Wednesday, 11 July 2012

The bus shelter

Yesterday Katie went to the Natural History Museum in London. A month or so ago her year group went for a sleep-over trip the the museum. They had lots of fun and did lots of crafts and projects, they even had a midnight tour by torchlight. They had lots to do but, as a result, did not see all of the exhibits. This trip was to see all the bits they had not seen on the first trip.


They set of a 9am and were to arrive home at the bus stop outside the school at 4:45pm. As with many of these trips, the return time is only a rough guide and they have been known to be half an hour early or an hour late due to the traffic on the way back. Knowing this I arrived at 4:15pm


Most of the summer so far has been cloudy, cool and very, very wet. This day was no exception. I did not take an umbrella (first mistake) but I wore my light rain coat which has a hood. I took my phone and headed out to meet Katie. On the way there I noticed the clouds had already begun to build, sometimes the clouds build up and threaten to rain, but it passes by and then for a short while, the sun comes out. It had been on and off like this all day. 


I waited near the bus stop as there were other people who wanted to catch the bus inside the bus shelter, Only a handful of other Mums were waiting nearby. A few Mums had toddlers in buggies and few had toddlers as well as older children whizzing around on scooters. A bus came and went leaving the bus stop empty.


The rain drops were just spits in the wind at first, I put my hood up and in doing so had looked up to see the mother of all rain clouds moving in fast. My pathetic rain hood was clearly not going to be enough. The wind had got up and it was only going to be a matter of moments before the heavens opened so I casually walked into the now empty bus shelter. Thankfully I had walked to the end of the shelter to the exit where you step on to the bus, but still remained undercover. The time was now 4:45pm and  I hoped the coach would not be much longer.


The heavens opened amid the sounds of screaming and scurrying children and their mothers. Into the bus stop they came, two by two... into the sanctuary of the shelter....


Within just a few seconds the bus shelter was bursting at the seams, I counted 28 men, women and children...Oh yes, and the vicar...


Next to me on the right stood an old man who looked to be in his 70's, he was rolling a cigarette and had obviously had one too many few swift-half's before coming to collect his grandchild. The lady to my left had three children with her, two in the same single buggy and the other scooting around in the rain on her scooter. Opposite was a lady with her two daughters and her little son was tightly strapped into a buggy. There were identical twin sisters who looked to be in their in their forties who both child minded, they were here with a number of children they were looking after. Another lady was shouting at her daughter to stop singing and then there was her partner who was looking longingly at the pub across the road through the misty bus shelter window. Oh yes, and then there was the Vicar who actually looks like a farmer...


By now the bus stop was of the correct temperature and humidity to grow tropical plants and raise butterflies. The rain outside lashed the side of the windows and, at this moment, I was glad to be undercover. The old man next to me started to cough and the children had started to argue over who had most room in the single buggy. There was a piece of chewed up tangerine on the floor under the bench of which the little boy in the buggy was intent on poking with his marker pen, once he had poked it he wiped the pen on his trousers and then poked it again. His Mum chatted with the vicar and the little girl singing had stopped and was now licking the bus stop window. I felt that there was something different about the feet of the little girl on the scooter but I could not quite put my finger on it, she scooted round and round, in and out of puddles singing happily and soaked to the bone. The noise level rose to a crescendo and then fell quite for at least three seconds. The small children cried, the older children squabbled, the Mums chatted, the little girl had stopped licking the window and was now picking her nose. I became ever conscious of my lack of private space, I have never been one to like being too close to other people before. I wished I had brought a mint with me.


One of the Mums at the far end of the bus shelter had answered a call on her mobile, she relayed the message to all inside the bus shelter, the coach would be at least another 15 minutes.... 


The noise level rose again and this time the din was punctuated with the bang bang bang of a scooter handle on the plexiglass window, the little soaked girl outside had begun to bang her scooter handle repeatedly on the window and her Mum, apparently deaf, continued to play yet another level of angry birds on her phone. I then realised that the little scooter girls feet were slightly odd because her shoes were on the wrong feet. At this point I could smell fish and petrol fumes, not quite sure why, but I began to wonder just how wet I was willing to get, or was it just how dry I wanted to stay?? not sure which but I think the fumes were getting to me..


The little boy with the marker pen had begun to eat a piece of tangerine off of the floor and his mum now was fishing it out of his mouth with her finger while he cried. He had drawn all over the coughing mans trousers at the knee, not that he had noticed. The little boys mum did not notice either as she was intent on continuing her conversation with the vicar/farmer.


Finally the rain began to ease and I was the first to step outside into the sanctuary of the open air... 


5pm and the coach came over the hill to the cheers of all inside the bus shelter, I stood a good distance away from the crowds of mums, buggies, children, scooters, puffs of cigarette smoke and vicars/farmers so I could get a view of the children getting off the coach. Finally Katie stepped off the coach and we smiled toward each other, we walked leisurely home through the lane, holding hands as the sun shone brightly upon us and the trees dripped on us the last of the rain.


Katie had indeed had a lovely time, she ate all her lunch and did not feel sick on the way home. We talked about her favourite part of the day, the thing she had most enjoyed out of everything she had seen and done at the museum. After much thought she answered, "The gift shop"....













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