Hold Tight, here we go again.
Just briefly going back the 185’s I forgot to mention one late shift which I think was somewhere around 1974.
I came off for my break almost half an hour late because of rush hour traffic and as previously mentioned, buses missing in front. Busy Busy. In order to get my break in I had to take over my second bus half hour late. This meant that somewhere along the line I would have to be turned short in order to get back on time. I set off from Catford at around 7.30 for Victoria still late (Hang in there) then told to cut short at Lewisham on the way back. Ok time problem solved. Now it gets interesting. Arriving at Lewisham the bus stand was situated behind the Odeon Cinema (Theatre). Having a few minutes to spare I took a stroll around the bus checking for stuff left behind or a paper to read. Well, I went up to the top deck and what a surprise. A window to the dressing rooms in the cinema was open and standing there in just Bra and Panties was the Voluptuous Diana Dors. Wow!! I couldn’t believe my eyes, so I kept looking to make sure I wasn’t going bonkers. Well, you have to don’t you. Then oops! She turned round, saw me transfixed (nose stuck to window gave it away) Gave me a wink, yes wink, and closed the window.
Oh well, back on the road until 11.30pm, didn’t get much sleep that night.
It’s now 1975, I was getting restless again. I decided that I wanted to go back on crew but the trouble with that meant I would be back on those crappy old RT’s. Ok I though, how about moving to another garage. Peckham had all RM’s and a fleet of new Metro Scania’s coming in for the 36b’s. Fancy some of that I thought, so I put in a transfer request which took about 2 weeks and a place on the 36b’s. I had a mate who worked out of Peckham who was always saying you had to be quick on this route as it was long and very busy. I arrived on my first day at Peckham (Didn’t see Del Boy anywhere) but after a week of route learning I was out on the road. As I said, I didn’t see Del but I had a right plonker for a Conductor. The original sky pilot with his Jesus saves badge and banging on about religion. Ok, now that’s all right for some but me, I'm ok with religion but do not enjoy being brow bashed by these types. On top of that, trying to get a bus load of passengers through London’s rush hour at night is hard enough, but waiting outside the Hilton Hotel on Park Lane at 5.30 for a bell from God’s Bod was driving me nuts.
I looked through the glass behind me and there he was, handing out tickets and change with one hand and showing his Jesus badge with the other. Grrrrrrrr it’s break time when we get to Peckham and I’m bloody starvin’. Out of the cab, onto the platform and in the nicest possible way I shouted 'can we have a little less Jesus saves and a bit more ding dong merrily on high'. Not best pleased he nodded and we got going again. Needless to say the rest of the shift was a little tense. Next day I thought, not having this, so put him in the hat. (A term for getting rid and having another clippie).
The next one was a real grafter. An Irish lass bloody good worker always on the bell and never a moan when I had to get the boot down. Which was quite often. My mate was right. You gotta be bloody mad to work the “B’s“
Then only problem with Sheila was getting up in the morning. I started picking her up as it was on the way. Got to the point when we were getting in late, so she gave me a key so that I could go wake her up and get in on time. I even had to get a black coffee down her neck one morning, she’s been out on the razz the night before, Never told the missus that one. Not that there was anything going on apart from getting to work on time.
She was a good laugh and I enjoyed working with her.
Well Friends. This is the great hot summer of 76 and it’s this year that we get a chance to move out of our flat in Lewisham. We’ve been trying for a New Town home for a couple of years and we now have a chance of a new house in Peterborough. Where’s that! Yep that’s what we said. I bumped into an old chum who I grew up with. He’d come to visit his mum who still lived in Lewisham. ‘Blimey John’ says I, ‘not seen you in a while’. He’d moved up to Peterborough a couple of years previous. We had a chat mentioning the fact that we were looking for a new town home so he offered to put us up for a couple of days in my holiday to have a look around.
This we did in the July of 76, had a look around this growing town, liked what we saw then paid a visit to the Peterborough Development Corporation. Really nice guy there who said ‘All you need is a job to go to and you can have a house straight away’. Excellent me thinks. A quick phone call to the local bus company (Eastern Counties) and Yes, you can have a job but, you have to go conducting until there is a driving vacancy.
Oops, this is like going backwards, but hey, if it gets us housed then so be it.
Back to the smoke we go. Full of excitement at the thought of a new house. A few thoughts about leaving mates and family behind but then again it’s only 85 miles.
The biggest problem was cash. The wages up there are crap compared to London, Peterborough being an old agricultural town, but go for it was the name of the game and off we went. August 20th 1976. Pack the van, bought down by old mate John, missus and kids in the car and goodbye to London Town.
Pick up the keys get to the house and there’s a welcome party waiting to unpack. John had his mates come round to give us a hand. How good was that? Someone shouted ‘get the kettle on’ and within an hour we were in our new home. Excellent!
I’ve gone off track a bit but not for long. Monday it’s off to work.
I guess it’s a new start in many ways, so I’ll get my head into gear and return very soon.