Monday, June 01, 2009

Thank you, driver, for getting me here

Two of my pleasant Bristol and CrimeFest memories involve buses. First was the tour guide, trapped by the demands of his profession on the open top level of a double-decker during a rainstorm while the rest of us fled to shelter below. There, we smiled sympathetically at his fretting and muttering over the still-operating public-address system. (My favorite bit: "[Bump, bump] Oh, heavens! My coffee's gone!")

The same day, a large concrete plaza opposite my hotel hosted a fair devoted to old buses, of which there are apparently lots of devotees in Southwest England. This meeting featured buses, models of buses, books about buses and plenty of gorgeous old photographs of buses. Some of these exhibits were beautiful examples of mid-twentieth-century industrial design, and it's easy to understand the affection one might feel for them.

It's a novel experience to see images so suffused at once with nostalgia and advanced design. One half-expects to see a long, thin tobacco pipe emerge from these buses, followed by the long, thin form of Jacques Tati's Monsieur Hulot.

The Hay-on-Wye literary mega-festival has just wrapped up. Once again, Rhian Davies of It's a Crime! (or a mystery...) was there, blogging for the BBC. Read her reports here. Go here for more BBC Hay fever.

© Peter Rozovsky 2009

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Blogger Dana King said...

References to The Who are guaranteed to get my attention.

I'm always impressed at how much more seriously the Brits take transportation responsibilities. Cab drivers have to pass a test about their knowledge of London; I once caught a cab in Chicago and had to tell the driver how to get from Union Station to Grant Park.

I can't imagine an American tour guide staying in the rain. he would have come inside and lived without the PA.

June 01, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

American tour guides may be as knowledgeable about their cities as your Chicago cab driver was about his (or hers). Walk through Old City in Philadelphia, and you'll hear the drivers of horse-drawn carriages reciting commonplaces in an affectless monotone. An effort to require that Philadelphia tour guides register and prove their knowledge went nowhere. Such a requirement would infringe on the guides' personal freedoms, apparently.

June 01, 2009  

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