There was one route reserved for the most careful drivers of the single-decker coaches of the East Thanet Bus Company.
That route was full of rural charm, with avenues lined with leafy inter-woven branches overhead and winding roads with delicate ancient hump-back bridges.
Needless to say, Dave and I were under strict orders not to go near it.
Red rag to a bull!
Dave took the appropriate route off that multi-exited roundabout.
We must have had previous passengers of ours on board for immediately a number rushed up to me demanding that I instruct the driver to halt.
Dave’s selective deafness however, had returned.
Even I detected an unusual glimmer in his shaded eyes.
From a way back, he dropped gear, in order to get a good tear at it.
‘Take cover!’ I roared to my passengers. I raced upstairs.
‘Take cover, everybody!’ I warned. They all dropped to the floor, just in time.
There was an ear-shattering crash as windows disintegrated under the impact from the heavy boughs of the avenue’s trees.
Even I vowed at that moment, to part company with this lunatic!
A few minutes later he parked the bus and climbed to the upper tier to assess the damage.
‘Is everyone all right?’ he asked solicitously.
No one answered. A few were sobbing.
‘Yes. Bit of damage,’ I reported. ‘But no obvious injuries.’
‘Must have made a wrong turn,’ Dave explained. He returned to his cab.
I’m returning to Newry just as soon as I can, I resolved internally.
Back at the Depot, Dave was filling in an Accident Report Form. Then he signed it.
‘You have to counter-sign this’, he said, pushing it towards me.
‘Do you mind if I read it first?’
‘Not at all.’
I read the appropriate passage in Dave’s handwriting.
‘At the moment of impact, he had scrawled,
My bus was stationary.
The trees came hurtling towards us at approximately thirty miles per hour’.
‘You expect me to sign this?’ I asked.
Well, I did!’
I was more determined than ever to pack my bags just as soon as I came off duty.
I gripped the pen.