We went to a wedding reception in Hackney on Friday night. It was quite a big deal to be leaving Audrey with Bibi (Grandma Sarah) for the night, first time Ted and I had both stayed away without her. Sometimes I find it hard to relinquish control over Audrey… I never thought I’d be a routine mum, but I majorly am! I have decided to blame those first months when I was told not to leave Audrey longer than 4 hours without a feed… In those early days the pressure to “grow her” rested heavy on my shoulders and the slow, disappointing weight gain felt like my failure (since it was my breast milk trying to work its magic).
But I digress… Our hotel was… scary, weird, cheap, but thankfully reasonably clean and very close to the wedding venue. It was a trendy London brewery, with free beer, so Ted was of no use to me from around 11pm that night to around 12pm the next day!
We returned via Arundel to collect the little monkey (who had been happy and fine with Bibi, of course) and our return journey to Brighton was a debacle. Cancelled trains led to a brutal all-round-the-houses 2 hour trip on the 700 bus from Littlehampton to Brighton.
Audrey of course slept for much of the journey, but she was also fed her (emergency purchase!) Ella’s on the bus.
At the front of the bus (as close to the driver as you could hope for), were two young male adults with special needs talking loudly and regularly checking in with their guardian, Holly, by shouting back at her across the bus. One of the lads proudly declared he was driving the bus and they were definitely enjoying the journey more than anyone else.
Pretty much every time we passed through a new town/village, they would get super excited;
“I know this place!!”
“This is where Frankie’s nan lives!”
“We’ve been here before!”
“Does anyone need Durrington station? Can you hear me? DURRINGTON? Anyone? We’re helping the bus driver!”
The highlight of this commentary being the moment we arrived in Shoreham and they saw a other bus they recognised;
“I know that bus very well. I know everything about that bus. We went on that bus all the way to Southsea…”
Holly: “Not with me, I’ve never been to Southsea.”
“No, we went with Frankie and she said ‘Never again'”.
This had half the bus in stitches.
Around this time a large, partially sighted young man got on the bus and sat near us. It became apparent he too had special needs and he started up a conversation, saying “I hope you don’t mind, I like to chat to people”. We were very obliging and he asked us lots of questions about where we worked, what songs Audrey listens to at nursery, where we’d been that day… But the main focus was Clark’s (his name was Clark) diving practice. He had been diving off the diving board most of the day and is gearing up to jump from the highest board.
He wanted to know what would we do if he was to dive from the highest board?
“We would cheer and clap.”
He then explained that he always shouted as he dived; “123 – UNIVERSITY!”.
The conversation was often a test of our intelligence and memory….
Clark: “What will you hear when I dive?”
Us: “123 – university!”
C: “First you’ll hear the ‘boing’ of the diving board, then you’ll hear me say ‘123 – UNIVERSITY!’, then you’ll hear a splash. What will you hear when I dive?”
Us (catching on): “The ‘boing’ of the diving board.”
C: “Then what?”
Us: “123 – university!”
C: “Then what will you hear?”
C: “Then what will you do?”
Us: “We will cheer and clap.”
Clark helped us pass the time between Shoreham and Brighton and finally we were home.
The presence of these people with special needs on the bus didn’t teach us an amazing life lesson – this story doesn’t have a climactic ending… It’s just that; of everyone on that journey, they were by far the ones having the most fun. Between me (practically in tears as we rushed to get food for Audrey, because I was so upset with myself for not being prepared and for her routine being thrown – I try to be casual, I fail!)… the woman who had a go at every train guard and for some reason was travelling all day and hadn’t eaten, but had no money to buy food… the people queuing in the road obstructing the bus… basically all of that stress – there were these journey companions who were bloody loving it! And a little bit of that enthusiasm did rub off – everyone had a giggle.
Oh to be a bus lover.
Unsurprisingly, no photos were taken during the above trip, but here is Audrey being red cheeked but beautiful today…