Three people who made Tenby the place to be last week

1. The bus driver who, when we innocently enquired how long it took to get to Haverfordwest from Tenby, sighed with a heavy slump of his shoulders, and intoned, 'Two long bloody hours, that's how long, and we go through [list of about twenty Welsh villages] and UP and DOWN and UP and DOWN before we get there and I've already done that trip ONCE today and it's only bloody half-past eleven.  I wouldn't advise it.  It's nearly killed me, and I'm used to it.'

We took his advice and did a twenty-minute trip to the next seaside village.  I guess he's not going to win the 'Welsh Drivers' Ambassador for Bus Travel' prize this year.

2. The lady in the toy shop whom I found talking to a monkey puppet.  She'd read the instructions on the puppet and it obviously promised that if you talked to the monkey, some kind of microchip in its head would respond and it would reply to you.  This one wasn't working.  'Come on, you bugger!' she kept saying.  'Speak to me.  Speak to me.  Why won't you talk?'  She didn't have kids with her.  Just a friend.  'This flamin' monkey won't talk to me, Sandra!' she kept complaining to her friend.  'It says it would talk to me, but it won't.'

But Sandra was staying, safely, in another aisle, pretending to look at board games.  She wasn't talking either.

3. The drunk/stoned man on the bus who was sitting on the outside edge of the seat, fast asleep if not half-unconscious, and leaning over from the waist so that the top half of his body was hanging into the aisle.  He kept this position for the whole forty-minute journey unless the bus braked suddenly in which case he sat up like a Jack-in-the-box, said, 'Uh?  What?  What?' and then went back to his previous position.  People tried their best to be polite when they needed to get past him ('Excuse me, sir'/'I do apologise, young man'/Would you mind if I just ...?') but he responded to none of this and in the end the only thing to do if they wanted to get off at the right stop was to lift his head up, shuffle past, and replace it carefully.

When we got to the final stop, everyone else got off, but he stayed where he was.  I really really wanted to stay behind and see how the driver got him to move, but Husband said it was rude to stare.

Spoilsport.  I told him it was called 'people-watching', not 'staring', but he was having none of it.


  1. Love hearing the Tenby stories! More! More!

  2. These are just the kind of postcards I like to receive, when people have been on holiday. And people-watching on buses is a dying art, so consider yourself as acting in the public interest.

    Your posts have been missed in this little corner of Hampshire. Now this one has arrived, I'll be placing it on my virtual mantlepiece.

  3. Ahh! The things I've missed by following the "It's rude to stare" principal. That principal is not widely known outside of England:)

  4. KarenG - you'll soon be regretting saying that when I've posted nothing but Tenby stories for the next six months ...! But thanks anyway!

    Martin - Thank you for your endorsement of my people-watching habits. I shall pass your comments on to someone NOT VERY FAR FROM HERE. Thanks also for putting me on your mantelpiece.

    English Rider - I shall pack my bags immediately and move abroad.

  5. Oh Fran, I love how you make these people so real. I mean, I KNOW they're real, but only to you, Well, that sounds like something else altogether, but you know what I mean.

    My wasband, being French and not subject to the same sorts of rules as other people, was all about full-bore, completely unselfconscious staring. I found it appalling, although that wasn't why I divorced him.

  6. In my next life I'm coming back as that monkey...

  7. Deborah - I love the word 'wasband'! Did you make that up? I promise I don't stare (honest).

    Steve - is this just a sneaky way of getting to talk to strange women in toy shops? There are other ways, you know.

  8. Fran, I wish I could say I had, but no. I don't remember where I first heard it, but I think it's great. A little kinder than The Ex.
    I would forgive you if you stared, as long as you don't snore as well.

  9. Your people watching skills are enormously endearing - what else were other people invented for, I'd like to know, if it wasn't to keep us watchers guessing?

  10. Well, you made me laugh out loud when I read about that woman. So now everyone in the library thinks I'm strange. Thank you for that!

    But seriously, though, that woman was extremely funny:)

  11. Sounds like a great trip! I love watching random people.

  12. Deborah - No, I don't snore. At least, I don't hear it, so I guess that's the same thing?

    Jinksy - I think you're right - we're just here to entertain each other. It's just a big zoo, really, society is. We're just not in cages.

    Alexandra - you made me laugh in return, thinking of you laughing in the library, and being laughed at. Hang on. I'm lost now.

    Talli - me, too. It's just the best thing. Of course, one has to watch out for people watching US, too. I wonder who's written on their blog about a woman they saw in Tenby who was ALWAYS attached to a rum and raisin icecream.

  13. There you are, that is the fabiosity of Tenby for you! The seagulls can be a bit feisty though - one of them stole my younger daughter's ice cream there. Mind you, she was being a right misery that day so she deserved it.

  14. Chris - I am shocked! Your poor daughter, being mugged by a seagull! My son had his chips attacked by Welsh seagulls a few years ago. They obviously prey on the vulnerable.

  15. I absolutely must start travelling on buses; acc. to you all of life is there.
    Thinking what I'm missing makes me come out in shivers. Or is that just thinking about the Welsh weather?

    btw, what's wrong with talking to monkeys puppets? I've had some of my best conversation with them.

  16. I love the idea of people just lifting his head up to get past and putting it back afterwards. It's like a comedy moment from some kind of American sitcom.
    Oh hey! You could write a sitcom about your life! It would be far funnier than most of the rubbish on telly nowadays...
    PS word verification: Habbi. I think that's some kind of Jewish hermit.

  17. I love the word "bloody" used in the British context. Wish we said that here in the states. :-)

  18. Right, here's the plan. You give up teaching and get sponsored by the B&B Association to travel around the seaside towns of Britain.

    Then you blog about them.

    Then I put you on the Essential Reading List for all the Young Scholars, we syndicate your columns, bring out an anthology, then employ alter egos (The Tribute Blogger) to enjoy the, er, joys of Skegness (out of season) whilst we retire to somewhere clement.

    Your thoughts?

  19. Friko - buses are where it's at. Believe me. Please, please go and ride on a bus and talk to a monkey puppet while you're there. Then let us know how you got on ...

    Hillel - don't you mean some kind of Hammer horror parody?

    Christie - What's the alternative in the States, or is it too rude to put on here? (My kids read this, and they tell me off if anything's too rude.)

    Moptop - OK, I like your suggestion, and I have three questions to ask about it. How much? How much? How much?

  20. I do the people watching thing too. I try not to make it obvious though but some people are really interesting.

  21. Fran - I'll get my people to speak to you people.

  22. Anonymous21/4/10 14:25

    You do seem to have a talent for ending up on public transport with some characters. I love the bus driver; that's the kind of bus driver you want - the ones who tell you the unvarnished truth. :)

  23. WW - I guess it's the job of the writer to be nosey, so we can get away with it ....

    Moptop - look forward to the call.

    Rachel K - Bus drivers are a breed apart. I'm warming up to a post about all the different ones who drive my bus.

  24. Had to come back to read all the comments and your replies - a double-whammy for the price of one post!

    I just told Friko on Fridge Soup that my life is more boring than hers, and having read Moptop's brilliant suggestion, have realized that what's missing is a bus ride or two. By gum, I think that's what I'll have to do!! We could compare notes, although I could never come up to the standard of your funniness. Really enjoyed all this, Me.

  25. Deborah - thank you! I agree that bus rides would do everyone an enormous amount of good. I really think they should be prescribed by the National Health Service.

  26. I told you that you would love Tenby. There is nowhere nicer (if the sun shines, the rain doesn't fall, it is not closing day, the bus drivers' are polite ...)

  27. There's definitely a story in there somewhere! Buses are great for (strange) people watching :o)

  28. Hee hee - the lady with the talking monkey puppet is a picture I won't be able to get out of my head for a long time.


  29. Alan - yes, I think you're right. Tenby is a risk, but a great one if it works out. And if it rains, you can stay on the buses for a very, very long time.

    Karen - The great thing about buses is that if you sit at the back you can watch everyone else, and if you're on a high seat, even better. Not that I'm nosey or anything.

    Suzanne - me neither. Shops are a great place to people-watch because you can pretend to be looking at something while making mental notes on everything they do.

  30. What marvellous portraits, Fran — you have brought these eccentrics to life.

    You could teach your husband the invaluable art of discreet people-watching. It's even more fun when done socially.

  31. Oddly enough, I'm half inclined to go to Tenby after reading this. I came here via A Novice Novelist, and am glad I did.

  32. Stan - thanks for your comment. Eccentrics are the ones to watch, that's for sure. I will start my husband on 'Stage 1 People-Watching' this very evening.

    Mise - how nice to meet you! If you do go, please have a rum and raisin icecream at Fecci's and let me know whether you did or didn't nearly have an out-of-body experience.

  33. Anonymous3/5/10 16:04

    Did the bus driver have a brain the size of a planet? If so, it was Marvin (the paranoid android). A lot of bus drivers in Wales are androids.

    I live in Wales. I might be an android too.



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