Confessions of a Pocket Fumbler

Ever since I was a small child, I have been a very fidgety sort of person. Even when eating a meal, my feet would be constantly moving. It has led to a lot of twisted and mangled paper and card, knotted draw strings on hoodies and track suit bottoms and all manner of things.


I remember one occasion in particular, when I took a journey on an old green bus that ran from Croydon in Surrey, to Reigate. Those people from Croydon will remember the buses I mean, but it was your typical late eighties early nineties bus that had seen better days. I was about 13 years old at the time and during the summer holidays, I would go out on adventures while my mum was at work.

I had got into a habit of rolling up my bus ticket very tightly and then unfolding it again many times. I found it strangely satisfying to do this and it was almost done without thought. I had rarely seen a bus ticket inspector on those buses, but on this occasion, one got on the bus.

He proceeded to check all the passengers’ tickets downstairs and I heard him climb up the creaking steps to the top deck. It was about this time that I looked down to find that my ticket had become a crinkled and worn piece of paper that was shedding small fibres all over my lap. The ink that was once on the paper was now all over my fingers, turning them a dull blueish colour.

A brief moment of panic set in before I heard the inspector’s voice say ‘Tickets Please’. I sheepishly handed over my crumpled ticket, not before trying desperately to flatten out the creases on my leg. The conductor looked down at my ticket with a mixture of surprise and confusion. I mumbled a quiet apology and said that I had been playing with it during the journey.

His surprise turned to annoyance, but he believed that it was my ticket. I guess no self-respecting fair dodger would embarrass themselves by producing such a terrible example. He looked at me and said ‘You shouldn’t play with these, keep them in your pocket. If you want something to do with your hands, do a crossword!’

Needless to say, I have heeded his words, especially because I don’t want to be in that position again. Now if I need to take the bus, I will put the ticket in my pocket immediately and resist the temptation to roll it up. As you can see from the photo however, I do still fidget in my pocket sometimes.

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