Dear Kent Coach Party

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Dear Kent Coach Party,

I understand that you were out for your long – awaited trip on the horse drawn barge at Tiverton. I understand that you were excited. I even understand that the cider you drank may have gone to your heads, just a little bit. But there were others of us on that trip who were equally as excited. For me, part of the pleasure of that trip was going to be the quiet. No boat engine, just the water, and the birds, and the gentle sound of the horse’s hooves as he ambled along the canal towpath.

I didn’t expect total silence, of course. People have to talk, to point out bits of scenery, wild flowers, beautiful houses along the way. They have to buy drinks or icecream from the bar, they have to walk along to the toilet.

Was it totally necessary for the round of applause and the cheer every time one of you came out of the toilet? You were all pensioners. Were the cheers because you’d managed to use the toilet and hadn’t needed your incontinence pads?

Was it the first time you’d ever seen a cow? Or ducklings? By your reactions, I think it must have been. And was it necessary for the lady with the duck food to shout out “Out of the way, I’m coming through to feed the ducks. Here you are, duckies, come to Mummy?”

That lady, incidentally, was a pain in the arse. She was the lady in other circumstances who wears purple, with a red hat. She likes to think of herself as a character. She likes to be noticed. Well she was.

The worst part was on the way back. The man telling us about the company, http://www.tivertoncanal.co.uk/ gave us plenty of warning that he was going to ask us for two minutes silence, having told us about a memorial to men who died in a plane crash in 1961. They had saved Tiverton from a potential disaster by coming down in the canal instead of the town. He also said that it would be an opportunity to hear the sounds of the canal, water lapping, birds singing, the wind in the trees, the horse’s hooves.

When he announced the start of the two minutes silence, some of you were still talking, but eventually we were able to experience the peace and quiet, for about a minute. until a dog barked. A single bark. Obviously you are all people who have never heard a dog bark before. That was the signal for raucous laughter followed by shouts and loud talking. Thanks, some of us were enjoying the silence…

Our lovely afternoon which we had looked forward to, was spoiled by a coach party of hooligan pensioners. As a pensioner myself, I felt ashamed be associated with you all. Thanks, though to the boat company staff, especially Dave, and to Bailey, the Irish Cob.

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