Saturday 17th September 2011
An expedition starts with a stop
DICE games: Emily’s favourite involved counters, ladders and serpents; Tom preferred covering a map of the planet with red tokens, representing armies; Jenny considered teaching me a game with hotels, free parking and a water works, but decided an evening spent painting the cupboard-under-the-stairs would be more productive.
Our expedition to the town, it transpired, was also a game, in which counters move slowly round a board, spending allotted finances, acquiring certain objects, meeting with sadness or pleasure at stations along the way, and returning to the home square in time for tea.
We halted at a post called Bus Stop. Here, it seemed, we would have to throw a six to continue.
“It’s late,” Jenny admitted, after five minutes of waiting.
“It’s always late,” said Tom.
“Why?” I asked.
“It just is,” grinned Emily.
“But, if the bus always is late, why are we now coming to the Bus Stop?”
“Because it would then be early,” Jenny explained, “and we’d miss it. It’s something called Sod’s Law.”
Another giant, no doubt.
Many cages passed, often with only one occupant, leading me to ask my companions why none of the drivers stopped to invite us to share their transport. Jenny informed me that she had insufficient Money to buy or hire a cage… the poor, the young and the old had to rely upon unreliable public transport… yes, most of the cages were also heading towards the centre of the town, but, no, the drivers would not offer to take us there.
“Is it the law?”
“Not quite. It’s not against the law, but it’s not, er… customary.”
So, the drivers would not take anyone who was not a customer. Apparently, people with cages had no wish to help those without cages. Strange.
I had assumed the bus would be like those in picture books: two storeys high and bright red. But this was white, with stripes, and no second tier: a disappointment, for I had been looking forward to sitting on the upper level.
As it approached, Jenny and Tom began to argue.