July 25: this happened on the margate route all the time

We took the coach to north Devon because it was a lot cheaper than the train. It was supposed to take six hours. This is a long time to be stuck on a bus but we thought we could manage it. The coach was due to leave a 1.30 from Victoria coach station. At 1.25 the screen suddenly posted Delayed, so we waited some more. They had said get there just ten minutes before the departure so there is not much waiting around in a confined space; it was covid thing. From 1.30 onwards we were all waiting around in a confined space and nobody was much bothered about it. They just love bleating out messages about safety, but when they should be looking out for it nobody’s noticing.We asked the guys in high-viz who were not letting us through the gates and they said they didn’t know when the coach would be ready to leave. The waiting went on. There was an old guy there with an ancient mariner look in his watery eye. The officials had found him a seat but there was a lot of close-contact milling going on, and a lot of whispering. The driver was still having his lunch; the coach was locked in traffic. One hour and fifteen minutes into the delay I went hunting for someone. I spoke to a man near the information desk, who was the station manager it turned out. He said he’d find out.  I went back to the milling and the old guy with the ancient mariner look. After five minutes the station manager came and told me the coach was here. He pointed across the station to a parked bus and smiled. I said It’s no good there. It’s supposed to be here, and in fact – I looked at my watch – half way to Bristol by now. We finally got going at 3.15, one and three quarter hours late. The old guy with the look of the ancient mariner  was, I gathered from eves-dropping, a former coach driver himself. He’d driven the Margate route thirty years ago, he said. He wasn’t waiting for a coach. He just came along to the coach station every day to relive former dramas. This happened on the Margate route every week, he grinned. We were two hours late but it was nice to know that things hadn’t changed in thirty years.


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