Another Tuesday, another bus trip. Less of an epic, more of a routine. Things began well when the Kettering bus arrived nearly 15 minutes late in Rothwell, already bursting with Desborough pensioners eager to shop in the metropolis. I squeezed myself on board with the Rothwell party and was almost immediately offered a seat by a young lady. I have experienced this before and it comes as an embarrassment to we independent old codgers who, even on empty buses, walk past the front seats bearing notices that these are to be given up for the elderly or disabled. We don’t consider ourselves to be either. It’s intriguing that the young ladies offer their seats whilst young men sit solidly in place.
On arrival at the hospital, at least half the passengers alighted, most of them elderly, disabled or struggling with prams. Everyone now had a seat. I had about 5 minutes to spare in Kettering before the Raunds bus arrived and I climbed aboard, accompanied by an elderly lady. We both naturally ignored the seats marked “please give up this seat, etc... The ride to Cranford was short but exceedingly noisy with just about every component rattling and banging and I even feared that we might have to get out and push as pedestrians appeared to be walking equally quickly up Barton Hill. The bus emptied at Cranford where both of us passengers staggered off and the driver was left to make his lonely way towards Thrapston with his rattle-trap of a vehicle.
Considering the weather conditions, with snow still on the ground and ice much in evidence, The Old Forge was quite full and, to my surprise and pleasure, there were at least 9 of us cyclists. I was even more surprised when the proprietor, who also happens to be a cyclist, said to me, “Do you remember coming in here shortly after we opened?” That would be at least three years ago and yes, I did remember and I’ve been in several times since, on my own or with others. Indeed, on one occasion, I arrived 5 minutes before closing time and he stayed open for me to have a pot of tea.
“I over-charged you,” he said.
“I’ve been in here several times since then,” I replied, “and I wouldn’t have noticed anyway”.
“You may have your scone free”, he offered, when I ordered a cheese scone, due to arrive in 15 minutes.
“That’s fine,” I said, “my bus doesn’t come for nearly another hour”.
It appears that I have one of the most recognisable of faces and people have even reported seeing me in places where I’ve never ever been. What a relief that I never embarked upon a criminal career....