The Lyon TCL 88 bus pulled up at the hospital stop. ‘Bonjour.’ The driver nodded as I stepped on.
In the three seconds it took me to say hello, beep my travelcard, and take my seat, I’d digested enough information about the bus driver to jump to some pretty unoriginal assumptions.
He was about 35 years old and very well-built. ‘Virile,’ said my brain. His tanned arms were gripping the steering wheel. ‘Strong,’ said my brain.
“The Lyon TCL bus driver was proper singing”
He had tattoos all down his muscular forearm. ‘Wow,’ said my brain. He had tattoos on his neck. ‘On his neck!’ gasped my brain.
I sat in my seat behind the va-va-voom driver, and waited. We had three minutes before we were due to leave.
The bus was silent, except for the radio. Claude Francois’ song, ‘Comme D’habitude’, came on. I recognised the famous lyrics, ‘Je me lève, et je te bouscule.’
What I didn’t recognise straight away was the accompanying voice, ‘Tu ne te réveilles pas, comme d’habitude.’ I sat up straight in my seat. Va-va-voom was singing along to Comme D’habitude!
He was proper singing, with zero inhibitions. He wasn’t doing this by halves, he was holding his tune, singing his very best, as if he was standing in front of a microphone in a music studio, instead of sitting in front of a public transport steering wheel, ‘Sur toi je remonte le drap, j’ai peur que tu aies froid, comme d’habitude.’ My brain danced with delight.
The juxtaposition between the soft ballad and the strong bus driver enchanted me.
“In France men are the first to sing at barbecues”
I grew up in Australia, and have never heard a man singing like Monsieur TCL. I wonder if an Australian man would feel open to ridicule if he sang so genuinely in public. It’s cultural.
Since living in France, I have been to many parties where men are the first up on the dancefloor and the first to sing at barbecues. I love it.
I’m not saying every French man is a fan of the arts; I also know plenty who would rather go and fixate on the meat on the barbecue than share their vocal gifts.
In my experience however, I have noticed a load of French guys who love to sing, without fear or embarrassment. There must be Australian guys who love it too, I just didn’t see them, like, anywhere.
The song finished, and so did our waiting time. The bus doors closed and virility drove us off.
The surreal moment passed, until I looked out the window and realised we had been waiting, for the duration of ‘Comme D’habitude’, in front of the hospital morgue.
With respect, Lyon, you tickle me!