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(22.11.1944 / Nottingham, England/live in Australia)

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The Bus

The thickest smog that I'd ever seen
Came down as I caught the bus,
It swirled on down from the chimney tops
And mixed with the fog at dusk,
The factories belched out sulphur
And the houses burned black coal,
Whenever the fog came down back then
It ate right into your soul.

The bus took off with its fog lights on
And the lights were on inside,
The passengers faces all were dun
And grey on that long, slow ride,
We couldn't see more than a yard ahead
So the bus just idled along,
A couple of lads said ‘lighten up! '
And burst right into a song.

It took an hour to cover a mile
I thought I'd never get home,
The world had shrunk to a dim-lit bus,
There wasn't a telephone,
We'd gone two hours and were nowhere near
The place that I had to go,
Some of the others decided to walk
The bus was going so slow.

The bus conductor finally went
To walk ahead of the bus,
The driver could see the back of his cap
Through the fog, but only just,
We ambled on at a walking pace
I heard a barking dog,
Then jumped on down from the ambling bus
Caught deep in the devil's smog.

I kept myself to the nearside kerb
I could feel it underfoot,
And walked on past the conductor
Walked as fast as I thought I could,
I couldn't see anything up ahead
I knew what it was to be blind,
But felt my way in a bleak dismay,
Scared to be left behind.

I passed a car, parked at the kerb
But only by sense and feel,
I ran my hand on the duco, then
I stumbled beside the wheel,
I'd gone ahead, a number of yards
When I heard the bus go ‘crump',
And a muffled scream like a furtive dream
Made me turn in shock, and jump.

The bus was pinned to the back of the car
The conductor in between,
I walked up close in the swirling fog
And then I began to scream,
For blood was pouring out of the mouth
Of the man, crushed flat in the dark,
And the driver, he was hysterical,
As he backed the bus from the car.

I was only a schoolboy then
In a city of smogs and mist,
It took two hours to walk on home
I was crying, fit to burst,
My father waited out by the gate
And said, ‘You're safe, thank God! '
But I threw up on the pavement, then
Cried: ‘Where was He in the smog? '

13 December 2012

Submitted: Thursday, December 13, 2012


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