Peter Rhodes: The joy of buses
A holiday ride, a memorable breakfast and why official advice is not always the best.
OVER to Sidmouth by bus. For those of us who hardly ever use buses, they are an enduring mystery. Where, can anyone explain, is the profit in buying a £40,000 bus and then charging half-a-dozen trippers a couple of quid for a half-hour ride through tiny Devon lanes from Beer to Sidmouth? Another mystery: why does the outbound bus have safety belts and stern warnings to use them, but the inbound bus has no belts, no warnings and big steel bars to bang your nose on?
SIDMOUTH is preparing for its famous folk festival, which is good news for the sartorially challenged. If you are a fiftysomething slob with a massive beer belly, dressed in grubby, baggy clothes and reeking faintly of urine, people will probably assume you are the town drunk. But when the festival comes to town, people will assume you’re a folk fan, which is much better.
ROAD sign in Sidmouth: “SLOW ROAD HUMPS AHEAD.” With no punctuation, it has at least four different meanings. It is not quite in the same league as that classic motorway conundrum “NO PHONES AWAIT POLICE” but still entertaining.
A READER takes me to task for suggesting that people caught up in terrorist attacks such as the London Bridge atrocity should consider fighting back. He points out starchily that “the views expressed by Mr Rhodes contradict all advice given by police, both on the night of the attack and in general.” The assumption here is that the authorities are always right. They are not. There is a time to flee and a time to fight. And if you believe the official advice is always going to be the best advice, consider the plight of those poor, doomed Grenfell Tower residents who were told to stay in their flats even as flames licked at the doors. There are times when your best hope of survival is to ignore the experts and think for yourself.
ONE of the many joys of our week’s holiday in Devon was something usually regarded as a nuisance: road noise. I grew up in a little village on the Welsh border, in a quiet cul-de-sac far away from the main road. Our nights were blessedly silent. But on holidays at Gran’s house in Yorkshire I would fall asleep to the steady drone of cars and lorries on the main Colne to Keighley road. Where were they going? What were their cargoes? There was a fascination, a romance, associated with the hum of tyres and, sixty years on, it stays with me.
THE computer spellcheck failed to pick up finger trouble in the above item and was quite happy with “cul de sad.” A useful term for a dead end or close where the residents are unhappy.
AND down to the beach at Beer for one last fry-up before packing up and going home. I had the All Day Breakfast. Mrs Rhodes, who does not care much for bacon, sausages, eggs, hash browns, black pudding, baked beans or mushrooms, had the All Day Tomato.