It was only a five-second lapse in concentration but it was enough to ruin 48 years of hard work. For in the five seconds between opening the curtains and realising the problem, Joan Bonsall, 72, it was too late: a busload of people had seen her inside her living room.
‘I doh know what made me forget,’ sobbed Bonsall. ‘Mebbe it was because I’m that worried about our Martin’s Shania I cor sleep the night before. Her’s been a-courting and he doh ‘ave a job you know. What will people think?’
Ever since acquiring her three-bed council house in Halesowen in 1962, Bonsall had kept a strict routine with regards to the living room. She changed the entire suite of furniture once a month, rearranging it every morning in the dark and opening the curtains behind her as she left the room. None of her five children has ever set foot in the room, she used to be proud to say.
To compound Bonsall’s misery, the bus in question was the 82 from Dudley that passes the house at 7.35 every morning. This meant that among the passengers currently gloating over their three-second glimpse of her in the room were:
1) Susan from the greengrocers shop
2) Him from the garage your dad used to know – his son’s a bit strange – yow does know – him. Bob? Bill?
3) Her from Kingswinford. Her sister run off with a black mon, them say.
Not all of her family are sympathetic to Bonsall’s plight, however. Daughter Jane, 36, said: ‘She thought the embarrassment would kill her in 1968, when my dad got a ticket to see West Brom in the FA Cup Final and moaned to his friends after she made him leave it in the attic for best. She got over that soon enough once he died of that stress-related illness two years later’.
Added her son Martin, 43: ‘Worried about our Shania, eh? I bet she’d be more worried if she realised Shania was conceived on the living room floor. If my girlfriend and I hadn’t panicked when I heard her moving about upstairs, she wouldn’t have had any grandchildren to worry about in the first bloody place.’