Badger Trail

I double check the appointment time and work out which bus to catch. I need to leave my house 30 minutes before its departure time and walk half a mile to the stop. I have to check the weather and prey its not going to rain as my coat isn’t water proof, being held together with scrap wire its seen better days yet I can’t afford a new one.

At the bus stop I double check I have the bus fare as once I discovered minutes before its arrival I didn’t have it so had to run to the Bank in the High Street and just made it back in time to leap on last.

It’s also wise to arrive 5-10 minutes early as it’s rather a small bus and it can be quite busy. If it’s cold or raining when it arrives you usually have to wait 5-10 minutes for the driver to let you on-board.

So we are finally off, that’s 10 minutes after I would have arrived in Chippenham had I been driving from my house. We still have a long way to go though as this bus likes to detour all around the villages before it finally makes it to Chippenham then its not all over as you still have to trek up to the office.

Having survived the horrors of public transport such as the constant hiss and beat of people’s ear piece music pollution or young girls talking loud enough to be conversing with their friends on a completely different bus altogether. Then there are those mobile phone calls with all their petty useless chit chat, “I’m on the bus” and then the three push chairs struggling to fit into a space made for one before the bus can continue its journey.

At the ‘hospital’ office I negotiate the automatic doors and greet the security guard who has been stood on the same spot for the past 10 years. I await my turn at the reception desk where I’m ‘ticked off’ the list as having made it and asked to sit down over in the waiting area. It’s a process repeated every week all year long.

I take a seat in amongst the other ‘patients’. It’s not their physical health that’s not up on par but their mental health or their physical deficiencies mainly in the appearance department. These are mainly societies less fortunate products of child birth. Not everyone is born beautiful.

One by one we are called across to the interrogation desks. Its my turn and I struggle to get up out of the ground level seats. At the desk you have to pull back the ‘one tonne’ chair away from the desk, so as you can sit in it. Cheryl greets me with her delightful smile and asked how I am. I bite my tongue, smile back and say, “I’m fine thank you, and how are you”.

So its taken me one hour and forty minutes to get here and now we have to go through all the usual hoops to satisfy Government I am actually still alive. I sign a piece of paper to prove this fact and if I’m lucky I’m on my way again, if not I may have to sit through a computer search to see if there are any miracles happening, the only one being the retarded Microsoft system eventually makes it through the process.

Some times we get to discuss how the local badger population is coping with Cheryl’s amazing control of her car on the dark mornings as she aims across the county to her desk in the ‘Temple of Doom’. Some times I mention how all this nonsense would be unnecessary if only Government would step down from their Ivory Tower and see what the actuall problem really is.

Well at last I’m out and heading back towards the bus stop but its far from over yet. There’s still 45 minutes until the next bus back and with not a single penny in my pocket I only have the cold steel seat at the bus station to rest upon and wide open to the elements for another potential soaking or hypothermia from the prevailing wind.

The usual crowd are there waiting too, awful language, smoking, spitting, arguing, asking stupid questions and feeding babies indescribable junk food. There is always someone who arrives running knowing full well what time their bus departs and as it reverses out of its bay and departs without them they begin to swear out aloud as if it’s all the drivers fault that they couldn’t be bothered to gesture to the clock on their very expensive smart phone.

Now it’s all aboard the cattle truck, heating full blast, oxygen levels falling fast as the quadruple layered passengers glue every window firmly shut and wish they were back in their centrally heated ovens that they like to call a house and home. The problem is two fold, if I’m not constantly looking directly ahead in the direction of travel, I rapidly become travel sick. This is compounded by very hot stale air as I’m far more used to the Arctic conditions of the goat herder’s shack I inhabit.

When we finally approach Malmesbury I make a calculation based on how much sweat is pouring off me as to whether I can make it all the way or if I shall have to get off at the Hospital and walk a mile across town slowly to recover my health. If I make it to the last stop I then have to attempt to stand up and re-gain circulation from the planks they call seats. I can then stagger the half mile back to home to recover ready to repeat the whole process over again the following week.

There an back by Car = 1 Hour      There and back via Bus = 4 Hours

Don’t even mention the wild boars!

25 January, 2015

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All images and written works by David Forward are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License