Narrowly Avoiding An ASBO

Posted: October 11, 2011 in Schooldays


The bus. The logo of modern life, regardless of all Damon Albarn’s disparaging. The transport equivalent of a grilled cheese sandwich, or a three-legged dog. I’ve caught buses for years, and have become part of a jaded remnant of 20-somethings still riding the bus while rich-ratboy 17 year olds fall by the passing-their-test wayside.


The bus is something you can rely on.


And even when you can’t, at least you can rely on that.


Unless I am on it.



I am 11 years old; living in Bartley Green, the land of caged chips. I go to school in Halesowen, A land with a golf course. And free-range chips! It’s unfamiliar territory, joined to my homeland by a hairy perineum of mystery. That can only be navigated by One.


One three-legged dog. I am sitting at the back of the dog watching lots of other kids. Noisy kids. Noisy kids throwing things, and wearing my school uniform. Well… their mine. I am sitting next to an old granny. I smile. Grandpeople are great. A reminder of simpler times when all you had to worry about was the Luftwaffe. I feel safe next to my Mildred. She won’t speak to me. She won’t throw anything. She won’t even mention the colour of my glasses. She should be prime minister! My certainty in an uncertain world. A world I can’t see; because it’s winter, and the dog’s windows are condensation’d. Aisle-sardined! All I can do now is trust.


Is believe.


Believe that this three-legged dog will drive me to school.


Mildred’s fallen asleep. I reach across her and wipe the arm of my coat against the glass. I see scenery. Shops. Howley Grange school. Some 1890s children throwing snowballs at cats. I sigh. I know where I am now. This is the 002! The real Optimus Prime.


I stroke the window. And get ready to turn left.


We get to the end of the road.


And turn right.




Hang on… that’s not right! I slip on my rucksack and run betwixt meandering legs until I find myself at the front of the congealed children blood pudding. The driver’s gone the right way!


I tap on the glass.


Excuse me.”


The driver glances at me. He’s young, and looks like a decent guy. His name might be Herb.




My voice is filled with the authority of an 11 year old boy who knows his bus routes!




The driver looks at me like he doesn’t own an N64. I sigh, and explain that this bus should’ve turned left.


The driver listens. Senses my obvious nintendority; admits that he’s new to the route and humbly accepts my direction. He gets to the end of the road and turns back on himself. I stay standing at the front of the bus, with a smile. I have done a good thing. I’ve rescued a dogfull of people. From minor inconvenience. I want to tell Dad. Maybe he’ll buy me two milkybars.


I hear a voice from the back of the bus.


It’s a year 11.


Where’s he going?”


I smile.


Those Year 11s are so thick they didn’t even realise the bus was going the wrong way.


I sigh.


It’s a good job I’m here.


I look at Granny. She’s looking out the window. And smiling. She’s proud of me. We’re like Allied Dunbar.


I smile, as we approach the 002 bus stop by the Royal Oak pub. I get off, and turn back to see the bus drive away. Into a life of correct directions. All thanks to me. A vigilant citizen! A king among men. A chancer among chances. A chap among chips. I’m about to strut to school when something catches my eye. The bus has something written on it.


Something unexpected.


The number of the bus.






It definitely should have gone right!


I strut.




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