Hold Tight! - Smash hits
 
Chapter 6
 
Page 36
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Hold Tight!
Chapter 6
Southampton
35 Fans
36 Smash hits
37 New money
38 Eastleigh
39 Tight squeeze
40 Romsey
41 Hythe
42 Holy city
43 Docks tours
44 Fawley & Calshot
45 Kids and animals
46 Hot stuff
47 Police, stop
48 Flic storys
49 Specials
50 Just sack me!
51 Machine wars
52 Not funny
53 Borrowing
54 Demon drink
55 One for the road
56 Disputes
Chapters
1 Beginnings
2 Learning
3 Getting Away
4 Winchester
5 Freedom
6 Southampton
7 City Transport
 
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With a high turnover of staff, many conductors trained as drivers as soon as they were old enough at twenty-one. Since many of these had never driven a car let alone a bus the number of bumps and scrapes was pretty high. It was the conductor's job to exchange details and get witnesses. After one accident I had two lists of 'eye witnesses', one for those who saw the other vehicle come from the left, one for those who saw it come from the right!
I worked with one driver on his first week after passing his driving test. On the Monday, with a bigger bus than the one he had learned on, we clipped a wall. I picked up all the debris I could find and put the slab straight on the top, but I left a piece of black mudguard behind and we got reported. The second time I worked with him, on the Tuesday we knocked a cyclist off his bicycle. The third week we should have had an accident on the Wednesday but it was early closing day so we went without. The fourth week we got all the way through a late turn on the Thursday, I got off at the bus station and congratulated the driver for breaking the jinx. He drove the bus to the garage, collected the bus to take the staff home - and knocked down a lamp post.
Fortunately most accidents were not our fault. In The Avenue one day, the driver of a Hillman Imp tried to turn left, right through the middle of the bus. He claimed we were to blame as he had signalled. He insisted on calling the police, they arrived, they noticed that he had no tax disc. Another time my bus was hit in the middle of the nearside by a car which stuck its nose too far out of a side road. The car driver said we had pulled into the road to hit him.
Of course drivers were not the only ones to have accidents, conductors could too. When I was at Winchester it was common practice early in the morning for conductors to bring the buses out of the garage onto the bus station stands. One conductor, driving a semi-automatic for the first time, hit the depot superintendents office. My contribution was purely passive. Faced with a new type of bus, my driver remarked that there was no hand brake. I spotted a blue lever sticking out from the steering column and suggested this might be it. The driver released the handle and drove a brand new bus into the railings.
Any injury to a passenger was classed as an accident and the conductor would have to fill in a report. Mostly these were minor slips or trips. I did have one serious incident during an industrial dispute. We had been instructed by the union not to carry standing passengers. Knowing there was one seat left upstairs, I picked up a passenger and rang the bell. The passenger climbed the stairs but stopped at the top, unable to see the vacant seat. As we turned a corner, she fell backwards down the stairs. I phoned for an ambulance and found myself being charged by a policewoman over the incident. A union representative asked me to plead guilty so that they could argue against the new 'standee' buses with fewer seats, but the charge was dropped.
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