|..... and a
packet of extra strong mints.
|Drinking on duty was, of
course, not permitted. Indeed we were not
even allowed on licenced premises. Even so
were two pubs at the bus station in Southampton
and crews on standby often had to be fetched
to do a journey. Most of the termini on Hants
& Dorset routes had pubs too. Sometimes
inspectors would be sent out to catch crews
drinking, often we were tipped off. I had
a narrow escape one evening at Fair Oak, a
place where I and the driver I was with that
night had stopped for a pint on more than
one occasion. For some reason we had decided
not to go to the pub and were sitting on the
bus when the inspector's car pulled up.
|Bus companies like Hants
& Dorset carried parcels as well as passengers.
We collected and delivered parcels at bus
stations and at parcels agents along the major
routes. A conductor, with many years service,
was caught in The Shoe at Plaitford but before
he had time to buy a drink. When he was summoned
to the office, the depot superintendent asked
him why he was in the public bar. His reply
that the pub was too busy for anyone to come
to the side door was readily accepted, not
least because he had been caught by a Wilts
& Dorset inspector and not one of ours.
|But you have to obey orders.
Another conductor, told by his driver that
there was something wrong with the brakes,
found the nearest phone was out of order.
The phone in the pub was working and when
he asked what he should do was told to stay
exactly where he was. He did not argue.
|One of the breweries held
a beer tasting in the rooms above the Co-op
Travel Agency across the road from the bus
station. The idea was that people would take
a sip of several different beers and then
score them. Unfortunately the event had not
been publicised so the people running it came
over to the bus station for volunteers. But
as there was a lot of beer and a limited number
of drivers and conductors, we had to drink
a pint of each.
|There was one time I was
particularly glad when the pubs opened in
the morning. And not because I wanted a drink,
just a smooth ride. At Winchester we had a
driver who at six thirty in the morning could
not drive to save his life, let alone mine.
With erratic steering, wild gear changes and
sharp braking he threw me round the bus. Until
he managed to get a couple of drinks inside
him. Then all was peace and calm for the rest
of the day.