Wednesday, 10 March 2021

A Clippie's Tale

 As a lad at Uni I used tae wurk fir Alexander's o' Fife oot o thir Dumfy depot as a clippie.

It wis guid wurk wi lots o' overtime and wurkin' doubles, especially Seterday whin it wis double time, richt haundy fir a student looking tae build a stash afore the next term. Noo a days ye widnae be allowed tae work the hoors we did, double shifts Seterday an Sunday, hauf shifts on tap o yer ain during the week.  Thon EU maximum hoors fowk we be giein it laldie an naw mistake. The Traffic Officers noo wid hae yer clippie license aff ye afore ye cud say Carnegie Ha' if you workit thon hoors we did back then.

There wis jist a couple o late nicht buses ye didnae want tae be rosterit fir, ane tae Balingry an tither tae Blairha' whit some cried Blairsheugh. In those days thon wir still mining villages an' on a Seterday after a bevvy an a dance at the Kinema Ba' room they cud git rither frisky.

Anywies ae Seterday I hud a keek on the roster an thir it wis, ma sterter fir ten, last bus, Kinema tae Blairha'. I kenned the driver, we aften did the Perth tae Edinburgh run, sa aa say's "Whit wir up agin Fred?"

He says, " Nae bother, you willnae tak your bag as ye onlie let fowk wi Kinema tickets on the bus bit a wid tak yer ticket machine."

"Whit fir?"

"Sel defence" says he an he's naw kiddin, "If there's a bit o a fecht ye ask nicely tae git thon tae stop. If they dinnae, ye gie me three on the bell an I'll hed tae the nearest polis. If they tak a swing at ye, pit yer ticket machine afore yer pus sae they'll hit it rither than you, maistly thon 'll dae the trick. If it disnae an they come it ye agin, ye can ae hit them in the belly wie yer machine, hard mind, an pit them doon."

Seterday birls roon. There we ir ootside the Kinema Ba' room in doon toon Dunfermilne, checkin' tickets and countin fowk on as we hiv tae stay within oor PSV carriage limit. Whin the bus is foo, a cries tae the driver tae shut the doors an tak position between his cubby hole an the passengers fir baith oor saftey.

He's keeking frae time tae time up his periscope tae check the upper deck, doonstairs it maistly winching couples, mair interested in a canoodle an a bit o a grope, thin a fecht.

Wir jist commin tae Oakley whin he says, "A fecht upstairs, aff ye go, an member whit a telt ye."

So I goes up tae the top deck an thirs a couple o drunks, it the back, gien it handbags it twenty paces. Sae a askit o them tae stop, nicely. Mind these fowk are hard graftin' miners sae nicely meant a liberal use o' the word 'Feck'. Ane sets hisel' doon but the ither decides he's naw takin this fae a wee runt o a clippe, nae mair thin a boy. He's goin tae sort me oot. I see the first haymaker comin' an pit up ma ticket machine as telt an richt enuch he barks his knuckles oan ma punch. By noo the guy whit he wis fechtin wie is crying, "Set doon Geordie an stap makin an erse o' yersel."

So I asks Geordie to feckin set his erse doon as his pal wis askin but naw Geordie decides on a second swing. This ane stert'd fae behint his richt erse cheek an as it cam above oxter level I beltit him in the belly wi ma ticket machine an doon he went. I tak a few steps back in case he boaked, bit he didnae an the guy he'd been fechting wie pit him on a set.

These days thir wid be a hue an cry if a clippie walloped a passenger lik I did thon nicht. I wid be up afore the magistrates fir common assaut. Bit thon wis different, these wir hard fowk who wir nae scared tae hae a fecht tae sort oot whit wis whit. 

So the crack wis aa about wha I didnae boot him aff an mak him walk fae Oakley tae Blairha'. Weel done lad that'll sort him, he'll naw try thon on yer bus agin, Are ye naw takin him tae the Oakley polis they'll gie him a room fer the nicht.

Wan joker cries, "Aa noo ken why they ca' thir ticket machine a punch." tae much hilarity aa roon.

A gits doon tae ma driver an he gies me a keek an in thit unnerstatit wie o Fife fowk looks an says, "Aye, ye'll dae.' 

Weel thons as guid as ony nichthood ir beltie laird fae the Quin, fir me.


  1. You have brought back memories for me as I was a clippie on the Glasgow Corpy buses from Knightswood Garage 50 years ago in 1971 the year we converted to decimal coinage. I actually started on the very first day of decimilisation which was I believe February 15th, having spent the previous week "training" in "old money" How daft was that. As a single man of 19 years I did a lot of the late night bus runs from George Square to Drumchapel better known as The Drum as the married men didn't fancy the hours. The pay rate was double or triple time so suited me very well. Passengers paid in a variety of currencies from 1/2 bottles to party invites and I heard rumour of sexual favours though never encountered this personally. As you will imagine, similar to your own story, things could get rough at times and that big heavy ticket machine proved very handy on more than one occasion particularly if anyone attempted to administer a "Glasgow Kiss" and headered the machine and not my nose. Or " accidently" swaying at a corner and belting an unruly passenger on the skull followed by a quick apology and a curse at the " new driver". Thanks for the memories, keep well.

  2. It was a good stiffening for an 18 year old just out of school. I have fond memories of working rural routes out of Dunfermline across Fife, stoppin at road ends to get some auld biddies message list and doing her and a couple of others shopping in Leven.

    Then there was the time I got my leg burnt when an injector on an old AEC Tigercub let go going up the bray in Dunfermline and sprayed hot desiel.and oil up my leg, the bus was retired after that. "Just as well it wisnae a passenger then, son" said the inspector on the stand, "Thon cud hae gien us a problem" so much for health and safety.