Ok, here we go. Back on the road again after a couple of out of hours activities which I hope you enjoyed.
I forgot to mention in my last episode the Sunday service operated by the 124s.
This route terminated at Bexley Hospital. One Sunday before it was One Man Operated we arrived quite early. This wasn’t unusual as it was never busy. On this particular lovely summers day we arrived something like 10 minutes early. We hadn’t been there long when the one behind us arrived. WOW! ‘How early is he’ we said. Anyway the crew jumped of the bus with a ball and started kicking about, which, we were quite happy to join in with. We’d all forgotten about time when all of a sudden panic set in as a radio car arrived with 2 inspectors in it. Oops! Sounds like, Get out of here Butler (remember him?) ringing in our ears meant a hasty retreat from Bexley with all 4 of us booked and reported to Garage Manager followed by a good b********g
Now then, where was I? Oh yes. After a spell on the 124s, another of Catford’s routes, 185 converted from crew to One Man Operated or OMO, now OPO. I wonder why? Could it be PC?
I had previously worked this route with a conductor so I knew it well, especially the Tea stops.
The route itself went from Blackwall Tunnel to Victoria mostly via the South Circular. As usual we found a café at Victoria. Ok if the inspector wasn’t around as we only had a couple of minutes there. At Blackwall Tunnel there used to be a factory called Delta Metal Works. Today it’s called the Millennium Dome or O2. Anyway, a lot of factory workers used this bus for work, they had a fantastic canteen there which meant tea and a bacon sarnie but you needed to make a few minutes getting there and leave a couple late. As I said before. You gotta get the tea stops in.
This was a busy route which I liked. Nothing worse than scratching around I preferred to get on with it. As always, I got on well with the passengers. A good morning, thank you and a smile made me feel good as well as them. It made a long days work if you had the miseries and I have always said. This job is as easy or as hard as you want to make it. I preferred easy. However, on one particular rush hour evening I arrived at Camberwell Green with quite a load on board. I already knew the one in front was missing so, busy busy. This geezer stepped onto the bus waving his arms about shouting ‘you f*****g bus drivers are all the same. Don’t give a shit, and on and on he went. I thought, Oh yeh this is fun and asked him to calm down and stop swearing in front of everyone. Nope, that made it worse. I asked him to either get on and sit down or get off as all these people wanted to get home. Ooops! I could feel a little aggression creeping in here as he was getting ever closer with his hands clenched. Time for action me thinks. Head round towards my witnesses, all 30 odd of ‘em and said as calmly as possible. ‘Would you all please close your eyes for a minute’ as well as asking the people behind him to move away from the door. They all obliged and he looked at me wondering what was happening. Now, I’ve never been into violence but I have a date with a pint or two this evening and as well as the passengers I want to get home. As he was looking a little confused I take the opportunity. Arm back, fist flying, I caught him square on the nose. Back he went tumbling off of the step into a shop doorway (Fortunately closed) and down on his backside. ‘Did anyone see that’ I asked. No not a thing came the chorus.
Got the rest on and buggered off quick to a resounding cheer. Phew, hope I don’t see him again. I didn’t.
Being a busy route I quite enjoyed the 185s. The missus would come down to Lewisham and meet me on a Sunday with our baby daughter Joanne, have a ride down to Greenwich and back to help break up the day. I sat Joanne in the driver seat one day, she was so small she couldn’t reach both sides of the wheel. Should have had a photo of that.
No mobiles in those days.
As promised to my dear friend, a mention, somewhere along this story and here it is.
Early shift, on my way to Victoria, passing through Dulwich, who should be standing at one of the stops? The lovely Linda Wigzell Cress (Sorry Linda, but you got me into this)
Linda was my very first girlfriend and as ususal, we all move on in our lives. It was so good to see her again. A quick chat then off we go taking her to work along with everyone else. I saw her a few times that week but as the rota for 185s was 40ish weeks long, I didn’t see her again for quite a few years.
Well friends, I guess it’s time to sign off for now while I get the grey matter working towards the next chapter.
See you again soon.