What is the main theme for "My Busconductor" by Roger McGough?"My Busconductor"My busconductor tells mehe only has one kidneyand that may soon go on strike [...]
My busconductor tells me
he only has one kidney
and that may soon go on strike
deepdown in the deserted busshelter of his mind
he thinks about his journey nearly done.
One day he'll clock on and never clock off
or clock off and never clock on. (Roger McGough)
The main theme is reflected in the opening lines and the ending lines, which are excerpted above. The story is that a "busconductor" has revealed to a presumed habitual passenger that his one kidney has failed and that as a consequence his life is shortened and may stop working at any moment. Of course, when the kidney system shuts down, life ends as kidney function is vital to the continuation of life.
During the rest of the poem, the passenger/poetic speaker surveys the minor details of his daily job and routine,
takes on now a different shape
and he ignores
the drunk who snores
In an important relationship to the theme, the speaker notes that the busconductor attends to his responsibilities in a different manner than usual. For example, the busconductor allows an old man to disembark at the wrong stop:
and the oldman who talks to himself
and gets off at the wrong stop.
The speaker then notes a change in the busconductor's perceptions of the ordinary details of living, such as the color of the sky and the rows of streets:
The same old streets look different now
as through new glasses.
And the sky
was it ever so blue?
The main double theme is herein established of death and dying in combination with the change in behaviors and perceptions that accompanies knowledge of impending death--accompanies knowledge of the upcoming end of living.
As a final note, McGough's stylistic element of combining words into compounds that are usually left as single words, such as busconductor, busticket, factorygirls, oldman, underscores the changes the busconductor experiences and, in addition, symbolizes the double main theme of the poem.