Today’s the day. I’ve had a good breakfast and now it’s time to meet my instructor for the next 3 weeks. Oh, no I don’t. First we have to be told the entire do’s and don’ts, given a rule book and a few forms to fill out including the Trade Union. It was a must in those days. Don’t join don’t work.
In come the instructors and each one calls out his next bunch of possibles. I was taken out by a really nice bloke by the name of George Davies. A really nice fella and during the 3 weeks I think we must have hit every canteen on the London Transport circuit. Couldn’t do it now, I’d need a loo every half hour.
We all get shown around the vehicle (an old RT) and given a talk on what does what. Mechanically that is. I’d already sussed out the bell from my schooldays. Into the cab, blimey it felt huge. Steering wheel with a diameter of 6ft, well that’s what it felt like.
Anyway, after a chat with George and the other 2 trainees (3 per Bus) it was out on the road. Scary or what! 2 Canteens later it was my turn, well I thought, the others done ok so I’ll give it a bash. After a few minutes I felt great, soon got used to the size etc; especially after my little car and the gear change was totally different. Pre select, which meant putting the lever in the next gear you’ll need then push the operating pedal (Like a clutch) when you want it. All very easy and went well. Before we knew it we had come to end of our first day.
I chose to drive to Abbey Wood instead of being picked up on route. This gave me an extra hour in the cab and an early cuppa. Crafty or what!
The 3 weeks went very well, I nearly drowned in Tea but several trips to Chiswick for reversing and that wonderful experience on the “Skid Pan” Oh boy! That was fun.
Remember on the Buses? With old Blakey. Yep that’s the one. I’ll get you Butler.
First time frightened the living daylights out of me. The “Pan” instructor says ok, now I want you to drive into the wet area foot hard down and when I tell you, sit on your hands.
Ok I thought, I can manage that. Foot down into the shower and SIT ON HANDS he shouts. Leans through into the cab, grabs the handbrake and steering wheel and “Kin ‘ell”
round she goes. Just as we get sideways he shouts, straighten it. Yep you guessed it. Round it went and I was facing the wrong way. Everyone had a good laugh at my expense. However, he then said. Now I will show you all how it’s done, which made it all a lot easier the next time. Never been a guinea pig before. Next time came, sideways we went, and a couple of swift movements of the wheel and I finished straight. I could almost here Punch shouting “That’s the way to do it”. In fact the feeling isn’t all that spectacular unless you’re on the back, but great fun anyway.
A cuppa later, yep another one. It was time to get reversing. Follow the white line and stay approx 1 foot away all the way round and finish straight. I think it was a white line instead of a kerb to save on worn out tyres. But all went well with that one then it was back on the road and heading back to base. Oops! I forgot 2 more canteens on the way.
Never in my life have I sunk so many cuppers. Good practice for the future though.
Most of the remaining training was on the road and visiting the garages that we were going to based at. Mine was Catford (SE London) where I was to spend the next 5 years,
Providing that is, I passed my test.
Todays the day. Off to Chiswick for the last time (Hopefully) pick up the examiner (Cuppa first of course) could have done with a Scotch. Out he came with a face like thunder. That put us all at ease, yeh right. Anyway, off we went out into the capital. He couldn’t have chosen worse if he tried. Marble Arch, Hyde Park corner, Westminster. Oh what fun, but I came through ok. He asked a few questions on the Highway Code and he actually smiled, shook my hand and said well done. I felt fantastic and couldn’t wait to get to my garage and start. Back to Chiswick first to collect my PSV badge. I can still remember the Number, how sad N 95367. Oh and uniform. More on that later.
Next I shall try to remember some of the funny and not so funny episodes of On the Buses (my version)
I hope you are enjoying my memoirs as I am enjoying remembering a great time in my life.