Oh such a transport of delight is the London omnibus. Its glorious red streaked black with pollution and grime, its many seats filled to bursting with unspeakable deposits and untold germs, its countless passengers slowly baking in their own and other people's juices. A London bus is summer is truly a thing of splendour and wonder.
So I was on the bus yesterday and this bloke sits down in front of me. He's an older man, not quite "elderly" as such but definitely circling on the outskirts of that particular term. I catch an unpleasant whiff as he seats himself - the ammoniac tang of a frequently under- or unwashed body clad in under- or unwashed clothes. That, however, notable though it may be, is not what has drawn my attention to him. No, it is his ears.
They're not large. They're of a perfectly ordinary size. But they are by far and away the strangest shaped ears that I have ever seen. They seem to warp and bubble outwards, like some pastry-based hors d'oeuvres (possibly somewhere between a samosa, a blini and a bhaji) and I cannot seem to take my eyes off them.
I realise that I'm staring and try to look away. My eyes, though, are constantly drawn back to them, as though the ears are the singularity at the heart of a black hole and my gaze cannot escape its gravitic pull. Must look away. Cannot stop looking.
I wonder what has caused this malformation of his lugholes. Was it the result of a former career in boxing or an enthusiastic amateur keenness for a Friday night punch-up? They don;t really look like cauliflower ears, though. Is it a medical condition? Something new? Was he born like that? Or are they simply weirdly shaped?
Sadly, we shall never know the answers to these questions for my reverie was interrupted by the arrival of my stop. I departed the bus and the man and his ears went on their merry way (naturally - you wouldn't expect the ears to go around by themselves now, would you?).
Is it wrong that I had to fight the compulsion to flick them?