Tuesday, 2 February 2016

SCHOOL OF DARKNESS & ON THE BUSES

I can’t quite believe that we are already into February 2016 as I write this article, it really doesn’t seem much more than a couple of weeks since we were busy celebrating Christmas and New Year! – Still at least February is the shortest month and before we know it the clocks will be going forward, meaning the longer, lighter days are just around the corner.

This in turn got me thinking back to the time when (during a government experiment to attempt to bring us more into line with much of mainland European time), the clocks were not actually adjusted and we all had to travel to school/work in the pitch blackness, during the cold winter mornings of the early 70s.  This all took place between March 1968 and October 1971 and I can still recall the utter shock to the system at having to leave the house en-route for school, in what seemed to me at the time to be the middle of the night! - Little did we know then however, that just a year or two later things would get even more interesting, as soaring oil prices coupled with industrial action by the miners and power workers, would lead to complete power blackouts (not to mention a baby boom) throughout the country.

There was a huge drive by schools at the time to get children to wear bright reflective armbands or waistcoats for safety – Obviously this just seems like normal, everyday road safety sense by today’s standards but back in the early 1970’s this was a new and somewhat strange concept to us kids of the time.

I still remember waiting half asleep at the bus stop in the dark then climbing onto a draughty double-decker bus, full of similarly dazed little faces all kitted out in varying degrees of fluorescent splendour, to undertake the journey.  As I recall it, nearly all double-decker buses in those days still had rear doorways only, which were completely open to the elements.  This was where the poor half frozen conductor used to stand on his platform whilst hanging onto a pole (just like in London Weekend Television Hit Comedy ‘On The Buses’, which ran until 1973) – You had to both climb aboard and alight the bus using the same door and naturally there was always quite a jostle to try and get as far up the aisle as possible, in order to avoid the freezing, Siberian vortex from the rear – No doubt a few of the better equipped children would have been kitted out with thick woollen balaclavas and gloves threaded by a length of elastic through their coat sleeves – Must have school wear accessories at the time : )