Dynamics of a Ride on the 452 to Kensal Rise

452 to Kensal Rise.

  • Back seats, top deck. For 12 stops, four middle-aged men sit in a row, shouting in Arabic, laughing, singing and clapping along to their song. They point to pedestrians and mix their own language with “woo, blondie, there!” and wolf whistles abound.
  • Near Ladbroke Grove station, at a bus stop, three people sit on the red bench: one tiny woman wearing a headscarf, one large white man with ginger hair, freckles splattered like paint up his arms, one heavyset black woman wearing a business suit and smart heels. They share a snack among themselves, passing around a white paper bag and munching quietly.
  • A man walking over a zebra crossing. When he turns to check for traffic, he exposes the other side of his face which is covered in large sanguine scabs.
  • Five seats ahead of me, a woman sits with a small child. He jabbers away in Spanish, gesturing excitedly the entire journey. She has her nose in The Sun and nods occasionally in his direction. She barely says two words. When they get off, she says, “Vamos!”
  • A few stops from mine, a man with dirty-blond, waist-length rocker hair and a prominently featured plumber’s bum gets on. He sits diagonally across from me. The man next to me, a black man twice my age with a white beard and long dreads wrapped up in a hat turned and giggled quietly with me.