Melbourne has a new river this morning.
It’s flowing in the gutter outside my house, and all the way along to the bus stop. It extends out onto the road, and cars cut their way through it cautiously as dry paper leaves and real estate fantasy pamphlets get submerged and melt in the detritus.
My bus stop is an unremarkable stainless steel rectangle with an uncomfortable seat, but sufficient to shelter from this morning’s unexpected downpour. This is a good thing, given that I don’t have an umbrella, unlike Graham Gouldman who wrote the top five 1966 hit for The Hollies, “Bus Stop”.
Bus stop, wet day
She’s there, I say
Please share my umbrella
As this song continues into the soaring chorus, possibly one of the greatest pop choruses of all time, we learn that every morning she’d be waiting at the bus stop, and sometimes she’d talk with Graham about her shopping.
No-one waits at my stop, except for the occasional anxious-looking older woman with a bag, looking convinced that the bus will not arrive. What if it’s all a hoax? What if this metal structure and orange timetable on a pole is a ruse by the government to cover up irresponsible socialist spending, she thinks, while crushing impure thoughts about John Howard.
Thoughtfully, someone has left a pile of magazines behind this morning, so I’m not completely alone. One rag offers tips to peel off the holiday pounds while another splashes pics of “skinny stars ready to snap”. Still another debates the virtues of “booty vs bones” in a cover story unlikely to be seen at a Press Club awards dinner, unless someone’s using its blurry paparazzi beach shots to masturbate in the bathroom.
Meanwhile, the TAC is here to remind me that distractions lead to disaster. They change the ads at this stop once a week, and this illustration predicts the future of a woman blithely wandering into traffic while texting.
Her conversation is so full of banalities – “sounds awesome” “lol” “I know the feeling” “hey how u going” – that it’s almost a relief that she gets hit by a car, if only to stop the incessant babble.
Every mornin’ I would see her waiting at the stop
Sometimes she’d shopped and she would show me what she bought
All the people stared as if we were both quite insane
Someday my name and hers are going to be the same
Graham wasn’t writing about identity theft, much as it amuses me to think of him wooing this retail therapist at a rainy bus stop while secretly thinking about dressing as a woman and flying to Sweden on a fake passport to avoid the draft.
He’s talking about the eternal happiness of marriage, which is a little pedestrian and naïve given the beauty of the melody.
Came the sun the ice was melting
No more sheltering now
Nice to think that that umbrella
Led me to a vow
By this stage, I’m as paranoid as the anxious John Howard woman. I don’t think the bus is coming. And I don’t have an umbrella, so I’m likely to get wet and remain single.
Graham said in an interview once that the song was easy to write. “When you have such a great start to a song it’s kind of like the rest is easy. It’s like finding your way onto a road and when you get onto the right route, you just follow it,” he told the BBC in 2006.
Always good advice. Keep looking for the right route, rain or shine.