Hold Tight! - All change
Chapter 1
Page 5
Hold Tight!
Chapter 1
1 Introduction
2 Dedication
3 No son of ours
4 Wrong number
5 All change
6 Sign this, fill that
1 Beginnings
2 Learning
3 Getting Away
4 Winchester
5 Freedom
6 Southampton
7 City Transport
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My grandparents on my father's side of the family lived in the country. Their home was in the village of Shedfield, near Southampton. Until we had our first car, the only way to visit was by bus. Among my earliest memories are some of the journeys, including changing buses at Bishop's Waltham in the days when we still lived in Eastleigh. I also remember that the buses on local services in Eastleigh were of an old style with the upstairs gangway on one side and long seats right across the rest of the upper deck. The buses we caught to visit Shedfield were usually of a newer design and seemed much smoother and faster. The favourite place to sit was of course the front seat upstairs where you could pretend to be driving.

After our move to Winchester the buses I caught most often were the local King Alfred services. Their buses were very different, not least because they often had hardboard in the windows instead of glass. There never seemed to be enough buses either, squeezing three people to a seat or standing squashed together were quite normal. Some of the routes were operated with single deck vehicles but they all had conductors. However, with the traffic in the city centre often at a stand-still, it was sometimes just as easy to walk home as take the bus.

As a child, bus conductors, like all grown-ups, had always appeared to be quite old. In some cases they probably were but by the time I was eighteen I had noticed that some of them seemed to be about my age. When I decided to apply to the Post Office I had thought that working on the buses might be an alternative if I was turned down. Like being a postman, I had no real idea of what the job involved or whether I was likely to be taken on.

The journey from Romsey Road to the bus station only took about fifteen minutes. The bus swung round to pull up at its stand ready to load up for the next departure. As I got off I was facing the inspectors' office and without thinking any more about it, I walked in and asked if they had any vacancies.
The answer was 'yes'.
The conductor's job was to ensure that the passengers got on and off safely at each stop, to tell the driver when it was safe to start (after checking that it was time to leave), to walk around the bus collecting fares and issuing tickets, and to signal the driver when someone wanted to get off.
Bus work involved working shifts, sometimes starting early in the morning, sometimes finishing late at night. When I started, we still worked six days each week with Saturday afternoon, Sunday and Bank Holidays paying extra.
In the next few weeks I would find out more about all of this but for now all that mattered was that I had a new job.
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