending...rough

littlelondonobservationist said...

Lol, gotta love entertaining London bus drama. And that wasn't even a night bus, was it?

Dutchie said...

Once I was on the train home with a stack of reference books which I had to peruse over the weekend. I caught the 1630 n was glad to find many empty seats. I settled in n put the stack beside me n closed my eyes (which I habitually do). A few stations later, someone tapped on my shoulders n pointed to the stack. This fastidious man insisted on the spot even tho the carriage was half full. Did I gave in to his bully ? No ! I packed up n moved to another seat. He didnt dare bug me further !

When other commuters make a nuisance of themselves, esp rowdy groups of school kids, I refrain from interferring bec they can ganged up on u n make ur ride a hell ! I hv had groups on bicycles enroute to the station who hurls racistic insults bec they can get away with it. Best to ignore so as not to spoil my day ! I'm not surprised anymore that kids here hv no respect for adults !

The bus in NL is quite spacious. In SG they r overcrowded at peak hours. Worse I encountered r lecherous men pressing from behind.
Nowadays they hv to watch out for mobile uploads ! On the other hand, too many cams onboard results in surprise postings on Stomp ! Haha.

William Wallace said...

The fun and joys of travelling on a crowded bus in London.

I was a on a bendy bus not so long ago, when the ticket inspectors came on. It was amusing watching an Arab looking woman who hadn’t paid, pretending she couldn’t understand English, I heard her speaking English 5 minutes earlier. What a joker…..

C K said...

You can never win, can you? That's why I refrain from making eye contact on buses. Hey, compare to you, I'm puny. Than again, given half a chance, I could probably outrun him... in the driver will be kind enough to stop the vehicle. :)

@Nomadic Matt,
If you have a drunk on your right, an aggressive man with a hysteric woman on your left, I suspect you wouldn't be in a hurry to find out how it ended as well. Hey, I live for another day to tell the tale, yah?

Nope, the skies barely turned dark... can't wait for winter. Gosh.

Hey, I didn't know you're a fan of Stomp?! Well, I've heard of it but was too impatient for my browser to load it up, so...

Got a bit wiser over the years. There are some people you simply can't reason with... packs of adolescents being one and drunks being another.

@William Wallace,
So how did that end? I suppose the inspector let it go for fear of being branded a racist?

reverend77 said...

hi there,

Stumbled onto your blog some time ago.


I saw everything that happened, and I think you got a few minor details wrong. The 'drunk' man in front was actualy trying to defend the woman, who was copping racial abuse from the Pole.

Anyway, that is some coincidence. I and my friend on the bus were seated next to you on the bus (I believe you were both standing), and surprise surprise, we are SINGAPOREAN too. I could tell you and your wife were, from the accent.

Anyway, great blog! This is indeed a one in a thousand coincidence I have to say, being on the same bus, same drama, hailing from the same country (I am doing an MA here) and then bumping into your blog.

Gerald Chng

C K said...

Hey Gerald! I almost fell off my chair when I saw this! Haha, it's a small world indeed. Anyway, thanks for dropping a comment on this.

I did notice that the man who was a bit tipsy was in fact defending the lady but him slurring through his tirade didn't exactly make him credible, did it? Then again, the rest of us didn't do anything as well...

Sorry, but Wife and I were really tired and just wanted to get home fast so didn't notice you guys. :)