BLOG 2 – What’s that smell?

August 2009

‘Powered Steering’ is called ‘Powered Steering’ for a reason. Without it the steerer needs to use their own power. My Dad occasionally greets me with the phrase ‘Here he comes, the advance party for the famine’. Whether he is suggesting I could do with eating more pies or he has a complexion about his own weight issues is not clear, but one thing that’s clear is I don’t have too much ‘power’ to bring to steering a two ton bus.

It’s not that you can’t steer it, it’s more that you don’t realise how heavy a vehicle is when you’re used to powered steering. A couple of laps round the block to get used to the idea of driving our new bus and I was sweating buckets. Which in itself is counter productive because sweating = weightloss which = powerloss.

I also noticed you started saying things like ‘bloody hell this thing’s heavy’ and ‘grrumpha’ and ‘urrrgha’. I think the first lesson I learnt going round the block a few times was ‘drive faster to make steering easier’.
And it’s at this point we redefine the word faster. Faster means to go more quickly than you already are and to make that change as quickly as you can – there tends to be a matter of urgency when asked to go faster.

That ‘change’ I just mentioned – that’s called acceleration.

By the way, Acceleration, when spoken, gets faster and faster as you go through the syllables. Let’s break it down phonetically. The ‘Ack’ bit is said slowly, like you’ve just started. The next syllable, ‘Cell’ is like a gear change where you can bide your time before launching into the ‘urration’ bit which you whip through with ever building speed. Acccck-celllll-eration-nnnnaaah Away you go.

Acceleration is one thing a bus ain’t got. I think I knew this already but the normal reaction of ‘come on…faster, you heap of junk’ doesn’t apply here. Despite the aching forearms and buckets of sweat, which must be a contributor to the notorious rust afflictions these buses have, the fact you don’t get up to (any) speed is therapy in itself. Going slowly is the new fast. In the back of our minds this is one idyllic we were searching for. Something to slow us down from the hectic pace we run our lives at. The bus forces you to go slow – you have no choice. In a normal car it’s impossible to drive 55-60mph on the motorway. The urge to go faster is too great. In the bus, that’s it. A pleasure to be slow. 

The Cabin Up Front

So, a couple of laps around the block with Michael, the now previous owner of the Bus, and I’m off on the maiden voyage. Brighton to Godalming. Michael was kind enough to fill the tank with petrol (gas for any North American readers) – a lovely gesture.

Everything felt good in the world as I headed west chasing into the beautiful summer sunset. The Sussex countryside with gentle rolling hills, lush green meadows and pretty thatched cottage villages was the perfect setting to make this maiden voyage. All that fresh air and yet…..the world smelt of petrol. I mean really smelt of petrol.


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