Apparently, Cherie Booth fell in love with Tony Blair on a bus.
If you were to listen to my friends, you would have to believe that my wordless encounter with the Fit Man on the Bus had the potential to be a relationship as momentous for the nation as that of our former Prime Minister and his wife. And so I have never been on the receiving end of as much advice as I was the seven days after my failure to strike up a meaningful conversation with the Fit Man on the Bus.
‘Do not speak to him. Ignore him totally. Have you not read He’s Just Not That Into You?’
‘Drop your business card on his knee with your blog address on it.’
‘Why did you not talk to him the moment you noticed him? You’ve wasted weeks of time!’
‘You have to speak to him – he might die in a freak accident and then you’ll never know whether he was the love of your life’ (slightly grim, but I do think it’s better not to have known someone was the love of your life before they die than to have the grief of knowing it and never being able to do anything about it…)
‘Why didn’t you talk about the weather?’
And what I think was the most helpful:
‘Just say “How are you?”‘
I steeled my nerves and plotted how I would see him again. I woke a little earlier, making sure I had time to put on some make up, and then went for the bus. He wasn’t on it, so I got off and waited for the next one. Call me calculating, but I just couldn’t bear the suspense ANY LONGER.
He was on the next bus. I sat behind him said hello and then followed through with a quick ‘How’s it going?’
The conversation, amazingly, went from there.
As I said to B later that day, ‘We talked about everything.’ She replied ‘What? Where you’d like to live, marriage and children?’ ‘Ummm, no – my equivalent – the election, the books we’re reading, our dream jobs.’
A full half an hour of easy chat with no awkward pauses, and when I got off at Elephant and Castle I was too pleased with myself, and so delighted that he wasn’t disappointingly dull, that it took me a full five minutes before I realised I never asked him his name…