Red Bus Rover.
Peter Foster, it was his fault I discovered buses. It was 1980. He was a bus freak, the Routemaster had just been replaced on some routes in and out of Dagenham by the new modern boxy Titan’s, built by MCW. I can’t believe I still know that all these years later.
For less than a quid you could buy a ticket to ride. The Red Bus Rover, it gave you instant access to London and the suburbs, freedom.
I would spend every Saturday with Peter, his nerdy geeky ways fascinated me, he knew where every bus route went, pick a number he knew the route and even the fare stages, he was like my own Rain Man.
In time more of my mates joined us, after hearing our tales of faraway places like Ealing, Chigwell, Shoreditch and the City. We would be gone all day, nobody panicked. I used to save each out of date ticket, and had a bus map under my bed too.
Every bus ride was an adventure, going to Harrods for the first time was an experience, we all stole milk, and I stole a carrier bag for my mum complete with the famous logo on. I also got my mum a cushion from a church, well it was actually a prayer mat from St Paul’s. She used it in her garden as a kneeling pad.
When we went to secondary school Peter never followed us, his mum remarried and they moved to Ilford, a short hop on a 145, I never saw him again but his enthusiasm for buses gave me a passion for London, one I still enjoy now.