Tuesday, 14 January 2020

Miss Pringle Takes the Metro



by Gill James

still water

Miss Pringle did not like the Metrolink. It shuffled and shook her. Many of the people on it were a bit smelly and usually the smelliest of them all would sit themselves down right next to her. Or the only seat remaining would be next to someone who was a bit fatter than they should be and they would take up half of her seat.
However, it was cheaper than paying to park and it would save the hassle with the traffic.
She didn’t have to wait long for a tram. And though there were a lot of people on the platform she managed to find a double seat to herself. She generally marvelled at how selfish some people travelling alone could be. They would take up a double seat and later couples who wanted to travel together had to sit separately. But of course it was different for her. She was Miss Pringle, now retired, but formerly the respected teacher of thousands, yes thousands of infant school children over the years.
It wasn’t the best seat. It was rather near the wibbly-wobbly one that was in the bend in the tram. The bar on the window spoilt her view. If she had to travel by tram, she liked a window seat with a good open view of people’s back gardens. Her very favourite seat was behind the driver; it made her feel as if she was driving the tram.
It must have been all those years of teaching the little ones. That was the sort of thing they liked to do. It must have rubbed off on her.       
At Whitefield a couple with a young daughter got on. They stood near the door.  
“Why don’t you go and sit next to that lady?” said the father.
Miss Pringle shot the little girl one of her school teacher looks. Don’t you dare.   
The little girl buried her head in her father’s arm.
At Prestwich another young family got on.
“There’s a seat next to that lady,” said the mother.
The little boy shook his head and turned his back on Miss Pringle.
Quite right, too. She was no lady. It was funny how when she’d been a girl children were expected to get up from their seats and let grown-ups sit down.  Nowadays it was all about the children. Well she wasn’t budging.  She was over 60 now.
She was aware of a young man sitting behind her on the wibbly-wobbly seat. Well you could hardly ignore him He was constantly on his mobile and when he wasn’t making or receiving a call, he was exchanging texts with someone or playing some noisy game.
It was an intrusion into people’s alone time. If he’d been one of hers she’d have given him what far. So selfish!
The young man also had his feet on the other single seat opposite his own.  Disgraceful.  
At Crumpsall a third family got on, an extended one this time. Hindus, Miss Pringle thought. The females all wore shalwar kameez and had their heads covered. The matriarch, a big-boned woman, but perhaps not fat, promptly sat down next to Miss Pringle. At least she didn’t smell, except perhaps of a rather sickly perfume she was wearing. She should at least be grateful that the woman was clean.
The older woman, the same age as herself, Miss Pringle supposed, nodded and smiled. She seemed to be very careful about not taking up more than her half of the seat. 
The younger woman and the two High School girls made their way down the aisle. The man held the little boy’s hand tightly.
“Here,” said the young man with the phone. “Take these seats.”
The younger woman and the older of the two girls took the two wibbly-wobbly seats.  The older girl pulled the little boy up to sit on his lap. The younger girl and her father held on tight.   
“It’s so nice to see that young people still have some manners, is it not?” said the woman sitting next to Miss Pringle.
“It is indeed,” said Miss Pringle, though it hadn’t been quite what she had expected. A shock, really.    
Now what could she complain about?     

About the author 

Gill James writes fiction of all lengths for children, adults and young adults. She also works as an editor and publisher and in fact edits this e-zine, 

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