‘At Lunchtime: A Story of Love’ by Roger McGough
When the bus stopped suddenly to avoid
damaging a mother and child in the road, the
young lady in the green hat sitting opposite
was thrown across me,
and not being one to miss an opportunity
I started to make love
with all my body.
At first, she resisted saying that it
was too early in the morning and too soon
after breakfast and that anyway she found
me repulsive. But when I explained that
this being a nuclear age, the world was going
to end at lunchtime, she took off her
green hat, put her bus ticket into her pocket
and joined in the exercise.
The bus people, and there were many of
them, were shocked and surprised, and amused-
and annoyed, but when word got around
that the world was coming to an end at lunchtime,
they put their pride in their pockets
with their bus tickets and made love one with the other.
And even the bus conductor, feeling left
out climbed into the cab and struck up
some sort of relationship with the driver.
That night, on the bus coming home,
we were all a little embarrassed, especially me
and the young lady in the green hat, and we
all started to say in different ways how hasty
and foolish we had been. But then, always
having been a bit of a lad, i stood up and
said it was a pity that the world didn’t nearly
end every lunchtime, and that we could always
pretend. And then it happened . . .
Quick as a flash we all changed partners,
and soon the bus was aquiver with white
mothball bodies doing naughty things.
And the next day
In every bus
In every street
In every town
In every country
People pretended that the world was coming
to an end at lunchtime. It still hasn’t.
Although in a way it has.
Featured Image: The Entry of Christ Into Liverpool, 1964 (Homage to James Ensor), by Adrian Henry.