A low flying minibus

Mrs Dyer would be hard to match.

The A361 at Pedwell is a two lane road. Were it not for the 30 mph speed limit signs, turning out onto the road, from either of the side roads that join it, would be a hazardous undertaking. Oddly, immediately you turn off the main road to cross the moor, the speed limit ends. Legally, you could drive at 60 mph, though to do so would invite a damaged sump or broken suspension. It is a road across peat moorland with a series of dips and rises and a propensity to cave into the ditches that run alongside it.

However, between the River Cary and the bends at the bottom of the hill that rises to High Ham, there is a stretch of road that is straight and relatively flat. Perhaps the soil beneath it is different from the black peat, perhaps it was built with firmer foundations. It is here that Mrs Dyer would push down hard with her right foot and the needle of the speedometer of the brown minibus would hover around 60 mph.

To attempt such a speed in my Peugeot 207, with just a few inches of clearance between the surface of the road and the front bumper would probably be to invite irreparable damage to my car, which has 260,000 miles on the clock and which has to be nursed along.

Mrs Dyer would accelerate for the fun of it, because she knew that we enjoyed the sensation of hurtling along. Mrs Dyer was always fun, always smiling, always positive, always with a kindly word for those of us she drove to and from Strode College each day.

Somerset County Council always had an eye to saving money, and in the second of the two years I attended Strode, Mrs Dyer was expected to drive us to a pickup point where we would meet a larger bus, rather than drive us herself. Frequently, on the return journey, she would drive to the college herself to save us the extra journey time. There would have been no extra mileage payment for her, but it saved us about half an hour each evening. In retrospect, I have a sneaking suspicion Mrs Dyer would have driven us for no payment, that was the sort of person she was.

An abiding memory was of her handing out Christmas cards on the last day before term ended. I have put a £5 note in one of them she announced, as she handed out the cards. I was delighted to discover the money tucked inside my own card, supposedly handed out at random. I always suspected she knew I had no money.

Are there still Mrs Dyers out there, people who make the world happy by being happy? Or have we been engulfed by a universal mood of whinging and grumpiness?

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