A Transport of Delight – Flanders & Swann

Music has always played a big part in my life but one song in particular may well have helped form my budding interest in buses as a child.

Quite often my Dad would play me a record on the old radiogram. Remember those? Ours was a piece of furniture in its own right, standing in the corner of the front room on its own set of legs. It was a technological breakthrough when it was new in the late 1950s, combining a valve radio with four wavebands at the top, with a built-in record player below, complete with autochanger. This was an ingenious device which allowed you to load up to three vinyl discs at once. The clever mechanism would select the first record, measuring the diameter first and dropping it down to the already spinning deck before the needle plopped down in just the right spot for the size of the record. Anyway, I digress.

The record in question, an EP (Extended Play) spinning at 45rpm, contained four tracks from a live performance by Flanders and Swann. Recorded in 1957 (a very good year, incidentally), my favourite was A Transport of Delight.

I have a CD in my collection, remastered from a recording made 2 years later, where Michael Flanders introduces the song to the live audience with his customary patter. Part of it goes like this:

“Did you see that bus parked outside the theatre as you came in? It had ‘Private’ on the front. Looked very lonely, it did. I can remember when it was a General!”

Of course, that joke will only be appreciated by those who are old enough to recall the predecessor of London Transport!

3 comments on “A Transport of Delight – Flanders & Swann

  1. David Gladwin says:

    I used to tell the ‘General’ joke to my London ‘Ackney coach tours for Margate or where-ever. Some of the nice old ladies would tell tales about ”Erbert or ‘Arry wot druv the Pirate route near ahr ‘ouse.’ The ‘ouse’ always sahndid like anuvver word…….but they were fun and altho we were laid off in the autumn I used to drop back on coal heaving with Barry. Spring soon came rahnd….er….round!!

  2. Steve SD says:

    I was in my Church choir (in Norfolk) from 1967, aged 13. Somebody amongst the tenor/bass section introduced us to the album ‘At the Drop of a Hat’. I nowadays think it weirdly funny that (even aged 13) I should have found it enjoyable to listen to Flanders and Swann. I liked only three songs on that album (1) The Gnu (2) the Hippopotamus song and (3) ‘the bus song’ (as I used to call it). I confess, it conjured up all sorts of imaginings of big red buses for me.

    Another memory of that time (only because my mother used to tell me) was the name of one of the bus drivers at Cromer Bus Station… ‘Mr Cook’. My mother used to put me on the bus at Cromer Bus Station and ‘pack me off’ to Norwich to visit my grandmother, who would meet me at the bus station in Surrey Street. With a conductor, I suppose it was considered ‘ok’ in those days for youngsters to travel on their own in such circumstances. Sadly I remember very little about the type of buses I travelled on. I have no recollection of a platform, but seem to remember folding front doors. Too long ago 😦

    We had a school trip to London in 1968, and I remember only three things from that trip… (1) big red London buses (2) the Tower of London and (3) a Police Telephone Call Box that we all just stood and stared at. It was positioned very close to the Tower of London, as I recall. Our imaginations ran wild.

    I could not remember the colour of the buses in Norfolk until somebody told me last week during a ‘bus conversation’ that they were Eastern Counties ‘red’. Fair play, because I have not lived in Norfolk since 1970.

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