'Shocked, so I am,’ I said.
‘I’m terribly sorry,’ Grange Girl replied.
It’s not often I get Grangey on the back foot so I pressed my advantage.
‘Shocked to the core.’
‘All right, don’t overdo it.’
‘But fancy you getting the 28 for the first time without consulting me.’
‘I don’t know what I was thinking. You are the Bus Oracle.’
‘Can I presume that your failure to properly plan your expedition resulted in disaster?’
Grangey stared at her toes. ‘It did.'
She looked so mortified that I softened. ‘Tell me all about it.’
Turns out Grangey had made the basic schoolboy error of thinking that the bus station was the correct place to catch the bus.
‘I know. How could I be so stupid?’
Luckily a helpful bus driver pulled up outside Waitrose, saw Grangey loitering confusedly on the wrong side of the street, and gently signalled to her by yelling, ‘Oi luv!’
Grangey darted across the Most Tricky Road To Cross In Lewes and, weeping with humiliation and relief, managed to buy her city saver. There was no further incident.
‘Well Grangey, if only you’d come to me,’ I said, fixing her with a Paddington hard stare. ‘I could have told you that the bus station is owned by a development company who are struggling to get planning permission to turn it into shops. That they wouldn’t let Brighton & Hove buses use the station for anything less than twenty grand and buses had to drop people off precariously on East Street, the Narrowest Pavement In Lewes, but that they have seen reason and the bus now stops there en route to Tunbridge Wells, though not on its westbound journey.’
Grangey sighed. ‘Yes, but I probably wouldn’t have remembered any of that. In fact I’ve already forgotten the beginning.’
‘All you have to remember is: next bus trip, speak to me. Promise?’
Grangey crossed her heart and hoped to die, and there we left it. Her to go home and brood over her rare error; me to hop smugly on the next 28 that juddered to a halt outside the British Heart Foundation. Twenty minutes later I was in a city where a banner announced a ‘Festival of Shopping.’ I joined in with a whoop.
Later I easily caught a 29 from outside M&S, and drifted off into a self-satisfied reverie about how much I knew about public transport. I awoke with a start to find that we were going the wrong way, heading through the Cuilfail Tunnel at great speed, rather than towards the prison. Apparently, explained the driver when I shouted at him, this was to avoid some silly roadworks. I would have enjoyed the irony of having to get out at the bus station had I not been so cross. I trudged home all the way across town, avoiding passing Grange Girl’s door. I’m sure she wouldn’t have gloated, but I couldn’t take the risk.
Beth Miller, 24th May 2011. Published in VivaLewes.com and in Viva Lewes magazine, August 2011 issue.