Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Just Another Normal Day: Australia, Thailand, Kilmarnock and Carlisle

The freshness of the moorland tops was, for once enticing. The road was crowded with grouse chicks eager to make their maiden flight. When the car came over the brow of the hill they took off into the unknown and flew for twenty-five yards.

The smells changed as I descended into the valley. The rained on bog myrtle, heather and moss were replaced with a more humid aroma of manure. It was the season of muckspreading. Still. This year seemed to go on forever. Even the gentle country smell of horse or cow manure had been replaced by the rather more unpleasant pig and chicken. The bus still stank one hour after it had arrived at its destination.

It was one of those mornings where all fare paying passengers only had a £10 note. I have seen some drivers become apoplectic with rage. But I don't carry much change and tend to rely on other passengers further down the route paying with coins. When I have enough change, you walk to the back of the bus, take the £10 notes and give the passengers a mountain of change which will weigh them down for the rest of the day. They never do it again.

I went into a supermarket for my breakfast and handed the check-out person a £10 note. He looked disturbed and shouted for his manager'

'Machine's playing up.' he said. 'It won't tell me how much change to give the customer.'

The manager scratched his head and went back to his office. In a few minutes he returned with a calculator, tapped the buttons and announced, 'Give the customer £1-61.'

Well I never, I thought. Imagine if that happened on a bus. The bus would never get anywhere.

I returned to the coach park where there was a youngish spiky haired driver, chewing gum and spitting as he walked to his bus. He jumped in, roared the engine, quickly looked to see if anyone other coach driver was watching him and sped towards the exit. It nearly all went very badly wrong as he nearly smacked into the barrier. It didn't phase him and he went even faster. Ah, I thought, another sign of the times.

I went as quickly as I could for my lunch at Carlisle market. The thought of this delicious food, simple and freshly cooked in front of you has mad the day much more pleasurable.

On the way I went to the Gents. Standing by the basin were the long established cleaner and an eighty plus man in deep conversation.

'I'm off to Australia for the first time next month,' said the old man.

'Well good for you,' replied the cleaner.

'Aye it cost me £742 for the flights and £300 for the insurance.

'Well that's great - anyway remember - money - you can't take it with you.'


'And when you're dead, they'll just come and nick it out of your coffin.

'Aye...' I left them to it and went off to the Thai food bar.

I sat down at the counter and my steaming hot curry came along, with plate of rice and bowl of extra raw chilis in fish and soy sauce. I was becoming a regular as it was just put in front of me.

As I took my second mouthful, the mobile rang.

'What do you think of Kilmarnock?' said a voice. It was the boss.

'Well it's very nice.'

'Good. That's where you are going. Rail replacement job. Wait for my confirmation call.

There were several confirmation calls. First the job was on. Then it was of. On. Off. On. Off and finally off for good. Instead I walked back to the coach park. School was out. There were three aggressive young boys riding their bicycles and playing chicken with the coaches. As I came out one bike swished past and I missed it by a whisker. The boy stopped, looked up and grinned.

'If you do that again,' I said leaning out the window, 'you'll get flattened.'

His smile turned to a scowl. 'Why don't you f.....' His words became lost as they were drowned out by a passing ambulance siren.

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