A reflection on waiting, with the help of Google Street View.
Lewknor, Junction 6 on the M40 • 1996-1998
My sister and I would catch the Oxford Tube home, and when we were close to the Lewknor stop, we would call our mum on a mobile phone (very glam) three times, and hang up, so she would know it was us, and she needed to pick us up. Sometimes she missed the calls. One time, Sian and I walked in a torrential August storm down the busy main road soaked to the bone until we reached a farmhouse. I was wearing high waisted gingham shorts, with a white crop, all of which had become see-through. The farm belonged to a family I went to school with, and one of the boys was in my class. I remember feeling so embarrassed that we were being gawped at by downy-lipped boys. I also felt deep shame because the boy who was in my class had taken the fall for me when I’d farted very loudly in class, and I’d never thanked him.
Banbury Road, next to Wychwood School • 1998-2003
I ran into a family friend here once. He’s a morris dancer, and he whacked me round the head with an inflated pig bladder because he was the Fool. He used to chase me around the house at Christmas and try and kiss me just to wind me up. He was dancing because it was May Morning, where the whole city of Oxford erupts in bizarre Bacchanalian traditions that are quite magical, but pure chaos when teenagers are added to the heady mix of mead and paganism
Crowmarsh Gifford • 1998-2003
When I was 17, I went out on a date in Reading with a man called Val who was 29. I remember feeling so adult, going on a real date that didn’t involve Tia Maria and coke, or a sticky-floored nightclub filled with fingerbanging teenagers. I think a lot about what we lose by trying to be more adult than we are. A woman found me, passed out in the toilets of Bar Oz (LOL) and found my date, lamped him, and got enough money off him to get me home, and popped me in a cab. She was an angel. The taxi driver was not, and I insisted he drop me at this bus stop instead of my house because I didn’t want him to know where I lived. I ran home crying.
Christchurch College, Oxford • 1996-2003
I was seen here by James Whitworth in 2002. He told me he watched me every day when I first met him at a film premiere, and we started to wait at the bus stop together. He was the most extraordinary person, who spoke in riddles, and was sublimely surreal. I am lost for words trying to find just one story. I am lost for words since we lost him.
Wallingford Town Hall • 1999-2003
A Sicilian man called Nunzio started getting on the bus at Wallingford when I was maybe 16. He became obsessed with me, and managed to persuade one of my bus pals that we knew each other, and got my phone number from her. That began an onslaught of badly translated Westlife lyrics, and many declarations of love. We spoke once. I ran into him in the pub when I was with my sister and her friends and his gaze was so intense I felt like a lighthouse beam had landed on me. It’s uncomfortable to be so illuminated.