Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Demanding Ramblers, A Hearse And The Heath Robinson Doors

This is the third day without a cloud in the sky. Cold. Very cold, but breathtakingly beautiful and a chance to meditate as I drove through the hills to the depot in Tyneside. The quiet before the storm...and all that.

The depot was empty when I rolled up. There was a glistening new door. The old electric motor had blown up during a power cut and the doors were stuck in the up position. The only way of stopping the youths from vandalising the place, was to park a bus so close to the open door, that none of the delinquents could squeeze through. Once in the damage would have been considerable.

The new motor seemed to be a Heath Robinson affair, with wires and switches protruding from every side. But all was well and it juddered into life and effortlessly raised the steel shutters. The bus I was going to use was parked peacefully in the corner. There were one or two new dents in it's rear, due to a driver having to rush to the depot at 3am, when a mystery caller had rang to tell him that the delinquents had surrounded the building and were trying to break in. So he had tried to reverse the bus even closer to the doors, and as it was pitch black, had unluckily just caught the wall.

There were two contrary notices left near the steering wheel. One was a note, obviously left on the last trip with the feisty ramblers:-

'DRIVER', it began, in bold typeface and underlined...'Depart 9.00am...Drop walkers at...Then turn left and after approx 2 miles STOP and await walkers (just as road enters wood about a mile from....)...They will have lunch on the coach...Drop off again at...then continue to coach park to await remaining walkers. Depart 5.00pm ++'

Lucky I got out of that trip I thought to myself. They are a demanding lot the ramblers, requiring precision from the driver.

The second card was a business card from a Funeral Directors, tastefully emblazoned with a picture of an angel with wings and arms extended, underneath was the strapline: 'We will help you through this sad time.' For a minute I wondered why this card had been left here. Had the day with the ramblers been that bad? Was it a joke aimed at me, as I am known as a funeral going professional?

But as I looked out of the bus window, I remembered that the cars parked next to the buses, under grey fully tailored, waterproof car cover, were in fact hearses. The local Funeral Directors use the depot as their garage.

Maybe there is a bus driver's discount.

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