Top Deck in Vollendam

It was 20 years ago today…

Although it seems more like only six years ago, it was 20 years ago today that I set off for London to take part in a ‘training trip’ to become a tour leader with Top Deck. In an old English double-decker bus (which was converted into a cosy motorhome to sleep twenty-four sweaty, smelly, sexually hyperactive 18-30 year olds) I joined a bunch of other hopeful tour leaders and drivers for a three-week, intense trip from hell. Out of the 15 wannabe tour leaders only three of us had that perfect mix of tinpot dictator, incorrigible smartarse and expertise in self-preservation to pass. I then spent the next three years dragging drunk and often disorientated passengers from Barcelona to Budapest to Berlin and many bars in between. The tales of debauchery that took place became the subject of my first book Rule No.5: No Sex on the Bus (and yes that was a rule in the ‘Crew Handbook’).

On just about every one of my 20-odd trips around Europe as a tour leader we would visit the traditional fishing village (or traditional twee tourist village) of Vollendam in Holland to get a group photo. Everyone donned the traditional ‘national’ costume. For men, that was baggy pantaloons, red and white striped jackets and little black fisherman’s caps, while the women wore ’seven-coloured’ skirts and white lace bonnets. And both sexes wore those podiatrist’s nightmare wooden clogs. Inevitably the biggest and most yobbish of fellows would dress in the women’s costume and take great delight in fondling each other’s foam breasts. I can’t talk, though. After my sixth or ninth group photo I got bored with the pantaloons and started wearing the pretty lace bonnets and, anyway, I look quite fetching in a dress. Here are just a few photos from my rather impressive collection. Can you spot me in each shot?

Brian Thacker - Rule No.5: No sex on the bus
I look hot with my red flaming hair...

Brian Thacker - Rule No.5: No sex on the bus
Only three of us are not from Hong Kong…

Brian Thacker - Rule No.5: No sex on the bus
Our training trip group shot – where I picked up a buxom driver called Steve…

Brian Thacker - Rule No.5: No sex on the bus
I’d given up on women’s costumes and started eating plastic fish…

Brian Thacker - Rule No.5: No sex on the bus
And finally resorted to downing large jugs of grog!

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