13 Feb I Want To Be A London Bus Driver
The colour ‘red’ seemed to be a feature of my early childhood in London.
I may have been influenced by my father who served in the London Fire Brigade during the second world war and occassionally and very reluctantly, recounted stories of his exploits with his comrades in the hell fire of the London Docks during the terrifying months of the Blitz. Often surrounded by circles of fire reaching up into the sky with everything in site a blazing inferno, he managed to survive virtually unharmed. Until one day, walking back home down a quiet street the droning noise of a flying bomb suddenly stopped – a signal it was falling to earth. The V2 hit the ground and exploded and my father was hit by flying shrapnel.
He was fortunate to escape with his life.
My father was a dogmatic man, very single minded and not easily persuaded to change his mind about anything. Some would say, extremely obstinate, even bordeering on arrogant, though I don’t think that was his heart. So when he stood before his superior officer in the Fire Brigade asking to be discharged so he could join the army, his request was flatly refused. Driving a fire engine in the London Blitz was where he was needed. We later discovered that the troop ship he would have been on had he signed up that day, was torpedoed and sank with terrible loss of life.
So the colour ‘red’ was subliminally in the backdrop of my life.
That must be why I fell in love with the London RT Double Decker! I sat many times in the front seat on the nearside lower deck, gazing up at the uniformed driver sitting in his half cab and wishing that one day, I could do the same.
The RT went into Post War production for almost 10 years from 1946 and inherited the image of the classic London Bus and is still loved today and sought after by many as a collector’s item.
Little did I know that nearly 30 years later, I would be doing just that! Driving an old London RT Double Decker around the estates of Guildford in Surrey in a Youth Community Project! Fully equipped as a coffee bar and media centre, the red London Bus became a feature of the city. The project was opened by pop celebrity Alvin Stardust in 1985 and we ran the bus with a full time team of 10 young adults who had taken a year out to go on the road for God. We had a dance and drama team and a rock band as part of the travelling setup. And of course, the compulsory CB Radio with the obvious handle, “Big RED!”
It wasn’t until I was 14 years old that I quite fancied becoming an architect, fascinated by pictures of old buildings.
But when I was 16, everything changed.
I started learning New Testament Greek Grammar!