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Otherwise my novels, short stories, verse, family, music, memories, vulgar interests, detestations,
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Wednesday, 12 November 2014

... to have wings on your heels

Tuesday. First day of real deprivation, without car: regular weekly appointment in Monmouth, 20 miles away.

Normally (by car): Leave home 50 min before scheduled time, drive scenic route, arrive Monmouth car park with 10 min to go, walk to appointment.

Now (by bus, by foot, by tested patience): Leave home 2 hr 40 min before scheduled time; wait 10 min for local bus; bus from home to Hereford Shire Hall 15 min; kill 55 min over 15 min walk from Shire Hall to railway station; regional bus Hereford to Monmouth 60 min; kill 20 min over 10 min walk to appointment.

Walking across Hereford. What better way to pass time (decision rapidly becomes a necessity) than go to toilet? But which one? The bus station - Urghh? That would be Nome, Alaska. Choose Morrisons, the supermarket. Hook on back of door to hang jacket and shoulder bag - luxury.

Waiting for regional bus at Hereford railway station (see pic). Bus arrives 20 min before departure. Spherically fat driver gets out, locks bus, goes to railway station to get coffee. Returns, unlocks bus, gets, in, locks bus. Drinks coffee. A desolate wait: Hereford feels like Nome, Alaska. Passengers allowed in 3 min before departure. Spherically fat bus driver turns out to be a woman.

Pensioner bus pass covers cost of journey £3.60. Hurray!

En route. Absorbed by conversation behind me: sixteen-year-old boy and girl, prob. from Hereford's swanky Cathedral school, talk animatedly and naturally about this and that. (eg. Boy: I can't wait for Christmas. Girl: I love Christmas.) I am overwhelmed and saddened; why wasn't school like this for me? On arrival I let boy get off first: he says thank you. Ah!

Buy four partridges from Waitrose, killing time for return journey (in total darkness).


  1. The bind of needing to use contemporary public transport. In the "old days" (in my area at least) there was a bus through our village at half hour intervals going from Maidstone to Tunbridge Wells and back - and it was always well used and, at peak times, standing on the lower deck.
    Then everyone got their own wheels and the buses were no longer financially viable, so were either reduced in service or withdrawn completely.
    That's the price of "progress", but it is only felt by the carless and that is mainly the elderly who, as you are finding, are the ones who really need to make such essential journeys.

  2. Time to call in some favours ... Anyone who can chauffeur you for the next while? Since all the specialty hospitals are distant from my sprawling suburb, the best solution here is a community service tailored to serve seniors with precisely your predicament. There is a fleet of volunteer drivers who will ferry you to and fro. I hope this option is available to you. Ahopti stella

  3. Ah the joys and miseries of public transport! As I don't have a car and don't drive anyway, I can sympathise with every aspect of your journey, including one of my pet peeves: the bus driver who locks the bus and sits inside gloating, letting people wait until a minute before departure - usually it's also raining and/or freezing. I hope your transportation issue will be resolved before winter really sets in.

  4. We take the ability to drive for granted. Even I, who learnt late and have a limited road portfolio, would miss it dreadfully.

    I am contemplating the possibility of a train/bus trip to the Lakes and the thought is not thrilling me!

    Maybe the public transport thing will be a good "story gathering" experience. Definite people watching possibilities as you are already discovering.

  5. Have just caught up with your vicissitudes, so sorry, wish I could help. Good on you for finding silver linings but hope it will become smoother. Best wishes and fond thoughts to you and yours.

  6. Avus: For two-thirds of the return journey I was the sole occupant, which more or less confirms what you say.

    Stella: Favours? This would presume I deserved them. I am not that sort of person. Besides - taking my Friday French lesson - who would be prepared to drive me to the other side of Hereford (a mere 20 minutes), wait in a tiny village with one shop for 75 min, then drive me back? Only someone who was equally fascinated by Delphine de Vigan's Rien Ne S'Oppose A La Nuit.

    I take it there's a sentiment embedded in Ahopti. Alas, it remains embedded.

    Natalie: Many people living in London lack cars. Fine. If you can call Kingston-upon-Thames part of London (it's 12 miles out) I am well aware of what car driving round the Great Wen is like. But then I was used to it because I needed a car just to get to work during the last three years - 47 miles to Swanley in Kent. But after living in KuT between 1972 and 1998 and acnowledging its stimulations I wanted to try somewhere else. Somewhere just a teeny bit more restful. Of course the logical conclusion to restfulness is the grave.

    Blonde Two: Re. the Lakes. Why not drive there in your spiffing sports car, but avoid motorways. Sir Hugh lives on the fringe of the Lakes and I have done just that by a variety of routes. See parts of England you may not have seen before. Ah, just remembered. You have a connection with Malvern. I may be teaching you to suck eggs even though you are not my grannie.

    Extra material? See my next post.

    Lucy: Silver linings. See my next post