Amy ‘213Bus’ Graham, MA Heritage (Contemporary Practice)

I know I haven’t posted in a while. It is not through lack of trying, I’ve just been doing other things!

MA SubmissionAmy '213bus' Graham MA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Firstly, I realise that I never said a final thank you to everyone who submitted their thoughts, memories and collections to my project during the completion of my Masters degree in Heritage (Contemporary Practice) at Kingston University. I submitted on September 3rd 2013: my essay (or ‘critical reflection’) which was a sort of academic piece on the project and how I completed it, my bus costume, my collection of bus related material and a project diary/book with essay, blog posts and future proposals inside. Please accept my huge thanks for your contribution big or small, I have felt so privileged to meet/make contact with you and represent the 213 bus and what it means to people who use it. In the end, I received the dissertation prize (though no actual prize!) and got a distinction for my degree so am very happy!

Secondly, the reason I have been so busy of late is that my MA degree allowed me to apply for and successfully get the Local History Officer position within the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames. I now work full time researching Kingston’s local history and looking after our collection of photos, newspapers, books, leaflets and other ephemera. The good news is that I am now is an enviable position in terms of accessing bus related local history materials, the bad news is that I am exhausted from each day at work and can’t quite motivate myself to stay late to research bus stuff! I hope I will gradually adjust to the new timetable and would like to be a bit more consistent in posting from now on.

Thanks for reading, keep your thoughts, memories and questions coming!

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Becoming the 213 bus

My  life has become the bus. This project has been on my mind for the last 7 months, and there has been no escape because I have to use the 213 bus every day to get to work and back again. On Tuesday I have to hand something in for my MA degree at Kingston. It’ll be ready, but I’ve got the sort of work ethic which makes me want to go right up to the wire, even if that isn’t entirely necessary.

One of the earliest memory fliers that I received was from my course mate Pirrko and this is what she wrote:

My bus stop is NA

I’ve been using the 213 bus for – years

I walk past the Fairfield Bus Station on my way to University of Kingston and often see the 213 bus, which makes me think of Amy who is doing a creative project on that bus route. In a sense, the bus has become to symbolise Amy – her creativeness and love for quirky things.

You may remember from a previous post that I did joke about dressing up in a cardboard bus costume at Malden Fortnight. Unfortunately, with one thing and another I didn’t quite get it finished in time. However, it is finished and last week I went on the bus as the bus…You might ask why, and to be honest, if I’d been asked that on the bus I don’t quite know what I would have said.

The essay component of my project is all about the everyday, and how we should find more joy in our daily lives – bus travel can be joyful if you look at it the right way. Yes, waiting at the stop in the cold and rain is rubbish, and the stink of stale alcohol and wee on some late-night journeys can be really unpleasant. But looking out the window, you are bombarded with endless images, some of which are incredibly beautiful: the sunset, daffodils in bloom, pouring rain which makes everything glimmer. The buzzing of the air con relaxes me so much I tend to fall asleep, and eavesdropped conversations can be so funny, or thought-provoking, or utterly bizarre.

On the bus, you are with a whole load of strangers who you might never meet in another aspect of you life. This is important for social equality, if you sit in a car all day you might feel safe, but you are also isolated from the world and other people. On the bus you have to be with people who you might totally disagree with, or you might meet a future husband or wife. The bus is a place of possibilities.

I became the bus because I wanted people to think about the bus for once, I wanted people to be intrigued or amused, I wanted to intervene in the everyday lives of a few unsuspecting bus users. Secondly, I felt the need to possess the bus – I’ve invested so much of my life in this project, I’ve often felt totally consumed by it, becoming the bus is kind of taking it over, making it mine. Thirdly, I’ve got an epic fancy dress costume for Halloween and a great talking piece in the form of a bus costume-bedside cabinet!

A lot of people simply won’t get the point of this project. And it may mean absolutely nothing in the long run to anyone but me. On the other hand, we all have a 213 bus: it might be the bus or train you get to work or school everyday, or even the route you walk to get to your local shops. It’s a time and place where you live most of your lives – I hope my project inspires someone somewhere to re-imagine their 213 as joyful, something worth paying attention to, as you simply don’t know what will be revealed.

It is worth the expense of youthful days and costly hours if you learn only some words of an ancient language, which are raised out of the trivialness of the street, to be perpetual suggestions and provocations

Jane Bennett (2001) The Enchantment of Modern Life. Woodstock: Princeton University Press. p.95. Originally from Henry David Thoreau’s On the Duty of Civil Disobedience.

P.s. Next week the local history starts in earnest with Fairfield Bus Station (K1)  – a history of the Cattle Market Car Park in Kingston. Bet you can’t wait?!