My Favourite Film of 1898.

Film If I was taught anything useful growing up, it was the value of money, or at least I like to think so. Without much to spend, everything bought had to be accounted for. We didn’t splurge and material things weren’t that important. Clothing was bought on market stalls and the like for example and I was brought up to ignore labels, something which is still true. I simply don’t understand why anyone would want to spend hundreds of pounds on single pieces of clothing and always shop around, probably to the point that it would have been cheaper just to buy the first damn thing I saw.

My parents had to be imaginative when it came to treats and incentives. Sometimes this was easy. A sweet van would park at the top of the road every week, Mr K’s, and I’d be given ten pence to spend on chewy chocolate bottles and Sherbet fountains from the retiree in the brown overalls. None of this would happen if I’d been “naughty” in the intervening days. Not that I remember being an especially difficult child which is counter to what my parents have just told me. I have no memory. I asked what they meant by that but the details due to our relative ages now are now sketchy. I expect it was just general childhood misbehaviour.

But the one treat I do remember is being allowed to sit at the front on the top deck of the bus. This was usually either the 80 or 82 from Speke into Garston or the city centre and was one of the most exciting things I could do because it meant I could watch the bus driver through the periscope which was the way they could keep an eye on the top deck before security camera were invented (this all happened in the late 70s or early 80s). It also gave me a driver’s eye view, albeit from a higher angle, seeing the streets and landscape at the front rather than the side. Even though this would be those same journeys, there was always something new to look at.

When I was old enough to travel on buses without my parents, it still took a while before it felt ok to decide to walk up those steps by myself and even when I did, it felt illicit, like I was stealing something which I hadn’t earned or didn’t deserve. Plus by then I understood the dangers of passive smoking and it still hadn’t been banned on public transport. In my teenage years, upstairs was also were the boys and girls hung out together and since I was nervous around the latter, the bottom deck became a haven from all of that. The one occasion I did venture upstairs, I almost had an anxiety attack, I think when the girlfriend of one of my mates looked at me.

Now I’m old enough to enjoy the experience for what it is, the chance to see the world from an unusual angle, a similar thrill as View from an Engine Front – Barnstaple but live and on a road. Now I’ll sit in this position whatever chance I get, looking across tops of bus shelter and roofs, jumping out of my skin as the bus hits the tree tops. My longest trip lately was all the way to Preston although I’ll admit I did read for a bit here and there as the bus traversed the motorways. If you’re not actually driving, there’s no point subjecting yourself to the hypnotism of the monocoloured roads and embankments and street furniture. I wonder where I’ll be next.

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