The Bus Catcher

Don’t you just love buses? No? Well join the (bus) queue.

When I were a lad, no don’t worry, this isn’t a northern rant about how hard we had it back then! We had funny buses with an open back-end. That is, there was an opening, rather than a door, although some of them had slidey doors that sort of pushed open & shut.

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They looked a bit like that one there! These were OK, except in winter, or the rain, or the snow, or the cold, or the wind. (I think you get the idea) We used to freeze! Especially if you were one of the last on & had to sit on the sideways bench seats at the back. You had to climb up to get in these & would usually have to hold on for dear life, while the driver took corners at the same speeds as a formula one race driver! Although the front wasn’t THAT much better either. The seats were usually a sort of plasticky stuff, or even if they were cloth, they had sticky chewing gum on them sometimes, or the remnants of peoples feet. Including mud, although I never got close enough to see if they were smelly too! I used to while away the journey time, by looking at all the adverts overhead & then reading them again & again. If you were very lucky, you might get a seat upstairs, but even as a lad, it could sometimes be hard to get upstairs, as those stairs were very steep & sort of went straight up & straight back down again. These were the most fun when going very fast around corners & again, in the rain. How I never fell down them I shall never know. Also, people were allowed to smoke on buses back then, so you had clouds of smoke to put up with too! Plus we had a ‘clippie’ or conductor on them as well as a driver. The conductor would come around & take your fare from you & issue a ticket, from the funny machine slung around his side. If you were very lucky, an ‘Inspector’ would hop on the bus at one stop & come around checking everyones tickets. I’ve never seen people move so fast! On a later version of bus, smoky diesel fumes used to fill the back of the bus, so while teens & the young used to like sitting at the back, they may look cool, but at the cost of ending up very smelly indeed!

Fast forward a few years. These days, we no longer have a conductor & the bus driver would prefer you to have the correct change. In some places, you have to have the exact money & in others (like London), you have to have an Oyster! Now I like some shellfish yes, but was never too keen on oysters! Although I think this may be some kind of prepaid card like thingy. But buses are warmer than they used to be, they all have doors, (luxury)! But they can still suffer in bad weather, although it doesn’t affect you while sitting on the bus, unless someone with a soggy butt was on your seat before you! There’s no smoking now either.

One thing I have never forgotten, happened in a bus queue in London in 2003. We were all (about 10-12 of us) standing in the queue, a young lady with two kids, was eating some fish & chips out of newspaper (as you do here). When the bus arrived, she rolled up the newspaper into a ball & boarding the bus, dropped the whole lot on the pavement! I, being behind her said “Excuse me, but we don’t do that here”. She just looked at me & turned to shepherd her children on to the bus, I said, “Well at least, that’s a very good lesson to teach your kids”! This time she completely ignored me, while the rest of the queue’rs looked at me like I was stupid. I think this is due to Londoners not being very chatty maybe. So although we had smoky, smelly buses with open ends & weather blowing us all around, at least we had manners. So, some things get better, some get worse & others just stay the same. And I said this wouldn’t be a rant about how we had it back then. I do wish they would make nostalgia a thing of the past!

You wait all day for a blog post & then three come along at once! Maybe. Well, not today, but that’s what we said about buses back in the day. Never mind & like the bus, I’ll catch you later!


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