Teetering on the Edge of the Precipice of Spannerism

G’s post about the Routemaster Festival reminds me of the time I went to the London Transport Acton Town Depot.

I’d been to the London Transport Musuem and thought it absolutely superb. I wanted to know more, to feed my burgeoning (nigh maniacal) interest in transport. It was with excitement that I set off, and met two friends I’d managed to entice into coming. They didn’t need much encouragement though. I expected a collection of exhibits in museum style; a bigger version of the Museum in Covent Garden. I was wrong.

It was basically the attic of London Transport. Doubtless some really good stuff – but an awful lots of junk. Some was fascinating – ticket machines from the 1930s for example. They could be contexualised as ‘human’. But old bits of trains just didn’t cut the mustard really, and there were an awful lot of old train bits.

There were also an awful lot of enthisiasts. Mostly old men it must be said, and so we were somewhat feted as young people. The enthusiasts, who were acting as tour guides knew their stuff, but they didn’t have (how best to say this?) the social skills to truly communicate the interest. After listening to the history of ticket machines for 10 minutes with an increasingly strained ‘how-very-interesting’ look on my face I could take it no more. I think I might have been considered rude as I bruseqely said thansk and walked off. The alternative was being trapped for an eternity in a transport version of Avenging Angel. Or so it seemed.

My abiding image was of a family of four – mum, dad and two young boys. Dad was the enthusiast, and one son took after his Dad, gleefully rattling off the bus names. The other son and the mum trailed 10 yards behind with an obvious weariness. But son and dad were oblivious – there were lots more aisles of train junk to view.

The whole thing marked the end of my ‘hot’ phase of transport luv. I saw my future and it was that Dad. I didn’t want that. I like buses and transport like I like beer – good to drink, but no CAMRA membership thanks. It’s like the difference between watching a sport and then going to watch people practise it. It’s the same thing, but utterly different.

PS – Here’s a picture of the bus with an external spiral staircase.

The Brown Wedge