I feel slightly guilty about Peter. In the blurb he’s described as a ‘bells-and-smells bus-spotter’, but because I lost a lot of his point of view in the great Lydia take-over, he hasn’t ended up with very much bus-spotting.
So here he is, with Georgia and Olly, preparing to graduate and leave Stancester for ever, and getting distracted by what’s coming round the corner…
‘I can’t believe,’ Georgia said, ‘that this is the last time we’re going to the Black Swan. Together, I mean. I’ll probably go to it quite a lot next year, but it won’t be with you guys.’
‘Yes, well, to all times there is a season and -‘ Peter broke off abruptly. ‘… Oh, for God’s sake, will you look at that?’
Georgia and Olly followed the direction of his glare, and saw nothing out of the ordinary.
‘Look at what?’ Georgia asked.
‘Over there – just coming round the corner of Dorchester Road.’
Olly ventured, ‘It’s a bus?’
‘Yup,’ Peter said.
Olly raised his sunglasses to see better. ‘And? It’s just a bus.’
‘My point entirely. It is a thoroughly boring bus. It is a Bristol VR; it was probably in service up until five years ago; and some idiot is taking it to a historic vehicle rally. What is the bloody point of that?’
‘I don’t wish to encourage you,’ Olly said, ‘but how on earth can you tell?’
‘Well, you can tell by the name on the side that it comes from the other side of the country. Also, it has what I think is its life history blu-tacked to the window. Also, there is something much more interesting following it through the traffic lights there.’
‘That’s another bus,’ Georgia told him.
‘Yes, but it’s about forty years older.’
Georgia and Olly looked at each other. ‘How,’ Georgia asked, ‘have we been harbouring a bus-spotter in our midst for three long years, and not known about it?’
Olly shrugged. ‘I believe it’s an occupational requirement for a vicar to have a morbid obsession with some form of public transport. He’s probably been mugging up on it so he can get through the bishop assessment thing. Did you never see The Titfield Thunderbolt?’
Georgia laughed. ‘Oh – yes. Yes, it all makes sense now. I bet there’s a test. But buses?’
‘Trains are more usual, I will grant you. When I was at school the Dean – the current Dean, not the one who left in disgrace – no, I’ll stop there, or we’ll never get off the topic. But I think buses are allowed.’
‘Actually,’ Peter said, with sorely wounded dignity, ‘my granddad was a bus conductor. On the Routemasters.’
‘Not the granddad who was a vicar?’ Georgia said, suspiciously.
‘No. The other one.’
‘Did the one who was a vicar like trains?’
‘I don’t know,’ Peter said. ‘Bit of a pity if he did, because I think his parish got Beechinged in the sixties.’
‘Oh, well,’ Georgia said, ‘Routemasters are cool, I guess.’
‘Thank you,’ Peter said graciously.
‘Can we get some lunch now?’ Olly asked.
‘I was waiting for you,’ Peter said. ‘And there doesn’t appear to be anything else interesting coming, so I’m perfectly happy with the idea.’