Thursday, September 16, 2004

A Flanders And Swan moment

Today I travelled on a Routemaster bus - a no. 36 travelling down Vauxhall Bridge Road. Every time I get on one of these nowadays, an infrequent event, I'm aware that this may just be the last time. They're old - the one I was on was a C-reg., which dates it to the early '60s when my mum and dad were driving around in a Morris Minor or a Ford Anglia. They have that feeling of substance that you get from a vehicle whose interior is made of metal and wood and rivets and screws rather than plastic mouldings, and there is a unique pleasure in standing on the open rear platform as you wait to get off. They don't cater for the disabled, they're probably dangerous if you're completely legless, but they have a surly or cheerful or eccentric or bored but generally reassuring Bus Conductor, they don't half shift around given enough road-room, and pulling a bit of string to ring the "stop" bell is a retro joy.
I'm not one of those spotter types who resists change - I actually really like the new trains that Midland Mainline have been putting on in place of the noisy 70s stuff, for example, but the Routemaster is a classic and is not easily usurped by Bendy buses: at least not without regret.

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