Thursday, 3 February 2011

Dee-Dars, The Smell Of Crisps And The Sensitive Stomach

The young Dee-Dars (nickname for people from Sheffield meant to refer to the way a Sheffielder pronounced 'thee' and 'tha') were pretty good on the return journey. Considering they were filled up with crisps, Kit Kats and bottled water, there were remarkably few sicknesses. One boy who looked pale before he boarded the bus and one girl who was sick, just as the bus pulled up at its destination. This was usual as she had done exactly the same on the outward journey.

"Ooooohhhhh," said a teacher. "The smell of those cheese and onion crisps are making me feel queasy."

Not half as nauseated as I was feeling. There was one child, sitting near the front, who had, let's say, a sensitive stomach. The smells that were emitted, I found so intolerable that I had to keep opening and closing the window and turning the air conditioning on and off. I was in such a poor state, feeling green around the gills, that the aroma of cheese and onion, salt and vinegar and prawn cocktail acted like an air freshener.

"Don't worry dear," said the teacher to the child who was sick. "You told us before. Well done. Good girl. I'm so pleased I am going to award your team three Plus Points."

"Awwwww, Miss," one of the boys cried out. "Can you tell her to do it we can get another three points?"

"Quiet Sylvester."

The city of Sheffield is large and rambling. It seems to go on forever and every traffic light saw me coming and switched to red. As we passed Hillsborough Stadium, the bus broke out into song. There were two songs being sung at the same time. Two rival football songs and support seemed to be divided down the middle for Sheffield's two football teams - United (the Blades) and Wednesday (the Owls).

"When the reds, oh when the reds, oh when the reds go marching in....." The other chant was indistinguishable.

Apart from the girl who was sick, the relief of the children at being back home was evident. The parents were in an even higher state of excitement and crowded around the door of the bus, hardly leaving any room for the children to disembark.

It should have been a gentle return journey. It wasn't. The winds decided to blow a gale, meaning I had to grip the steering wheel firmly as the bus was buffeted and pushed around on the motorway. The foreign truck in front of me started swaying and there was a noise like a bomb going off. One of the back tyres on the trailer exploded, destroying his brake lights in the process. A shower of debris was flung into my path and the sound of large chunks of flying rubber and plastic hitting the front of the bus were unnerving. The driver did not seem to notice and the truck carried on regardlessly. Only by flashing my lights did the driver notice and pulled over onto the hard shoulder with smoke trailing behind him.

It was hard to see whether any damage was done, when I got back to the depot. This was because all the light bulbs have blown and there is only one still operative, making it difficult to see your own nose, let alone do anything.

"Good news," the boss had said when I asked him if they were due to be replaced. "We've got the new ladder (the old pre-war ladder had finally come to the end of its life, when the brave fitter had last tried to change the light bulbs and all the wooden rungs had broken)......

....we're just waiting on the bulbs to arrive."

That great Spanish philosopher, Miguel de Unamuno once said: 'Man dies of cold, not of darkness.' Too right. That's it. I'm off home.

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