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Driver's rich-kid bus rage

Most of us on duty at the school gate will get the occasional chance to deter one raging figure from beating the living daylights out of another.

The raging one is invariably that stocky, short-tempered school bus-driver who lost it with a pupil last week, too - and the week before that.

Raging driver usually starts by seizing the young passenger's shirt collar and asking him why he felt it ethically justifiable to create a cigarette burn in the back of seat 36. The captive invariably just sneers or laughs at him in the way our young diplomats do in such situations. "I've reported this little sod three times now but the school does bugger all. Maybe it's time for me toI" Bus-driver beatings should be averted, of course, but we can hardly blame him for failing to follow school behaviour management procedures. Once again he and his colleagues were completely overlooked on the school's refresher day on positive behaviour reinforcement.

We might like to imagine that the rallying cry at the bus depot each morning is "three positive comments for every one negative" but most of the evidence suggests otherwise.

Other drivers survive by either maintaining a stern and sullen demeanour (they apparently become the life and soul on the WI visits to see Lloyd Webber musicals) or by going for a determinedly cheery, avuncular persona in spite of the mayhem and carnage in the seats behind.

Yet, even the friendly ones can be given a hard time. If they start being too pally and chatty they have Natalie and her friends reporting them as some kind of "perve".

No surprise, then, to find most drivers very keen on the Government's plan to impose means-tested travel fees on more affluent families. In their experience the rich kids are among the most arrogant, messy and badly behaved of all. Making them pay for their aloof manner and callous disregard for litter instructions is just one of the milder punishments they have in mind.

In their view it would be a joy if Mummy and her friends were to be swayed into driving some of the "jumped-up little brats" to and from school.

"Definitely a step in the right direction," enthused driver Ken.

He even dreams of a day when a more severe means test might clear his school bus of schoolchildren altogether, leaving him with a blissfully peaceful drive. His eyes glaze over at this point. Somehow I suspect they have begun to turn him.

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