Hold Tight! - Winter blues
Chapter 4
Page 23
Hold Tight!
Chapter 4
18 Fare game?
19 Ten bob fiddler
20 Back to front
21 Fareham tales
22 Baby blues
23 Winter blues
24 Double trouble
25 Bus companies
26 Get lost
27 Time to move
1 Beginnings
2 Learning
3 Getting Away
4 Winchester
5 Freedom
6 Southampton
7 City Transport
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In the winter open back buses were a place to watch your fingers curl up and turn blue. Heating, impossible to turn off in the summer, never worked in the winter. Handling tickets and cash became difficult and I was always looking forward to the next chance to grab a cup of tea.
I learned a lesson in human psychology. If the sun is shining and it's minus five the passengers will see the sun, assume it must be hot and open the windows so I freeze. In the summer if it's hot, humid and cloudy, there is no sun therefore it must be cold, the passengers close the windows I just opened.
In my second winter a sudden fall of snow early in the morning caused chaos on the roads. I left Winchester with the 0635 number 47 to Southampton via Chandlers Ford and got back at two in the afternoon. The journey should have taken 48 minutes each way. On our arrival, we were met by an inspector who told us "That's your next bus there" as he pointed to a full number 48 to Southampton via Eastleigh.
My driver and I decided to go to the canteen for a hot drink and a bite to eat. It was a good job we did. We left about twenty minutes later and made reasonable time to St Cross. Once we had turned off to go through Twyford and Colden Common our journey became much slower and from Fisher's Pond to Fair Oak we nearly got stuck several times. We struggled through Eastleigh, narrowly avoided a head-on collision with an out of control car in Stoneham Lane and eventually arrived in a deserted Southampton bus station at about half-past four.
I asked the inspector if he had any instructions and he said no, his depot superintendent had ordered all crews out on the road that morning, none had yet come back. We took a short break and then started the return journey. By now the temperature had fallen sharply, the snow was freezing and it was getting dark. We made it to Eastleigh bus station but from there on we slid and slipped all over the place. We finally arrived back in Winchester a little after nine o'clock. It had taken us fourteen and a half hours to do just two journeys. All services had been suspended for the rest of the day as soon as we had left on our second trip.
For me the problems did not end there. My driver and I had a quick drink in the pub outside the bus station and then I walked home. Having left at six that morning, without breakfast of course, I got home to be told there was no chance of getting anything to eat. And of course I would have to leave at six again the next morning, without breakfast just as I had done the previous day. At that moment I knew I had to leave home.
Just to rub salt in the wounds, we had picked up the passengers from another bus in Eastleigh bus station and then dropped the conductress off at her home. Someone in the warmth and security of their front room had phoned the depot to report that we had stopped where there was no bus stop!
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