top of page
  • Random Parishioner

Strangers on a Bus

Those of you who have previously read my blogs will know that I have what some would suggest is a bizarre, but mutually appreciative, relationship with our vicar – if I am not in competition with her mother in the cake stall queue, I am trying to avoid her “spinning bottle” or gimlet stare so as not to be roped into another crazy scheme, or I am working out the meaning of her random and sometimes alarming pronouncements and questions such as “how are your husband’s safe cracking skills?”. Well this week she was at it again! I was sitting quietly in the parish office getting on with my duties when the door burst open and in bounded the vicar, cup of tea in one hand and slice of chocolate cake in the other (I will point out that both were for me – she is a very hospitable lady) She was closely followed by another random parishioner of a similar age to us both – that is, well past the first flush of youth! The vicar smiled and without preamble asked me, “have YOU conceived a baby on Jersey?” Now I gathered from the emphasis on “you” that this was a continuation of a conversation that was started elsewhere that I was not party to, and not just a random question that popped into her head as her eyes alighted on me. I was struggling to understand the relevance of the question and how it might have come up in conversation amongst a party of ladies of a certain age, none of whom, to the best of my knowledge, had ever resided in Jersey. There were, I knew, a number of retired midwives amongst our congregation and I wondered whether the relative merit of the maternity services in random places across the globe were being discussed. I pointed out that I had never even visited Jersey, and the conversation quickly and inexplicably moved on to our experience of cream scones in the various places that we HAD visited over the years, Jersey included (in their case but not in mine), and the particular features which elevated one cream scone above the next in the top 10 hit parade of scones. To this day I still know nothing about the quality of the maternity services on Jersey, however I can tell you with some degree of certainty that their cream scones are second to none!
Talking of ‘must have’ food and where to find it, I recently spent a pleasant afternoon with the ladies of the knit and natter group at a fish and chip restaurant nearby. Part of our knit and natter subs are saved up so that twice a year we can enjoy an afternoon out and a good meal together. These outings are always an illuminating experience as we have the opportunity to spend time together “nattering” without the distraction of the “knitting”, although in my case rather than knitting I tend to be losing my place, losing stitches and ripping out the knitting I have done because I wasn’t concentrating on the pattern! Anyway, as I have mentioned before, the ladies of the knitting group are a diverse bunch, with lots of experience and knowledge not just of knitting but of life – both life in general and, more specifically, life in Scarborough. I call them “Google Live” because if there is anything I want to know about I will take that query to the knitting group and I am bound to get a full and detailed response. Recently there was consternation amongst the ladies in the knitting group about the unacceptable changes in the bus timetable and route of the number 33 bus, or it might have been the number 20. I haven’t been on a bus in at least 30 years, the diesel fumes make me feel sick, and I could never master getting on and off without falling into the lap of an unfamiliar and unimpressed fellow passenger. I did have the opportunity though to ask about the bus routes and timetables for a friend who was visiting. Unlike me, my friend, Carol, loves buses, and since she got her free bus pass a few years ago she has insisted on using the bus for all journeys, even when offered a lift. I can’t count the number of times we have said ‘we will come and pick you up in the car’ only to hear the answer ‘no, no I won’t hear of it, I have a bus pass’. When she travels home from visiting us we pack her a picnic and give her a couple of magazines and she spends a blissful couple of hours on the bus. Well it’s blissful unless someone decides to sit beside her and engage in conversation. Now Carol is a very friendly and chatty Mackem, I am not sure there are any other sort, (In case you are not aware, Mackem is an informal and accepted nickname for a person from Sunderland – I am sure the knitting ladies would have been able to tell you that!) Anyway, despite being herself friendly and chatty, Carol relishes the quiet alone time on the bus, admiring her surroundings, perusing her reading material, and munching on her picnic. However, she has the friendly and open type of face that seems to say to people “come sit with me and I will listen attentively to all your ramblings”. So, often she finds herself joined in that restricted space by someone who is desperate to share stories of their grandchildren, visits to the doctors, and embarrassing ailments, and Carol, being the caring Mackem sort, listens, nods and makes all the right noises. On her last bus trip to Scarborough she noticed a lady on her own and struggling with a couple of small children, so of course she offered her assistance, which culminated in Carol using all her Mackem skills to negotiate with the driver for an unscheduled stop in Whitby so that she could dispose of a bag of sick (not hers, but one of the children’s – Carol is an excellent traveller!) Thinking about it, it might have been her powers of negotiation that persuaded the driver to do as she asked, or then again it might have been that she was brandishing in her hand a used sick bag, while swaying unsteadily in front of him!
Life can be like Carol’s bus journey – sometimes it goes as planned and you can sit back and enjoy the ride, but at other times you need to be ready to step up and step in and help your fellow passengers, even if that means being left holding the proverbial sick bag



Commenting has been turned off.
bottom of page