Friday, 30 April 2010

Ali's Bus

In the centre of Newcastle this morning, outside the Asian fruit and veg hypermarket, was parked an elderly looking Volvo which looked as if it had had a new paint job.

Ali's Bus - Travel With Eastern Promise... proudly pronounced. My mind wandered. What could this be? Beautiful women, wild dancers, the lingering aroma of some delicious halal dish?

The reality was written beneath - Cheapest Fares Anywhere.

How disappointing.

Lucky Dave

The morning after the TV debate on the economy and what does a bus driver think?

Well to be honest the debate I found dull and had no particular feelings about. It was more the strange coincidence that the bus David Cameron is driving around, electioneering on, is the same bus which is often used by the Fulham Football Club players.

During the debate Fulham had pulled off a monumental giant killing exercise in seeing off Hamburg to get to the final of the Europa Cup. Fantastic! They were the outsiders of the competition. When they appointed their Manager, many pundits poo poo'd the appointment of the elderly Roy Hodgson. But he has the greatest experience of any football manager in Britain, quietly goes about his business and has the same love and demeanour as Bobby Robson had.

On the same night Liverpool were dumped out of the Cup. Is this an omen? Dave and his boys will win. Elliot Morley and the other Labour MP's - are they on the wrong bus?

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Geordies Are Now Southerners

I smiled as I heard the news on the radio. Rollowing the success of the statue, The Angel Of The North in Gateshead, the Scots are going to replicate this success. It is already being called the Angel Of The far North, meaning that the current Angel is now the most Southerly Angel.

When I accidentally on purpose mentioned this to a couple of Geordies but they did not take kindly.

"Are you telling me that ahm a f$$$ing Southern pansy? Youse can tak yer f$$$ing Scottish Angel and f£££ing shove it........"

Well done Andy Scott, the Glasgow artist who has already built the Heavy Horse sculpture on the M8. It will be brilliant. As a bus driver I'm looking forward to driving past. It will certainly take all our minds away from the unlovely architecture of Cumbernauld.

Remember the people of Gateshead were spitting with rage when it was announced a statue would be put up. Look at them now!

How To Deal With A Cheeky Brat

I ignored her.

"Why are you so ugly" said the cheeky thirteen year old student.

I said nothing but if anything sped up a bit.

"Will you please put your hat back on. You look much older without it."

I said nothing. Her stop appeared.

I opened the door. She started going down the steps. She turned. "And you could dress better too. How about...................................................."
She never finished as she failed to find the step, overbalanced and fell backwards into some brambles and nettles on the verge.

I closed the door and drove off. She was never rude again.

Seaside Public Art And A dip In The Ocean

It is not often that you bump into Les Dawson and Eric Morcambe on the same day. Both were fine rotund statues on the seafront. Morcambe in Morcambe and Dawson in Lytham St Annes. Both depicting their well known poses as seen on television in the 1970's. Both a reminder of the more relaxed times of the past.

It is a treat for a coach driver to have to go to a seaside town for an early pick up. Recause the traffic is so unpredictable on the motorways, you have to leave at sparrows fart. Quite often you arrive at the particular place with plenty of time to spare. I love it. It is a time to relax, and walk on the beach and dip my toes into the sea. For some reason, a cup of coffee tastes totally different after filling your lungs with sea air.

The seaside towns still hold childhood memories. For sure they are busier and there are more commuters living in them and less holidaymakers, but they still have an air of grandeur and friendliness. The air is warmer. The flowers grow better. Everything seems to have more colour.

Then again I was there on a glorious spring morning. I would probably not be so ebullient on a dour grey day. I must get rid of my rose tinted spectacles.

Poland A Busman's Holiday For A Bus Driver

How refreshing. The wide streets. Smart bendy buses. Silent trolley buses. The consoling sound of trams. It is an idyllic city scene.

Then the peace is interrupted by a BMW with a German number plate who dashes in front, jams on its brakes and causes the driver of the taxi I am in to mount the curb.

The taxi driver produces many Polish curses , shakes his fist then remembers he has an English passenger in the back. He turns and says: "Bloody BMW drivers. You know what BMW stands for? Bavarian Middle-class Wagons.

It is not just England where there is road rage. There still seems to be no love lost between the Poles and the Germans.

"We have a saying in Poland," continued the taxi driver. "Who would we fight first? The Germans or the Russkis (Russians)? We say the Germans, of course. Business before pleasure."

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

East Of Geordieland

There's a new boy on the school bus who has come from east of Warsaw. His English is only good when he is talking about girls. Today he came to the front of the bus, appeared to do an Eastern European impersonation of David Brent's (Ricky Gervais)dance and shouted at the top of his voice:

"Esmerelda - Sexy Beast - Esmerelda - Sexy Beast!"

When he got off the bus he turned to me and said: "You beep! Tom, you beep!" I wasn't sure if this was an insult or a proposition, before one of the sharper children reminded me that he would stand and wait until the bus driver blew the horn.

Vandalism Continues In The Land That God Forgot

There have been many incidents over the years in the Land That God Forgot. So named by another bus driver because of the village's close resemblance to Royston Vasey in The League Of Gentlemen.

Today there had been a change. The Bairns, as the locals liked to call the youngsters, had not smashed the glass of the telephone box. They had graduated by stealing the door.

The saintly pensioner who always swept the glass up must have said a prayer of thanks as he did not have top get up early that morning.

Mating Pigeons

I detest mating pigeons.

Last night after a gruelling eight hour drive from Lancaster to Dover, I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow. This was a major feat as the Hotel pillows felt as if they had been stuffed withquick setting cement.

I awoke out of my deepest dream to the sound of ruffled feathers. Looking out of the window the cooing and conjugation went on and on. Do pigeons not have orgasms? It was quite extraordinary - their staying power was immense. thanks to health and safety, I couldn't open the window wide enough to aim my size 14 boot at them.

So I lay awake thinking Ken Livingtone was probably not so bad. At least he called for a cull of pigeons in Trafalgar Square.

Miss Piggy's Long Lost Brother

I had the misfortune to meet Miss Piggy's long lost brother, the other day. His nose was the same. His eyes were similar. Even his voice had a high pitched whine to it.

What was different was that some of Miss Piggy's relatives must have at some time in the past twenty years crossed the Atlantic, maybe for a film premiere or an interview slot with Michael Parkinson. Unfortunately this Piggy must have decided to stay and become a teacher.

"If there's anyone who's going to vomit," he screamed at the schoolchildren, "then you will sit at the front."

Great, I thought, having green faced children sitting directly behind me about to be sick down my neck at any minute. But they sat rigidly still and silent. i forgave Mr Piggy for his cruel rant.

He obviously knew what he was doing.

Chinese Run Fast

"You have strange accent. Are you from California?" The Chinese student had been puzzled and had obviously wanted to ask me this all day.

I was slightly taken aback. Yes I know that I do not have a North Eastern accent. There is a mixture of public school, newsreader nasal, ex-pat Hong Kong and even a smattering of nasally produced estuary English. But definitely not a hint of Geordie.

This was the Chinese attempt at the usual question I am asked by passengers on my bus. "You're not from round here, are you?" The Chinese way was more direct. No bushes were beaten around.

It had been a long day trip for them. We had left the University Business School at 8am. They had spent several hours in Keswick, eaten huge quantities of fihn 'n chips, walked on the banks of Derwentwater, found bargains in the over-priced discount stores and then gone further down the road to Windermere.

As we discussed the long story of where I came from, out of the bus window we spied some of their fellow students having an unusual experience. Several Chinese figures were beeing hotly pursued by some aggressive swans. Their ice creams were replaced by screams at the rapidly advancing honking swans. The Chinese sprinted at Olympic speed along the lakeside path, vaulted a wooden bench and hid behind some wheelie bins. The swans stopped at the ice cream and lapped it up.

Clever animals swans must be to outsmart the Chinese.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Human Emissions Inside The Bus

"I don't like farting in the mornings," said the little boy with the wide innocent eyes, who could not have been more than 7.
"Mr Bus Driver," interrupted his sister. "How many cheeks do I have?"
"Well two, I suppose," I replied nervously, not knowing where this was going.
"No stupid. Four of course. I have two up here." She stuck her index fingers each side of her mouth. " And two down here where........."
"That's quite enough of that Geraldine," I stammered, not knowing where to look. Looking straight ahead was always the best option for a bus driver. It was even a pre-requisite for the job.

The tone lowered round the next where A bespectacled boy stood miserably in the rain. "Hey look - it's Farty", came the chorus from the back. It had only been a matter of time before someone added an F to Arty, the farmer's son. But he seemed oblivious to the cruel addition and sat quietly on the seat.

School buses haven't changed much.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

A Tale Of Two Points Of View

Greetings to anyone who happens to find themselves by chance on this page. It is cold in the Far North. Extremely cold. The local doom-mongers are saying snow is forecast this weekend. Even the bus I have just driven appears to be shivering.

It has been a quiet morning. A new lady got on the bus this morning. She turned out to be the new courier. There has been an ongoing battle between some new parents who have recently moved into the area and the Council. The parents have moved from some city down South where there were couriers on the school buses there.

They found, shock horror, in the remote Northern countryside, that not only were there no couriers, but the bus doubled up as a service bus and schoolchildren and local residents boarded travelled on the same bus. it had worked well for decades. everybody knew each other and there had never been any sort of a problem.

But - oh no! The parents insisted on change. They complained to the Council who had to react. As a result there was months of wrangling. The bus company was stuck in the middle. The parents expected them to supply a courier and the council expected the the bus company to pay the wages. but why should they? As the tendering system stands at the moment, school bus contracts tend to come up for renewal every three to five years.

There is every likelihood that the bus company could lose the contract owing to a cowboy company putting in a ridiculously low offer. The council have to accept the cheapest offer, regardless if they think the company has the resources to fulfill the contract or not. Then where would the losing bus company be? With a courier and no bus contract. And they would be liable for any redundancy.

Wacky ideas were banded around like the one where it was suggested that anyone who travelled regularly on the bus had a CRB (Criminal Records Bureau)check. Of course someone questioned what would happen to the odd tourists who sometimes caught the bus and were much more likely to have a record than the regulars who were well known in the tight community. The answer was that they would be ignored as there were so few. After a lot of umming and awing, the idea was dropped.

On return to the depot, a large piece of concrete seemed to have fallen off the building, which resembled the Stalinist Tractor Factory at Stalingrad. It was of the same vintage.

But all's well with the world.