The Bowmans Episode 1

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The Steam and Diesel Tractors
Audlem Post Office

The Bowmans

(An imaginary everyday tale of Audlem folk)

Grandfather Joe Bowman leant against the bar of the Bridge Inn, speaking to no-one in particular:

"It's not like it used to be," he said. "The tractors were never as big as they are now. I remember when all anyone had was a Fergy or a Fordson and you could just fit 12 bales of hay on a trailer."

"Aye," said Albert, from behind his pint of mild in the corner.

"Now the tractors are as high as a house and as wide as a barn," Joe continued, taking a sip from his half pint of Marsdens. "If you are in one of those new John Deere's, you can touch the wall of the church out of one window and the side of old Post Office out of the other as you go past."

Bill piped up from behind his copy of Farmer's Weekly: "I had to get off my bike the other day when I was riding up from Salford to the Priest House cos the whole road were taken up with one of Stayborne's wagons — going like it were taking no prisoners, it were. It almost blacked out the sun, it were so big."

"Well that's what I mean," said Joe. "Nowadays, there's not enough room for traffic round the church, is there? It only takes a tractor going one way and a wagon coming the other and it's all locked solid. There needs to be something done about it."

"What do them flashing lights mean then?" Albert asked, thoughtfully.

"You mean them four orange ones on the sign at the top?" asked Bill. "I thought they were supposed to tell you if something's coming the other way."

"They do, and all," replied Joe, "But the problem is, you can never tell if something's coming or it's just been through — I've seen people queuing up by the Buttermarket for minutes on end waiting for cars that have been and gone and they've already parked up on the yellow lines outside the Fire Station."

"And lots of folk ignore the lights and you end up with cars and vans driving up the pavement to squeeze past the ones going down the hill." Albert added.

"The fact is, you can't see round corners," Joe said.

"You never could," muttered Bill.

"What we could do with is someone at one end speaking to someone at the other end to wave them through one at a time." Albert said, brightly.

"That's a job for ADAS!" said Bill "They have those Hi-Viz vests already and there's lots of them — I've seen them planting out many a time."

"Oh, you'd be popular," replied Joe. "No, I think the time has come for a rethink. What if it were traffic lights instead of the flashing orange ones? You know, ones that would let traffic through from the Square and then turn red when there's something coming from Woore Road?"

Albert took another sip from his pint of mild: "Now there's a thought," he said. "One way at a time and proper lights."

Bill put down his paper. "But then there'd be a queue of traffic along Shropshire Street and another back up to the Baptist Chapel on Woore Road, wouldn't there?"

"Not if the lights were set right," replied Joe, warming to the idea.

"You ought to write that in to Audlem Online, Joe" said Albert with a smile.

Just then, an articulated lorry slowed to let the traffic pass the Co-op, blocking the weak winter sun from the window.

"Better get on with it quick, then," observed Bill and went back to studying the livestock sales.