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Quainton News Archive - Quainton News No. 42 - Autumn / Winter 1980 / 81

How to Cause Chaos - a Retired Member

One steaming Sunday afternoon John McNally asked me to take over on the gate, while he fetched a cup of coffee and a sandwich. "I shan't be more than five minutes", he assured me, knowing that I'm not very good at even simple arithmetic. I looked at the admission charges - 70p Adult, 35p OAP and Child. 70 plus 35p equals £1.05 and 35 x 2 equals 70. There seems to be some useful logic in that, somewhere, though exactly where and what does escape me.

I sat down and waited. The afternoon was very quiet, you couldn't say the cars were pouring in - in fact, in the five minutes that John took to get his sandwich and coffee, there was only one car. Four adults - that's 70 x 4 equals £2.80. A £5 note was handed to me and the change was £2.20. Ah! I thought, that was easy! John arrived with his coffee and sandwich which he put in the hut and I prepared to leave. "It will be a bit longer", he said, apologetically, "more like ten minutes, I have to get some more milk". I gulped and tried to look brave.

The next car had four adults and two children. "Good afternoon", I said, hoping I sounded confident, "four adults and two children?" I had already started to do 70 x 5 equals £3.50 when the driver said "No, three adults, one OAP and one child over four". My confidence wavered a bit. "Ah", I said, "I'm no good at arithmetic, but four sevens are twenty-eight?" "Were when I was at school". "Good, I make that £2.80 then". "Correct". This can't be bad, I thought, and with luck there'll be no more cars before John is back.

The next one had a problem. He had written to join the Society, but had heard nothing - could he join now? I found a membership form and was explaining how to fill it in when another car arrived and one wanted to leave. I suggested to the potential member that he should park in the Station forecourt and then we could continue the conversation between cars, as it were.

By now two cars were waiting. Oh dear, if I have to do arithmetic quickly anything can happen. Well, it can anyhow, it's just worse when I'm quick. "Yes Sir", I said, efficiently, to the youngster who was driving, "four adults and two children?" "Unfortunately", said the front passenger, "I'm an OAP" "Know how you feel", I sympathised, "I've just bought my Grannie Bonds. So we have three adults and three at 35p". Oh my God, I thought, what's 3 x 35 plus £2.10? I could hear my eldest and nastiest saying "Mother, why do you always do things the most complicated way?" Pull yourself together woman, 3 x 35 is 105, plus 210 is £3.15. I looked up, four cars queuing - on a quiet afternoon?! "£3.15", I said hastily, adding to the OAP "You'll have to have a child's ticket I fear". "So appropriate my dear", he replied. "They tell me I'm in my second childhood".

The next car was a Dormobile, with the door fully pulled back and curtains hung all over the place. Anyone could hide successfully in the back and get in free, I thought. I don't trust my fellow beings much do I? I put my hand on the side of the seat to lean tactfully in a bit and see what was in the back. "Four adults", said the driver, grinning, "and one child". "Did you know", I asked him, "that there is something remarkably wet here by my hand?" "Don't blame me my love", and the curtains parted a bit and revealed the large wet nose of an enormous dog! The occupants of the Dormobile thought it was quite hilarious and I forgot to give them any tickets.

Three cars to go. The next one had a cunning driver. "Shall I park up there and then pay?" he asked. "Oh no, I shouldn't do that", I said, holding firmly onto the door, "because you've got such a long way to walk back to me to pay". He looked at the admission charges. "Two adults and two children over fourteen?" I asked. "No", he said, "they are thirteen". One of the children took a deep breath, about to spill the beans, I thought, as I looked at her. She changed her mind and looked away £2.10 please". He handed me the money. "Would you like a guide?" "No thanks", he replied, "we've been here before". And pulled that trick before too, I wouldn't mind betting, I thought.

Two more to go. "I do apologise for the delay, but I don't usually do this and I'm hopeless at any arithmetic. So, what have we here?" "Four adults and one child". "Under 4?" I enquired, hopefully. "No, over four". "I'm five", said a distinctly hurt small boy. Here we go again (who invented counting?), I struggled with that one. £3.15 please". He handed me a £10 note, which seemed to make matters worse. Don't ask me why, but it did, and I short changed him.

The last car reached me as John came back - and the kind man had worked it all out down to the change I had to give him. I smiled warmly at him, so much quicker and simpler, obviously he'd met my sort before! "Thank goodness you're back, and I must warn Trevor Chalmers that, when he adds up the money, it won't tally with the tickets in any way and it is my fault not yours", I said to John, as we changed places. I had been on the gate for no more than twenty minutes and had managed to create a traffic jam on a quiet afternoon. Now you know why I am never rostered there!

The text in this Quainton Railway Society publication was written in 1981 and so does not reflect events in the 33+ years since publication. The text and photographs are repeated verbatim from the original publication, with only a few minor grammar changes but some clarifying notes are added if deemed necessary. The photos from the original publication are provided as scans in this internet version of this long out of print publication.

How to Cause Chaos - a Retired Member - Quainton News No. 42 - Autumn / Winter 1980 / 81

Text © Quainton Railway Society / Photographs © Quainton Railway Society or referenced photographer
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