Just in time a safety officer passed by...

AN unexpected last-minute yell from one of two men cycling illegally on the pedestrians-only path beneath Botley Road railway bridge scattered my benevolent thoughts. I pressed against the dirty yet comparatively safe wall of the tunnel.

What was wrong with using the designated cycle path, I thought.

Seconds later the cyclists were clear of the tunnel, still on the pavement and missing by inches a car that was turning left.

One of the cyclists dropped his cycle and chased the car, cursing as he went. Eventually he returned to pick up his cycle, glowering yet seeking support from any bystander.

“You weren’t on the cycle path, you know,” I said as kindly as I could.

Thus began five minutes of alcohol-fuelled abuse – abuse made up of nouns, verbs, adjectives and past participles, all beginning with the same four letters. I was promised personal injury if I didn’t go away – although he didn’t use those precise words. I stood my ground until he dried up and remounted his bike. Meanwhile, like someone from the parable of the Good Samaritan, a community officer passed by on the other side...

LAST Friday’s Remember When picture of the four Oxford City bus conductors stirred happy memories of my old Mam who was a wartime ‘clippy’ in our home town of Huddersfield.

She was always smiling beautifully and singing atrociously. When working on the route that passed my grandparents’ home where we both lived, she would invariably swing precariously on the platform pole – San Francisco cable car-style – and wave to me.

For a time she worked on single deckers and it was here she achieved the Yorkshire all-comers record for the number of passengers on a 32-seater – 71 of them.

Unfortunately it was spotted by police and reported (conductors were in charge of buses, not drivers) and she had to appear in court. She pleaded guilty. Her excuse? It was the last bus and she didn’t like to leave anyone behind just in case there was an air raid. Her ‘mitigating circumstances’ were rejected and she was fined £10 – the equivalent of three weeks’ wages. The story soon got around; there was a collection and she ended up in profit.

Bus conductors were quite a breed.

WHEN Dolly Westcott’s Guardsman grandson Ross returned home safely from Afghanistan four years ago, this 82-year-old from Little Bourton set out to raise a few hundred pounds for Help for Heroes.

I saw her this week in Morrison’s in Banbury, her stall filled with the charity’s many ‘for sale’ items. How much has she raised in those four years? A cool £34,000-plus. Well done, Dolly.


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