"I want two queues!"
“I want two queues!” the voice bellowed. “Did you hear what I said? Two queues!”
Titters of half hidden mirth ran through the unruly hoard of teenage citizens who milled around the bus stop area in Cheetham Street spilling out uncontrollably from the pavement and around the corner into Hope Street. The scene was familiar to anyone who passed this way on a week day morning and one which was dreaded by any adult obliged to travel by bus to Mytholmroyd or beyond on a regular basis. In the early 1950’s very few, if any, youngsters were transported to school in the family car. The reason being of course, that a family car was a rare commodity!
My daily trip began above the ‘snow line’ on the hills where the buildings of the now infamous but long departed Acre Mill, created a most efficient wind tunnel for those awaiting the arrival of the ‘Old Town’ bus. The trip along the hillside to Pecket and the long descent down through the wood was usually made in a reasonably sedate fashion. ‘Pecket Bar’ proved entertaining from time to time particularly with the less experienced driver whose fervent wish must have been that someone would invent ‘power steering’!
There was however, one driver whose main object in life was, it seemed, to ensure that all passengers would, on reaching Albert Street, alight from the vehicle looking pale, shaking visibly and at a point of near collapse. He was well known in those days for knocking the bus ‘out of cog’ by the top corner of Pecket Wood and allowing the vehicle to career down the rest of the hillside until it came to a screeching halt at Nursery Nook. During the descent he would entertain the passengers with a loud rendering of ‘Cara Mia’ or some other popular song. Why the bus never ended up on the Midgehole Road or lost a worried looking Conductor from the rear platform remains an unsolved mystery.
One gentleman who usually caught the same bus as myself, was a teacher at Calder High who had a stern, no nonsense attitude. The noise and ‘racket’ in Cheetham Street always diminished rapidly as he appeared on the scene and orderly queues would quickly form!
On this particular morning however, the teacher did not appear. This left the task of securing some kind of order to a rather officious looking individual who was obviously very proud of the fact that he was an ‘Inspector’ with Halifax Passenger Transport. Unfortunately this meant little to the assembled throng and his cries of “I want two queues!” had little, if any effect. Unfortunately for him, he had not reckoned with the ‘wit’ of some of the senior boys.
“I know what you want!” A deep voice suddenly said from somewhere nearby. (The student concerned later became a member of the Metropolitan Police!)
“Oh aye and what’s that?” retorted the Inspector, growing slightly red in the face.
“Two queues!” replied a very meek voice.