Customer Interview – Stewart

V C Jones fish and chips
‘I’m a creature of habit I’m afraid. I like a good fry-up once a week and I always think your Whitstable fish and chips are nice. Keeps the old body ‘greased-up’ as I’d say. I thoroughly enjoy the meal that I have in here’.

Scotland and locomotives
‘My father was scottish. My mother was english, kentish. I was born in 1939 before the war broke out. In actual fact I was christened the day the war did break out funny enough. We lived in Scotland until about 1949. My father drove locomotives on the West Highland line but my mother didn’t enjoy very good health up on the west coast of Scotland, very damp climate, so we moved down to Herne Bay. I eventually sold the house in Herne Bay and I moved to Swalecliffe and I’ve been here ever since. This is why I come to Whitstable’.

Working in Whitstable
‘I’ve always worked in Whitstable. I worked for the British Gas company in the old days as an engineer. I did forty years with British Gas and I know most of the people around Whitstable, it’s always been my working area. You get to know Whitstable people.’

Whitstable’s charm
‘Whitstable, I think has still got some of its old charm, especially down this part of the world in Harbour Street. The trouble is, I don’t know if I should say this but in my opinion there’s too many Whitstable estate agents and charity shops but that’s only my opinion. There you go. I think people like to see all the old fashioned-type shops. People don’t always want to go to these big supermarkets and shopping malls now. Some people, they like a little bit of personal attention, you know. They don’t want to just go in there, stand at a desk and ‘Where do we pay?’ and all this business. They like a bit of individuality as they call it’.

Whitstable Oysters
‘No, I’ve never eaten a Whitstable oyster. A friend of mine had one and I stood in front of her as she was eating it and I thought, ‘No, no way!’. They told me you have to swallow it down in one go but I think it would go down and come back up again but there you go. No I’ve never eaten a Whitstable oyster’.

On the London buses
‘I’ve got a hobby that started around 1973. I was an avid bus spotter in my younger days when I used to buy the year and annual books and take numbers. I didn’t have much fascination for East Kent buses, I’ve always had a fascination for London buses and I’ve always said to myself; ‘I’m going to buy a London bus one day’. I made the decision in 1973, went up to London Transport, when they were getting rid of a lot of the type of buses I was after. I put in a bid for one, got one and the fellow said; ‘Right, if you would like to pay for it now you can take it away’. I was thinking to myself; ‘God, I’ve never driven a London bus before. I’ve never even driven a bus, let alone a London one’. There was me driving down from Chiswick, down through the Old Kent road with this bus. I’d never driven one before in my life but you got the hang of it anyway. I brought it home, put it outside my front door and proud of it, my mother came out and said; ‘Not another dying days wonder’. I think when she’s looking down now, I’ve had it 37 years, she’ll begin to wonder, ‘Well, you didn’t do too bad’.

‘I don’t want to work for you!’
‘Then I went up to Chiswick, where there used to be a big training centre there and I went on a fortnights’ course. I went on the London Transport driving course, a week of theory, then went out on the skid pan a couple of times to learn how to control a bus. Then we went out on the London streets and drove a bus all around London. Then I told them, that ‘I don’t really want to work for you because I’ve got a bus of my own’, which they took a dim view of’.

The euro
‘I don’t know about joining the euro. I’ve never been all that keen on being in with Brussels anyway. Even more so since with the bus business because there’s so many regulations that come in now that it gets beyond a joke sometimes. That’s the way it goes’.

Whitstable’s Tape Recording Club
‘I used to run a tape recording club in Whitstable. We used to meet up at the old record centre next to Weatherspoons. There was a record shop there. We used to meet once a week, I think it was and that was at the time when the ‘pirates’ were out on the Maunsell sea forts in Whitstable. We used to do a lot of tapes for them, for commercials. Sometimes background music for them, sometimes ad libs and that sort of stuff’.

London Olympics 2012
‘Take it or leave it, I’m not that fussed to be quite honest with you. Personally I think the money could be spent elsewhere better but that’s only my view. I like sport, don’t get me wrong. I enjoy motor racing. I enjoy a little bit of golf, although I don’t play the game but I like to watch the big golf matches. The motor racing, the formula one. I like to watch that. I’d like to go out to see the formula one, a Grand Prix if I could, one of these days’.

Whitstable Harbour and Marina
‘I don’t think I’d like to see it too modern. I mean, they keep on about putting a Whitstable marina in, all this sort of thing. Again, it’s for the people who have got the money, who come down from London or wherever, who are going to benefit from it. I’d like Whitstable to keep its old fashioned charm. You know, with Whitstable’s harbour, the old ways it used to run’.