You won’t have seen anything about it in the Liverpool Echo but I’ve recently been given the freedom of the city. Well not so much ‘given’ as I’ve worked for it all my life, but I’m more pleased with this than I would have been with any of those ‘honours’ the Queen doles out every time she has another birthday.
Because what I’ve been given is something truly practical. Something I can use every day? Something that actually gives me the freedom of my beloved place. Yes, I’ve been given my bus pass.
It was a surprise to me to get it this early. If I’d thought about it at all I suppose it was something I supposed I’d get when I reached my official retirement age (Still some years away and seemingly an ever further off date on the whims of worried governments). But no. A couple of weeks before my birthday Sarah was nosing around on the internet and found I could get my bus pass at 60!
I applied immediately by turning up at the local Post Office with my passport, a passport style photo of myself and a recent bill confirming my name and address. Filled in a form, which was verified and stamped by the archetypal scouser on duty that day, who grinned and quipped ‘You should get it by the big day, then you can spend your birthday riding around on the buses, if you’re that sad!’
How did he know? How did he know that is exactly the kind of thing I’m likely to do?
Well I didn’t, as you’ll know if you’ve been keeping up with things around here. Not on the actual day anyway. But the bus pass has been used and I have great plans for its extensive use as I travel around and report back from such exotic places as Ormskirk, Waterloo and Birkenhead. Because yes, it’s not just the freedom of Liverpool I’ve been given, but the freedom of what I like to call Greater Liverpool. All local buses and trains in the place they’re calling ‘Merseyside’ for the moment, plus a couple of little train only extensions to Ormskirk and Chester.
Now you might not immediately think of the Penny Lane area where we live as one of Liverpool’s transport hubs, but it is and has been for a long time. So although there’s no longer a Corporation tram and bus shed round the corner, we do still have many historic bus routes passing close to where it used to be.
So within a couple of hundred yards of our front door I can get on a 62 and go through Fazakerley and Bootle to Waterloo and Crosby. I can also get on a 68, also to Bootle, and get off and back on whenever I like, to visit the landmarks of my Liverpool like Old Swan and Homebaked. Fantastic and free.
So I’m planning to restage something not done since the legendary heydays of our beloved ‘The End’ magazine in the early 1980s, where they’d report on ‘Great bus journeys of the world.’ Like their’s mine will all take place in Liverpool (and Greater Liverpool). Sadly some of the routes I remember them covering, the 3 and the 30, are gone now. But hey, let’s not get downhearted, there’s so much to explore and delight in.
And you know, I’ve never been through that Mersey Tunnel on a bus. First time I do I’ll be sat upstairs at the front as delighted as any little kid on an excursion. Because I’ve got the freedom of the city.
See all of the ‘Great bus journeys of the world’ here.