Sunday, 3 October 2010

Defeated Cockneys And The 24 Packs

The punishment has begun.

Sooner than expected.

"I'd rather tie my thumbs together and hang from a tree," a driver once said to me when he was describing a job he was not looking forward to doing. I laughed at the time, but now I knew how he felt.

The Rugby Club. The infernal Rugby Club. A license for throwing up, heavy drinking, leaving the bus in looking like a landfill site with rubbish, bottles, cans and spilt alcoholic liquids flowing down the aisle like a waterfall. That was my past experience.

I've seen every kind of drunken behaviour. Emptying the bus toilet down the motorway, pissing in all varieties of lay-by, corporation flower beds, police station walls, old ladies' gardens and worse.

I was not looking forward to it. The option of hanging by my thumbs was looking more attractive.

The club I had to pick up at was an awkward place to take a bus into at the best of times. The roads were narrow. There were cars parked either side of the road. Many times you had to get out the bus and push their wing mirrors in or even stop and wait for a badly parked car to move. Once you drove into the lane, you were committed. There was no turning back.

I had checked the match kick-off time and worked out the best time to arrive, when I thought the post match traffic would be long gone. So imagine my horror when I had driven down the lane, narrowly missing the wing mirrors, to find that the match had just finished and there was a stream of motorists in a hurry to get home.

"You effing w****r," yelled a livid motorist as he wound down his window and nearly drove into the railway station wall.

The bus squeezed through and I sat in the side watching the passing drivers with faces of thunder. All was temporarily well.

I was due to pick up the visiting team and rush them to the station to catch their train back to London. The visiting team had lost the match. But in bus terms, a losing rugby team and a winning rugby team are the same. They either celebrate in style or drown their sorrows. The alcohol consumption remains constant.

"Can we stop at the supermarket, mate?" was the first question put to me by a Cockney voice.

I did.

"Right team. We have five minutes. Within four and a half, several burly members of the scrum were yomping up the street with plastic wrapped 24 packs of beer and cider. Unconventionally they also had iced cup cakes, more often with a church tea party than a rugby tour. Some had even been to the pub and had come back with half drunk pint glasses as souvenirs. One had gone to the garage and had only bought a non alcoholic high energy drink and a bag op crisps. This was a bad mistake. Not only did he bear the full brunt of leg pulling, but he also possibly risked a club fine.

They were a mixture of Australians, New Zealanders and Londoners, mainly from the East End. They were a pleasure to take. Friendly, polite, grateful and generous. Complimentary about the rival team, the hospitality and the beautiful countryside we travelled through. Most of all they were gracious in defeat. The coach was the ultimate professional and humoured the team. No wonder they were top of the league. Deposed after today's defeat, but surely that will be short lived.

"What did you do in the past?" asked one of the senior committee members, having spotted some notes I was writing about horse racing. I told him I used to work for a bookie.

"'Ere Fred," he said turning to his neighbour. "There's somethin' wrong there. You never see a poor bookie. E' was a bookie and now e's driving coaches. Do you think e' went bankrupt or somethin'?"

No, I thought, but it's too long a story to explain that the Accidental Bus Driver, accidentally became a bus driver. I had no intention of explaining that the Accidental Bus Driver is double entendre, given that I am prone to the odd dent and scrape (as you readers will already have noticed).

I watched as they disappeared into the station, still yomping, juggling and balancing their kit bags with their 24 packs. The one who had bought the high energy drink was even making an attempt to tidy the bus. I still unloaded dozens of empty glasses and cans.

I had a surreal thought. The station has recently constructed ticket barriers on the concourse. I wondered how these broad players woul be able to get through them with all their cargo.

Up and under, I supposed.

1 comment:

  1. They prob use the ticket barriers as practise for their next game.

    Never realised you were a bookie. Saying that the industry is crap now. I usually work from 0800 - 2145 at least once a week and usually been doing 50 hours on average a week due to staff shortages.