Long ago, I attended a gem of a place called school. I realise I’m only out of education three months, but I’m talking about a while back. And whilst most mornings we would (all 6 of us) fit into the back of my childminder’s tiny car (we were who sardines in a tin got their inspiration from), there was a time when I had to get the school bus. Whilst this was probably a repressed memory for good reason, the lovely Hannah has reminded me of this daily journey, and I thought I’d share it with you all, because I’m on the train and felt the need to write a blog post.
I would head off to school in the morning, complete with teenage mutant hero turtles lunchbox, catching the bus at the end of the driveway. Mary and Hannah, the chubby cheeked cherub, would frequently accompany me, for fear I would get lost in the thirty metres it took to happily skip (or more likely, grumpily trudge) down to the end. This was significantly more trouble than it was worth, given that Hannah was (and is) the slowest human being on the planet unless she smells out food or money, in which case we see only the dust settling as she sprints towards it in a style roughly akin to roadrunner. Indeed if you put the food at one end and money at the other end of a room and lead her to the middle, it’s a real life tasmanian devil situation. There is, thus far, a lack of anvils dropping and dynamite going off, but I give it 3 days at Christmas before someone reaches that stage. But back to my original story. Well Hannah and Mary would escort me to the end of the drive, where the bus would (never promptly) be heard before we would see it, rickety and defying all laws of physics as it stayed in one piece. The neighbours would have already claimed the seats that were down the back and not broken, and so I would sigh, choose the least broken one with the least amount of rubbish or stains floating about on it, and sit myself down gingerly. Now the journey into school was significantly less boisterous than the way back, the entire population having spent a day making teachers contemplate murder and deciding, on the whole it probably wasn’t worth it (having been in the classroom throughout the day, I’m inclined to think they may be mistaken).
The way home was what the general public could only describe as ‘bloody mayhem’. I believe people wear seatbelts on buses these days. I doubt there was a seatbelt on that bus, never mind the fact that you couldn’t get a child to sit still long enough to buckle them in. Whilst leftover lunch got thrown slap bang into one child’s face, ruler fights broke out (shatter resistant my derrière) amongst the more cultured of our school going crowd, with screeches of ‘hon guard’ from one party, causing a general panic as everyone scrambled to their seats and anxiously gawked about for the aforementioned garda. Crisis averted and no gardai in sight, with the ‘hon guard’ offender red cheeked in his seat, the bus was still for 20 seconds, until a pencil parer hit him square in the back of the head with a distinct ‘Thunk’. He whipped around, drew his ruler, and normal order of chaos was restored. Shortly after, the chorus broke out with a sparkling rendition of ‘bang bang susie’ (don’t ask), and other such gems that 10 year old boys are massive fans of. Things quieted significantly as the crowds descended from the bus as we progressed down the lane, or got thrown off in some places (by the other children or by the bus driver, a man whose general temperament and appearance made the bad giants from the BFG look like Jeeves from Jeeves and Wooster), and the screams, curses and not so empty threats settled to the odd scream and a general background babble.
Coming off the bus I would often be greeted again by a smiling Hannah and Mary, the out of character smile from Hannah being a response to the learned association between the homecoming of Sarah and immediate dinner. Hannah, at that age, eating a diet almost exclusively of butter with some pasta thrown in, and sugar with a sup of tea poured on top was a sturdy young lassie who enjoyed the finer things in life- watching Barney nestled in a beanbag in front of the telly, dressing up in mum’s best clothes before she figured out where Hannah had disappeared to, and, of course, an artisan tayto sandwich, brought to her on a silver platter (or a chipped plate,or even just a piece of second hand tinfoil). She did, however, eat everything in her path, but those were her preferred foodstuffs at the time. My father used to refer to her as ‘The skip’, (used in a sentence- don’t throw that out, sure it can go to the skip’). Bless her cotton (in fact 100% cotton only) socks. Here’s Hannah doing her dressing up thing.
Despite the smile that made me think that if I didn’t walk back in quick enough she may just eat me, it did come as a welcome sign, for it meant that the bus journey had thankfully come to an end, and that I had managed to make it through in one piece, not that I could say the same for the poor child being dangled out the window by his schoolbag. Anybody else remember the school trips?