Monthly Archives: September 2009

Today’s Greyhound trip

Today we took the 09:10 Southampton to London Greyhound. First impressions were very favourable, nice looking coach, very well fitted internally with lots of leg room and a decent recline on the seat. Beats Megabus by a mile and NatEx by 1/2 mile! Driver was friendly on boarding but omitted totally to make any announcements either over the PA, or if it had failed, by simply addressing the passengers. We left Southampton on time and got to the M25 junction with the M3 in good time and then came the first surprise, we carried on up the M3 to take the A316 into London. If I’d been driving I’d have taken the M26 and M4 route at this time of day, after 10:00am. We hadn’t even got to Twickenham before we were reduced to a stop start crawl which lasted all the way to Richmond where the problem became apparent – roadworks. However, it was very apparent that these roadworks hadn’t suddenly appeared overnight, they were everywhere with large holes in the road from which cables sprouted and hundreds of cones. I can’t imagine why the driver took this route when he must have known of the roadworks. Consequently we hadn’t even reached Chiswick by the time we should have been in Victoria :-( When we finally arrived in Victoria again there were no announcements or apology for the very late arrival.

The return journey was much better, the driver greeted everyone over the PA, detailed where the emergency exits were, told us where the fire extinguishers were, asked us to use the seat belts and added that there was a toilet at the rear and generally did a very professional job getting us back to Southampton just 5 minutes late.

CCTV shows bus smashing into Porsche

“The moment a bus crashed into a £35,000 sports car has been caught on camera. CCTV pictures show the single-decker vehicle pulling out before smashing into a Porsche and a bus stop. It happened at Barnes in southwest London earlier this summer. It is reported the car’s owner had left the Boxster just minutes earlier to use a cash machine and post a letter.”

Seems perfectly reasonable to me – what else do you expect if you obstruct a bus stop :-) Thanks for the link to this Jeff.

This reminded me of a posting from March 2007 in which I wrote:-

“Whilst I was thinking how good the day was my mind wandered back to something which happened over a year ago before I joined the Megabus rota. At that time I was driving local service buses in Winchester and was standing by my bus in the bus station waiting for my depature time in a couple of minutes. Winchester bus station is a one way system, buses enter then park on stands (nose to platform). The stands are both on the right and left in a herring bone pattern. When it’s time to leave you reverse off the stand and head for the exit. Back to that day – suddenly a Lamborghini came into the bus station stopping right in the middle of it! A gull wing door swung up, a guy rushed out and ran at a bus which had arrived seconds before. It transpired that the Lamborghini driver had been weaving in and out of the traffic on the Winchester one way system (low gear, lots of engine revs and noise etc) and thought he had time to cut in front of the bus. He didn’t have time and lost a door mirror. Whilst he was ranting, raving and shouting in the bus station his car continued to block buses in which should have left. He was asked by a couple of drivers to move it but he wanted to see the Managing Director of the bus station before doing so! Then I heard it – the beep ….. beep ….. beep …… beep of a reversing horn. This reversing horn was fitted to a B10 which then reversed over the Lamborghini! Lamborghini’s are very low at the front and the tail of a B10 quite high in comparison. I could get my bus out but didn’t, this was street theatre not to be missed. I did of course have to leave and it was at the point where the Lamborghini driver was being shown the big signs on the bus station wall saying that it was private property and no liability was accepted for anything.”

Greyhound breakdown with the BBC onboard

A week ago this post mentioned the Greyhound bus which suffered a ‘breakdown’ whilst Peter White was reporting from it for the BBC. This is how the BBC listed the report “Peter White normally catches the train to work, but as the famous Greyhound brand this week launched its service from Southampton (close to where Peter lives) and London, he decided to give it a try. Will the venture live up to expectations? Let’s just say he wouldn’t have made it without a taxi.”

Press ‘Play’ to hear the report. There are a few seconds of silence at the start, just wait and the report will start.

Mystery solved

A month ago I posted this picture and asked what crop it was.

what crop is this

Yesterday I was passing the field where the crop had just been harvested and at the side of the field was the combine harvester with the farmer beside it. At last a chance to definitively discover what the crop was. I had a couple of passengers on the bus but this didn’t deter me, I pulled over and said to them “I wont be a minute but I need to speak to the farmer”. A nice guy the farmer. He told me that it was birdseed millet and I said that I hadn’t seen it growing before. “It’s a bit of a specialist crop” was his response to that.

The Test Valley Bus Game

Schoolboys have a history of inventing games. For example the Eton Wall Game, the first recorded game of which was played in 1766. Followed by Rugby in 1823. Now 2009 has a new game invented by the scholars of Test Valley School – the Test Valley Bus Game.

The first Test Valley Bus Game was played on 21 September 2009. The two competing teams are of mixed sex* with no defined number to a team except that both teams shall have equal players. The field of play is the inside of a bus divided into the front half and the rear half each half being occupied by one team. The game is played with a football which can either kicked or thrown. The objective being to score goals by getting the ball to hit either the rear window or the front screen of the bus. The ball cannot go out of play since it bounces back from the sidelines and roof of the bus. Unlike Football or Rugby there is no set time for the game and no change of ends. Play commences once the bus starts moving and the game is ended when the destination is reached.

* I can’t think of any other game which has mixed sex teams, unless the two people in tennis mixed doubles are considered to be a team?

Cathy Buckle’s latest letter

Dear Family and Friends,
A barking dog, a bang at the gate and all sanity and equilibrium is gone as a young man hands over a piece of paper saying he’s come to disconnect the electricity. The printing on the disconnection notice is so faint it is almost illegible. Even with glasses it cannot be read and it takes a magnifying glass to expose the absurdity.

The notice was issued on the 11th of September but is only being delivered five days later on the 16th of the month. “Where have you been for five days?” I ask. He shrugs and says nothing. The date is not the only thing wrong with the notice from ZESA, the electricity company. Something called an ‘extra deposit’ has been crossed out by hand. The re-connection fee has been changed, by hand and the total amount owing has been crossed out and re-written, by hand.

I hand over my last statement from ZESA to the youngster at the gate and politely tell him there must be a mistake. “Look, Zesa issued me with a credit balance last month, there’s no way I owe them 757 US dollars (473 British pounds) for one month’s residential consumption.”

The youngster who is not in uniform or marked clothing and has no identification of employment, shrugs his shoulders boredly and tells me to go and see the accounts office in town.

The nightmare begins.

In an hour I see 5 different ZESA employees in their offices and not a single one even has manners enough to say good morning. This simple absence is shocking in a country where courtesy and greetings are everything. It is disgraceful in a public company and at a time when the country is trying to attract investors and restore confidence after a decade of collapse.

My requests for explanation as to how a credit balance on my account one month could lead to such a huge debit on the next, were met with hostility and aggression. I am passed from one rude and bored employee to another until finally a man who does not greet me or look at me, takes my account and taps numbers incessantly into a computer. After some time I ask him what it is that he is doing and he says he is spreading the debt out over the last six months and working out a payment plan. “What debt?” I ask. “Where has this huge debt come from?”

By now I am not the only angry customer in the office, there are half a dozen other desperate people also trying to get explanations for massive electricity bills. Voices are raised.

ZESA have been under-charging since February, we are told. The rates have gone up and been backdated 7 months. When we ask for proof, Zesa tell us the new rates have been approved by the Minister of Energy, Mr Mudzuri. When we ask for written notice of the new rates and for the Ministers approval of the back-dating, we are told to come back another day. For now the growing crowd of angry customers all have to pay 10 US dollars to be reconnected and have to agree to a debt re-payment plan. Its a ridiculous plan because the monthly repayment is already more than most people’s entire monthly income.

As hard as we fight our way out of the deep hole the previous government pushed us into, so the parastals and utilities suppliers fight just as hard to destroy us again. Many people are saying there’s a hidden agenda here, perhaps there is ?
Until next week, thanks for reading, love cathy