Tuesday, 4 October 2011

A Bus to the Shops

The "On the Buses" film seems to have got a lot of airtime on the Freeview channels lately.  It's always good for a giggle if you can suspend your disbelief for the duration.  How did Jack get so many girlfriends when he was almost indistinguishable from the rear end of his own bus?  How on earth did Olive and Arthur end up married?  These are questions that you should not ask - just 'enjoy the ride'!

A substantial chunk of my enjoyment of this tour through early 1970's suburbia is derived from the views.  Because of the nature of the film we get a panorama of how everyday England looked back then.  The suburban streets, the cars, the fashions are all part of the fascination for me - this is the world I was born into but was too small to take notice of.   A particularly good scene shows Stan pulling alongside a row of shops in order to visit the launderette. The backdrop is a joyful reminder of the days before out of town shopping malls and supermarkets.  All major post war estates seemed to have its row of shops back then, with a wide variety of retailers.  It reminds me of my own visits to a row of shops on the outskirts of Sheffield.  This was in the early-mid 1980s, on the cusp of change.  My friend and I would pay our 2p bus fare for the 10 minute journey, then spend a good hour along this single row of shops.  There was a fashion shop; a chemist selling a fantastic range of cheap earrings and bubble baths; a newsagents with magazines, books and toys.  And of course there was the post office, the butcher and the greengrocer.

Now, probably along with the shops shown in the film, there is simply a row of gambling and take away outlets.  Because along that same bus route that my friend and I used to take, there is now an ever expanding out of town shopping centre.  The demise of the launderette I can gratefully accept, but it is a shame that we have abandoned walking or bussing along to these little precincts, exchanging them for homogeneous giant car parks.

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