Even 1997’s infamous chicken pox outbreak* caused less of an epidemic than the vanishings. However, like a school yard craze that’s slow to catch on, the vanishing bus stop process was gradual. To one who assumed there was an Omni-present culprit, it appeared they enjoyed causing bus catchers to doubt their sanity.
Ultimately nonetheless, it seemed that the thief (if there was one) had tired of this stage: after the 68th bus user was sent for psychiatric examination (after claims that bus stop removal conspiracy gripped the nation), the pace of the process tripled. The rapid increase in OAP’s circumnavigating the country in search of misplaced stops even made the six o’clock headlines. However, only when a throng of parents with misplaced school children stampeded the senate’s sanctum, was the matter examined. Due to the unprecedented nature of the crisis, and consequent minority of ‘missing bus stop’ specialists, a senate in despair selected Arnold, head of missing persons, to lead the investigation.
Unfortunately, after advising the senators to stop asking how bus stops could vanish and instead ask why, he was ejected from the case. The vice president asserted, ‘only sensible men with sensible questions are capable of navigating nations through crisis’. Of course, a sensible man himself, he failed to recognise that a crisis involving vanishing bus stops, didn’t register on the sensible crisis scale.
Arnold, who’d spent much of his childhood erecting shrines to Sherlock Holmes, was unperturbed. Deciding immediate action was required; he drew the curtains of his studio flat, unplugged the phone and allowed an eco-system to develop in his washing up. Having created valuable detection time, he began a film night that rivalled the thrills of the World Paint Drying Championships. (That’s what happens when you extract bus stop footage and montage it into 239 hours of film.)
After the 14th bag of popcorn passed through his stomach, Arnold noticed the Christmas tree. Sometime after the 18th, he made a leap in reasoning that would change the world (for bus stops).
250 miles away a student was recovering from a hangover. There’s nothing remarkable in that, nor in the fact that she’d spent the morning tiptoeing through memories of bar dances, pub brawls and exaggerated affection- censoring scenes of potential embarrassment. What was remarkable though, was her memory of the bus stop and the Christmas tree.
 After a popular conviction that chickens were the culprits left the clucking race on the brink of extinction, a senate in despair passed 1998’s Emergency Chicken Conservation Act.
To be continued…..