Letters, Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

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Time to bring back ‘clippies’ on the buses

FOR the first time in many years I had the misfortune to leave the Jag behind and take a bus to Park Lane.

I am no snob, but I was ashamed and truly embarrassed to witness scenes that resembled the third class on the Titanic. Over-crowding, unruly schoolchildren, dirty seats, windows that you could not see through, and that’s just for starters.

It was during this journey that at the very first stop a huge, coarse and vulgar woman with nicotine-stained fingers and wearing flip-flops decided to climb aboard with a carrier of what I could see were tins of own brand beans and carrots.

She then decided to answer her mobile and every passenger on board heard her describe in graphic detail the day’s events, using language not befitting a local newspaper.

Of course, I shunned this woman. However, this was a great source of material for an observer of Wearside life like myself. However, I was genuinely shocked and wondered if it has always been this way. Was it really like this when I took a bus in the Seventies?

Thinking back, I can recall the bus conductress – the clippie, as she was known – was a familier sight on the buses. Ruddy faced and built like a toilet door, no one messed about with her.

She put up with no nonsense and no schoolchild then would dare answer back.

I really feel that there is a need for a return of the clippie, so I am campaigning for a throwback to the good old days, even though I may never take another bus ride again.

Mick “The Pen” Brown

Happy memories

THANK you for the very interesting article on Bristol aero engines.

Establishing at that time a new manufacturing plant in Sunderland was an important industrial landmark, and timely, as shipyard closures were in full swing.

During those early days I had admiration and respect for colleagues who worked hard to establish a workplace of manufacturing excellence.

I left Rolls Royce engines, as they were renamed, in 1971 for Worcestershire with many happy memories.

However, your article has renewed those happy times, and curiosity. How many colleagues are enjoying a happy retirement? Do they recall me as a fellow colleague and socially being kicked during a football match?

John Walker, Graval, Ombersley Road, Droitwich

Verse for mum

I THINK there will be many of your readers who will identify with this verse I have written for my mother who is no longer with us.

To Mam

I wish you were here to hold my hand

I wish you were here to understand

I wish I could visit and bring you flowers

And just have a chat, while away the hours

I wish I could see your beautiful eyes

As true as the earth, as blue as the skies

To see your sweet smile as you shared my pain

What I would give to go back again

You’re no longer here, yet I want you to know

You are deep in my heart, and I love you so.

Yvonne Sullivan, Cortina Avenue, Sunderland

Fortunes of war

THE sad fate of the Sunderland lads who served in the 125 Anti-Tank regiment brings to mind a story my later my father told me.

He grew up in the East End and when World War Two broke out, many of his pals rushed off to enlist. They tried to persuade him to join up too, but he said he was going to wait for his call-up papers.

These duly arrived two or three weeks later, but by then he’d become a target for derision from some of his pals.

These were the young men who where sent to Singapore just before it fell to the Japanese, and they virtually walked off the ship straight into captivity.

Many of them were forced into the jungle to work on the Burma railway. A lot never returned. Meanwhile my father was in a different regiment and got posted to various places in the UK, met my mother and brought her back here.

He did see action against the Germans in 1944-45. His decision to wait for his call-up and not give in to the pressure of his mates proved a lucky one, otherwise he too might have perished on the River Kwai, and I wouldn’t be sitting here writing about it.

Young people might not realise that a lot of people now in their sixties were the offspring of accidental wartime meetings of their father and mothers.

For this reason I always label my generation “Hitler’s children”.

Henry Whipple, Coach Road Estate, Washington