Wednesday, December 04, 2019

Time To Drive

—Poems by Neil Fullwood, Nottingham, England
—Anonymous Bussery Photos


To illustrate the importance
of the rear end swing check,
one of the instructors set up in the yard
three traffic cones, introduced them
as Doris, Fred and Bob the cyclist.

Doris was a lovable auntie type,
not too good on her feet anymore
but a smile for everyone. Fred
was the instructor’s five-year-old nephew.
Bob was a cyclist. The instructor

pulled the training bus abreast of them,
swung the wheel in a not-particularly-sharp turn
and I watched Doris and Fred disappear.
Bob remained upright, but swaying.
We doubted his ability to cycle again.

The lesson I took away: always
check your rear end swing—don’t kill
Doris and Fred, don’t put Bob’s cycling days
behind him. Last night, I ran light
into the garage and looked around

for the cones. Wondered how many
trainees had learned the lesson, how many
times Doris, Fred and Bob the cyclist
had disappeared under the training bus
in the name of road safety.


My first week of supervised service,
World Cup cricket on at Trent Bridge.
“Cricket’s not a sport,” was where
my supervising driver stood on the subject:
“Sport doesn’t involve cups of tea
and cucumber sandwiches." I remember that—

that and the incessant rain, the scrawk
of the windscreen wipers, bus-fulls
of disappointed fans, oceans of glum faces.


Squint and there’s maybe
a hint of some former Soviet republic
in its colourless walls, its ranks
of long tables and arse-flattening benches;
how utilitarian it is, ill-lit,
just clean enough.

Try the phrase social condenser
on the guy mooching over
from the counter, plate swimming
with grease-englobed breakfast items,
or haul from your rucksack
a paperback copy of Owen Hatherley

on communist architecture
and see where it takes the conversation.
A dead end is where I’m guessing
or a fast swerve back
to the lowly trinity of politics, telly
and bitching about the job.

Formica table tops, occasionally wiped.
Rudimentary condiments.
Cutlery counted in and out, as if
this were a prison dining hall
in a James Cagney flick.
Someone brings up Chernobyl,

The TV series: “Good, like, but fuckin’ grim.”
You could mention that the buses
used to evacuate Pripyat
were returned, irradiated, to active service.
But you’ve done it once already:
shoved talk out of its safety zone,

slopped it everywhere like spilled coffee.


The canned voice won’t shut up today.
In addition to singing out the stops,
reminding us what number bus this is,
its destination and the tourist attractions
and local landmarks it passes,

the canned voice discourses on a minor diversion
as if it were the stuff of epic poetry,
exhorts students to take advantage
of advantageous travel offers
and plugs the mobile phone app

with an insistence a Disney publicist
might find overbearing. And I wonder,
an hour into my shift, what Mr Talkative
will get started on next: news headlines,
horoscopes, the lottery results,

statistics on Ukranian tractor production?


Roy Batty’s valediction in Blade Runner:
seminal moment in genre cinema
or the prosaic witterings of someone
who never drove a bus? Discuss.

… Because I’ve seen things you people
wouldn’t believe. A chavette happy-slapping
her boyfriend on the back seat of the 15.
I watched a dropped kebab gleam queasily
in the gutter near the Rise Park turning circle.
All those greasy chips, lost in the rain.

Time … to drive.


Today’s LittleNip:

Success in its highest and noblest form calls for peace of mind and enjoyment and happiness which come only to the man who has found the work that he likes best.

—Napoleon Hill


Our thanks and welcome back to British poet Neil Fullwood, who, for his own sanity, recently exchanged a white-collar job for training as a bus driver. Of course, being a poet, he had to write about it, so today we have a few of his offerings on the subject. Congratulations, Neil, on recognizing what you really need in life!

And watch for a poem by another Englishman, Andrew Darlington, in the Kitchen next Sunday.

—Medusa, celebrating our British poet-friends!


Photos in this column can be enlarged by
clicking on them once, then clicking on the x
in the top right corner to come back to Medusa.