Buses and Bitching…

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I know – nothing to do with the words of the title..but I like butterflies…

As ever, buses remain a constant source of entertainment and material to me. There is something about the encapsulated of forty or so people contained within a vehicle that makes the magic happen…

I have three little gems to present to you. The other week I was on the bus into town to meet Alex, who had come over from Loughborough for a few days. Downstairs was packed with pushchairs and pensioners, so I decided to climb the stairs to the upper deck, ticket clenched firmly in teeth Errol Flynn style at his swashbuckling finest, shopping bag gripped tightly in fist, I swung nimbly up the stairs and collapsed into the first available seat.

(“Nimbly?” O.K. maybe “with panic” would be better as these drivers never wait until you’re seated before driving away… one of these days I just know I’ll come rolling back down the stairs like an armadillo to lie at the feet of an unsuspecting O.A.P…”Whatcha doin’ down there luv…bit of a fall?” Anyway, I digress…)

I settled myself, had a mouthful of water, spilling most of it down my front and sat back to gaze out of the window and tune in…

“… yes, but my dentist isn’t very pleased with me – said the fuel rots my gums…”

Bingo! I homed in on that snippet.

Yes, because when you do fire-eating – I taught myself by the way – you have to hold the petrol in your mouth. I’ve done a few Light Nights (I’ll just bet you have!!) but obviously I can’t make fire-eating the whole act because of Health and Safety, so I do yo-yo tricks, juggling…”

A loud, strident voice breaks in:

“… but I only removed her from the group chat! I didn’t say anything bad about her – just put a laughing face emoji – and now I’m being called in for bullying her! You have to tell them I’m not a bully – she just read the post wrong…”

The bus pulled up at the changeover point where drivers swap routes, and the shift changes.

Are you all right then?”

Yeah, not too bad. Yourself?”

Oh these bloody new buses! I can’t reach the pedals!”

Someone else said that the other day – who makes these things? Do you want me to pull the seat forward for you?”

Yeah, I’m only 5’6”,” said the driver, a small, frail-looking chap.

Not a problem for me,” said the other driver, a strapping bloke, who proudly declared:

I’m 6’4”!”

Gentlemen – size really doesn’t matter as long as you reach your destination…!

Journeys And Jewellery

22711785_142694666475949_715329520_oI seem to have spent a lot of my life travelling, like a particularly bad mathematical question… how long does it take one person, one case and assorted memories to travel from Point A to Point B if they don’t drive… Consequently I have racked up a lot of hours on public transport, mostly buses, but sometimes trains. Now Alex has gone to University (he’s getting on very well too, thank you for all your good wishes) I am travelling again.

22751340_142526699826079_1909739752_oI’m not that great at reading timetables and things like that, but I do have a very good sense of direction, a good memory and the ability to mental-map places…perhaps surprisingly, since I am away with the fairies half the time.. Two weeks ago, Alex’s father and I went to visit him, taking more essentials, like crystals, plants, clean clothes… We went by train and I find train journeys curious things, I’m never entirely happy on them as they seem sealed off little capsules hurtling along while anything could be happening outside. We got there though, reasonably efficiently, although I was quite amused to see three rats at one station we stopped at, rummaging happily through the bins…

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Now, buses are the mode of transport I use most often, not necessarily the most comfortable or efficient, but by far the most entertaining – I have had some traumatic experiences but also some highly amusing ones – so I thought this week I would try the bus to Loughborough. It was… epic, as we barrelled down country lanes, scaring pheasants and glimpsing huge herds of menacing looking black cows, through some traditionally pretty English villages… I became more and more convinced that I’m a city girl…

A brief excerpt from my text conversation with Alex:

Me: “I have no idea where we are but we nearly killed a pheasant…”

Him: “Ah. I don’t know either. Can you see any signs..”

Me: “Just passed somewhere called Gotham but never saw Batman…”

Him: …..laughing face emojis….

You get the idea.

However, upon reaching my destination, I was extremely happy to see Alex and after I’d cleaned, tidied and sorted his room, we went out for a late lunch and a look round the shops.

Loughborough has some fabulous charity shops – I find it hard to pass a charity shop without stopping for a look, I found copies of texts Alex needed for his “A” levels at a fraction of the price, and I am also the sort of person who can’t pass a skip without stopping to look – but Loughborough charity shops have been the source of some stunning pieces of jewellery at bargain prices… look…

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Clear Quartz necklace… 
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This is Rhodonite…

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Wonderful Landscape Jasper pendant

And although I am still searching for that elusive piece of Faberge, or forgotten Turner masterpiece, I am more than delighted with our haul of genuine crystal jewellery… so I will continue stringing my journeys to Alex together like the individual hearts on this wonderful Fluorite necklace…

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Underwear? No, Over There!

Pretty wildflower… delicate and feminine…

I had a very traumatic day a few weeks back. So much so, it’s taken me this long to be able to write about it. I needed some new bras. A simple enough proposition you would think. I like to look at designer fashions in magazines and on blogs, but when it comes to dressing myself, plain and comfortable fits the bill. When I find something I like, that fits where it should and covers what God gave me, then I will buy several of said item, whether it be trousers, tops or jumpers. I am currently the proud owner of three pairs of black trousers, all exactly the same, from the same shop. Likewise, four tops, the same style, in varying shades of grey. Boring, yet practical and best of all, they don’t need ironing…

IMG_5755 (4)White flowers… a nice sensible colour for underwear… 

On this particular day, I set forth, somewhat dubiously accompanied by my son as I had foolishly told him what the purpose of this trip was. Understandably reluctant to spend time in the ladies’ underwear department, it was only with the bribe of a trip to his crystal lady, Lizian that I managed to achieve his company.

After a usual, run-of-the-mill bus journey:

Oi, oi, oi, love! I’m not looking at you funny.”

Pardon? I was talking to my son…”

Yeah, but I was hit in the eye by a firework and now the other eye has an infection”

We arrived in town and headed towards my destination, a large, discount price retail store. I had carefully written down my necessary measurements on a piece of paper, safely tucked away in my purse after a previous time when I couldn’t remember what size I was and had to hoick my shirt up discreetly so my son could check the label..

We entered the shop. They had altered the layout of the shop. Not a single item of ladies’ underclothing was visible.

Um, excuse me, could you tell me where the um, the um, BRAS are!!”

I have an unfortunate tendency to giggle at words that strike me as inappropriate in everyday conversation…like “bottom”. Sad but true. Having received my somewhat terse reply of “Over there” and a vaguely waved arm, we set off, weaving our way between racks of stonewashed, bell bottom (!!), boot cut, kick flare, skinny, drainpipe jeans to eventually happen upon row after row of bras, vanishing into the distance like lots of little mountain ranges.

The next part should have been so simple. How could I have been so foolishly hopeful?

Right,” I said with determination to my son: “ten minutes in here, then we’ll be off..”

Half an hour later, red in the face with temper, knees dusty from crawling on the floor to check the lower racks, I still had a distinct lack of new bras.

Now. My expectations were not unreasonable. Something supportive, comfortable, no garish colours, full cover of the area in question and no underwiring. (I get costochondritis, an inflammation of the cartilage between your ribs. It’s quite painful and underwires just catch me in the wrong place.) I am not an unusual size, at least not to me since I’ve had them most of my life, so it’s either a popular size or just one so bizarre, the manufacturers use odds and ends to cobble something together to fill the gap in the market. Therefore, to my way of thinking, I should have had no problem in fulfilling my brief – if you pardon the pun…

WP_20160506_15_32_11_ProForget Me Nots – hmph, I won’t…

How wrong I was. Pawing desperately through the rails I found balconette, multi-way, halterneck, strapless, underwired, push-up, enhancing, gel-filled (really?), full cup, half cup, quarter cup, sports wear, mid-support, full-support, heavy support bras but nowhere could I find one ordinary bra in a normal colour.

We stood, surrounded by bras, me holding possible and perhaps possible choices while my son held the ‘well-I-suppose-that-colour’s-not-too-bad-it’s-not-as-if-I’m-going-to-be-wearing-it-on-the-outside’ bras and I thought:

I don’t want any of these.”

I let my arms drop slowly to my sides and the load of unwanted underwear fall from my grip. I could feel a scream of absolute rage and frustration bubbling within me, forcing its way to the top like a molten lava eruption ready to explode.

My son recognised the look on my face from similar incidents in fast food shops, dentists, doctors, chemists – I’m not impatient, but I hate to be kept waiting – and lunged forward to seize two packs of bras in my size in neon colours with underwires.

I opened my mouth to shriek in protest, but my son raised a hand. As he spoke, a shaft of sunlight entered the dimly-lit shop and illuminated his face with an almost heavenly glow as he spoke these immortal words:

You can take the underwires out.”

Peace stole into my soul as I realised he was right. I could take the underwires out. We paid, and left, quite rapidly, leaving a trail of lace, satin and cotton in our wake.

So then, although my final purchase was still not exactly what I wanted, sometimes in life you have to compromise… Even as I write, my humble assets are covered by an array of neon pink… 

IMG_5802“Don’t see what all the fuss was about – self cleaning fur onesies are the way forward.”

All photographs Copyright © 2016 Alex Marlowe

The Art of Conversation Hasn’t Died…

Crystals for conversation (from left to right) Blue Aventurine, Lapis Lazuli and Dumortierite… All help with honest and open communication and Lapis especially helps to teach the power of the spoken word…

I’m not a big talker. Never have been, although I will quite happily chat if I’m relaxed and in friendly company and I’m reasonable at making small talk. It’s not because I’m not interested, I am, I’m always interested in learning about other people and hearing what they have to say, it’s just that I’m also quite shy. There’s a Yorkshire saying that I love for its brevity and wit that sums up the canny sharpness and economy of the North… “See all, say nowt.”

Comm (4).jpgThe furry vocal throat of Princess Charlie… complaining that the focus was all wrong

In the spirit of that, I have passed many an entertaining bus journey catching snippets of overheard conversation and pondering the fate of the talker and the possible outcomes… For example, two girls on the journey home after – I hope – a rewarding afternoon’s shopping.

Girl 1: I bought a bag of those scented tea lights the other day. It said on the bag: “Guaranteed 30 hours burning time.” Well, I lit one and it went out after two hours! I felt cheated!

Girl 2: You do realise that it probably meant the whole bag of candles…

(Puzzled silence… then gales of laughter as the penny dropped!)

Returning home from my mother’s, with my son one evening, four lads, obviously on their way to the pub and having already had a few, were indulging in jovial witticisms:

Lad 1: Look! Look! That’s where John got his tattoo! (pointing at the local butcher’s)

Lad 2: What do you mean? The butcher’s?

Lad 1: Yeah, he nipped in for a pound of mince and came out with his crap tattoo!

(Laughter and embarrassed silence from Lad 3)

I was left wondering why was the tattoo crap? What WAS it? Was it really so bad it looked as if it had been done by the butcher, who I assure you is a perfectly respectable gentleman who has run his family business for years… unless, unless he has a secret career as a tattoo artist!

Item three – travelling on a crowded bus to the vet… an elderly gentleman got on to the bus, tutting and sighing to himself. As he sat down, he evidently couldn’t contain himself any longer and loudly announced:

90 pence for a good screw!”

Shocked silence from the rest of the passengers.

Yes, I remember when a packet of screws from the hardware shop cost 10 pence and now it’s 90 pence for one good screw!”

Relieved silence and a few stifled giggles from the rest of the passengers…

Comm (3)Blue Calcite and Celestite… the Calcite aids clear communication, Celestite enables spiritual communication

My favourite to date has to be two little girls. I was with my son, who is just as prone to giggling as I am, but has the actor’s trick of the trade of being able to return immediately to straight faced immobility… They were sat on the seats across the aisle from me and decided to practise a piece for their school performance. It was a rap. About Shakespeare. I think the playwright would have been charmed by it, but for some reason, it just struck me as unbearably funny…

Girl 1: No, no, let’s do the chorus again, you keep getting it wrong, its: “WILL-iam SHAKE-speare, WILL-iam SHAKE-speare, DOUBLE YOU! EYE! ELL TO THE POWER OF TWO!”

That was it. My shoulders were convulsing as I tried to choke back the giggles, but then I caught my son’s eye. He was laughing, silently, but laughing. I let out a loud, most unladylike snort and became aware that the two little girls had stopped singing and were looking at me disapprovingly.

Mummy! That woman’s LAUGHING at us!”

I tried to look apologetic, but couldn’t. We left the bus quite quickly as “Mummy” was bigger than me… 

Comm (5)“So, which way did you vote then?”

All photographs Copyright © 2016 Alex Marlowe

Vets and Vaccinations

(Cross cat face!)

It’s that time of year again, that I have carefully budgeted for – booster time for the girls! Now, this requires a certain degree of planning, mainly because my son and I can only manage two at a time on the bus.

That in itself is traumatic enough. You have a pet carrier, you automatically become the focus of attention of the whole bus. Peoples’ eyes lock onto it, trying to fathom what mysterious creature it could possibly contain. A wildebeest? An iguana? No, it’s that mythical animal ‘THE CAT’.

Having endured the bus journey and obvious statements:

Are you going to the vet?”

No, the cat’s adding to her frequent traveller credits…” then there is getting the cat out of the carrier. They got wise to the tipping-it-up-slowly method so they slide out like a jelly onto a plate, and now they brace their legs against the sides, necessitating a swift dis-assemble of the carrier. Once out, their behaviour cannot be predicted. My tabby will roll in on herself like a furry armadillo and steadfastly refuses any attempts by our vet to make friends. (She’s a ‘cat person’ and would love to charm my princesses, but they remain indifferent to her “puss, pussing” and chin tickles.) My Siamese buries her head in my arms and won’t look.

No! No! Don’t look at me! I haven’t had time to do my face!”

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(My little Amber tree of good fortune, Amber is a natural analgesic, healer and stress reliever!)

My older black cat grips like glue to anything – the table, my face, my son’s coat – while the younger one metamorphoses into mercury and attempts to pour off the edge of the table…

Having had the requisite injections, then a repeat of the arduous bus journey…

Ooo, is ‘e poorly then?”

No, she’s just had her booster…”

Bad things them boosters, they put the disease inside you.”

By this point, I am crying inside and the cat is calling on her tiger powers, ripping at the carrier and screaming: “Let me out! I know you’re out there! You’ll be sorry…”

Once home, they return to their normal, loving selves: “Oh we’re so glad to be home! We missed you chair, we missed you table, we missed you carpet…” as they rub their chins ecstatically against the furniture.

My son is due for his booster. He asked me doubtfully what they put in vaccines. Unable to offer a reply, he searched it on the Internet. He wasn’t happy… He refused to go in the carrier, I had to tempt him in with a chocolate biscuit, he shouted all the way on the bus, then when we were at the doctor’s, he bit the nurse… 

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(Apophylite cluster – can also help with the relief of stress, tension and anxiety…)

All photos were taken by my son!

Bus Journeys

bas

I am one of life’s unfortunates who never learned to drive. I had lessons at 17 with an instructor who looked somewhat like a 70’s snooker player, but I didn’t have the mentality that enabled me to do more than look where I’m going, press pedals and be aware of other road users. My driving lessons came to an end when one foggy afternoon I took a wrong turn down a country lane and the instructor said:

I hope nobody sees us, they could get the wrong idea…”

I promptly collapsed into giggles, nearly crashed the car and thus ended my driving career.

Since then, I have been completely reliant on public transport, which on the whole is reasonable, although I have learned to carry plenty of tissues and plastic bags. On the other hand, there have been times when I long for the comfort of a car, the confidence and smugness that a car bestows on you, as you roll smoothly past a queue of miserable wet people waiting patiently in the rain like sodden newspapers… I had one particular week where every other bus journey, some child threw up… I have learned to sit at least two seats away from children. One day, I was fortunate enough to witness a natural phenomena: a father had been kind enough to take his children swimming – I deduced this from their conversation. I smiled politely at the family whilst keeping a wary eye on the youngest son, who was strangely quiet. Then – he went from white to green in a matter of seconds. In a matter of seconds I was amazed, amused, then appalled as said child produced a copious amount of vomit, quite out of proportion to his size…

Told you ya shouldn’t a had ‘em crisps!” his sister gloated.

I murmured sympathetically and handed over tissues to the embarrassed father…

WP_20160428_15_53_23_Pro (2).jpgThese stones aid and protect travellers… (from left to right: Red Calcite, African Turquoise, Angelite and Malachite)

Unfortunately, my propensity for inappropriate laughter has shown no signs of leaving me as I get older… Bus journeys are the worst as you have no means of rapid exit either… On my route home, there is a poor old man that I see unfailingly every week on a certain day. He has a habit… a habit of clearing his throat loudly and disconcertingly, and one day as he was making him way to a seat, the bus lurched, he grabbed the seat in from of me and: “HmmHMMMhm!!” about four inches from my face. That was it. I snorted, gulped, wheezed and shook with silent giggles. I was with my youngest son who has the same tendency for the giggles, but as an actor, he is able to return to straight-faced immobility in a second, leaving me choking and spluttering like a walrus.

I see this poor old man every week, and as he shuffles past me, the doubtful look he gives me is enough to start the tidal wave of unstoppable, unforgivable mirth.

I’m so sorry. If you’re ever on a bus and you see a strange woman festooned with plastic bags, clutching tissues and snuffling with laughter, it’s probably me… sorry…

All photos were taken by my son!