Thursday, January 05, 2012

Reasons To Be Cheerful - # 2

Buses. Big red London double-deckers, please. Here's me aged about 3 with one you could literally sit on the top of. You might think it doesn't get much better than that, and you'd be right - it didn't.

I love double-decker buses. I always have. From the green (!) ones I used to get in Devon (aged 6!) from right in front of that house in the picture down the hill to the town and my school, to the ones at college that ferried me to and fro' Saaf East London and The Strand (the last of the real old Routemasters - yellow curvy roofs with the soft tungsten lights and the tartan seats, smoking upstairs and a bubble of chat - '68 bus our battle cry, 68 bus will never die', oh how we laughed) to the n-n-n-n-night buses that got us home from Trafalgar Square or The Goose & Firkin at Elephant And Castle all singing and japery and (sorry) occasionally vomit and the ones now that get me and my girlies to the shops and Portobello and me through town for work whilst crazy people choke on the tube or to my mate's in Wimbledon and back when he says 'Get a cab' and I laugh, laugh, laugh at his folly.

I think that one of the best places in the world you can be is at the very front (left-hand side) at the top of a double decker bus with the world moving past you below and other people's silly, annoying, inconsequential, banal, hilarious, fascinating and quirky chat all around you (no-one talks on the tube) or, if it really is too annoying - or quiet - your iPo on and groovy sounds shuffling a soundtrack.

Here's to buses.

*ting ting*

The Who - 'Magic Bus' (1968)


  1. I'd go front right for seating. The number 15 from Trafalgar to Tower Hill still operates as Routemaster.

    I also loved the enamel-look conductors badges, the leather wallet for change, the whir of the ticket machine - and aged 3 used to have my own 'ticker' and conductors outfit for 'any more for any more'.

    Most of all I think I loved the 'Push Once' button for stoppage. Wouldn't one look great as a doorbell?

  2. God yes - I want one, I want one, I want one.

    Got the 15 a month or so ago - how lovely it was to hop on and off again when I wanted, instead of wait for a stop and the electric doors.

    This is a lovely book (0.01p!).

  3. There's a bus museum in Collyhurst (North Mcr) where they sell the destination boards from Mcr buses. They're in a roll and undo to 10-15 feet long with a whole list of stops and places. I've been wanting one for ages.

    Word veri- phoca

  4. Can't do buses - motion sickness see. Since I was a kid. (Almost as cute as you, but with crappier toys!) I still have to sit at the front so can I look thru' the windscreen and feel less nauseas. (Driver gets fucked off with it - now I'm 49!)

    Just watched the 80s British movie 'Defence Of The Realm' which has a good upper deck routemaster scene, which reminded me of the wonderfully bizarre website - 'The perfect fusion of bus spotting and film trivia' at
    Hours of fun. Barph!

  5. What do you think about Boris' new Routemasters? I think they look pretty good, not seen one in real life yet though.

  6. I have a friend - unmarried and ginger of beard - who collects buses. They sit in a big shed on another friend's farm in Somerset. They are all kept perfect and he hires them out to weddings and the like.

    One of my best mates when she got married by Smithfield hired some old routemasters to take us all to Holland Park for the reception via the Embankment which was cool.

  7. Fabulous. Don't get them much anymore but front seat upstairs, above the driver.. So you can wave down his periscope .. Such fun

  8. Do you remember the 70s buses that had a photocopy type ticket machine - where you could feed in the pennies and it snapped the coins. Our trick was to try and use the head side of a 2p as 10p. And feed in the half Ps to get the longest ticket poss' I've still got mine somewhere..

    And check this, just but 5 miles from me (on Oil City) but can't tempt Mrs M with a trip there. Book looks a treat...

  9. Ah now, see - that's why I'm not so keen on right front: the pesky periscope. Watching driver watching me. Eew.

    My friend Fat Paul had one of those old buses at his wedding - very Noughties. It was in terrible nick though, all tarnished red and scuffed slidey seats. London Transport would never have tolerated it. Still, we had a good sing song on it, as I recall. Being upstairs on a double-decker encourages such things, tartan seats or no.

    Like you Tog I've not seen a Boris one for real yet. I will have to reserve my judgement until I do. Will a person really be able to jump on and off at will, as with the old ones? That would count for a lot. 'London traffic/Going nowhere' as Bruce Foxton once so eloquently opined.

    I'm off to Dickie's site now. Slowly. So as to avoid motion sickness.

    Am up for adoption if you're interested ally x

    PS: Destination Roll - SA's debut album.

    PPS: Drew - tchh

  10. Oops. Sample text from Dickie's site.

    "The brief exterior shot is indistinct, but it appears this is MD99 (MD98 (OUC98R), also in use with Brakells"

    erm, yeah.

    I don't like buses in that sort of way.

  11. A fish-paste sandwich sort of way.

  12. Magic Bus by the way is fucking ace.

  13. Once I sat at the back on top of a routemaster - there was a different kind of seat at the back, almost an alcove - and on that journey a decorators lorry backed up and its ladder went straight through the front window. The day before we'd been turfed off the platform of the back of a 38 because my mum forgot her purse. I also found myself in the middle of a bomb scare at the british museum. It was, as my 'what I did in my holidays' story said when I got back to school, quite a week.

    Defence of the Realm is bloody marvelous.

  14. Davy dear boy.

    Come to Glasgow soon. This is just around the corner from my office. Double-decker porn.

    Oh and as a non-driver, I'm all for public transport. But they do it so much better on the continent. And in Toronto.

  15. That'll be on account of people's taxes going towards it instead of bloody Trident missiles, innit.

  16. What. You can travel to work on a Trident missile? Brilliant. Spect there'll be nothing for ages, then 3 will come along together.

    And WHY is it that people talk on a 'normal' train, but not on the Underground? Is it because Brits can't handle the sitting opposite each other eye contact thing?

  17. Partly that, but also because

    1. You are hurtling through a tunnel in a steel tube in the dark, which is a fundamentally unnatural thing, and everyone feels a bit buttoned in, and

    2. It is dead noisy

  18. Ah, the memories come flooding back - well trickling anyway - I think it was an 84 we used to catch downtown (Petula!) but I'm not so sure now (On the rare occasion I take a bus downtown now I get a 48 - I'm living life backwards!). When I was very young I used to get excited if we went on an "oil feeder" (that was an old bus with a little box on the bonnet in front of the front window with pipes coming out of it). Used to collect ticket rolls from the friendly conductors. Wasn't too keen on the upstairs though due to travel sickness, but when I did it had to be at the front. Our buses were green too.

  19. absolutely lovely.

    I know this doesn't at all compare because it is a mere tourist copy but before she left for the wilds of Nevada my best friend and I spent an entire Sunday riding around San Francisco on one of the open double deckers they have here now. I only mention it because we sat top first row left! It was wonderful, though nothing compares to the open air lurch and free fall of my beloved cable cars.

    Hope to do it properly if I ever make it back to your beautiful city. And I am very much looking forward to the rest of your reasons x.

  20. I am terrified of riding in buses, and the higher the scarier. Reading about how much you love them makes them a bit less scary.

    And Magic Bus is wonderful.

  21. Oh, dear Greer. The picture you paint of a sunday in San Francisco makes my heart yearn. You evoke your own gilt-edged reason to be cheerful.

    How lovely to broaden each other's hearts n minds across the blue, green and white planet we all turn on.

    Davy seems to have driven a sunny caravan of love from January's dark grey depot.

  22. Can't believe I went to San Francisco and didn't ride the cable cars. Reason to return, some day.


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