Mendip Madness

A Tale from a Bus Driver in Ciderland

Geoff Stray is a local bus driver and occasionally posts up stories from his journeys around Mendip on his Facebook page. I keep telling him he should start a blog as his stories are brilliantly written and hilarious, he’s declined, but he is publishing a printed anthology of them soon, to be called ‘Mendip Madness’ and subtitled ‘Transporting the whack jobs of Ciderland’. I’ll let you know how you can get a copy when it’s available. His most recent post was so ‘Normal for Glastonbury’ that I asked him if I could include it as a guest post on here, which he kindly agreed to.

Before you read it I’d like to share a few more things about Geoff. As you’d expect from a long term Glastonbury character, he’s a man of many talents. Geoff is an international speaker, an expert on the Mayan calendar, and a published author (see his author profile on Amazon. His work includes several books on the prophesied End of the World which took place in 2012 – he doesn’t talk about that so much nowadays. He’s also beautifully restored a classic Panther motorcycle, makes handmade leather shoes, sports a moustache which makes him look a little bit like a Swedish porn star, and is better than me at Scrabble. I hope you enjoy his story.

The Battle of Evercreech by Geoff Stray

I was travelling from Wells to Frome on the 161. At the Cenotaph in Shepton Mallet, a few people got on the bus, including a lady of about 70 who asked for a ticket to the Charlton Inn, on the edge of Shepton. I recognized her from the previous week, when I had also dropped her at the Charlton Inn. There were now about 6 passengers in all. I left the Cenotaph bus stop, went round three roundabouts and stopped at the stop opposite the police station. A man in his late thirties with confused hair and a tweed jacket was standing there, looking flustered and searching his pockets for his ticket. Eventually, he found it and showed it to me. It was a day ticket, I said, “Thank you,” and he went and sat down, without saying a word.

As I drove off, the confused hair reminded me of something. My mind drifted to a meeting I had recently had with a man called Peter Liptic. He had emailed me saying he’d studied my book and wanted to discuss his experiences with me, face to face. He lived in Guatemala but would be in the UK shortly and so we arranged to meet in the George and Pilgrim. When we met, Peter described how stunned he had been to read my account of Philip K. Dick’s strange experience in 1974, due to the fact that he himself had recently had a very similar experience.

Philip K. Dick was a prolific science-fiction author whose mind had been invaded by an entity that had gained access by traveling to the pineal gland via the optic nerve in the form of a pink light beam – it was an all-knowing mind that spoke Greek, Hebrew and Sanskrit, making him feel he had been insane all his life and then suddenly become sane. He called it the Plasmate.

The only photo I appear to have taken of Geoff – fancy dress party at the Assembly Rooms, Halloween 2016

Peter explained how he had been dancing close to a speaker at a rave during a solar eclipse after eating a lot of magic mushrooms. That’s when the Plasmate gained access. Like Dick’s Plasmate, it had been organizing his life, and it had told him it wanted to talk to two authors in the UK. One of those authors was myself. If I agreed, Peter would go into an altered state and allow it to come through and have a conversation with me. I told him I was very interested to talk to the Plasmate. Peter then said he would have to achieve the altered state via a dose of psilocybin-containing mushrooms… and I would also be required to accompany him in the psilocybin-saturated state.

I had heard tales of telepathic link-ups during psilocybin states, and visualised the amorphous pink blob whipping up his optic nerve and sparking across the gap between our eyeballs… the Plasmate looking for a new host! My face froze into an anxious frown … and I said I would have to think about it…

Just then, I heard footsteps and looked in the internal mirror. It was the 70-year old lady who had wanted the Charlton Inn. We were now way past it, on the hill leading into the village of Doulting. “Oh”, I said, slowing down to a halt, “You wanted the Charlton, didn’t you?” “Yes,” she said, “Are we nearly there?” “No, sorry – it’s back there, where it was last week”, I said, pointing back in the direction of Shepton. “There is no bus coming the other way until this one turns round and comes back. You can stay on until Frome and ride back to Shepton if you like.” She said, “No, its okay, I’ll walk back, I do a lot of walking.” She got off and started walking back to Shepton. I pulled away and started to pick up my train of thought…but after about 100 yards, there were more footsteps. This time it was the man with the confused hair. I stopped again, taking a deep breath.

“Are we going to Shepton Mallet?” he asked. “No,” I replied, “We’re going to Frome.” Well, I want to go to Shepton Mallet,” he said. “But you got on the bus in Shepton Mallet,” I said. “No,” he said, I got on in Frome.” “No,” I said, “you definitely got on in Shepton.” “No I didn’t – I got on in Frome,” he replied with agitation.

“Ask anyone on the bus – they’ll tell you that you got on in Shepton,” I countered. “Look,” he said, getting flustered, “I need to get to Evercreech. I got on in Frome, and then got off the bus because I didn’t know where I was. I need to get to Shepton Mallet so I can get a bus to Evercreech.” “Okay,” I said, “…well… it’s that way.” I pointed back in the direction the bus had come from to avoid getting back to the same “yes you did; no I didn’t” situation. “How far is it?” he asked. “It’s about a mile and a half,” I said, “Are you going to walk back?” “I suppose I’ll have to,” he said, “I hope I’m not too late for the last bus to Evercreech. What time does it go?” “Sorry, I don’t know – it’s run by another bus company,” I said. “Hrmph!” he said, then got off and started walking back to Shepton. “Anybody else fancy a walk to Shepton?” I asked the remaining passengers. Silence. “Okay, lets go to Frome then,” I said, and shut the doors. “Now”, I thought, “where was I before my thoughts were interrupted…? Ah yes… How to politely decline Plasmatic eyeball-invasion…”

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