The bus depot was right next door to the petrol station, where I worked. Bus drivers would nip in on their way to work, or during their breaks, to buy cigarettes and snacks. One of them told me about a new local bus service that was being set-up, called the ‘Foxcubs’. It consisted of a small fleet of mini-buses (individually, these were about half the size of a regular single-decker), which would run back and forth from Coalville town centre to the out-lying villages, at regular intervals: say, every 20-30 minutes. And they were looking for new drivers to work it. I was interested. Bus driving had never appealed to me as a prospective occupation, but the idea of driving around an area with which I was very familiar, and did not involve travelling too far away, did appeal to me. I had a clean driving licence and a motorbike licence, which must have indicated something positive about my driving proficiency; so I thought why not? I picked up a job application form from the depot, and sent it off to Midland Red headquarters. Subsequently, I had to go for an interview at the Leicester city centre depot. It was an enormous, very busy place; drivers of all shapes and sizes - recognizable by their dark blue uniforms, and the little brown leather cases they carried – dashed, ant-like, here and there, as they simultaneously started and finished their shifts.
I had to take a couple of written aptitude tests; then I had the actual interview, which I don’t remember at all. Anyway, I got the job. Before I could start work, I had to undergo some training, and pass the PSV driving test. This took several weeks, and I got paid for doing it! I remember my trainer, Maurice, very well. He was a laid-back, elderly Afro-Caribbean gentleman, who had spent his life working on the buses. He had a rich purr of a laugh which emanated from his soul, and he immediately put me at ease. I was quite nervous about driving a much bigger vehicle than I’d been used to; moreover, I was daunted at the prospect of being responsible for the lives of people who would be my passengers…what if I had an accident, and killed them all! (Yeah, I’ve always tended to over-think things, and look on the dark-side. But, I suppose, it’s best to be prepared for such eventualities.) (btw: I needn’t have worried; this was not an eventuality in this particular case) …
To cut a long story short: