Home > Family, Features > A Brief Look Back: Transport

A Brief Look Back: Transport

In 2003, when I was 18 years old, I moved from Essex to London to pursue a degree in Music and Arts Management. At 21, I had graduated and decided the prospect of returning was not a desirable one, and so I stayed. In my time here in London, and comparing it to where and what I came from originally, I have found myself amidst a set of quaint rules and systems which have produced interesting stories. I shall attempt to share them now:

When I used to live in Essex, travel was only possible through lifts in my father’s car or by bus. Taxi’s were an option but their expense was offputting. Buses were infrequent but their routes, simple because of the low population and low choice of places to go to. Bus drivers, for the most part, were courteous and helpful. Additionally, they were local and really knew their way around which was helpful when visiting an unknown part or when you didn’t know the stop name.

My family and I live on ‘Bread and Cheese Hill’, and as a teen, I would find it amusing to request from the bus driver: “a return to the Bread and Cheese, please”, followed by a snigger. In hindsight, I am sure they got such a request at least once a day, but when you’re young, everything seems so novice. The driver would take my money – usually an unbroken note – and un-grumblingly, give me my change and the longest paper ticket you had ever seen. This resembled that of those dairy and meat counter tickets you used to get at supermarket, noting your place in the queue. People appeared to lathe taking these from the driver, particularly after they had become unreasonably long. Myself, not wanting to be diffult, I found myself always ending up with this long tick, begrudgingly forcing the bundle of paper into my pockets, and left with a strange feeling of waiting for something to happen. Probably satay sticks or a gutted salmon.

Bus journeys in Essex were a long and tedious affair. In the Summer, the children could be found on the top deck, not adhering to safety regulations urging all to sit down. They would occupy themselves during this time with top deck water fights from bottles they had prepared during their school day. I tend to be the person who gets carried away and throws something in someones eyes to painful results, so I tended to not partake, pretending to be indifferent and bored by such games. Mischief, however, is contagious, so it was hard to remain indifferent all the time.

True to British form, nothing was ever said in response to these public displays of ridiculousness by the other bus patrons and the fights were tolerated highly. I think this Britishness is a negative aspect of our national personality, but I will expand on this later on.

I was not well versed in London transport by the time I had moved here for my first year of university. My limited experience consisted of a handful of trips to London as a child with my mother or the family. I used to find the tube gates utterly magical and was fascinated with the technological simplicity of the little orange tickets and the gates’ opening/ closing response to them. I found joy in the escalators and dreamed of one day sliding down the metal section separating one side from the next. I never will though. As a teenager, I attempted to ride a similar slide in celebration of a friend’s birthday at an indoor playground. This proved problematic when I refused to let go and drop over the initial ledge and slide to the bottom. Instead, I internalised the process and thought about every possible thing that could go wrong, ultimately ending in physical disorder or death. After half an hour of this, I stood up and climbed down the way I had come, opting to jump around in the ball pool instead.

This is all I shall say for now. More to be added later…

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