"Comedy always works best when it is mean-spirited" - John Cleese

Author John Corby also writes as "Bulldogge" for the British Canadian newspaper.

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Sunday, June 28, 2009

10 Reasons I Left Britain #3. London Buses

There is an old joke in the European Province of Britain about the Terrible Titans of the Thames; the Pirates of Pimlico, the Charing Cross Charioteers - aka ... London bus drivers.

The Pope arrives at the Pearly Gates of Heaven with a look of supreme confidence on his face. He touches Saint Peter on the shoulder, closes his eyes and recites a short private prayer, then begins to walk on through the gates for his long anticipated personal meeting with God. Saint Peter looks confused.

"Oi, hold on just a minute, Holy Father" he calls out, then rushes past the Pope and secures the lock on the gates. "How can I help you?" inquires the Pope with a quizzical look on his face. "You can't enter" replies Saint Peter. "Well, at least, not quite yet Holy Father" he sputters. "Would you mind waiting in the lounge while we process you?"

The Pope looks somewhat taken aback but, maintains his regal demeanour and takes a seat in the lounge outside the gates. While flicking through a copy of the "Catholic Times" that wouldn't be published in the mortal world until the next day, his eye is caught by another arrival at the Pearly Gates. The previous scene is repeated with uncanny precision as the Archbishop of Canterbury makes his arrival and, just like His Holiness the Pope, is directed to the lounge.

Now that the day's VIPs have been received and seated, Saint Peter turns his attention to the long line-up of commoners who have assembled outside the big gates. First in line is a deceased London bus driver. Saint Peter waves him straight through and directs him towards the lane leading to the throne of God.

The Pope and the Archbishop look each other in the eye and then at Saint Peter. In a spontaneous and simultaneous outburst of apoplexy they explode in anger and demand that the guardian of the gates explain why they, two of the highest ranking religious leaders in the mortal world, were held back while the commoner was waved through without any hesitation or delay.

"Holy gentlemen" says Saint Peter as he takes each one by the arm, "shall we take a seat in the lounge again for a moment while I explain." All three settle down into the comfortable silk covered chairs in the Heavenly lounge. With a strident and commanding voice, Saint Peter then tells the two holy leaders: "Gentlemen, your lifelong works of devotion in the mortal world are deeply appreciated, but the other gentleman was a London bus driver for thirty years. He put the fear of God into more people than the two of you combined."

Who's The Boss?
The haughty power of London bus drivers was reinforced by their deputies - the "clippies", formally known as "bus conductors". While drivers hurled their double-decked monster buses through the narrow, winding streets of London in a reign of terror, clippies would make sure that any passenger who dared to enter the bus knew exactly who was boss.

Double-Decked Gangsters
Gangs of double-decked bandits would roam the streets five at a time. They sought out line-ups of senior citizens waiting at a bus stop, anxious from having waited for an hour for a bus into town to collect their pensions. Flooring the gas pedal they would race straight on by, throwing up a spray of rainwater from the gutter onto innocent bystanders.

On The Buses
So you watched the TV show "On The Buses" and were deceived into believing British bus drivers are just a fun-loving bunch of regular guys did you? Now you know the terrible truth.

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