The Bus Papers – part two..

First the necessary pre-amble. Please read part one if you have not already as it puts this into some context.

This was written a few months after part one and at the end of a particularly vicious (sadly, almost terminal) bout of depression.  By the time I put pen to paper on this I was doing OK again.



D.Sleep, Lancaster, UK


We present follow-up experiments to that reported in the author’s earlier paper. These experiments indicate that the earlier findings can be extrapolated and, moreover, that a law of diminishing returns can be applied to ‘eccentric’ behaviour on public transport. The more extreme this behaviour the greater the risk of physical or verbal assault for relatively poor gains in privacy.

Materials & Methods

Experiments were carried out using Sunblest White Muffins, Hovis Floured Baps, a 30mm diameter bottle brush and a pair of small round-tipped scissors.

During the period May to September 2006 the author undertook numerous bus journeys between Lancaster bus station and Carnforth (Stagecoach Bus services 55, 55A and 555). All journeys were undertaken at peak times in the evening, between 16:30 and 18:00hrs and buses were usually busy.

Data was only collected on evenings where the author secured a double seat at the outset of the journey and where the bus was subsequently busy enough to oblige new passengers to occupy the unclaimed seat in an already occupied pair.

Experiment 1 consisted of a control and two ‘treatments’, use of muffins or baps was essentially decided by what the author fancied for his tea :

Control: Normal bus journey without food.

Treatment 1: Bus journey with Muffins or Baps on knees, in silence.

Treatment 2: Journey spent stroking and talking to Muffins or Baps.


Experiment 2 Consisted of a control and two treatments.

Control: Normal bus journey without any props.

Treatment 1: Journey spent holding bottle brush vertically in left hand.

Treatment 2: Journey spent trimming bristles from bottle brush with scissors whilst engaging it in typical hairdresser conversational topics such as it’s holiday plans and what, or who, it did on Friday night.

Experiments were carried out randomly with regard to date and current domestic requirement for food, or lab requirement for smaller bottle brushes. Experiment 2 was conducted some weeks after experiment 1.


Results for experiment 1.

Table 1:

Treatment: Control 1 2
No. Journeys 12 4 5
No. Journeys where double seat retained 8 3 5
% double seat retention 75 75 100


Results for experiment 2.

Table 2:

Treatment: Control 1 2
No. Journeys 12 2 2
No. Journeys where double seat retained 5 2 2
% double seat retention 42% 100 100


Results and discussion.

In the author’s earlier work (Sleep, 2006) the conclusion was made that stroking and talking to any loaf of bread would virtually guarantee retention of a double seat for the duration of this journey. Experiment 1 (Table 1 , above) suggests that this may be extrapolated further to cover a wide variety of bread based domestic foodstuffs. One obvious point to note is that even the control shows a higher level of double-seat retention in comparison to the earlier paper. It is hypothesised that this is due to passenger memory of previous work and avoidance of the author as a result (thanks to an anonymous colleague for this interpretation).

Experiment 2 is compromised by lack of replication due to the somewhat unrepeatable nature of treatment 2. At face value Table 2 suggests no difference in passenger response between the two treatments. However; this table is based upon insufficient criteria for evaluation as it does not show the degree of this response. Observation during the experiment suggested that, whilst merely holding a bottle brush is clearly adequate to ensure double-seat retention, the activities outlined in treatment two were sufficient to clear the other seats within earshot also. Treatment 2 was unfortunately prematurely curtailed when the bus driver became agitated, manifested by increased use of profanities. Given the already high baseline expletive usage by Stagecoach Lancaster drivers it could be argued that the distinction is a subtle one, nevertheless it was decided to curtail the experiment as it’s a very long way to walk home to Carnforth.

Once again, the author believes this research should be expanded to include rail transport for comparison but volunteers have not been forthcoming.


Care must be taken to ensure that double-seat retention techniques are not so extreme as to precipitate total social exclusion or a possible ban from local transport services.

It is suggested, also, that one refrains from telling ones colleagues that you spent the journey home stroking your baps. The author, however, is accustomed to being regarded as odd and therefore is unconcerned about peer ridicule


I would like to thank Stagecoach buses for providing transport. My wife Susan for financial support and assistance in consumption of experimental materials (no- she didn’t eat the bottle brush) . Somerfield supermarkets for providing reliably sullen service once again. Colleagues at work for keeping author stressed enough to carry out further research.




    1. I am so pleased Jen, thank you so much. 💕 My sense of humour is the one thing about me that I would not want to change I think. Glad your husband liked it too. When my wife looked at it when I first wrote it she didn’t laugh but just gave me a quizzical look which I still have not interpreted…. I am just guessing she was a bit concerned about my tenuous grip on reality at the time!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ha, ha. I am a big fan of a dry humor…my husband bought me every episode of Bob Newhart one year for Christmas and I now have my younger son hooked. I also had to send a link to your post to my uncle, who loves British humor:) At least your wife got to enjoy the goodies!

        Liked by 3 people

        1. Funny, I recall Newhart from when it was shown late at night here when I was younger. Susan did not have a clue who he was when he appeared in Big Bang Theory but loved his deadpan humour. I am a big fan of Bill Murray too. Would love to see Newhart again. Thanks for spreading the word to your uncle too!

          Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! My wife attracts those too. I know that goes without saying but I actually meant other than me. She once wore a t shirt with a gorilla on it whilst travelling on the bus and an old lady came up and poked her chest snd asked why she had a big ugly hairy face on it. Susan’s friend was helpless with laughter…

      Liked by 3 people

  1. Ooh- Darren, you made me laugh so much, I cry. The part where you say you decided to curtail the experiment as it’s a very long way to walk home to Carnforth… But seriously, scissors… Spooky. As charming as you are, I don’t thing I would have sit next to you! Can wait to read your next post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I did deliberately use small round-tipped ones so I didn’t end the day in the cop shop! I would not sit with me either if I had the choice but I don’t.

      Glad you liked it my friend. The next one involves my invisible friend Winifred so I need to ask her permission first……

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love this! But, where is the standard deviation results?? Or the chi square analysis? May need a few more runs to generate the optimal data points for a curve analysis! Of course you don’t want to end up in county lock up waiting for a mental health eval!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What a crazy sense of humour you have. Love it! Though I’m glad you didn’t have to walk home Darren. Scissors and all, I reckon I would’ve given you my double seat too!

    Liked by 1 person

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