I spent Sports Night on a Bristol University bus and recorded everything I saw
‘This is what happens when you drink port out of a wellie’
Bristol is a city of many institutions. It's here you'll find the Cori Tap, Jason Donervans, Aardman Animations, the SS Great Britain and of course the most unreliable bus service in the world- the U1.
Now I've used the uni bus at night on many, many occasions, but every time I’ve been drunk. The journey to the Triangle and back is always carnage and, as I found out when riding it sober last week, a completely bizarre experience. Here are some of the high and low points from the ride…
After queuing for an age without the time warping effects of alcohol, I finally managed to board the U1. I wasn’t expecting anything too dramatic at this stage, but hell, it’s a Sports Night, what do I know?
Before we’d even pulled out of the transport hub the brakes were slammed on, causing half of the top floor of the bus to stumble and collapse like a house of cards. They hadn’t even managed to pick themselves up when the heavy footsteps of the driver stomping up the stairs were heard. Turns out that standing on the top floor *slightly* (wink wink) drunk isn’t exactly allowed, and following the summary dispatch of a few token miscreants we were on the way again.
Ten minutes into my bus journey and I’m already having to deal with an extremely cheerful/pissed girl from halls asking me to move in with her. C'est la vie. I do my best to politely decline but apparently once you’ve walked with someone to the bus you’re "besties for life!!" Two minutes later, she’s stolen my hat and trying to spin round the hand rail. Eventually her significantly more sober friend decides to step in and drag her away, apologising profusely and cursing under her breath.
I’ve finally made it to the Triangle, this bus journey feels a hell of a lot shorter on my usual U1 night. The queue outside Pam Pams is already growing, and the sweet, sweet smell of Donervans is drifting into my perch at the top of the bus. The temptation to jump off is pretty strong but as the last few pre-drinkers have flooded past me the bus starts and we’re pulling away again.
Apparently for some reason I have to jump off the bus and re-join the queue. I sneak into the front to be confronted by a group who have somehow cracked the secret of prees; they’re neither absolutely smashed, or way too sober. One of the guys starts talking to me about his course, but I’m struggling to listen as the girl of the squad is pretty desperate to convince me she’s a nun, wrapping her hoodie round her head claiming to be the Virgin Mary, but I’m really not sure which one she means.
I’m pretty tired and my 6pm coffee jitters are starting to wear off, I decide to leave the bus and make a Donervans run. It’s fucking freezing without a vodka blanket. As I rock up all I can see is a sea of Barbour jackets and hunter wellies, with the occasional red chinos dotted around. The shooting social has arrived and they’re all absolutely binned, explaining their garish garms.
A big lad stumbles towards me, jacket hanging limply off his shoulders, a massive gash on his forehead. He grabs me by the shoulders and emits a rambling, incoherent speech about how"It's absolutely essential you buy me some chips- it's for the good of humanity mate". He’s walking like he got shot in the leg on the social, so I board the bus with him. Turns out he has no recollection of the head wound- "Obviously, this is what happens when you drink port out of a wellie." After a couple of minutes of chatting pure bollocks about maple trees he’s passed out on me #legend.
After a slurred goodbye from my newfound shooting buddy, it's back to the Triangle. Turns out the driver lost his break because some law fresher decided to attempt to vomit out a window on the other bus, but it didn’t quite go through the glass. Nice.
It's deceptively quiet at 1am, with a mere 15 flaky lightweights on board. I stick my earphones in and contemplate whether I might actually make my 9 am tomorrow. Within 5 minutes the entire bus is trying to fit on the 5 seats at the back, some guy gets trodden on, his hand disappearing under some pretty heavy looking Doc Martins. We pull into the bus depot and I saunter past the bus driver being forcefully hugged by some loved up girl.
So pretty much no one leaves the club at 2, bar one legend of a fresher, who despite a broken leg, had made it out for a pretty solid night. Asked for a comment, he paused, reflected, then shared these words of wisdom: "You don’t miss a night out for a 9am, so why would I miss it for a broken leg?" Truer words were never spoken.
Over my next couple of trips the standard U1 return begins. Here you see nature at its most raw and primal, from girls staring joyfully at the kebab they managed to smuggle on board to guys desperately trying to think of something interested to tell their club chirpses. One of them next to me is talking to some fresher. She says her name is Hannah, he leaps in with "Oh me too!". She gives him one look before he mutters, "Ok its Jake, but pretty close right?". Sadly that was still the best chat I saw all night.
And I’m done, all I’ve learnt from this trip is the U1 drivers have to handle a lot on the night shift, and next time I do this, I’m going to do it with some alcohol in me.