The wheels on the bus go round and round!

For Beth x

I’m the first to admit that I’m a bit of a saddo in life. I mean who else do you know took the IQ test for her 40th birthday? I didn’t go out and get hammered. I didn’t have a mid life crisis where I bought a sports car and drove around recklessly, I didn’t dye my hair pink and have piercings in places the sun don’t shine…no I sat a bleeding exam! 

I did try to improve my self image after by getting a small tattoo to try to make myself look a bit cooler though. I don’t…but I do have a nice butterfly on my wrist!

I’ve been a bit sad all through my working life. Probably all through my school years too; I’ll have to check with my friend Cheryl, who put up with me through those grammar school years and get her honest opinion but for now we’ll go with it. I am a nerd!

I love a good training session, course, hour, day, two days, you name it so when the opportunity came up at work to do an apprenticeship I took it. Yes I know you think apprenticeships are for 16 year olds but they’re not. I checked the criteria –

  • Can you read?
  • Can you write?
  • Do you work here?
  • Are you prepared to give up 2 years of your life to this?
  • Will your manager be ok with you disappearing once a fortnight, bending his ear about how much work you have to do and why did you ever bother?

That was basically it. No mention of 

  • Are you old enough to be a granny?
  • Are you old school in that you still own a VCR?
  • Can you find the wifi switch on a laptop?
  • What do you think “bluetooth” means?
    • Drinking too much bubblegum pop
    • Connecting one device wirelessly to another
    • An x rated dental fantasy starring Tom Hardy as the ruggedly good looking new dentist in town putting a bright smile on all the women he services, looks after! ….Other adult movies are available 🙂

So I applied, was accepted and then spent 3 hours of my life filling in forms that Welsh Government needed to be able to pay for my place. This was fine but they did have really strict guidelines on sticking to this course and not dropping out but one of the forms did take the biscuit when it said that if I was to die, I had to notify them the same day! Now I consider myself quite good at time management…..but I’m not that good!

Any way, jump forward a few weeks and the fun begins. I have to go to the metropolis that is Cardiff every fortnight for the next two years to train at this company where all the staff know everything there is to know about computers and have the best bosses ever as they have a beer fridge…. A BEER FRIDGE…. for the staff. Saying that, I can’t knock our breaks there as they have every flavour of tea imaginable so you can sit there trying to map and reduce using Hadoop or learning about named nodes while drinking lapsang souchong.

My friend, Beth, had also signed up for this. Now Beth is lovely but is a bit of an enigma. She has a fashion sense of her very own which usually involves several layers of khaki and camouflage and her jackets have more compartments than a British Airways refreshment trolley.

What ever life throws at you she will have something in her pockets or rucksack or on her person to help you. If you need a coffee, she’ll pull out a fully filled-in Mcdonalds coffee card. If you have a stray chin hair, she’ll pull out her pliers (not tweezers, pliers!). If you are stuck on a snow-covered mountain, she’ll pull out a fire starting kit, 3 foil blankets and enough freeze-dried spaghetti bolognese to feed you for a week as well as knowing how to filter her pee into proper drinking water through 2 socks and a Tena lady. Heaven help the mugger if you happen to be attacked whist with Beth!

We made plans to catch the number 30 bus to the big city. Now Beth likes to look after people so when she gets on the bus she texts me to tell me what colour it is and what seat she’s sat in so I don’t look stupid trying to see her without my glasses on and end up sitting next to one of the strange ones who likes to get buses!


Any way I get on the bus, wobble my way precariously up the stairs to the top deck because we like to have a good view, find her and plonk my arse in the seat.


This is where our fun begins. We’ve made this journey loads of times and have seen some right sights on the way. I’ve précised our journeys into one for you…

We start off leaving Newport. We drive past Tredegar House caravan site and discuss why anyone in their right mind would come to stay in Newport? It’s ok if you like coffee or charity shopping or being mugged by 16 year olds in broad daylight but we can’t think of much else to entice you there tbh.

We drive through the next village. This is a posh one and on our travels we have seen a dog lying in the windowsill perfectly still. It took us till the return journey to see that he hadn’t died and been stuffed by his sad owners but was in fact alive and well and just plain lazy! We worried about that damn poodle all day!

The next house we like to look at has the most OCD garden you can imagine. Whoever lives there has serious issues. They have a zillion pots that are either white or blue and they are laid out meticulously in rows so they are symmetrical. Someone took hours doing that and I’d love to sneak in and switch two just to see how long it would be before they noticed!

During our journey we both try to look as if we are healthy and talk about whether we should take up running again. I could barely manage 5k but Beth used to run marathons but we are now both over 40 (just!) and running now brings it’s own risks!

We discuss our weight. I think it’s a known fact that if you get on the scales, look at the numbers and get off before it beeps then it never really happened. That’s how it works, I’m sure! According to us we are both weightless!

By now we are heading near town. We like to look in the Sue Ryder charity window because they always have a nice bit of furniture to look at! St David’s charity shop on the other side of the road always impresses us as it is mahoosive and I often wonder how bad it smells. Then we come to Iceland Food Warehouse and dream of the day when one of brings the car so we can go in and have a look!

We get off the bus in town and then we become one of the commuters walking about with their snooty air and their Costa Cocomochoskinnycappumachiato made with organic Nicaraguan Arabica beans that have been crushed between the arse cheeks of the native goats at the nearby farm….with a drizzle of honey!

The one time we saw a girl walking in town and I swear she was either doing the walk of shame or had forgotten how to get dressed because all she had on was a jumper. Head held high, coffee in hand and long white legs mincing her way through town.

The highlight of some of our journey is a game we like to call “Gotcha you bitch” or “Are you real you numbskull”… let me explain. Now Beth is a law abiding citizen, as am I. The most criminal activity I’ve done is to drive at five past seven instead of ten to two. Beth used to be a copper, I just played with handcuffs!, so her pet hate is seeing people driving and using their mobile phones at the same time. We see this girl the other day looking down at her phone propped on her steering wheel, not realising that we had both clocked her. Beth whipped out her phone from one of her pockets. It took her 3 attempts to find it mind but she did in the end. She takes a photo and then the girl sees us. …..

It’s like slow motion. She drops the phone casually and grabs the wheel like it’s about to fall off. We then lose her as she drives past the bus but we soon catch up with her and we are there staring at her with Beth ready to get off the bus to confront her. The girl just keeps holding that wheel and looks straight ahead totally avoiding our gaze but inside she is squirming ….dying inside. She is sweating thinking that she now has to wait for the postman to deliver the brown envelope that tells you you have been naughty and have earned yourself 3 points and now have £60 less to spend on lippy. It’s a cheap thrill for us though!

We also see a lot of nose pickers. The worst has been this man sat in the traffic opposite, certainly old enough to know that you don’t risk rhino-mining in public. We watched him insert the finger, have a good root about digging for gold then came back out and went back in the other nostril drilling away looking for boogers. This went on for ages, meanwhile we were on the bus crying. I’m sure he would have ate it too but luckily the traffic moved.

You’ve all seen the video on Facebook where a man gets on the tube and starts chuckling to himself and in the end, the whole carriage has dissolved into raucous laughter and everyone loves everyone? Believe me, it doesn’t work like this in real life. When we laughed, people stared and then the ones in a 4 seat radius moved nearer to the driver as we snorted and cried with laughter. Never trust Facebook – it lies!

Finally I think our best way of passing time on the bus is to play I spy. The game goes something like this…

I spy with my little eye, something beginning with A.

I don’t know.

Think about it.

I can’t guess.

Do you give up?

Yes

Air

Wtf!

What? It’s there you just can’t see it!

Ok bitch, my go. I spy with my little eye, something beginning with C.

Clouds?

No.

Cars?

No.

Seagulls?

No, dull tart.

I give up.

Cones.

Cones? Where?

About 2 mile back.

Ffs, let me have a go. I spy da da da da da da something beginning with O.

O?

Yup

Outside

No, but that’s a good answer!

Ordnance survey map?

What the….No! Where did you see that?

On my sat nav, on my phone…the other day.

Stupid bint…keep guessing.

I can’t I’m stuck.

Shall I tell you?

Yeah go on.

Orange cone.

Where?

Don’t know, there’s one out there somewhere.

Brief interlude to wipe the tears away…

My go.

Go on then.

I spy, with my ickle eye, something beginning with Y.

Yellow cone.

Clever bitch! How did you guess?

Duh! My go. Bla bla something beginning with P.

Posts?

Nope.

Pigeon?

No.

Ummm, poster?

Nah, you stuck?

No, I’ll get it….. Peugeot?

No.

I give up. What was it?

No idea….couldn’t think of anything!

And we’re off again crying with laughter. It’s the best bus ride ever. Let me know if you sign up for the apprenticeship I ‘m on. I’ll keep you a seat……

It wouldn’t have happened in James Stewart’s day!

So, let me set the scene.  Me and hubby were still discovering “going out” as mentioned before and so I’d bought concert tickets for a concert in Bath.  We set out with smiles on our faces and cheer in our hearts! I was driving and I know the way to Bath but not how to drive around it but figured it would all be ok when we got there.

The long and the short of it is that it wasn’t! Well it was to begin with but a few days later it turned out I had been caught and had to pay the price for my criminality! I received a Penalty Charge Notice from a certain council (it’s not hard to work out if you refer to where the concert was being held!) Anyway I’d been caught redhanded at something I had no idea I’d done at the time!

Anyway I paid the fee because I’m a law abiding citizen and being a cheerful soul I thought I’d email the council to point out a few things. I’ve attached my email below as it is easier than explaining it all to you! Read on….

Subject: BUS LANE CONTRAVENTION

Evening

I’ve received this notice as I apparently drove in your bus lane. I have paid it but can honestly say I have no recollection whatsoever of doing so. I can see my lovely car on the picture and my headlights (one that looks a bit dodgy but I’ll get that looked at I promise!) so I know I was there. I’m also pretty impressed that you picked up my car registration as it is water damaged and I have trouble every day getting into work as Security insist it looks like KD09!  

I hate anyone else driving my car so hands up…it was me but I need to have a moan…

I have never driven through Bath (only round the edges on the way to Bournemouth – lovely place) and never planned on doing so either but I was going to a concert that night in the Pavilion. I love the Overtones and they were playing that night. I usually go to Cardiff or Bristol but this year, for some reason, they weren’t gigging there so Bath was the nearest. I had seats in row E so was deliciously close to the front so it was perfect.  Just to add to the story a bit more, me and hubby stopped in the Morrison’s on the way for food as we were early, and had a lush tea  dead cheap. I had scampi and hubby had fish. Very nice indeed and a complete bargain!

Anyway I left there and drove to the Pavilion following my carefully printed out map (in colour) which took me to Pulteney Road. I have to say this road is very dark indeed and I couldn’t see a thing. Couldn’t you put some brighter bulbs in? So I turned into North Parade Road I think it was called but was so intent on looking for the Pavilion I missed the turning for the Cricket Club where my map had said to park. So thinking quickly as I was panicking, hubby turned on his phone’s sat nav to show us how to get back to the car park. Anyway I don’t normally like to pass the buck but I am going to as his stupid Samsung sat nav sent us down what turned out to be Pulteney Bridge which is, as I know now, only for buses.

All I can say is it was very very dark, I had no idea where I was and was studying the sat nav screen trying to find the right turn to take, while she talked to me in her stupid computerised English voice, so I wasn’t looking for road signs and obviously missed them. Just for the record I’m not being racist. I am English but get fed up with her nagging voice. Personally I’d have James Stewart talking on my sat nav but he’s not with us anymore.

So I’m sorry and I have paid but I do think it’s a bit unfair. I did also google bus lanes in Bath and this does seem to happen an awful lot doesn’t it according to Trip Advisor so could you possibly make your signs bigger, your street lights brighter and maybe tell the sat nav’s that this is a no entry road.   

Anyway, not one to hold grudges I wish you all a Merry Christmas. Feel free to send me a Christmas card, especially if you wanted to enclose a £30 cheque inside. After all it is the season of good will and all that……

Yours, sorry and £30 poorer but we still had a cracking night at the concert!

Vanessa  

As you can see I was the epitomy of politeness with hopefully an element of humour that I thought would surely make someone break in to smile. How wrong could I be!

A few days later I got a reply from the council, from the Team Manager – Parking to be precise.   The letter was 4 pages long and they had included some lovely library pictures, taken in daylight I might add, of the bus lane in question. The upshot of the letter was to tell me that my appeal had been rejected and that I should not rely on directional guidance and that as I had paid the fee, the matter was now closed!

So my message to you is don’t rely on your satellite navigation device, it will get you into trouble.

I’m still waiting for the Christmas card….