Saturday, 10 January 2009

Not Just Me

It's just after nine in the morning and I'm in the small village of West Meon in Hampshire, where I've dropped a car off, and am now waiting for a bus to the slightly bigger town of Bishop's Waltham about ten miles away.

I have a large takeaway cup of steaming coffee in my hand, bought from a small cafe across the road. I've been waiting out here for about ten minutes, and the temperature is somewhere below zero, but in defiance of the laws of physics the drink is refusing to cool down enough for me to take more than an occasional scalding sip. Consequently, when the bus arrives I still have almost all of it left.

As I step on board the driver, a middle aged woman, looks at the coffee and says -

'You can't bring that on here,' in the kind of flat and final tone of voice that you would not want to hear from anyone who had any real power in this world.

I've never been to West Meon before, but the buses apparently run only once every couple of hours from here, and so I'm too relieved to be on one of them to care much about the loss of the drink. There is a litter bin on the other side of the road, and I summon up my most polite middle class accent and say -

'Oh, alright then, can you hang on a moment while I pop it in the bin?'

She doesn't reply, or give any indication that she has heard me. I get off anyway and cross over to the bin, not entirely convinced that she isn't going to drive away and leave me if she thinks the chance is there. But she doesn't and I get back on and with continuing politeness buy a ticket from her and take a seat at the back, vaguely wondering whether it is specifically me she dislikes or everyone and everything.

There is only one other passenger, a thoroughly wrapped-up elderly woman sitting at the very front. We pass the half hour to Bishop's Waltham rattling along country lanes and through small villages where no-one gets on or off.

At the end of the line the elderly lady gets off in front of me and ventures a question to the driver about where to catch another bus to Winchester.

'I've no idea I'm afraid,' replies the driver with an indifference which is emphatic enough to save her the trouble of adding 'and I couldn't care less,' and which makes me feel happier than it ought to.


  1. Yep, that'll be the West Meon bus then! Once an hour and as rude as you like!

    Sorry you didn't have a nicer visit to West Meon

  2. West Meon seemed like a nice place, wish I could have stayed longer in the cafe there.

    Shame about the driver's attitude, but at least she was on time :-)