A few birthdays ago Liz bought me a London black cab. It was beautifully refurbished but still retained glorious odours, which only a London cab exudes.
With just one sharp intake of breath you can visualise every possible human activity has occurred within this vehicle. I’m sure even the most cursory forensic examination would reveal a tantalising menu of human secretions and possibly evidence of the odd criminal activity. Yes, a London cab is a unique Time Capsule.
So, what next? We’d got the cab, we had the red telephone box and next to it the ER post box, so that really only left that ultimate icon of the glory days of our capital city- a London bus. But not just any London bus- it had to be a Routemaster.
RML 2669-Reg.SMK 669F rolled out of the Aldenham works in June 1967, exactly the same month I rolled out of Brentwood School into the big wide world. “Victoria” as we now know her carried millions of passengers over millions of miles before she was retired in 2006. She was then purchased by the Home Office (at enormous expense to the taxpayer-I’ve seen the bills!) and converted into a drug awareness exhibition vehicle. I’m sure the original intention was to communicate the dangers of drug abuse but judging by the design they adopted I reckon that plan instantly backfired and they ended up promoting the hallucinogenic benefits of recreational drug taking.
As you can see in this gallery she was “Frankly” a psychedelic disaster so when we began a very different conversion we felt no guilt that we were destroying a piece of history. In fact quite the opposite. Victoria is now a glorious celebration of the design virtues of the Route master combined with a celebration of the great English country house.
These days Victoria regularly makes incident packed trips around the UK and has had numerous spectacular adventures on the continent. She is currently being considered for a leading role in a new TV production so I hope Victoria will soon become a star of the small screen.
Ding,ding-hold very tight please.