I have been a very fortunate old Hector, in many ways ( For those of you old enough to remember Hectors House children’s TV show back in the seventies). In that my strange and wonderful career has allowed me to do so many varied and divers things. Of all the many splendid and wonderful things that I ended up doing, one was writing press releases for some of the Bus Companies that I have worked for. I suppose looking back, that when I think back to my first proper job when I had finished my three years Senior Management Training Scheme with the National bus Company, creative writing has always been hovering around in some way, shape, or form.
When I was in school I used to really enjoy writing stories, these seemed vaguely popular, and on occasions I would be asked to read them out loud to the class.This would give a small chance to exercise some artistic license as I could make up voices and all the other malarkey that I could get away with, all designed to make my fellow class mates happy, and hopefully make them laugh. So, when I found myself back in the day, working at the iconic Preston Bus Station. One of the jobs that I had to do was to advertise coach trips to large pop concerts and the like. Bored one day I decided that I would start designing posters to promote the gigs, The first few that I did were for Simple Minds, and after a few hours I had covered the travel shop window in my posters, and guess what people started to read them, come in and book tickets.
I recall vividly one afternoon, I had done a poster for Chris De Burgh, who was at the height of his ‘Lady In Red” fame, just for a laugh I had written in red biro, ‘Please come and see me”, pretending that I was the artist himself. What was bizarre was the two middle aged ladies who came in to book tickets, and asked if they could buy the poster, as clearly it had been signed by Mr DeBurgh himself. As clearly he made a habit of popping into bus station travel shops to sign the hand made posters made by yours truly. Just goes to show the power of the pen, it is of course clearly mightier than the sword. This of course was an early indication as to the real power of advertising and ridiculous writing to advocate products, be they pop concerts or indeed anything and everything in between.
It is indeed a real joy to be able to write stuff and dare I say it actually get paid for doing so. I have indeed been most blessed by having folk actually commission me to go out and write articles. Arguably, the best and most fun was when I was commissioned by the team at PolskiBus, to spend 3 days riding around on their coaches talking to passengers, staff, and anyone else about what they thought of it, across the wonderful nation of Poland. It was simply brilliant and I loved it, the upshot was a 4 page article published in the UK’s biggest bus and coach trade magazine. I got handsomely paid and even better a short while after, I attended the launch of a brand new fleet of vehicles that were parked outside the Palace of Culture in the very heart of Warsaw itself where Sir Brian Souter himself, over saw proceedings. Indeed I spent a good half hour talking to him after the PolskiBus MD at the time introduced me to him as the “journalist” who wrote the article of which there were copious copies left lying around for the guests at the launch. I spent a good thirty minutes with him and it was brilliant, he is such an amazing man, the first ever Scottish billionaire, but you would never assume that when you meet him. I have met him on several occasions indeed I once had the pleasure of chairing an excellent debate between Sir Brian and the legend that is Roger French OBE. It was simply brilliant, two experts and orators of the highest calibre, at the end of the sold out event we had placed on the 100 chairs a little poster one side said hired , the other said retired. As it happened the result was a draw, and we had brought both a pair of slippers to mark retirement, and a bottle of champers, to mark being hired. Which of course Sir Brian being a strict teetotal gave away, that’s what he is like.
So, on reflection writing is quite simply wonderful I’m so lucky that I am allowed to do this, it is excellent, and highly enjoyable, as well as being a very cathartic thing to do. Not unlike the confessional for those of a Catholic disposition, you just unburden yourself, you get passionate, you make yourself laugh, and it does not frankly matter if no one reads it, You express the soul. Happy days indeed !