I was thinking recently about an incident on the bus last year. I had got on the 141 at London Bridge heading towards Palmers Green (though that wasn’t my destination).
Somewhere near Old Street, a not quite elderly man got on with a backpack and sat across from me (it was one of the older bus models where the back seats faced each other across the aisle rather than side by side). Anyhow, he seemed equipped for a long journey and he had the look on his face like a kid en route to the science museum on a day off. Eventually, he reached into his backpack and pulled out an A-Z guide (a street directory of London). It looked about as old as he was and I was wondering to myself how many London streets might be missing from his edition. After thumbing considerately for a few minutes, he looked as if he found the page he was looking for. At this point, he smiled and announced to no one in particular “I’m going to Palmers Green because I’ve never been.” The look of pleasure as he said it was quite contagious, so rather than averting my eyes as I usually would have done, I smiled back. Having been to Palmers Green myself, I hoped he wouldn’t be disappointed. After all, it wasn’t any place noticeably special – just a terminal point on a bus route in the middle of a rather bland neighborhood. But it was good to know that for just a little while a place like Palmers Green could seem as exotic as Marrakech in someone’s mind.
I rarely go anywhere just because. I wonder how many of us actually do.