… and other great works of fiction.
I was in Bigtown today trying to concentrate in the library through the endless loud wittering of the library staff (where this myth arose about librarians saying ‘shhh!’ I don’t know. Not here, anyway, where they never shut themselves up, let alone the punters). I decided to take the last bus home to Nearest Village, which leaves from the train station at twenty to six. Fearing – for some reason which now escapes me – that the bus might be full if I tried to catch it from my normal stop at the bus stands, I went up to the station to see if it really did leave from there, or if this was just some mad flight of fancy dreamed up by a transport official who believed in the myth of integrated public transport. The timetable said it did, but I’ve been caught that way before so I went into the train station and asked there. ‘I don’t know anything about the buses’ the woman behind the ticket office said, as though I’d asked her about unicorns, or metaphysics, or dogging. ‘There’s a bus out there, ask the driver.’
‘I havenae the least idea, I’m not frae here,’ said the driver of the bus, but he helpfully got out and looked at the timetable with me. As his bus was leaving after the one I was hoping to catch he said he could take me to the roadend for Nearest Village if my bus never came. Thus assured that I could at least get to within walking distance of home I accosted the driver of the next bus ‘Aye, Nearest Village, the bus comes in here, but it’s no me, it’s a wee white one,’ he said. ‘You’ll be best to stand out there and wave at it for it comes by this way but it doesnae always stop.’ So I stood out there ready to wave, and ready too to sprint for my backup bus should it show signs of leaving. And finally – just as I was about to give up hope, the ‘wee white bus’ arrived, bearing a destination board for somewhere else entirely and the driver stopped at my anxious waving and admitted she was headed for Nearest Village. She didn’t seem to have a ticket machine, and my money went into a rather unofficial looking purse, but she was undoubtedly driving a bus, and I decided to go with the flow and see where she might take me.
After a tour of the bus stops of Bigtown, she took me off in solitary splendour towards my destination. But she didn’t take the route the bus normally takes, through the back roads and the other village on the way – she went straight for the big A road, put her foot down, and drove me direct to Nearest Village without passing go and without stopping to collect any more passengers. As I got off, I asked her about her route. ‘does it not normally go through Intervening Village?’ I asked. ‘Oh well, normally. But if there’s only one passenger I just go direct. It’s quicker that way.’
I wonder what happens if she gets none?