On the Buses 3
By The royster
Here we go again.
Training completed, test passed, Uniform & Staff pass collected.
All I have to do now is report to Catford Garage on Monday and a whole new way of life begins.
First off, when I get home is to try on the uniform. Bloody Hell!! It’s awful.
The trousers have sandpaper in the legs. Well, that’s what it feel like. More on that later.
The jacket weighs a ton and the overcoat, well, that’s got used as an extra blanket on the bed it was so heavy it was never gonna fall off. Heaven knows how those guys in the Army managed to run about in theirs.
I reported as instructed on the following Monday. Found the canteen first of course. The I was given a list of the routes I had to learn before I could go out in service. I think there were 15 routes running out of Catford. All to be signed as learnt in a week. As it turned out, I found it quite easy and never got lost once. First off, you get placed on the spare list, which is good really as it gives you a chance to cover what you’ve learnt. Finding the right stop was a bit of a laugh where there were several in a line all with different routes on. Made a few people run. Oh what fun.
Anyway. I had about a month of that and eventually given a rota line of my own. Yipee, now I know what I’m doing for the next 42 weeks and not changing from day to day.
Route No 1, Bromley - Marylebone. Nothing much going on except Surrey Docks when it’s home time. Hells Bells. It was like a hoard of ants pouring out, so I quickly learnt via my experienced conductor, that on this duty you get through the Docks area early and miss ‘em. Hehehe. Yeh sounds good, but, When you do the duty that follows that one. Yeh you get it. You cop the bloody lot, along with the moans about the one in front. Oh this is fun.
I found that changing rota’s (Routes) a few times a good idea. Doing the same route day after day was ok as you never saw the same things going on around you, you also worked different times which also created a change. Early morning into London city centre was always a laugh. You could smoke upstairs then which meant the poor ol’ conductor walked a smokescreen to try collecting fares. Actually he collected mostly, bars of chocolate, sweets in fact, anything but fares from the Cleaning ladies on their way to clean the offices that I once worked in. A quick spurt to the terminus (Shoreditch on the 47’s) a quick cuppa and a choice of choc’s. This is the life.
My Clippie on the 47’s was a big old bird called Pam. Built like the proverbial you know what but a right character. When I first started working with her I thought, I’d better give her a smooth ride or she’ll have my balls for door stops. We pulled up at a stop in Catford High Street, she came round to me and said ‘get your bloody foot down, I want a cuppa when we get to the ditch (Shoredith). Ah right I thought. Game on. We arrive a couple of minutes early. Can’t pinch too much time as the Inspector is always there. We called him Dave. I found out years later it was short for Davidoff, who’s son Lee became my conductor and good pal when I moved to Peterborough. Anyway, I digress.
2 teas please mate. Blimey that’s hot and only 3 minutes to drink it. There I am sipping slowly and Pam yells out, SAUCER IT yer daft bugger or we’ll never get out of here. There she is pouring tea into her saucer, fanning it with her hand and down the hatch from the saucer. Oh how lady like, hahaha. It worked though. Bless her.
One particular trip I had smoke coming up through the front of the engine compartment. I stopped to have a look and she came straight round and said don’t worry about that get going. Hahaha. We got to the “Ditch”, yep; a cuppa and all the way back to Deptford. Smoke getting really bad now. I called her round and said I would phone the garage soon as I see phone box. Mobile?? What’s that? We’re finished at garage she said and I wanna get home. I got half way along Deptford High St when there was an almighty bang and we drifted to a halt. Crankshaft snapped in half. Oh boy, what now I thought.
She was not happy and after transferring the passengers we had to wait for engineers. She didn’t stop moaning. So I said if we had stopped when I first noticed it we would have been back at Catford hours ago. Plus the fact I had just wrecked an engine. She thought about it for a moment, shook her head and said, sorry mate, you’re right. Fortunately, nothing was said, they towed it back with us on the back cashed in and went home.
A few months later we had a route (124) go one man. I thought, wouldn’t mind having a go at that. Money was better although only a 3rd of a clippies wage extra and nice new Buses to drive instead of those crappy old RT’s. Catford, for some reason was the last to be rid of these old relics and I was getting fed up with driving them when there were better options. The rain used to pour in the front window all over the heating pipe and mist up the screen. The heaters were out of the Ark and had more rattles than mothercare. It was rare to get a good one. After a few days type training on these new buses I was let loose in service, which really jarred of poor ol’ Pam. Still, she was due to retire in a few months so I didn’t feel too bad about it. We did have some fun though.
I’ve digressed again!
124’s. Usual day to day stuff. Shifts, early middle & late with a spread every 4 week. I like those as they pay around 12 hours for 8 hours work. 4 of them at home. Not much went on really but we did have a pub en route which posed a few problems on Friday nights. Mass turnout of pissed up yobs all wanting to get the last bus home. A bit of a headache and a lot of grief. The drivers of the 124’s all agreed that we would divert and miss out this stop on Fridays. The manager then said that they would provide protection for this particular duty so back to route again. It was my turn on the first week of “Protection” so I though ok, go for it. As I got to the beginning of the road in question, a radio car was sitting at the stop. Great I thought, and out climbed an inspector. Well, he must have been on his last day before retirement. Little white haired old fella. I had to laugh, protection I thought, you’re having a laugh. I told him he would be better getting back in his car as this crowd would have a field day with him and I have enough trouble protecting myself let alone him as well. A word with manager and drivers and it was back to diversion. Sod ‘em.
More to come. Especially on those damn trousers