Monday, 25 October 2010

A Weekend With Horatio Nelson - Part 1

I thought it was ironic that Horatio Nelson had once said: "I cannot command winds and weather," as I watched a member of the Nelson Society lose the battle against the wind and fall flat on his face, close to the Collingwood Monument at Tynemouth.

The Nelson Society were holding their 2010 AGM in Newcastle and required two coaches to transport them around some of the sights in the North East where there was a connection with Nelson. The day before they had been for a Newcastle/Gateshead City Tour and a Battle of Trafalgar dinner onboard H.M.S. Trincomalee in Hartlepool Dock.

Today it was Collingwood's Monument, Davison's Obelisk in Swarland and tea at Embleton Hall. The road down to the Monument at Tynemouth is narrow and no room when you get there for parking coaches. It was unsurprising that an angry council traffic warden came banging on the driver's side window:

"You've caused consternation, coming down here. No coaches allowed here," he loudly announced. I resisted the temptation to question him about his use of the word 'consternation' as only three cars seemed to be affected.

Instead I thought I would lay it on thick and I said:

"We have some elderly members of the Nelson Society, some of whom cannot walk far. Are you telling me that you are going to try and ruin their emotional visit to Cuthbert Collingwood's Monument?"

To my amazement, he reddened, pulled his cap down, nearly saluted and said: "Well in that case I will let you ignore the double yellow lines." He disappeared as quickly as he arrived.

"That's it, you tell him," said a feisty Nelson Society member. They were an enjoyable group of passengers. Erudite, polite, enthusiastic and often to the point.

"I wish you would open the middle door and let us out. When we all have to come out the front door, it takes an eternity. It's all my husband's fault. he cannot move fast. he is a right pain in the bum."

I am sure she was guided by Nelson's famous words: "I could not tread these perilous paths in safety, if I did not keep a saving sense of humour."

This applies to a life as a bus driver, too.

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