As I struggled towards the open side door of the car to release my luggage and backpack onto the backseat, I hear the front door creak with the sounding of footsteps, familiar voices and the aroma of toast, salted porage and coffee filling the morning air. I smiled affectionately, it was the people of Braziers who had come out onto the porch to see me leave. I off-load quickly and return for the final kisses, hugs and handshakes. Eventually, I return to the car where the co-ordinator of this great place is waiting to take me to my first destination. As the car departs, the loose stones from the gravel clatter against the undercarriage – a final drumbeat to the fond farewells from my well-wishers.
Two and a half miles later, Crowmarsh Gifford and the red bus stop. The co-ordinator sounds his horn and the cough of the exhaust pipe disappears into the background. I pull out my personal stereo and a Bob Marley tape and whilst I wait for the coach I listen to “One Love, One Heart”.
The coach pulls up and the hydraulic door opens. The driver asks for my destination to which I reply Warrington. He takes my luggage and a short moment later he returns for my ticket to which he mundanely tears a page off, depositing the rest in my hand. I look for an empty seat, averting my eyes from the faces of strangers as I proceed up the aisle. A moment later, seated, I feel the tear of one world being left behind me as I move towards the other – one hundred and eighty miles away.
the bus journey…
The road is dishevelled and it is not long before my stomach is resonating to the same unhealthy beat of the engine. Ashtrays jut grotesquely, permanently mutated from previous journeys. The scenery, however compensates me; baize green fields of cattle and sheep grazing, with trees and shrubbery bursting with the promise of spring. They merge together peacefully until I drift off to sleep.
A dreamed pterodactyl wakes me up: the brakes of the bus are screeching to a halt. With half-gathered thoughts I look out of the window. The once baize green fields are replaced by sombre grey walkways, towering skyscrapers and back to back terraced housing. The gloomy mood of the city is reflected in the sky which is getting blacker and blacker; the jostling sounds of the traffic and pedestrians echoes their concerns as those who can seek shelter do so under shop entrances and umbrellas. I put the light on and finger comb my hair straight. The traffic light turns green and the downpour begins. Within minutes, the streets are awash with hammering rain, little streams racing along, towards the gutters, carrying the city’s grime.
Inside the coach station, the resonating sounds of waiting engines can be heard amidst those of shouting voices and Tannoy announcements. The smells of the adjoining cafe threatens to overpower those of the diesel fumes, my stomach rumbles in expectation. I get back onto the coach take my seat and settle down to some beef with horseradish sauce sandwiches while I wait for the driver to have his customary cigarette and loud bated gab with the other drivers. cable bus installation
Twenty minutes later and a few passengers more we eventually set off, grateful cries are cast and undignified cheering. An elderly red-haired woman has taken the seat next to me. She makes a comment about having to be kept waiting too; I agree with her and stuff the crumpled ball of silver paper that had been used to wrap my sandwiches into the malformed ashtray. Ten minutes later we eventually leave the city of Birmingham behind via a procession of electric cables dangling down like heavy vines. The woman next to me has started conversation, firstly about the weather and then…we hit the motorway.