I’m heading for the Wigglybus when a flowerpot man walks by. He’s very smart in a gray suit and red tie, with his folded umbrella. His gloves are green, which I suppose is appropriate for a flowerpot man. A lady says she thinks he has something to do with an upcoming flower festival, but he doesn’t speak, or carry a sign, so that’s guesswork.
This is England, my dears. This is the market square in Devizes, near the Market Cross. Tiff Banks came here in Demon on a Distant Shore. Like Tiff, I’ve also been to Pewsey where the statue of King Alfred resides and Tiff met Constables Pickins and Fowler in the police station. I went to the pub which was a model for The Ugly Duck, where I had yummy steak and kidney pudding for lunch. I had faggots in gravy for dinner the other night. Both food items turned Tiff’s stomach just to read them on a menu. I shopped in the little L-shaped grocery shop where Tiff had a run-in with Royal’s ex-girlfriend. And, of course, I went along Church Lane to Saint Matthew’s Church, where my dad’s ashes are buried. Saint Matthew’s was the model for Saint Thomas, where Tiff met three dead people in the crypt. Am I following Tiff’s trail, or did she follow mine?
What, you are asking, is a Wigglybus? Unfortunately it’s not officially called the Wigglybus anymore. The government-funded Wigglybus service, created in 1999 to provide transportation to scattered villages in the Pewsey Vale area which had no public transportation, was take over by Wiltshire County Council in 2012 and renamed Connect2Wiltshire. So the buses no longer sport “Wigglybus” on the sides and the bright colors are gone, but the service is the same and I’ll continue to call it Wigglybus. It’s marvelous, really. Passengers call the bus service at least an hour before they need a ride, reserve a seat, and the bus picks them up at their home or nearby. If not for the Wigglybus – sorry, Connect2Wiltshire – my 90 year old almost-blind mum would never get to go anywhere.
Riding the Wigglybus reminds me of Tiff’s reaction to driving on the narrow country lanes in Wiltshire. I tell you, those bus drivers should get medals. Gold plated medals. Awarded by the Queen. They way they “wiggle” those buses around the lanes, past other vehicles, at something approaching light-speed, is nothing short of miraculous. All the little old ladies and little old men take it in their stride, while visitors from the United States cling to anything available.
Husband and I come to England every other year, and this year we celebrated my mum’s 90th birthday with a party at the village hall. After bemoaning the fact her grandsons couldn’t come, she was surprised and delighted when they walked into the cottage. She had not seen them for over ten years. Getting them here without her knowledge took some maneuvering and out-and-out lying so as not to ruin the surprise. We had to drop them off at my sister’s place where they stayed until the great day, then put them in a lovely bed and breakfast for two nights – Mum’s cottage is too small to accommodate more than two visitors. They then went to London and stayed with their cousin. Only seven days here, but sadly, they couldn’t get more time off work. Anyway, Mum was pleased as punch. The best birthday present, ever, she said.
Next week we’re off to my sister’s house for a few days. My friend Carol is coming down from London while we’re there. Carol kindly allowed me to use her caricature for the ghost Carrie in Demon on a Distant Shore.
Why do I keep getting the feeling Tiff Banks is looking over my shoulder?