Rain, Wind, Cold and Buses
Tuesday June 16th
We are now officially past the middle of June and still waiting for a spell of decent weather. I am not sure why but it always seems that on the days when there is nowhere to go; the sun shines down without ceasing. When however, it is a day for unavoidable shopping, or much better, a day for visiting loved friends or a special outing we have perhaps long looked forward to; the rain pours down relentlessly.
I sometimes wonder if I will ever get to put my raincoat away and wear a nice light summer jacket. The problem is, that if I do, it is guaranteed I will be caught without any head gear and the rain simply soaks through the jacket, thus ensuing I am decidedly wet and thoroughly disgruntled by the time I arrive back home.
Britain is alleged to be of a temperate climate. Well it used to be; but not any more! The weather has changed drastically over the last couple of decades. It has become much wetter, windier and colder overall. Our seasons no longer appear in their time honoured order – spring, summer, autumn and finally winter. Our climate in these modern times has become a mish mash of everything with a definite emphasis on the wet, windy and cold part. A day in what used to be the season of winter can arrive sporting summer temperatures, thus putting our unprepared minds, emotions and bodies totally out of alignment! A hasty search through our wardrobes for thinner clothing then ensues.
Of course, it goes without saying that when we should be having summer temperatures we are caught napping by bitterly cold and often wet and windy spells of vile weather. Instead of sporting our new summer wear, bought optimistically to enjoy the sunshine the winter gear is the order of the day once more. We should know better by now!
The only way to combat our new type of British weather is to have all kinds of clothes at the ready to meet each day as it comes. Whenever we are leaving our homes for longer than a couple of hours it is best to always tote a bagful of mixed clothing items to adjust to whatever the unpredictable climate we now have, might throw at us.
It is impossible to decide on any set type of clothing if we are leaving our home at first light. An hour later, the sunshine and blue skies can and often will; rapidly turn to pewter grey set-in skies, a drastic drop in temperature and usually the extra delights of yet more rain, wind and low temperatures, generating misery among us all. If like me you have no car to jump into, you will find yourself standing shivering at what is optimistically named a bus shelter.
Anyone who has viewed these ‘shelters’ will know that to shelter you is the very last thing they are constructed to do!!! Buses can arrive early and they are often late. Potential passengers will find themselves waiting impatiently for another half hour standing in the pouring rain in the comparative ‘haven’ of the bus shelter with chilly winds swirling and biting around your exposed feet; as the sides of these flimsy shelters end around eight inches from the ground. (Where have all these winds come from these days?) It used to be windy mainly during the months of March and October when we were treated to lots of blustery days. Now we have winds of all strengths, often at gale force too, virtually at any time.
Let us look, at another familiar scenario , the buses arrive full to bursting with passengers and without stopping simply sail past. More standing in the inclement weather in a shelter that is not a shelter in the forlorn hope that the next bus will; be early.
Now for the very worst situation of all and sadly not an infrequent one – the bus just does not bother to turn up. I really cannot at this minute, work out the complexities of how long a potential passenger has to stand and wait in these cases.
It is not beyond the realms of possibilities that a second bus will also not turn up. If the strength and will power can possibly be found, it is often quicker to walk! (Nobody could get much wetter and colder anyway; given how little protection the bus shelter affords you)
My apologies. I have digressed from my initial topic of conversation and this whinge has become more about the shocking bus service everyone who is without a car must accept; given that we only have one bus service operating in the area.
The weather though does loom large in this total scenario for obvious reasons. While I am on about buses I may as well continue with further gripes about the miserable standards we all have to put up with if by some miracle we do eventually experience the giddy sensation of seeing this sleek blue passenger vehicle bearing down upon us and it STOPS! thus allowing us to actually acquire a seat on the bus.
Firstly they break down! (The buses I mean) though often the passengers themselves are near to having a break down too with the inconvenience these frequent frustrating events cause. People can miss important commitments such as a hospital or other important appointment or perhaps a job interview; if they are actually lucky enough to have a job interview.
Older folks can have personal problems such as needing the loo pretty desperately with the long wait for another replacement bus to arrive. Frail folk may well have to stand for interminable periods with nowhere to sit. (Unless they are fortunate enough and blessed enough to be in a bus shelter) and they are even more blessed if it is a shelter which has what the bus company optimistically call a seat! Who are they kidding! For the benefit of those who are fortunate enough not to use the buses; let me explain……
At best, if you are as small as I am, you can prop yourself against one of this approximately 6 inches wide red plastic planks. Sadly though, bus breakdowns rarely accommodate you by dropping you off at a bus shelter. It is much more likely you will be stranded somewhere out of town with no nearby loos or shops, not even a phone box anywhere. (Thank God for mobile phones)
Even if you are fortunate to board a bus that arrives at its destination on time without breaking down; another common experience is the more than likely possibility that your bus will be one of the many ancient models still on the road.
One or two of the local buses until recently, actually let in water! More than once I have been sitting in one of these ancient monstrosities, only to find cold wet drops of rain sliding down my neck. You will experience every bone in your body being bumped and bounced up and down as you are thrown backwards and forwards in your seat to finally arrive at your destination black and blue. I believe the term for old vehicles of every type is ‘bone shaker’ Believe me, there are a number of these old ‘boneshaker’ buses still operating locally that roar and rattle as they bang up and down along the roads; not only on the short runs, but even on journeys that take a minimum of an hour to reach their destination.
I could write a book about my experiences on our ‘famous’ buses since my car passed away! I won’t though, as I have most probably depressed everybody enough already.
All of you who are soon to be too old or too poor to own a car any more, can joyfully apply for their free bus passes and look forward with great (sorry I meant ‘little’) anticipation to many new adventures ‘On the Buses’. If like me, you are old enough to remember that comedy series, I can only tell you that the reality is much worse!
Oh! One more little point….. You will discover sooner or later that all pensioners are alluded to by some of the bus drivers as “Coffin Dodgers” What a lovely term!
Fortunately I don’t have to catch a bus today. Oh! Incidentally, outside the sun is shining as I sit here perspiring at my PC. It is soooooo very hot. Yes, you’ve got it…. I am complaining again, but ‘too hot’ is another story for another day!!!!
If I could afford it I would gladly put a large sum of money on the probability of the weather being cold, wet and windy when the next day for venturing out comes along. That’s life I guess. Until next time, signing off, feeling hot and sticky and away for a cool shower. You will note I said ‘cool’ not cold. Cold is off my list. My best advice if you can afford it…. Get a taxi!
Update….It is June 22nd. The sun has put his hat on again and is hiding behind dull leaden skies. The rain is scything down, the wind is blowing hard and the temperature is abysmally low. The barbecue equipment is stowed away in the garden shed once more. The streets are practically deserted. British summertime is abandoned, British summertime? Whatever is that ???