How much and what’s an Oyster?



I don’t generally travel by public transport. Not because I don’t fancy sitting on the bus next to the great unwashed or squeezing into a sweaty tube next to sundry workers busy ignoring each other looking blankly at the Metro. Rather I don’t use public transport because I have my own public transport. I’ve got a bike or six! I have been doing this for over thirty years – man and boy. I don’t feel smug or proud of it – I just like it. I know how long it will take to get somewhere and exactly which way to go (usually!). It means I can get there when I want and in general, save the bike purchase,00 it costs nothing except a bit of wear and tear on my Vittorias, Contis or Schwalbes. A few weeks ago I had to lend a bike to someone over in west London, so I obviously cycled. Great so far and I arrived in a timely fashion. My return however was somewhat different! I walked to Warwick Avenue Tube to return to Dalston and hit the buttons on the ticket machine for a single to Liverpool Street. The machine said £4.70 and after I’d come around again from fainting I stuck a tenner in and got a ticket. That’s about a £1 a mile! Someone order me a cab! It was 4-10pm and I figured that I’d be at Liverpool Street in about 25 minutes. Oh, how foolish ! Change at Baker Street, problems on the Met line – trains held in stations and in between to regulate trains – whatever that means and finally an incident at Moorgate meant that one hour fifteen minutes later I emerged from the dark with four thousand stoic Metro readers and said to myself finish the journey on the bus. I found the 149 bus stop and waited with about twenty people. About ten minutes passed and it came, so I jumped on in position five and asked for a single to Dalston Junction and put my £3 down. The driver said he didn’t take cash. I asked about paying by card and he said I needed a ticket. I said I know can I have one please. He said I have to have one before I get on the bus. I said there were no ticket machines at the bus stop and he tutted and said I needed an Oyster. I said I was vegetarian and he shouted that he hadn’t taken cash for ages and I needed to go back to the station and get an Oyster. I turned and faced the crowd, who had stopped looking at the Metro and stared at me. Fifteen excuse me’s later and at least as many idiots and tuts from the crowd and I was free. I walked home.