In March 2018, students from Exeter University and artists from Blind Ditch invited travellers on the D bus route in Exeter to share their ‘thoughts looking sidewards’ – short writings, musings and poetries about their journey. Their creative offerings were distributed to other passengers for voice recording. The thoughts formed the inspiration and soundtrack for a video art work.
I submitted a contribution from the vantage point of my home office, and made recordings of six short sentences from others’ contributions. One was a bonus after-thought, sung to the tune of ‘I feel good’, adapted. Of course it was the one used in the video.
There is a D Bus stop right next to my house in Broadfields. But it’s been months since I last rode the buses. I cycle or walk everywhere.
Instead it over the years it has become a frame for my day, a rhythm, beating the time I spend in my home office. Two every half hour or so, an irregular lub-dup of first the service heading out of town Digby-wards, and then the return rumbling up from Pynes Hill, swinging past St Peter’s School, and doubling back down Woodwater Lane. There’s not much else in the way of services or meeting places up here.
Most of the time it registers only subconsciously. Occasionally in the early morning I allow it to be my alarm clock, chivvying me up and out of bed. Last thing at night, it’s a comfort to know that the buses are still running, so it’s not too late and I might get a decent number of hours of sleep after all. Or when at work I might turn my head to watch it against the backdrop of the Haldon Hills and framed by suburbia. But definitely not at school time. Then the buses are double deckers, and I usually turn away and try to avoid thinking about whether passengers at the front of the upper deck can see right into my windows as they pass.
I’d miss them if they stopped. At first at least. I could hear the peculiar bus-less silence during the Great Snow Event. So I was glad at their return, heralds of spring.
Here comes the lub now. I’ll just wait for the dup, and then I’ll turn in.
The video by Blind Ditch
The video art work was first shown on 17 March at the University’s annual Community Day.
Update: A D bus also made an appearance in front of Exeter Castle for the launch of the University’s Arts and Culture Strategy on 16 October 2018. It made a novel cinema!
And here is the video…
Find out more
- About the project and the University’s Arts and Culture programme »
- About the work and Blind Ditch »
- The D (and H) bus route and timetable » [Update: Stagecoach has since replaced the D with UNI, only running between the University and city centre. RIP D Bus.]
- What was problematic about the project »