Friday, 14 May 2010

Day Five: A Home-Coming. Of Sorts.

398, 92A, 29, 173


The driver let me on over half an hour earlier than my pass allows. (On weekdays I am not allowed to travel earlier than 9:30am.) The success of the entire day's travel relied on it. So I was thankful that Mr Threenineeight was not a jobsworth or a Joy Spoiler. Not only was he neither of these things, he was, in fact, a particularly nice bloke.

Part way down the A396, the road South through Exmoor from Minehead, a delivery truck came charging round a corner. The truck driver was apparently quite a liberal thinker, as he didn't believe traffic should be constrained to 'sides of the road', nor speed to limits, neither. However, he did not act in such a comradely way after clipping some part or other of the bus. Whatever he clipped made an almighty cracking sound. We screeched to a halt in fear that something had been damaged, something the truck driver apparently wasn't concerned about. Perhaps this reflected his views on material wealth and the path to enlightenment. In any case, he disappeared up the road.

It was only the driver and me on the bus at the time. After checking and discovering no serious damage to either vehicle or person, we got to talking. He asked about the charity project. I explained. He told me how he has a close friend from childhood who is epileptic. 'It's a shame for him,' he said, ''Cause we were both brought up around bikes. Y'know, motorbikes. We used to do motocross, me and my friends, but he wasn't allowed to drive. All he ever wanted was to ride.' The bus driver, he told me, built his epileptic friend his own motorbike. The friend used to ride around the course before and after the races to ensure there were no obstructions. 'It was his only opportunity to ride, but at least it was something.' A touching story.

From Tiverton I was picked up by a couple who now live in the house my mother was brought up in. They bought it from my Grandparents in the mid '70s and have lived there ever since. I had been in touch with them before I started my trip and they kindly agreed to show me round the house.

I have heard so many stories about this house from my mother, aunties and uncles, that it was quite easy to visualise them living there as children. I remembered a story my uncle told me. He and his older brother had adjoining rooms with cupboards that backed onto each other. At easter, the elder would stash all his easter eggs in the cupboard. Every year, almost without fail, the younger uncle would slide the panel that separated the two cupboards aside, open the boxes, carefully unwrap the chocolate eggs, steal the back half of each, then repackage the lot and replace the panel. Genius.

Every time my mum and aunty get together they recall the time when, in the nursery as children, my mum was sat counting corn flakes out of the box (?!). My aunty came in and deliberately tipped the box over. My mum, the kindest person you could care to meet (until you play her at croquet. Or disturb her cereal calculations, apparently), was so infuriated that she bit a chunk of flesh out of my aunty's belly.

The current owners then showed me round the gardens, carefully detailing the history of each individual organic growth from asparagus to wild growing bluebell. Riveting. My departing bus was calling. But beforehand there was just enough time for a spot of rushed lunch and awkward conversation.

It was good to see my mother's childhood home. It put a piece of the puzzle into place.

After lunch I popped orff, back into town, to pick up the 92A to Taunton.

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