It was one of those large red double-decker buses we were all once so familiar with. Well, the English were! I’d never seen one in real life. I couldn’t believe the draught! The back was open where there was an under-stairs space for prams, and a chrome rod that supported the upstairs deck at the back corner.
I was thankful for that straight away. No sooner had I set foot on the rear platform than the driver – cocooned way up front in his totally-isolated compartment – gunned the engine and the bus jolted forward. This motion propelled me backward at force (for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction, as I had learned in science classes. Now I knew what it meant!).
My precious all-knowing tally card went flying in the breeze and it was all I could do to grip desperately at the rod as my feet clawed at thin air.
Now, there is one thing I can tell you for sure, and that is that the
When the merriment was finally contained and I had recovered my precious all-knowing card, I finally could begin my work. I quickly studied the card. A few places – like
‘Tweentrertyt’, he muttered, helpfully.
‘Sorry?’ I replied. There was irritation in his voice the second time.
‘Qwbberteyuot!’ he snapped.
‘I’m sorry,’ I explained, patiently. ‘I speak only English!’
‘Naw yey bl****y well dawn’t!’ he snapped.
‘Bl****y stoopiddd Oirish!’
‘Perhaps I ought to explain,’ I answered patiently.
‘I’m new to this job and my trainer hasn’t turned up.
So all passengers go free for the time being.
O K? Do you understand?’
Isn’t it surprising how fast people learn when it’s to their advantage?
I made up my mind to afford myself at least a half-hour acclimatization period before I began taking fares in earnest!