I’m amazed you Brits get anything done at all of a day. If the buses don’t mess you up then the extreme weather will. I hate leaving my woodland home and community for anything short of luxurious paradise. But I hate it even more when I have to use your pathetic excuse for a transport system; laughable is a laughable understatement.

This rant/ informative guide came about because of several horrendous and stupefying events that occurred to my good self recently. My usual if little used mode of transport – ox cart, was in the menders having its exhaust done and they had to have her over the weekend. Then actually start work on her the Monday. It wa a busy time for me and the only way to get about and get her back was by bussing it. But I learned much from my experience. And id like to share my learnings with ye:

A short but conclusive guide to public transport in the more rural areas of Britain. Well….any where outside London really. For those of you whom are not from ‘round these parts’:

Specialist equipment you will need (Don’t say I didn’t warn you!)

• A heavy duty bin liner (black plastic bag)
• Anti bacterial hand lotion or wipes.
• An ordinary household clothes peg.
• Exact ticket change/ money/ currency/ coinage of the realm….from the 1800’s.
• A large bottle of fresh water.
• A telephonic communications apparatus with a full battery, adequate credit/ minutes, good signal and 4G roaming capabilities. Do Not under any circumstances waste the battery life!
• A rain mack
• Some wellies (Wellington Boots)
• Walking Shoes.
• Some light summer wear including sun glasses and sun hat
• Snow boots
• A good warm coat.
• Snacks and supplies to last a good few days.
• A couple of Dog Poo Bags, the thicker and stronger the better,
• A necklace, charm or wrist band detailing next-of-kin contact details and any medical or dietary requirements you maybe subject to.

…You know, I’d like to think you already know where I’m going with this…but anyway…

• An A-Z Atlas of British roads.
• Emergency Flares.
• Any old news paper, the thicker and more absorbent the better.
• A copy of public foot paths of England, this could provide you with alternative routes and short cuts home again.
• A bold heart and a strong will to survive.
• Luck.

Catching a Bus in Bucolic Britland/ Brexittain/ New Amerciashiredom.

Points and Steps to be Aware of:

• Research a month in advance local bus stops and their time tables and the routes they intend to follow and the weather forecast.

A bus timetable sign in a village near me has literally just had their timetable from 2006 updated…To April of 2016. True story.

• A week prior to your travel, do the above again.

• The day before you intend to travel, repeat the first suggestion again.

Also, in my experience its a good idea to use a multitude of weather apps, programs and reports to get a good feel of the irregularities and extremities you should expect to encounter and prepare accordingly by doing the exact opposite. The list provided above should help.

• Allow adequate time to travel (walk, cycle, drive, hop, skip, jump) to your intended Bus Stop.

– My closest bus stop is merely a thicket near a lay-by usually reserved for doggers. About a 20minute hike cross-country. True fact.

Not the complete lack of a shelter, schedule or signage.
My Bus Stop. Note the complete lack of a shelter, schedule or signage.

There is no shelter or even schedule on a post there. I discovered it purely by accident. The place that the bus stops. Not the dogging. I’ve never known the dogging not to be there. So they don’t need a schedule. The only reason I found out it was a bus stop too was because of all the discarded cigarette ends and scrunched up bus tickets on the ground.

• A few minutes before you intend to leave to go to the bus stop, check all of your planning and research again.

On your way to the bus stop assume all the details you have previously researched have changed in the space of time it has taken you to leave your respective domicile and arrive at said bus stop.

• After the initial 30minutes after your intended bus has still not arrived use your telephonic device to call friends and family to let them know where you are and that for the moment you are safe and well. Its also a good idea to contact any people you had intended to meet with at the conclusion of your intended journey.

• If necessary, don your rain coat and/ or snow shoes or light summer outfit dependant on prevailing weather increment. What ever you feel is right at that time.

• Much, much later decide whether it is still worth waiting and trying to complete your journey or simply to go home. You may wish to consult online transportation schedules or use your book of public footpaths. However, if you feel you might as well wait for the next bus to be late too, please refer to the first few steps of this list again; But ask your self:

-Do I have enough supplies to last me until the next supposed departure?
-Will the people I intended to meet in town have moved on or even passed away by now?
-Just how saturated is my light weight summer jacket?
-Can I afford a cab?
-Would anybody else in this queue want to share the cost of a cab?
-Would I want to share a cab with any of the other people in this queue?

• Lets spin on and, by some drastically optimistic stretch of the imagination, pretend a bus has arrived at your bus stop. Which bus is absolutely irrelevant. Now it is time for you to step up on to said bus and purchase the requisite documentation in order to legally travel.

Now the uniformed creature behind the wheel of this steam-powered contraption will not understand any language no matter his nationality. He does not accept coinage minted after 1830. He does not know where the bus is headed, where it came from, what stops are along the way, where your intended destination is or how long it will take to get there.

So, in order to procure your ticket then go and find a seat without spending too much time in such close proximity to this person you must communicate with him. ‘Eughn, euh. Ah!’ always seems to do the trick for me. Ive no idea what it could possibly mean but it doesn’t matter. Where ever you go, no matter how long you are on the vehicle, a single-way ticket will always be the equivalent of £2.90*. I have no idea why. (£2.90 is the equivalent to approximately 18 sheckles and 6 flamps-pence or an 8th Spoogle of Lambs Juice or a Bakers’ Quart of Butter Maids).

• This man, and it is technically male just so you know, is now responsible for your safety and well being for the immediate future. I say unto thee: good luck and god speed.

• Finding your seat:
Now your ‘permission to travel’ slip, or ‘ticket’, does not actually entitle you to a seat. It merely allows you to board the vessel and remain within its original factory set parameters until journeys end. However, this is not a problem because if you’re travelling in a more rural neck of the woods nobody else will be on said bus. Other than the creature from the swamp at the helm of the machine.

However, the closer to civilisation you get will result in more and more people and less and less seating amenities. Furthermore, as you get closer to a town the average public transport enthusiasts belly will get closer and closer to the seat in front of them and their hips will positively spill out all over the seat next to them. Either that or a ruck sack or Morrisons shopping bag will be stoically erected next to the seat-holdee as a warning to others that it is imperative that they need both of those seats for highly important works and reasons unspecified.

Furthermore, the more further you get toward a city, the more prolific the arrogant, rude and obnoxious passengers will be and become. Its nothing personal. Its just that they hate you. And everything else. Seats available or not, you are going to have to stand and get rubbed up the wrong way by several strangers all rubbing themselves up against you in unison. And they wont care if you cant push past them to get off at the next stop. In fact, they actually quite like a bit of frantic struggling and the resultant friction. Just what ever you do, don’t scream or let them see you crying.

But its usually straight forward finding a vacant seat, most of the creatures that actually travel on countryside buses live there and/or are related to the thing driving the thing. They are creatures of habit and quite literally stick to the same seat every time. For these subjects English is not the accepted currency and coins are only worth chewing on as they absent-mindedly drag their neandathol nose and brow up and down the windows all day. With that said…

• …Now is usually a good time to deploy you clothes peg on your nose as you hunt for a seat.

• So, having found a vacant couple of seats far away from the maddening crowd its time to gingerly brush off the larger pieces of detritus and deploy your bin liner over the back of the seat. Then your unfolded news paper goes over the crumbs and spillages of presumable organic matter that has mustered uponst the tasteful upholstery.

• Then its time to apply the anti bacterial hand lotion and quickly, because if you start actually thinking about what that sticky substance was on the handrail that you just accidentally touched you’ll realise that you will never again want to leave your house and will be highly considering amputation as a means of ridding your self of that horrendous rash that has just materialized…Ever seen what Giant Hogweed can do to a human beings skin? Only those not of faint heart should follow this link… Actually, do your own research. I’m not going to get it in the neck for this one. But you have been warned.

• Again, now is usually a good time to ‘sign in’ with trust worthy family, friends, guardians and anybody else not on the bus to let them know that you now are indeed on public transport. They will now wish you well and say that their prayers will be with you.

• Remember, keep hydrated, keep alert.

• After an hour or so of blindly skidding and lurching around the tiny countryside lanes your bus and its driver will have their crash. Either that or the ‘engine’ will break down. This is a perfectly ordinary everyday occurrence. Leafs on the road, too much snows, too little snows, whatever. Not enough coal in the boiler, not enough boilers on the coal. Etc.

Now, our driver is not a mechanic by any means. But he will always assume that he is. It will take an unprecedented amount time for him to come to realise this if at all. Now, dependant on how far your fatal journey has taken you into the wilds it could take anything up to an hour or more for an authentic, real mechanic to reach you. Where upon, he will scratch his chin and wheeze oxygen in or out from between his teeth in accordance with the severity of the mechanical issue or the severity of the situation in general.

Relax, this is the normal method of accident and repair observational reconnaissance in the British isles today. It doesn’t actually achieve anything beneficial other than let the monobrowed, hunchbacked, knuckle-dragging driver know that he is in the safe, capable hands of a professional.

• Therefore, depending on whether the air around the actual mechanics’ mouth was sucked in or out, and resultant noise longevity could mean that the ‘fix’ could take anything from 5 minutes to 5 hours to 5 days. However you will not be privy to this information. And in reality, neither will the mechanic. The driver will have no clue as to what is happening at all nor any means of conveying it if he did…

• …Take out your mobile phone again and let your friends, family, passers by, know where you are and what the situation is.

• Consider: paying an outrageous fortune for a man in a private car to come and collect you and then have the pleasure of his verbal diarrhoea during the remainder of your journey. But beware, this will reduce your phone batteries life. And just because the car says ‘Taxi’ on it doesn’t mean he knows where he’s going or where he is or what his name is. See, I circumnavigated a nasty subversive rapey subtext then. I’m not so bad…

• Consider: walking to your destination or even back home – True story, this happened to me very recently. The bus got half way home before it exploded. There were no health and safety amenities on the bus, the engine had over heated and conked out, I was fast running out of water and it was only a 2 hour hoof home in 40 degree heat along one of the busiest, noisiest, dirtiest stretches of road in the county. No option really. Off I trotted.

• Consider: asking the driver for your money back (‘Ah! OO-eee! Ughnnn!’- is the usual and most correct exchange). As the ticket technically was purchased on the presumption that the service would terminate at your destination, which the bus and its driver can now no longer hope to achieve in the pre-alloted time frame, then the purveyor of said service is now in deficit of services un-rendered.

Now negotiations with bus drivers can be tough but pointless. If you are lucky enough the driver will eventually concede and take your money out of his mouth or bottom and paw it back to you. Do not under any circumstances put this back in your wallet or purse with the rest of you coinage as this will inevitably lead to cross-contamination. Retrieve said monies using the dog doo bags and await a proper time to rinse and scrub them properly with a strong bleach.

• Several days later, when your carefully rationed water supply has all dried up and your phone battery has died, its time to face facts- Another one of the inbred freak passengers has to die to provide the rest of the survivors with nourishment. Now usually in these circumstances its ‘women and children last,’ but that sort of thing is really for post aircraft crashes and boat sinkages. If anything, in this instance, you will be doing the world a service by culling the weaker specimens of the gene pool and indeed halting the stupider specimens from reproducing at all in the future.

• Next, when the rescue man descends from his helicopter with his hand outstretched be sure to shout in a clear, loud voice, ‘Thank god, I’m saved! Thank you, Kind Sir!’ this will allow him to safely identify which passenger survivors are actually worth saving and which are best left with their bus.

• Now all that remains is for you to complete your written complaint to the transport chief. But be prepared to wait for a good few years for a response if any at all. And you can be sure that if there is a response received it will almost certainly say something like this: ‘Ah! OO-eee. Ughnnn!’

Happy travels and I thank you.

The Satyr

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