Sunday, 23 May 2010

Day Five: Cont'd


Tiverton to Taunton. Driver: No visible tattoos but a piercing in his left ear; pale blue eyes, faded with age; white hair, Leslie Nielsen hair; rolling Devonshire accent; watches the Grand Prix with the sound turned down and snooker with the sound turned up; for the last fortnight he hasn't been able to get a song out of his head, a song he heard while queuing in the chemist for his second wife's migraine prescription, played on radio 1, of which the only lyrics he can remember are "All that she wants is another baby, he's gone tomorrow, now all that she wants is another baby, oh woah-oh" and he catches himself absent-mindedly singing it sometimes, and although his workmates will give him a load of shit if they catch him singing it he can handle that whereas his second wife would not find it so funny 'cause all that she wants is another baby. But he doesn't. Even though he's told her he does. So that's a bugger, isn't it?


Taunton to Wells. We passed through a little village called Street. The way into the village from the Southwest is called Street Road. The village is twinned with a French town called Notre-Dame-de-Gravenchon, Normandy. I wondered if the residents of Street felt they'd been gypped on their own village's name when their twin's name is something far grander. Or whether the residents of the French twin's village wished they had something shorter and snappier, like Street. Or rather, Rue.

As we went through Street I saw a blackbird standing on someone's front lawn, looking up expectantly at a wheely bin. It was a tough battle of wills but, unfortunately for the blackbird, I could only see one outcome.


Wells to Radstock. Driver: No visible tattoos or piercings. Hair the colour of brick dust. Talked a lot. Not just comparatively with other bus drivers - who are, in general, taciturn creatures. He talked a lot. I enjoyed his chat. Most of it. It started off with him calling out points of geographical interest, like a coach holiday driver. Without a microphone. He leant over his driver's gate, half turned towards the rest of the bus and shouted, 'Tor!' I was on the phone at the time so I ignored him. 'Tor! To your right. That's Tor.' I ended the phone conversation and asked the driver what he was talking about. 'Tor, mate. That's...oh, you've missed it now.' 'Missed what?' I said. 'Tor,' he said. I crafted a question that would get to the bottom of this conundrum with no room for further confusion. 'It's a hill,' he said. 'With a tower on top.' He'd heard me talking on the phone about doing this bus trip, so thought he might give me a bit of local history. I'm glad he did. He told me that the Tor is a large hill bursting out from the middle of a plain. The plain used to be marshland and the hill was an island within it. It's supposedly the Avalon of Arthurian legend. Apparently, King Arthur's body was found buried there. How could I be sceptical when Bricktop told the story in such an enthusiastic way?

We had more chats. We talked about the bus trip. He drove someone who did it not so long ago, he told me. Bugger. We chatted all the way to Radstock. Yes, Radstock. Rad. As I alighted, he shook my hand and even gave me his email address. Nice bloke, Bricktop.

Day five was good.

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