Archive Anecdotage

45 The Magic Bus

During the winter months of my childhood it was customary to visit Griffin Park every fortnight to watch the Bees at work. The Bees being the diminutive name for Brentford (Football Club) and Griffin Park being the name of their ground. Not that he - a Glasgow Rangers man - was a real supporter but it was the nearest professional team so my father took me and my friend Barry to watch the home games.

Waiting at the bus stop in the deep mid-winter. Waiting...waiting in the cold. Waiting for the bus...waiting. Stamping feet.

Looking at my Dad for some inspired intervention, ' When is the bus going to arrive?' He looked down with some benevolence and said '...if you count backwards from five the bus will appear.'

Anything, anything to take our minds off the numbing cold...'five, four, three - there it was, that smile again, two, one and...Waaaaaaaahoooooooo!!!!'

Magically the big red bus appeared around the corner of the next roundabout. There it was, on command - it was a miracle.

After a teasing wait the procedure was repeated two weeks later, and again before the next home game a fortnight after that.

'Daddy, how does that happen, how can you make the bus appear just like that?'

Father replied sagely 'It's something you'll understand when you grow up son.'

'But Dad, I want to be wise now, I want to grasp adulthood by the throat and shake all the secrets from its pockets...'

'You'll have to wait son.'

And so I did wait. I waited and waited, until one day I found myself back at that bus stop, albeit on a weekday.

My father had since died and I was fondly remembering the wonderful times we had going to the football; feeling like one of the grown-ups in all respects but one.

And then...it came to me. I finally understood what Dad had been talking about when he said I would know the secret of the bus when I grew up.

It wasn't about wisdom or the sagacity that comes with age...it was pure mechanics. Now I had grown to - and exceeded - the height of my father, I just could see the top of the double decker bus over the rooftops as it approached the corner, around which I was now able to accurately predict its appearance to anyone below the height of five foot six.


© Ian Gillan 2009

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