I’ve been working on a reprint of a book that I did with my late friend Gordon, now available as a paperback from Amazon. There’s an opportunity to publish a hard back version but it needs to be a few pages bigger. Now, rather then do that thing where you can’t think of anything and just put in pages with ‘Notes’ over a blank page as if anyone will write them, I’m attempting to replicate Gordon’s style with a few extra spotted people.
One of these is Clippie, more about her later, but suffice to say I needed to know what a bus conductor’s ticket machine looked like. Remembering that my old student colleague Roy had himself been a bus conductor for Ribble buses way back I had an excuse to chat to him. He did not disappoint. He even sent me a drawing of what his ticket machine had looked like and of the people who at that time in the 60s worked on the buses. Generally lorry drivers who had got fed up of being away from home joined what was called ‘the ding ding game’ for obvious reasons, and family members as bus conductors. The machine they used was a ‘Setright’ which is a brilliant name for such a beast. Now I’m aware that some of you might have drifted off in a reverie on such a niche subject as bus conductor’s ticket machines, but stay with me here. London transport used a different machine, rounded and just as big, with the machine in place and a leather bag added the conductors were ready to serve their customers. It must have been back breaking work.
At the same time as working on this project I’m also working on the third one in the series of Henry books. Written by my other good friend Andy Harden, it’s a children’s book about a mouse called Henry. I’m in the middle of doing the drawings. So far, we have done the books for a local Gloucester Infants School, they raise the funds from selling the books. I’m very proud to say that the first two have done well enough for them to buy a defibrillator for the school.
Anyhow, I was drawing yesterday and in this third Henry adventure a bus journey features and I recalled that all those years ago, when I was at school and my mum was a teacher, we occasionally went by ‘charabanc’. Yes that’s the word we used. A coach in modern parlance. So in one moment the various thought processes mingled as I recalled conductors and coaches ( which were for outings only and did not need a conductor ) cross pollinated ideas.
This is what I was drawing yesterday
As I was drawing this little coach, I recalled a coach trip my brother and I made to see Wigan play at Wembley in the Challenge Cup Final. We managed to get on the trip that was organised by Morgan’s Pop Factory, to go with them to the match. As we got on we thought that they’d brought a load of samples with them as the centre aisle was full of crates, but it was beer! Necessary refreshment on the long trip south and to celebrate on the way back. To say we had a jolly day out is something of an understatement. It never struck us at the time that we journeyed all that way to watch a rugby match between two Northern teams at a venue where they played the final every year. No one thought it strange.
The coaches then were also hardly sophisticated, no such thing as a loo on board. I’m not quite sure how we managed, perhaps best not to think about it.
So, what’s the name of a rugby coach? Charabanc. Boom boom!