Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Belly Muscles Tighten With Laughter

74 days to go to The Accidental Bus Driver book launch.

I'm starting to get insecure as to whether it is funny enough. Particularly at this time of year when the Christmas tv schedules are announced and I find that there is nothing remotely amusing on the gogglebox. They are all too clever, so-called sophisticated, trendy or self-indulgent.

I judge comedy by how much my stomach muscles hurt and how wet my eyes when the credits roll. For the last few years I have found my lower regions turning to flab and having to reach for an onion as a last resort to induce tears and a belly laugh. It must be my age and venturing into 'Grumpy Old Men' territory.

The last time I experienced mass belly laughter was on an SAS flight to Kuala Lumpur, when just before breakfast was served, the crew put Mr Bean on the video screens. The plane literally shook as the mainly Danish passengers roared with laughter. It was impossible to eat the powdered scramble eggs.

The Scandinavians retain the tradition of showing Freddie Frinton's Dinner For One over the holiday period Do a survey in the streets of Britain and people will likely reply 'Freddie who?' It is a simple tale with a magical piece of acting, playing the part of a drunk butler (all the more impressive as Frinton was a teetotaller). It is simple, charming and timeless......

......just like the passengers I have driven around on buses over the years, so I don't think I have any need to worry about the humour element to the book. And to have it confirmed, the test group I loosed the book on have all come back reporting that their tummy muscles had firmed.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Crashed Caravans And The Pink Nightie

Which relatively harmless industry in the UK, which puts £6 Billion annually into the local economy, is often the butt of jokes, derisory comments and general sneering. Well it's caravaning, naturally.

I can't put a precise finger on why they make bus drivers feel uncomfortable. Perhaps it is the general unease along the motorway when they start swerving violently making you wonder about either the stability or the concentration of the driver. Now that the days of 50 m.p.h speed restrictions for caravans have gone, many seemed to be towed by 3 litre 4x4's which seem to take great delight in slowing down then putting the foot down as if it was all a game.

Top Gear humiliated the caravan , Skegness Crash Derby track sometimes have a caravan race as the last race and people make fools of themselves and put it on Youtube .

I even saw, during the bad floods in Carlisle several years ago a sizeable group of people standing and cheering at intervals. They were not delighted at the dramatic flood waters or the fast flowing river. They were transfixed at the sight of some caravans which were swept down the river upstream and when they hcame to a temporary halt by a stone bridge. The cheering started when, one by one, the caravans disintegrated as the current forced them under the arch.

There are of course exceptions to the image portrayed in the Carry On films such as Carry On Behind. Romany caravans are works of art. The Caravan Gallery   produces original and funny material. and these Winnebago type vehicles now seen on the roads are like mobile luxury hotels.

But the story I feel epitomises the caravan is one which a policeman once told me when he had been forced to smother his giggles when attending a crash on the motorway: -

A family had started their journey for their annual holiday, taking their caravan to the seaside. The husband and children had got into the car, but the wife was tired, and wearing her pink nightie had got into the bed in the caravan. She woke up when the car stopped at a motorway service station for fuel. She wanted the loo and viewing the Ladies sign out of the window, she decided to run across the forecourt.

When she came out the car, caravan and her family were gone. She was in a terrible state at being abandoned and looking a fool. The kindly garage supervisor told her not to worry and that he would drive her in his car up the motorway until they caught up with her husband.

They did.

But the husband, hearing frantic hooting on the horn, looked across to see his wife, in a pink nightie, in a strange car with a stranger at the wheel. He was so surprised that he drove off the road and crashed his car and caravan, without injuring anyone.

No wonder caravans make people smile.   

Monday, 2 December 2013

An Elephant Hit Me

Windsor Safari Park has been long gone. The fenced enclosures have long gone and have been superceded by Legoland, which is a lot kinder on the car you drive there. My car often used to return from the Safari Park missing a part or two. The baboons would climb onto the bonnet and unscrew the nuts holding the wiper blades, which would then be carried off into the undergrowth.

I don't know why I think fondly of the place. If you didn't get soaked by the killer whale and the dolphins performing acrobatics, you were likely to get pee'd upon by the monkeys. It was expensive, even after having free entry courtesy of some friend of my mother's who lived next door and whose garden bordered the park. The mother would heave several children over the fence and we would have to run past the giraffes to get to safety. I never saw a giraffe as my gaze was firmly fixed on the gate in the far corner, but the thunder of hooves (if giraffes have such things) could be heard.

I suppose it was the elephants which were the magnet. There is something magical about these beasts which stop me in my tracks whenever I see one.

It was a different experience which allegedly happened to a family on a day trip to the Safari Park. While driving through the enclosures where the signs stated:


the grandmother started to feel faint and wound down her window a little. An elephant stuck its trunk through the gap out of duriosity and probably what food was in the car. The grandmother screamed, paniced and hurriedly wound her window up, trapping the elephant's trunk. The elephant, undoubtedly due to pain and fear started lashing out at the car with his front feet, causing damage to the whole side panels. (if you want to know what it is like to be hit by an elephant - look at - you'll get the idea.)

They were rescued by the wardens and parked up in the main car park. While the family went off to see the other animals, the father was still feeling very shaken and went to the bar for a drink or two.

On the journey home, there was a major accident involving two cars. Having witnessed the crash he pulle over and got out to see what he could do to help. A policeman came up to him and asked:

'Excuse me, sir, but were you involved in this accident?'

'No,' he replied, 'of course not'

'Well what happened to your car?'

'An elephant hit it.'

'Will you come over to my car and breathe into this bag?'

He was over the limit and was charged for 'drink and drive'.

It's a rrough world