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Sunday, 30 October 2005

Aretha Franklin Junior

I just knew she was trouble the moment she boarded the bus, about 30 seconds before it was due to pull off. Her face was set to 'attack', her handbag clutched tightly to her bosoms. She wanted a row. The woman's enormous frame blocked out the light in the doorway, and she struggled to make it down the aisle. The yelling began.

"THAT'S MY NUMBER! THAT'S MY NUMBER BOSS! THAT'S MY NUMBER!" The shouts were directed at The Husband; we were sitting half way down the bus. As a woman I am studiously ignored in this country. If we are together, all greetings are directed at my hubby. In this instance I was glad of the fact. I curled up in a sniggering ball as The Husband began to get fretful.

While on holiday we had needed to take a coach from Livingstone back up to the capital Lusaka. Tickets are best purchased in advance as seats fill up quickly. We decided to try a new coach company, mainly because their departure time would allow us to eat breakfast first. On approaching the ticket booth a seating plan was presented with a flourish. We were able to choose our seat numbers, which were then written on our tickets. This was highly unusual. In general, it is a total bunfight to get on board any kind of public transport here and seat allocation is unheard of.

Sure enough, on the day of departure we boarded the bus only to find some other people in our seats, and everyone just squishing in any old how. We suggested that our seat occupants switch, but they refused, so we just shrugged and sat somewhere else. Thinking nothing of it, until The Giantess stepped on.

Her yelling increased in volume as her girth approached. "THAT'S MY NUMBER BOSS, THAT'S MY NUMBER!" In another setting it could have been an Aretha Franklin gig. Everyone on board turned to stare at us. Some of them opened their bags of food and settled in to watch the entertainment. The Husband lost no time in agreeing that we were indeed in her allocated seat, but that the gentlemen in ours refused to move. People ducked as she swung around yelling for the conductor. I tried very hard to hide the fact that I was laughing so much, in case she hit me. The conductor lost no time in bounding aboard to sort us all out. We explained that we were happy to give up our seats to the Fearsome Lady, but could he please get the two guys to vacate ours to avoid any more incidents? A sharp smack to the back of the heads of the offending gentlemen and the issue was resolved. They began punching each other as they made their way to a different seat. The Giantess seemed taken aback that we'd agreed to the swap, and carried on muttering and yelling loudly about her 'number'.

A slight man at the front of the bus popped up out of his seat like a meerkat. "You! You you you! You talk too much! Give it a rest."
He popped back down again. A ripple of laughter spread its honey tones throughout the bus.