miscellany

26 june 2018


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           All original writing

           2014, 2015, 2016, 2017,            2018        Ian McLauchlin

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A 20,000 MILE DAY OUT


Time to take the car in for a service and MOT. Doesn't it come round quickly? I used to do servicing myself, but I'm getting lazy and old, but mainly lazy. OK and just a tiny bit old. Exmouth to Exeter first thing in a morning is mainly stop-start with only a bit of proper driving. So I arranged to get the car in by 9:30 to avoid the early morning queues.

Hello Sir. (Note that title again. Used when they either want to sell you something, or to show false respect, often both.) Hello to YOU Sir. Now they think I'm trying to sell them something. If you can disconcert somebody as you go along . . . .

"As you only booked in a few days ago Sir, and not 6 months ago like everyone else, your car won't be ready till 17:00, Sir." Oh. OK . . . . .   So I'm in Exeter all day with not a lot to do. This calls for some creative thinking. While waiting for the bus from Marsh Barton (where all cars go to be bought, sold or otherwise dealt with) into town, it started to rain, putting a slight dampener on that particular thinking process. But the thinking was helped on its way when the bus arrived. "Return to the City Centre please."  

We don't do returns. (No Sir this time)  But we do a DayRider at £3.90.

"How much is a single, Sir?"

£1.80.

"£3.60 vs £3.90 . . .Mmmm . . .  OK I'll have a DayRider, Sir."  You never know . . . .

While drinking a coffee in M&S I looked up DayRider on my phone.

Easy Rider, Day Trip, ah DayRider. Looked briefly at the zone covered. It was like all those phone coverage maps. The same colour (well slightly different shades) spread everywhere. Seemed to go as far as Exmouth. Maybe I could spend a day in Exmouth, for a bit of a change. No, I've got a better idea. So coffee and cute little biscuit finished, but still hungry despite CLB, I queued for a bus to Teignmouth. Why not? Could be fun. It's warm and dry and you're sitting down. Until you get there. What's not to like?

"Teignmouth please."

Driver stared hard at my DayRider ticket. He turned it over, held it up to the light, scratched his head, and eventually came to a decision. It'll only take you as far as Exminster.

"OK, I'll go to Exminster. Does this bus have Wi-fi?"

No idea.

I think the driver's name was Busil Fawlty, same as the driver of the first bus.

So we set off. Front seat upstairs and above the heater vent. You could see everything while gently toasting. But did I really  want to go just down the road to Exminster? I know, I'll convert my DayRider ticket to a DayRiderPlus, which should get me well on the way to Plymouth . . . . maybe.

Powderham Castle, Starcross Sailing Club and Starcross where Brunel built his Atmospheric Engine. This was obviously devoid of romance and nostalgia and not nearly atmospheric enough, causing him to abandon the project.

You could see right across the Exe to Exmouth which was almost as good as being there. It started to rain, Exmouth disappeared and the windows steamed up. When we could see out again we'd stopped at Dawlish for the driver to get out and practice his silly walk. And there, just across the street, was a pub with a huge notice proclaiming that it had a, wait for it,  . . .  Dart Board. Wow. I now know where to go when, in Exmouth, I’m overcome by the urge to cross the river for a game of arrows.

The arrival in Teignmouth was timed perfectly to coincide with the need for a toilet. I saw a sign pointing to Toilets so, foolishly, I followed it. The toilets were not only closed but double barricaded in case someone didn't believe the signs and the door locks. It was winter after all. The time of year when all bodily functions hibernate till late spring.

Walked along the front, marvelled at the closed pier, and looked for a toilet that wasn't anchored in hibernation-land. Ah Waitrose. That'll do. Bought a cheese and onion sandwich to celebrate. Found a bench to sit on. Suddenly, as if they'd been lying in wait for the next sucker, a seagull and her baby fluttered down and approached me, staring fixedly at my sandwich, which I was also doing. They held off until I'd managed to tear the cardboard, struggle with the plastic film and only 10 minutes later gain access. Then the din started.  The baby made most of it and, like all parents, the mum got sick of the sound and waddled off. The cawing baby approached, even though I'd told it not to.

"What exact part of 'It's mine, not yours, and the Council will clap me in irons if I feed you' do you not understand?"

"All of it, I'm a seagull, stupid."

"You wouldn't like it anyway, there aren't enough onions."

After a bit more walking, a prolonged phone call from the Marsh Barton dealership saying this needs doing and that needs doing, purchase of a Big Issue and enjoyment of a blackboard outside a cafe  I found the bus shelter for Exeter-bound buses. It was right next to an ironmongers called, satisfyingly, "Fork Handles".

Had a wonderful conversation on the bus on the way back. Well not exactly a conversation, more of an overhearing.

"Well I was stressed out."

"Me too."

"They say when you're stressed you can pick up all sorts of diseases. I thought I'd got the 'flu but it wasn't that. They said get a few early nights."

"What 9 o'clock? Half past ten me."

“I’m not a snoozer.” (Thought that was a kind of dog.)

"I tried unsubscribing but it didn't work. Got more and more."

"No it just confirms your email address is live."

She had a dog on the seat next to her and her mate was on the seat behind, hence the loud dialogue.

"Dog loves me. Only one that doesn't judge." (I could swear it was judging ME.)

"Oh I know, I know . . . . .   Look there's a rainbow. Wonderful innit. And do you know, whenever you see one, the colours are always in the same order."

"Then he ripped my skirt off. You know, the Goray one." No sorry, that's what Victoria Wood overheard. Same bus probably.

We were nearly back in Exeter. On a bus shelter, a notice proclaimed "Advertising works. You're reading this, aren't you?"  Yes, but I'm not buying it.

Waiting for the bus back to Marsh Barton, an argument developed across the road. Youths were SHOUTING. And threatening. Maybe they had knives, wouldn't put it past them. It got louder and more youths joined in. "He's been to Teignmouth on a DayRider ticket." "No he hasn't, you need a DayRiderPlus for that." "Shut yer gob, I know the bus zones better'an you." " No yer don't."

Luckily the bus arrived, together with a yellow, white and blue car with flashing blue lights. I decided that the bus was the better bet . . . .

"Yes your car's ready Sir. Are you happy with your service today?"

"Well the toilets were locked, the seagull was insensitively over-insistent, not enough onions in the sandwich, the dog was selfishly on a bus seat and the laws of Optical Physics were strangely absent. But apart from that it was a grand day out. Thank you, Sir"

"I'll show you to your car, Sir. It’s just over there." Now that's service. Would never have found it otherwise.