Classic Military Vehicle - May 2014

£4.70 (Approx $5.84 or €5.30)


My name is John Blackman and I am a bus enthusiast. Actually, I’m not. But I was once. During my schooldays it was quite the thing to go bus spotting. You could buy books listing all the serial numbers and cross them off as each was ‘spotted’. Train spotters (I admit to that too) did the same thing. It was all good innocent fun that would probably seem quaint if not a little weird to most youngsters nowadays. Looking back, I’m not sure why we did it. But I do remember Saturdays and Sundays buying a Red Rover ticket and travelling back and forth across London with a few similarly inclined friends, our duffel bags stuffed with sandwiches, going from one bus garage to another in the hope of sneaking inside when no one was looking and ‘cabbing’ (getting up into the driver’s seat) as many buses as possible. I was reminded of these simple pleasures when I visited Ensignbus to shoot the Clubmobile recreation on page 24, because inside the garages that housed its vintage fleet there were rows of just the sort of buses I remember from my Red-Roving days. I’m better behaved now than I used to be, so didn’t attempt to ‘cab’ any of them, but I did climb the stairs up to the top deck of RT8, the red double-decker posed alongside the Clubmobile in my photos. I don’t mind admitting to the rush of emotion that it gave me; the sight and smell of the bus took me straight back to my schooldays when, at a few minutes after 4pm, my friends and I would jump aboard a bus exactly like RT8 and scramble up the stairs to grab the best seats, either at the very front or the very back. The point of all the foregoing biographical waffle is that if I got such a kick out revisiting my past via a big red bus, what must veterans feel when they come across a restored duplicate of the vehicle they once served on? These things we all have a passion for... they’re not just mechanical artefacts are they? There’s much more to it than that.