The Old Iron Bridge still made a shortcut through from Slippy Lane to a steep climb called the Ping-Pong by the residents centred around the Parkside Baths. Besides the swimming pool, it catered for people without bathrooms, and got busier towards weekend with Latvians lodging nearby and coloured workers dwarfed by the passing townsfolk. The Slippy Laneites unable to make it this week, or last, for various reasons, brought the tin-bath up out of the cellar and kept up the traditions, but complainingly. You caught cold on the way back, they said. It was a steep climb up the Ping-Pong, they said. Across that old Iron Bridge in the dark, well— So that when the new bus route started up going round the town way up to Parkside Baths, the old way got torn off the calendar, and the young ones clattered up the top-deck ragging each other over pinching the soap, and yelling the conductor to Stop at the Spa.

“Who rung that bell—”, he demanded angrily.

“Your wheel musta slipped”, they called down.

Going to the baths with the gang was the recognised thing. As much a sign you had grown up as smoking and swearing and whistling after girls.

“Full of old buck”, the busman grumbled, punching the tickets unwillingly. “What you an’ all? Still at school, nay?” Another sizeable lad held out half-fare. “He is”, the gang supported. “Sits next to me”, said a young mechanic keeping a straight face. “Think your word counts for owt”, he snapped back, looking round like a man ambushed.

“Better than the average bare”, they punned, already forgetting one game in another.

“Not bad dressed either—” another whistled, winking across at a couple of girls turning round to see what was going on. The conductor stamped off downstairs, for nobody was paying any attention.