About twenty minutes – and a new complement of passengers – later, Dave took off along another unorthodox route. I ducked upstairs to avoid the anxious queries I knew would be inevitable.
Almost immediately I heard Dave honk the horn repeatedly and bang on the ceiling of his cab to attract my attention. I peered downstairs and then around the upper deck. Nothing! Then I looked outside.
In the bedroom window of a nearby upper-floor block of flats, an attractive young woman was slowing removing her last remaining item of clothing while draping herself provocatively against the glass! She was mouthing some word in our direction and making an obscene gesture!
We were in a red-light district and the whole bus was being propositioned!
I raced downstairs and gestured angrily to Dave that he must move on! I was genuinely scared that he intended to take her up on her obvious proposal! A few passengers had cottoned on and were peering out with interest. Others were appalled equally as me. I saw Dave’s cab door open and he jumped out!
A few seconds later, having returned the girl’s gesture, he climbed back in, grinned at me and drove on!
Boy, did this guy have problems? Never a dull moment with Dave, I reflected.
A few minutes later the bus pulled up at a pavement edge and Dave switched off and jumped out.
What now? I thought.
He waved at me to join him as he turned up a pathway to the adjacent house.
Two minutes later we were sitting at a table in the front-room window, sharing tea and sandwiches.
‘Breakfast, as promised,’ he explained, waving out at the hungry and impatient passengers.
‘But where are we?’ I asked.
‘Oh, didn’t I explain?’ he asked amusedly. ‘This is my house!’
We relaxed there for five to ten minutes, while some clients, impatient of our return, abandoned the bus.
‘Aren’t you afraid to lose your job?’ I asked him. ‘WHAT?’ he intoned!
‘WHAT?’ he intoned!
‘You’re a bit of a comedian then, John?’ he answered.
‘You don’t like the people of Kent?’ I continued in the rhetorical mode.
‘I plan to bull-doze it and cover it all in ten foot of concrete,’ he explained.
I knew that he meant it.
I thought a moment.
I thought a moment.
‘Do you mind if I volunteer to be your conductor again next week?’ I asked.
He paused to check whether I meant it, or perhaps to ponder whether I was just as mad as he was.
‘Whatever you like!’
Our partnership lasted three weeks before strict orders came from Headquarters that – on no account – were we allowed ever again to be on the same bus! Ever!
But it was good while it lasted!
And we made a lot of other conductors happy and relieved for three weeks running!
That was something, at least!