Doncaster to Sheffield – I Not Sit Down

Doncaster to Sheffield on the X78 – March 2009
A bus ride from Doncaster to Sheffield, where a woman had great difficulty in controlling her two sons and one of the sons called the bus a bugger, and hit it.
I got on the X78 bus from Doncaster Interchange. Doncaster bus station, or Interchange as the local worthies choose to call it – indeed Doncaster Interchange must be one of the few bus stations in the world to have its own website, or sort of, see theinterchange.org.uk. Not terribly clear whether it is a bus station, shopping centre, or, ahem, a church. (The ahem questions the difference between a church and a shopping centre; perhaps Doncaster is one of Britain’s honest towns).
Anyway, I got on the no. X78 bus in the the dark dungeon underneath the shopping centre and adjoining the railway station at Doncaster, the dungeon known as the bus station.
The glass doors open after the bus pulls up, and you get on the bus, an oasis of electric light in this dark, dark, dungeon.
Getting on the bus with me was a mum, probably in her twenties, her younger sister, and her two children, aged about five and three, named Bradley and Harry (typically, both e-names, see my page on The Age of E). We all sat upstairs.
Mum had promised the children that they might see some trains, and indeed as the bus heads towards daylight from the dungeon, there are windows in the wall through which you can see Doncaster railway station. But unfortunately at that moment, no trains happened to be passing.
Mum then promised the children that they would see a castle, a real castle. And indeed that is true, for the X78 makes its way round Conisbrough Castle, a monument on a hillside that cannot be described an anything but impressive, which is more than you can say for its website, http://www.conisbroughcastle.org.uk/ which could be one of the worst websites you’ve ever seen, no? How do you even begin to offer constructive feedback to such a site, er, like, a photo on the homepage would be nice?
Anyway, the twenty-something mum had told her boys that, trains being short of supply today, there would be a castle, a real castle, on a hillside. Trouble is, it takes about 20 minutes for the X78 to get from Doncaster to Conisbrough, and that is an eternity for a little boy, especially when he does not know that 20 minutes it will be, and so the boys, getting bored with the scenery, began treating the upper deck of the bus as a playground climbing frame. That was OK, personally I did not mind that too much, but I was worried that they might hurt themselves, as unlike a climbing frame, the bus can be quite lurchy, and could throw a little boy onto something quite hard and unyielding.
However, it did not take long before the younger of the two found something on the floor of the bus, that he decided would be good to eat and put it in his mouth. ‘Spit it out!’, shouted his mother, ‘It’s disgusting!’. The little boy took no notice, and this coupled with his older brother’s increasing predilection to jump on the seats, caused mum to grab both of them, one by one and with a kind of lightning-quick snakelike quality, and dump them onto the seat between her and the window. She shoved a dummy into the younger one’s mouth, having first made him spit out whatever it was he was chewing, and this calmed him somewhat. The older one complained rather loudly but soon settled down to watching the countryside pass, and to be fair both of them seemed interested by the site of Conisbrough Castle, and clearly wanted to know more, which information neither mum nor I were able to provide (and having looked at the awful website, I’m still not).
Things went moderately smoothly until the bus reached Rotherham Interchange (ie bus station) when a large number of people got off, and an even greater number of people got on.
This exchange of passengers left the front seats upstairs on the bus vacant, that mum and her sister quickly zipped into, carting the little ones with them. This was a tactical error, for the movement caused the young boys to gain a second wind and they wanted to to clamber on the ledge that sits below the front window upstairs on the bus, and the younger one grabbed a couple of empty beer cans that had been clattering about the floor back and forth and side-to-side all the way from Doncaster and chucked them, one after the other, down the stairs. Mum quickly tried to put a stop to this activity and dumped both boys firmly in the seat between between her and the side window and said: ‘ Sit! Down!’.
But the older one in particular did not want to sit! down! and he stood up and started arguing with his mother. ‘You’re going to get such a slap!’, she shouted at him, but he continued to complain so she hit him, and hit his brother too who was joining in with the general merriment.
Mother whacking her son did nothing but make him even more angry and even more determined to argue and it was at this point that the bus braked for traffic in front and the boy was thrown forward, causing him to bang the back of his head against the safety bar.
‘You bugger!’, he shouted at the bar and began whacking it with the palm of his hand. ‘You bugger!’ ‘ Serve’s you right’, said his mum, ‘Now sit down like I said.’ ‘I don’t want to sit down. Not sit down! Not sit down! Not sit down! Not sit down!’, this getting louder and louder with every repetition. ‘I tell you! You’re going to get such a slap!’.
I got off the bus at Meadowhall, with mum beginning again on the physical violence, and the shouts and indignation of her son becoming ever more deafening and distressing. Poor mum, she’d obviously thought that the ride would be fun for the boys, but it’s nearly an hour-and-a-half ride, and she’d brought nothing for them to do, nothing for them to eat or drink, and had nothing to say to them except orders, nothing.
But then how old is mum? Probably not yet 25, and I am in my 60s. It’s all very well for me to be wise. Anyway, I was wise enough to get off the bus at Meadowhall.

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