I was having a late night foray the other day into Facebook, one of 5hose warm nights when I could not sleep, so I woke up and decided that I needed to do something. So, as the easiest option for a half asleep brain I thought was to slip into the brain fog that is face ache as my friend likes to call it.
So, as I mumbled my tray through the nonsense that flicked past me suddenly I stumbled across a photo of my dear old bus depot in Friar Street Hereford, the photo showed the bulldozer just at the point where it finally levelled the old drivers canteen. The faded green paint which incidentally was faded when I first got there back in 1986, was now all that could be identified in the mangled wreckage that for 95 years had served generations of the good folk of the lovely City of Hereford. A city of great heritage, indeed I was fortunate enough to be invited to the 650 th Mayor making ceremony that took place in 1995.
Reflecting as you do on these happy events it also got me thinking about some of the less pleasant and happy memories that I experienced when I was the depot Manager at Hereford depot back in the days when it was part of Midland Red West. One vague memory that came bouncing back at me was when I received a phone call at 0500 from my right hand man Howard Pritchard.
Howard was the first man into the depot every day sharp he opened the door and started the daily ritual of getting buses, drivers, mechanics, and cleaners, lined up to get the services out on time. Howard meeted and greeted all and sundry. He was completely reliable, a decent man and a kind man.He had never married, had no family other than his sister, took no holidays and for me he was a priceless asset, and a good friend.
Anyway, as ever I digress as soon as the phone rang at 0500 I knew that this was not good news. Gaffer, you better get your backside there has been a break in, its chaos, the Rozzers are on the way. So, bleary eyed I made my way down to the depot, and Howard was not exaggerating. Persons unknown had taken an acetylene torch to the safe and removed the door. Quite an achievement given the thickness of the beast. Furthermore there was water everywhere as they had been cooling the area down.
it was clear that they knew exactly what they were doing, so the Police turned up, sealed it all off while we made the best of getting on with the day job. This event reminded me of another occasion when we had unwanted intruders. This time though it was in the form of a coach thief, the short version goes as follows.One Friday afternoon we received a fax advising all bus Companies in the South Of England that a National Express Coach had been stolen from Battersea Coach Station, in London.At about 5pm Gerry Phillips my best mate and senior mechanic ran Ito my office as I was putting my coat on and said that stolen Coach is here. The bloke is refuelling it. l looked up and sure enough at the top end was a white NX Coach with the driver.
I immediately ran towards it and the driver drove the coach at speed towards the exit, it became apparent that he was not going to stop, so I had to literally dive out of his way, and was covered in wet slimy diesel gunk. The next thing was I heard a large bang, this was matey boy slamming on the brakes, as the two fitters Gerry and Tony Andrews managed to shut the exit doors.As you can understand I was not happy so I jumped up and legged it after the driver who had legged it in the narrow gap left when the doors shut.
The next bit is still hazy but all I recall is me chasing and catching this guy who had legged it across the road into the churchyard of Saint Nicholas church, the churchyard had a large steel fence behind which was the outer ring road of the City. It was 5 pm and the traffic was gridlocked, one minute I am standing right in front of this guy and the next he is lying on the floor. Witnesses stated that when I confronted this chap, he attempted to hit me with a suitcase he was holding, I then blocked the strike with my left hand ( urchi Uke Jordan middle level block in Shotokan Karate). I then kicked him in the stomach ( Mae Geri chudan), and as he was going down punched him in the head( kizami zuki Jordan). He then lay motionless on the floor as I looked up to see a sea of static car drivers and passengers watching a quick re-enactment of Enter The Dragon.
The two lads Gerry and Tony observed the whole thing, so the three of us picked him up and frog marched him back to the depot where the police were called. Statement to were taken he was arrested and I ended up with a commendation for bravery from the Police along with Gerry and Tony. Honestly you can’t makeit up.