Day 19 of 80 — Bus 176

Around London in 80 days

In these uncertain times, I need a lifeline and a horizon so I have — somewhat arbitrarily I’ll admit — set a date. April 1st will be my horizon ; my lifeline will be the 80 days separating me from it.

And as I cannot go around the world right now, I give you A Mad Belgian’s “Around London in 80 Days” : eighty impressions of London, eighty stories, places, thoughts from my experience of this wonderfully mad and maddening city.

Day 19 : Bus 176

11 pm, the pub just closed. I’m waiting for my bus, deck of cards in hand. I recently started learning magic ; all by myself, it is a slow process but I keep at it. Today, I’m working on a slightly technical, but really magical-looking move. I’m so focused I don’t notice the young man who is moving closer.

“Not bad, but there’s room for improvement”

Taken aback, I turn around. Probably a drunk looking for someone to chat with… but no : he gets out his own deck of cards and performs, to perfection, the move I’m practicing. We start talking, he gives me some advice, but already my bus is here. 176 to Penge.

Stroke of luck : it’s also his bus. We sit upstairs, at the front and, as the night bus takes us to the south of town, we talk magic. He shows me a few tricks, leaving the laywoman I am truly amazed ; he is interesting, articulate, clever, and performs his tricks with class.

The 40 minutes bus journey fly by. Here’s my stop. As I leave, I ask :

“What’s your name ?”
“James. What’s yours ?”
“Jennifer”


A few days later, I came across James, a chance encounter in Covent Garden. He became my magic teacher, and a very good friend. But that’s another story…

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