Last night, I took a number 521, red, bendy bus from St. Paul’s to Waterloo station.

As the journey progressed, someone insistently and repeatedly pressed the bell to indicate they wished to disembark at the next stop. Nothing too unusual in that.

At the next stop, again the bell was sounded early and rang repeatedly. I assumed the ‘Bus stopping’ sign didn’t light up as the individual concerned continued to sporadically, but repeatedly and insistently, press the bell.

All of this got too much for the South African lady sitting directly opposite me, who was simply trying to ask her partner: ‘Why don’t you tell me all about your day, darling ?’

I was forced to avert my gaze because the couple were now holding hands and I am British. So I carefully and intensely scrutinised an advert for London South Bank University.

The lady said, to no-one in particular, in quite a loud and very un-British voice:

‘For God’s sake, who the f**k keeps pressing that damned bell ?’

The bus stopped. The bell stopped. We all looked inwardly into our free copies of ‘The London Paper’. The bus set off again and so did the bell. This time, the South African lady unlinked hands from her loving partner and erupted:

Oh, for f**k’s sake, the bus is stopping ! Will you stop pressing that bloody bell, already !’

As I was sitting directly opposite the disgruntled lady, I was forced to avert my gaze in a very British way and, to my horror, immediately identified the root cause of the problem. I don’t have the word ‘consultant’ on my business card for nothing.

A young man was standing in the aisle chatting to his friend. He was leaning on a pole. Every time he leaned back, the bell rang. When he stood upright, the bell stopped. When he rested on the pole, the bell rang. Continuously.

I averted my gaze. Again. By now, I was nervously staring at my feet.

Thankfully, an Australian woman ended my discomfort by politely interjecting

‘Excuse me, mate. You keep leaning on the buzzer and it’s actually quite irritating.’

The South African lady looked around with a look of disbelief and complete disdain - if looks could kill, the young man would have spontaneously combusted there and then.

My immediate neighbour started smiling inanely and the gentleman concerned reddened and immediately apologised to the front half of the bus:

‘Oh I am awfully sorry and thank you. I was just starting to wonder what that irritating noise was.’

And with that, normal service (and near silence) on the 521 was resumed.