Bend Over Backwards

I've noticed that a lot of people don't like sitting backwards on public transport. Occasionally I've heard people discussing this - claiming, amongst other things, that it makes them feel sick. Personally I've never experienced this reverse nausea and actually prefer sitting backwards. Why? I have no idea. Sitting facing forward certainly doesn't make me feel ill or anything, it's just that there's something appealing about not facing the direction of travel. Whether this says anything about me psychologically I have no idea (too much time dwelling on the past rather than looking to the future?) but one benefit is that it means I'm more likely to get a  seat.

Until recently I was only able to indulge my preference on trains, the sole mode of transport that offered backwards facing seats. However a few years ago they began to introduce the bendy-bus to Brighton. These were London Transport's cast-offs and apparently hadn't been popular. I have no idea why because I think they're great. It's like being on some kind of exciting futuristic road-train, plus they give the journey a distinctly continental feel - they're the kind of vehicles, you feel sure, that are in common use in Amsterdam or Vienna.

And best of all they have backwards facing seats.

They're always the ones that remain empty the longest and I've noticed that more often than not should a forward facing seat become available a reluctant backwards passenger will jump at the chance to switch (and switching seats mid journey is a whole nother can of transport etiquette worms). But the practical upshot of this is that not only am I more likely to get a seat but I'm more likely not to have someone sitting next to me (and this can only be a good thing as more often than not they tend to be of the selfish space invading legs-splayed-wide-open giant lumpenbloke variety).

Of course during crowded times of day - usually around 5pm - people will overcome their disinclination to sit backwards.  However uncomfortable it may be it's still better than standing.  But on some of these bendy buses there's a very special seat. It faces backwards and next to it there isn't another seat, just a shelf. This is my seat of preference. I love this seat and get very proprietorial about it. If there's someone else sitting there I begin to internally seethe.

How very dare they? That's my seat. Surely no-one else like sitting backwards?

But of course if it's my preference then I am sure there are other people who feel just as strongly about it. We're none of us as different as we like to think.  To other people we're all just members of the general public.

But thankfully I do usually manage to get to sit in my favourite seat. It has one further advantage that isn't immediately apparent.

From behind - i.e. from further towards the front of the bus - it can give the impression of being two seats, especially when the bus is crowded with bodies. And so sometimes a self righteous passenger will start asking me if I can move up or if they can squeeze past into what they think is a seat I'm preventing them from using out of pure selfishness.

I usually feign blank incomprehension - the penny soon drops and they back off, embarrassed - but just once I'd love to stand to let them past and issue a Fawltyesque:

"Let's see you then."


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