Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Made the bus in seconds flat . . .

I guess the point about my bus witterings was that, prosaic though it seems, the family's dependence on public transport may well have had effects on my psyche that went well beyond the inconvenience of an afternoon.

If we'd had a car, would I have clamored for teenage wheels instead of still going with my parents on weekend social calls, the bored only-child, surrounded by dull middle-aged chatter? And would my own car have brought more independence, more adventure during those early years, made me a cooler dude and a fraction less repulsive to the fair sex? If I'd seen my same-age cousins more often than once or twice a year, would that have lessened the barely understood but palpable sense of otherness, inauthenticity that went with adoption? Am I more or less patient, more or less punctual, more or less risk-averse because of the rarity of the Routemaster?

Perhaps you can think of the way certain aspects of your culture, seemingly minor, may have left permanent fingerprints on your life. For example, I'm sure that living in an apartment until I was 19 (and from age 26 to 47) could have been another crucial "polymeme." (I'm sure that's the wrong word.)

But for me, far more than the transportation issue, one single cultural phenomenon predominates:

The Beatles.

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