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In an effort to force his way into the Birmingham Post Power 50, Andy Munro joined The Stirrer in leaving his car at home for a day this week. With mixed success…

The Birmingham Post recently ran an article about Friends of the Earth trying to persuade Birmingham’s ‘Power 50’ to give up their cars for the day. Perhaps predictably, it met with a lukewarm response from this souped up brigade. However I decided to take up the challenge even though my chances of making the ‘Power 50’are similar to Blues winning the Champions League.

As the last pedal machine I had ridden had 3 wheels and was about 50 years ago,I decided to use the much maligned Birmingham bus. Now I tend to work fairly long hours and normally leave home at about 6.30am and leave work to return home at about 5.30pm. It’s a long enough day so I decided that I would leave at about the same time rather than get up even earlier.

It’s a 15 minute walk from my Hollywood home to the Maypole 50 bus stop and as I started my walk, I was almost immediately engulfed in a spiders web that would have done justice to a Tarantula…to be fair the spider seemed as surprised as me at such an early hour. Undaunted I strode down the road dodging early morning dog turds and large alsatians being given almost free rein by their half asleep owners.

One of the problems with the walk is that you can see buses from some way off and this tempted me into a fruitless ‘Usain Bolt’ type sprint to just miss the bus. No worries because the 50 bus route has been described as the busiest bus service in Europe…so why did I have to wait over 15 minutes for the next one?

Anyway once on, I resisted the temptation of the free Metro newspapers and instead took out some work. This manoeuvre was met with incredulous stares from fellow passengers as if I was a cross between a yuppy and a member of MI5. I suppose I would have blended in better if I had begun to repetitively underline key words in crayon and started to mutter to myself.

As it happens, working on the bus proved rather difficult as the driver braked and accelerated as if he was competing at Silverstone. Once off the bus ,a brisk walk to my office in the Jewellery Quarter meant I arrived £2 lighter (I didn’t have the exact £1-70p fare)and 50 minutes later than normal. The health benefits gained by the walking were nullified by the stress of being later starting work and the three digestive biscuits devoured to satisfy my exercise induced appetite.

Due to an evening meeting, my return was a little later and I have to be honest that despite the supposed dangers of being on a late night 50 bus – especially upstairs – I found it a most relaxing and enriching experience…but there again was that because of the clouds of smoke wafting my way from a hoodies convention on the back seat.

Am I tempted to leave my car at home again? I’m afraid not, so perhaps I might make the Power 50 eventually,after all!


Andy Munro would like to point out that 'my views are personal and not those of the City Council'


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