On the evening of 11th November I joined Jon Bounds with a sizable gang to take part in the after -dark round of his ‘psychogeographical epic’ 11 Bus Project. The idea is that everyone has ‘a window of eleven hours to complete a circuit of Birmingham?s number eleven bus’, recording their observations and findings as they trundle along in whatever way they see fit.
It was the first time I’d ever traveled on the 11 Bus, and I stupidly misread the timetable and thought a full circuit took about an hour, so thought my Flip’s memory of 60 minutes would pretty much cover it. Therefore my initial means of recording the experience was my Flip, some gaffa tape and a handy pole at the back of the top deck to film the bus’ interior as we sat on it:
This resulted in the rather surreal and badly edited film above – most of it is speeded up to the iMovie max with the first and last few seconds at normal speed (I wanted to keep the explanation we gave to a stranger who asked us what we were doing, and everyone waving goodbye at the end).
Of course I was completely wrong about the timings. As Jon said, “Birmingham’s a big place, you know,” and it took us almost two and a half hours to get around. So once my Flip ran out of juice I got out my camera and started taking pictures of people on the bus. Those within our happy 11 Bus crew were aware of me doing this but strangers on the bus, whose backs I snapped, weren’t.
What I found most interesting about the doing the circuit was how our large group changed the normal seating patterns on the bus. Younger, cooler kids kept walking onto the top deck and looking longingly at the back seats we occupied before settling for the seats at the front end. We seemed to upset the usual social order of 11 Bus riding and turfed the kids out of their comfort zone. Me and Ben Whitehouse chatted about this and more on this audioboo he took during our journey.
All in all it was a really fun thing to do – I got to meet and share sweets with new people, see a bit more of Birmingham (including Perry Barr, where you can be a star) and enjoy some post bus-ride drinks at the Hare and Hounds with friends. I think next year I’ll definitely go in the daytime, so I can see and record more of what’s outside the top deck of the bus.