How to stop traffic

Dangerous situations: being held at knifepoint, being in labour with complications, crossing the road…of these three I think the road was the actually the worst.

Picture a suburban road in 1962, with semi-detached houses and neat front gardens. There are wooden double gates allowing the lucky owners space to park a car, should they own one. There are scarlet salvias in the bed edging the lawn and gladioli against the dividing wall. The sun is reflected from gleaming tiles at the front door.

Of course, I don’t know this is true, but it is how my house would look on a sunny summer’s day, and I suppose it was at least fairly dry and warm for the following to have happened.

Adults must have been busy elsewhere, because somehow the baby gave them the slip. She was too young to walk yet, so she crawled down the path in front of the house. The gates were wide open, and through them was an enticing new world ready to explore. She had tough knees, because she crawled across the pavement and straight into the road, and then started to cross that too. On the other side was a park with trees and grass. It looked more interesting than the pavement.

The first sign of a problem for her mother was the fact that the large red double decker bus had stopped in front of the house. The bus stop was down the road, so it was unlikely the bus would stop where it was unless something was wrong – a flat tyre or a medical emergency perhaps? Curiosity drove her to go out and have a look.

To her amazement she discovered her daughter sitting in the road in front of the bus, obviously concerned that she did not have the correct fare. The bus driver was a kindly soul who preferred not to run over passengers, actual or potential, so he had applied the brakes firmly when he noticed the small bundle ahead of him in a place where by rights a small bundle should not be.

This is why I continue to have a soft spot for bus drivers to this day, even the grumpy ones.

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