Wednesday, 28 July 2010

School Trip To Poitiers: 8. The Finale

"I don't do kisses," whispered my co-driver as he stood uncomfortably, arms pinned to his sides, as he was hugged and given a kiss by each teacher.

There is something good which develops between teachers and drivers on a successful trip. That is said without the risk of divorce, if my wife reads this - all the same I'd better explain it more clearly. A school trip is very stressful, particularly for any teacher. There is much to think about, many potential hazards and many things that can go wrong.

So there develops a relationship between teacher and driver which relies entirely on helpfulness, reliability and doing everything in one's power make things run smooth.

This had been a good trip. Everyone seemed to have enjoyed themselves. The teachers had been quiet and had ensured everything ran smoothly.

The final hurdle was getting through customs and the UK Border Agency at Calais. It is no laughing matter going through the procedures and questioning in the port. Even I was at my most tactful best. No flippant remarks. No jokes. Just answer all their questions. We went through three checkpoints, manned by polite but stern young officers. Even having cleared all the checks, a flying squad of handlers rolled up and started randomly checking various vehicles.

I am minded that the onus is on me as the bus driver to make sure there are no 'clandestine entrants' (as they call them) on board. We had locked all doors and lockers when we set off from Poitiers. We had stopped and checked at a service station outside Calais too, though this can be difficult as it is where asylum seekers often lurk and try to sneak on. If one is found on the bus, them the driver is liable to a £2000 fine or civil penalty as they prefer to call it. Perhaps this is meant to soften the blow, or give you, the bus driver a sense of citizenship status and responsibility in life.

But we made it trouble free to Maidstone services, where our hours ran out and we had to turn the bus over to another feeder driver, who drove them back to the North.

After such an enjoyable trip, there was a momentary pang at saying goodbye. After all the hugs from the teachers one of the livelier boys came up to us and said: "We'd just like to say we were really impressed with what you did for us in that seat. I hope we were good for yous."

That boy will go far. Ambassador material, without doubt.

1 comment:

  1. Just to say. Great Blog. I enjoy reading each one. Think I will make a link to your blog on my mobile so I can read it whilst I'm in Blackpool in August.