On the buses (my version) 4
By The royster
Before I get on with my next change of route, there are a few things that should be mentioned about London Transport that made it a pleasure to work there.
They had an excellent social club which had a wide range of activities within LT or just with your garage. They even had a flying club where you could take flying lessons.
I, not being the most athletic of people, decided that having been keen on Freshwater Angling as a young lad this would be my first choice. On my first ever visit to an LT canteen, I noticed that snooker was also something I could get involved in. I don’t remember ever seeing a garage that didn’t have at least one table.
I joined Catford Angling Club which had a day out every month with a variety of venues. However, we often decided not to go to the selected venue on the day and went to a superb spot on the Kentish Ouse near Canterbury, called Grove Ferry. The main reason for this often visited river was as follows. On the way there was a transport café which was owned by an ex copper. A huge guy called Derick. His breakfasts were, like him, enormous!
2 Eggs, 2 Bacon, 2 Sausages, Mushrooms, Tomatoes, Fried Slice, Black Pudding and a huge mug of tea, refilled when empty. All for £2.50. Oh, and as much toast as you wanted. Plus. The driver of the bus (we borrowed a bus for the day, more on that later).
Got his free. To save a fight to get in the cab we had to take it in turns. The other reason for choosing this river was the Pub. 50 yards from where we parked the bus was a lovely country pub. Ok now you get the picture. Huge Breakfast, Superb fishing spot, Pub.
Get all set up and have a couple of hours fishing. One of the guys nearest the watering hole would shout out, ‘It’s open’. On this shout a line of anglers made their way along the river bank and into the warmth of a country pub. We always got a warm welcome from the landlord. The only thing he asked was that we took off our boots. Fair enough.
Couple of hours later, those same anglers walked back along the bank not necessarily in a straight line now and continued to try spotting their floats for the rest of the day.
On one occasion, in winter, we had been for a drink or 2, 3, I fell asleep on the bank.
I woke up feeling cold and just a little damp. The reason for this was, it had been snowing. All the others had packed up their tackle and got back on the bus, leaving me there blowing snow flakes back into the air. I got up looked around no one in sight just a perfect print of me where I had been laying. A huge laugh and cheer went up from the bus. Rotten lot.
At the risk of boring you all, on another of these trips, this time somewhere in North London (can’t remember name). We came back via the City of London which happened to be on our 47 route. As we came near Liverpool St station I went upstairs and changed the destination blind from Private to, yep you guessed it 47 Catford. Being rush hour time the traffic was very slow and as we passed the station bus stop about half a dozen people jumped on the bus. Well, you can imagine, scruffy fellas, fishing tackle boxes and rods all over the place. We just sat there all quiet, fags burning, emptying flasks. It wasn’t until we reached London Bridge that someone spoke up. ‘This is a 47 isn’t it’?
‘No mate, sorry it’s a Private hire’. ‘Well it says 47 Catford on the front’. ‘No, it can’t be, this a fishing club outing’. A couple of others joined in. ‘Yes it definitely says 47 on the front’. ‘OK, let’s go have a look’ says Alfie. Having stayed upstairs I had by now changed the blind back to Private. Alfie taps on the drivers cab window and gets him to pull over in Tooley Street. Round the front they went and head scratching begins. ‘I could have sworn it had 47 when I jumped on’ one geezer says and a couple of others agreed. One sharp lady, while this was going on crept upstairs without me hearing her,
And laughed so much at seeing me crouched on the floor by the destination box. We both went back downstairs and shared this with the others. Fortunately this didn’t go any further. We could have got into a little bother if it had got back to our manager. Instead we all had a good laugh and in fact saved them some of their fare as we dropped them all off at Surrey Docks, said our farewells and had a good chuckle.
As for Snooker. I managed to get a game in most days. We had a few garage competitions which were good in as much you were guaranteed to get 3 frames in. Me? I only got to round 2 once as we had some good players at Catford. More on other games later.
Well, I guess I had better get thinking about other routes next and hopefully a few things will spring to memory as I move on.