Yesterday was the last day of the school term for young Fred and Trev. It was also the last day for their bus Driver Ted to drive past the Gladfield Farm-gate. Yeah I know it’s a bit confusing with the names, but Ted is not young he is 86 and retiring from driving buses after 65 years which is a pretty good effort. He looks younger than me, which is quite incredible considering what you have to put up with being a bus driver.
It brought back memories of when I was at school and riding on the school bus. Our bus was called the Dunsandel Line; it was one of five buses that serviced our school. For some reason, all the pupils on the Dunsandel Line were often in the A.V. room at the interval for disciplinary reasons. It was because probably we were mostly country kids and the fact that we had twice as far to travel each day (an hour and a half each way) than the other kids. It meant we had to be quite industrious in the way we entertained our selves to help pass the time.
The important thing to remember on our bus was the hierarchy system. We spent most of the time fighting to get in the back seat, and once we were in the back seat, we had to keep fighting to stay there!
We had high back seats on our bus which meant the bus driver couldn’t see too much of the shenanigans that used to go on and what he did see he mostly ignored, it also was great for sneaking up on the seat in front and administering a nutcracker (a whack on the head from somebody’s knuckles) or a pinky (a slap on bare legs which left a nice pink mark). It was always met with gasps of pain and surprise from the recipient and shrieks of laughter from everyone else on the bus! We all had our turn at being on the receiving end; it was character building stuff. It certainly made you resilient. Despite everything we all had massive respect for each other, and we stuck together like glue outside of bus time.
On the last day of term, we used to raid the toilet blocks at school, grabbing all the rolls of toilet paper we could. We would trail the paper out the windows of the bus on the way home. The older kids were more daring on the last day of the year, especially those that weren’t returning! A pressed ham or two was always on the cards, which was particularly funny one day when the Mayor happened to be following the bus unbeknownst to the prankster. He made the bus stop, and we all had to get out and drop our pants so he could identify the person who belonged to the backside he had seen hanging out the window. Luckily the offender came forward before we were all embarrassed. The offender was dealt with on the spot there and then with a swift kick up the backside by the bus driver, we all burst out laughing, and that was that.
On my last day at school, I managed to convince the bus driver to let me drive the bus home. It was a 350-horsepower ex tour bus that seated 52 of us kids with another 30-odd hanging out the aisle. It was quite an experience I was only 16, I had been driving vehicles on the farm since I was 5, but that was definitely the first time I had driven a bus!
Unfortunately, life seems to be a little bit more complicated nowadays, someone always needs to be held responsible and accountable just in case, so Fred and Trev will probably never drive a bus. I am sure the world will be a safer place!
One thing is for sure the Gladfield bus is a lot of fun. I hope you have enjoyed the ride so far it is only going to get better from here. The party is growing, just keep your pants on!