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The Adventures of Donna Quick
'Follow the yellow brick road'
Imagination can work wonders when you are on a tedious bus journey
An inventive mind can help beat the boredom of the bus route whether you are alone or with others. You don't have to see things as they really are. Play some mind games and make up stories to entertain yourself while you admire the passing landscape.
‘You’re at almost every stop!’
Middle aged and middle-of-the-road - that’s Donna Quick summed up. Yes, middle of the road is a very apt description since she’d often find herself dashing out into the road trying to thumb down the last bus without going under it.
‘Oh no not you again!’ Drivers would say, ‘you’re at almost every stop.’
On many occasions Donna was tempted to reply: ‘That’s because I have a lover in every village’ but thought better of it. More likely she’d become a ghost that haunted the bus route long before that ever happened.
Waiting patiently for buses was no joke; with five level crossings on the route it was inevitable there would be significant delays.
‘Betcha by golly wow - you‘re the one that I have waited for forever!’ Donna would declare to the driver when the bus eventually turned up.
And sometimes when drivers didn’t see her on a dark night she would shout: ‘Stop in the name of love!’
Donna’s youthful aspirations had long since faded to futile imaginations which if nothing else helped pass the time spent on the buses. Donna would daydream away the day on the buses that took her from village to village dotted along the rural route she was all too familiar with.
Often she would have episodes of enlightenment that escaped her once she arrived home. It would all be material for a blockbuster one day - if she were to remember any of it or have the time to write it down.
Rather she was the author of her own destruction because she’d found houses for members of her family all along the route thinking it would be easier for her to visit them since she didn’t drive. Her plan backfired when she became lumbered with repeated requests for shopping.
‘Well you have your rider ticket don’t you dear?’ Her elderly mother would say.
Donna was carer to mum, babysitter to the grandchildren and had an estranged husband who was never to be seen when he was needed. He’d go off to the coast in the car where she suspected he had another family - leaving her to struggle on the bus with the weekly shop.
Donna’s shopping basket was a strange assortment of denture cleaner, nappies and tampons; she was a multi-generational shopper who purchased very little for her own use apart from the occasional pack of hair dye and bottle of wine.
In Donna’s vivid imagination the bright yellow fields of rapeseed surrounding the power station in May became the yellow brick road leading up to The Emerald City and the chemical works by the canal had all the dazzle of Disneyland when lit up at night.
Well, at least her grandson believed her when she told him that, which was the main thing. He even joined in the fun when he told her the power station was a volcano.
‘Look out! There’s a dinosaur to go with it!’ Donna would point out to him from the top deck of the bus on the way to town. In reality it was only a tree that was shaped like a tyrannosaurus. ‘We could call it ‘Tree Rex couldn’t we?’
For Donna it was easier to view life through imaginary rose-coloured spectacles and she often found it useful and productive to do so.
It worked with the grand kid anyway; he loved the top deck and the views they would pass on the way to nursery school. When he was disappointed on days when the bus was a just single-decker, Donna tried to placate him. ‘It’s a special bungalow bus today and we can still see into most of the pretty gardens; look, there’s that silly fellow standing in that field again looking ever so lonely - he could be the scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz and there’s Mr Dinham out mowing his front lawn!’ Now that was a sight to behold. Apparently he was the richest man around. You’d think he could afford one of those sit and ride movers wouldn’t you? Donna mused. And there’s his wife just putting the recycling banks out. We all know what they’re full of don’t we? She chuckled to herself. No imagination needed there.
Then there’s the old fellow with a garden full of sheep all nine of them so he doesn’t need to mow his lawn – very clever and practical that.
You can learn a lot from the people that get on and off the buses; the things they say and their little eccentricities.
‘The third tree on the left please!’ a little old lady with a dowager’s hump shrieks suddenly in the middle of nowhere. No official bus stops for miles around and she always forgets to ring the bell in time.
Donna could easily be a bus route adviser if there was such a thing ‘Avoid the 3.25pm at all costs,’ she’d advise in a prim and proper telephone manner: ‘this is the school run and will leave you feeling as if you’ve been round the world twice instead of just over the county border.’
People fall asleep on such a long run which doesn’t really matter to anyone else unless it’s the driver but it can cost them an awful lot in taxi fare finding their way back home.
‘There’s a big noisy monster digging away at that mountain over there!’ Donna points out to her grandson as their bus passes a bulldozer shifting a pile of gravel.
‘Oh Grandma you’re so funny!’
The red brick 'sentry box' bus shelters are another source of inspiration that fuels Donna’s and her grandson’s fertile imaginations.
‘Look grandma it’s a tunnel!’
‘Oh no it’s not, silly. You can’t go through it - it may look like a tunnel at the front but there’s a solid brick wall at the back.’
She explains that it’s the entrance to a wormhole that’s connected to an identical shelter a little further up the main road through her village on the opposite site of the road. Contradict the laws of physics and between the two bus stops you could easily discover the mysteries of the universe while you waited for the next bus.
‘Can we go grandma? Can we go to space? Can we? Please?!’
‘No, not today we haven’t bought the right ticket.’ Donna smiled, ‘and we’d need a rocket anyway.’
‘Have you got a rocket grandma?’
‘Yes at home.’
What colour is it?’
Donna peered at him thoughtfully ‘Well I do have a green rocket salad at home in the fridge and there’s red tomatoes and orange peppers to go with it.’
A walk to the nursery school could be enlightening too. She would tell her grandson that the patch of petrol on the pavement was a rainbow that had just fallen out of the sky. She taught him all the colours in the rainbow too. ‘Red, orange, yellow, green, blue indigo, violet! Richard-Of-York-Gave-Battle-In-Vain. That’s the way to remember it.’ Reality could be so dammed boring sometimes. Make learning interesting and imaginative and children will be certain to develop a keen knowledge for the world around them, Donna mused.
Across the level crossing, over the canal and through the tunnel: ‘Yoo hoo!’ then over the motorway bridge and down the hill and we can disappear into the middle of the roundabout. Life can be interesting every step of the way if you really want it to be.
The time came when Donna’s grandson began school. Her own children had grown up and her elderly mother had now passed over to atheist’s heaven. The bus route would never be quite so exciting again. Or would it?
Donna signed up for an on-line dating agency now her life was her own. There was Cecil from Cincinnati, Martin from Melbourne and Nigel from New Zealand who were all eager to meet her.
‘Far too far for a lunch date!’ Donna declared so she conducted a local search instead and found her perfect partner a little closer to home.
Oh look! There’s someone who’s right on my bus route thought Donna and judging by his photo he’ll do just fine.
And she was right; a couple of glasses of Shiraz at the village pub and they were more than ready to strike up a relationship - and the rest we can leave to the imagination.
Lake on the bus route
May is a colourful time on the bus route
The bus passes through largely rural areas
A partial eclipse of the sun over the lake was worth getting off the bus for!
© 2015 Stella Kaye