The Simple Joy Of A Bus Ride

I dont know about you, but can you remember the very first time that you went on a bus. I do not mean one of those children’s carousel rides, where they would invariably include a fun double decker bus, where the best seat in the house was naturally upstairs on the front seats, preferably on the right just directly above where the driver sits. Naturally it was only right that you sat there and pretended to be the bus driver, happy childhood days indeed. It also begs the question at what age do you stop wanting to be that uninhibited child, answers on a postcard.

From being the happy young child pretending to be the driver before I knew it I was the bus driver. At the tender age of 23 there I was sat in the cab of a former Route master London bus, driving around the unadulterated beauty of the Yorkshire moors. It was brilliant and I loved every second of it, do not get me wrong it was not easy. If you made a mistake changing gear then the double de-clutching angel Of vengeance would snap the clutch pedal back and whack you very hard in the shin. It really hurt, so you learned to treat the bus with respect. The best bit was a four hour spin in the morning followed by a magnificent Cornish pasty from a road side laybe just outside of Hebden bridge.

My career as a bus driver was actually quite short lived, I did a few shifts, earlier, middles and late’s so I could hold my head up in the canteen when challenged by the lads as to what the hell do you know about it. I was also known on occasions to jump in and cover the mileage to keep the wheels turning when staff shortages occurred as invariably they did. The shifts I did not enjoy were the schools runs, the behaviour of some of the kids beggared belief. You would think that they had been incarcerated in some high security prison, before being allowed out to re-enact a scene from Saint Trinians.

When I hit 50, I was expected to renew my license but by then I had left the day to day world of bus operations and joined the new world of uTrack where driving a bus was no longer required. However, I never lost my enjoyment of jumping on a bus and going for a ride around, looking at the world safely inside the bus, watching the world go by and just enjoying the experience for what it was. I actually think that there are a fair few people especially elderly people who have a free bus pass who use the bus as a means of social interaction. Sadly in todays world a lot of people like in isolation, where they can be surrounded by people but have no human interaction. The bus allows people that interaction to communicate, the most basic of human needs.

So, my dear chums I make no apologies for admitting that I like on occasions nothing better than catching the bus. One of the best and most interesting routes is the famous number 11, the Outer circle as it is known that circumnavigated the City of Birmingham. It takes in all districts rich and poor, on this journey you can digest the rich diversity and multi culturism of this great City, good, bad and occasionally ugly. But, it is real life warts and all. People watching is always interesting we cannot help ourselves. The good old bus gives everyone the chance to get out and about and see the world in all its glory. So, if you find yourself at a loose end why not do yourself a favour and catch a bus.

Written by Austin Birks

February 28, 2019

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