Evidence that being on the bus never fails to provide Fran with inane blog material

As Julie Andrews famously sang in 'The Sound of Music' ... 

"Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woollen mittens
Really long bus rides with a 'stop' bell that pings
These are a few of my favourite things."

I agree with Julie.  There's nothing better than a long bus ride and if I don't have one at least once a week, I get a tremor.

I've written before about my favourite Warwickshire bus, the G1.  One of the local G1 buses has a STOPPING sign at the front that lights up when you press the bell, but on which the STOP bit of the word has broken, so that the only bit which lights up says PING!.   I think that's just brilliant, and if they ever mend it, I'm going to write to the Chief of Buses and say Why Are You Ruining My Life?  I may even send them a poem.

My best thing

Is that broken ping.
I'd do anything
to see it back agin.
It makes me want to dance.
It makes me want to sing.
I think the word is funnier
without its begin-

(Shift over, Carol Ann Duffy.  New and startling talent is coming through.)

When we moved from Greater London to Warwickshire five years back, we noticed how different travelling was. Most notable was the way in which Warwickshire bus drivers can talk and London drivers all belong to the Pretend You Are a Selective Mute Society.

But although the bus drivers around London don't talk to you, the buses do.  A woman's voice announces the places you are approaching.  This doesn't happen in Warwickshire - when you get on the bus, the driver will happily chat to you about the weather or the football, but you are left to your own devices after that, and if you end up in Birmingham City Centre, well, that's just your look-out, you fool, for nodding off over your free newspaper and missing your stop. You deserve to wander around the Bull Ring for a while getting lost on escalators.  

Something went wrong, though, on the bus we were on at the weekend when we went to Greater London to visit relatives.  Every time the woman's voice announced the next destination, the automated recording didn't stop, and so we got all the rest of the destinations as well.  Here's a snippet, but it was much longer than this.  Would you want to listen to this, twenty times over?  (Only if the other alternative was chewing on someone else's toenails, I'd imagine.)

"Thames Riviera ... Garrick Villa ... Thames Street  ... Hampton and Richmond Borough Football Club ... Hampton Station ... Percy Road ... Hampton Lodge ... Kenton Avenue ... Harfield Road  ... Blah Road ... Rhubarb Rhubarb Close ... Mumbly Mumbly Drive ... Etcetera Avenue ... Blah Blah Street ...."

There were a lot more.  I can't remember them all.  I could see the driver's face in his mirror and he was looking a little desperate as he had to decide whether to stop the recording altogether or just let her witter on and drive us all insane.  

As she repeated her routine again and again, she began to remind me of a very old lady in a nursing home who's lost her marbles and just keeps saying random phrases to anyone passing.  Any minute I expected the recording to go 'Kenton Avenue ... Harfield Road .... oh, what a lovely wardrobe .... the Queen is coming to visit me tomorrow .... are you taking me home now? .... pretty canaries .... would anyone like a Werther's Original?'

We got off, gratefully, at Rhubarb Rhubarb Close, and left the rest of the passengers frothing at the mouth and developing tics in their left eyelid muscles.  

I still maintain, however, that Julie Andrews was spot on.  I don't think I'd have half the blog material if I had a car.

(Oy!  Who said, 'I wish she'd buy a car, then.'??????) 

This is my local G1 bus to which I am addicted.  Isn't she gorgeous?
A ride a week on her, and the crystal meth habit is kept well at bay.  

POSTSCRIPT: I got a Facebook message from a local friend a week after I'd posted this, saying, 'I'm so excited!  I've just been on your PING bus!'  

Just to show I don't make it up .....


  1. Now that I think about it, I used to have a lot more to say when I rode the bus. Maybe I should leave my car in the garage more often.

    1. I swear they are sources of inspiration. I don't know why Wordsworth didn't make more use of them.

  2. Anonymous21/8/13 15:48

    I think you (or I) could have a good time anywhere!!

    1. Yes, I think we are truly linked in that the little things make us laugh.

  3. Y'know Fran, now I want to know why you came to Warwickshire and where that bus is photographed.

    1. We came to Warwickshire to find a slower pace of life. I think this was successful, as I have virtually stopped and one day may just find I'm welded to the sofa. The bus is photographed somewhere between Whitnash and Warwick; that's all I can tell you. It spends its days going back and forth between the two, the darling.

  4. The G1 passes by the bottom of my road daily roughly every 7 or 8 minutes during normal bus running times. Please can you keep the noise down?

    1. Stop moaning. Are you the Irritated, Leamington Spa who writes in to the paper?

    2. Are you the Needled From Napton who usually replies?

  5. Thank you. Needed that today. :-)

    1. I presume that means it cheered you up. Glad to be of service.

  6. Buses that talk sound good to me (tho maybe not the one you were on) because I never know where to get off.

    Btw I dedicated my last but one post to you, just so you know.

    1. Well, you wouldn't have been able to rely on the one we were on, definitely!

      Your exclamation mark poem is AMAZING. Readers, you must go and visit Frances' blog and see it.

  7. one day ... travel on a Swiss post bus. As it approaches the hairpin bend going over the mountain pass the post horn sing out
    Ta tu ta ta, der Post ist da!
    Now that, makes a bus ride memorable.

    1. I am SO glad there are no sharp corners on the edges of mountains in Leamington Spa. That looks scary.

  8. Ping! I never take the bus because I don't have anyplace interesting to go. I take care of the occasional errand in my car, in which Mrs. A T and T talks to me on my phone, shouting, TURN RIGHT, DAMMIT, I'M SICK OF YOUR FOOLING AROUND. I turn the wrong way just to irritate her. That's how little it takes to make me happy.



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