On December 30th, 1952 a young gentleman by the name of Albert or, presumably, to his friends Al would accomplish the most daring feat London had or would ever witness. Albert was the regular driver of the 78 bus, which goes via Tower Bridge and out towards Shoreditch. As the time of his coming feat approached the 78 double decker bus contained 8 passengers, a single conductor and Albert himself and cruised along at 12mph. It was as they approached the grand Tower Bridge of London that the 1 in 150,000 odds placed against them were whittling down to 1 in 1 with every turn of the buses wheels.
As Albert in command of his beloved bus rattled towards the centre of the bridge the odds equalized. The Bridge began to open, to allow a ship to pass beneath, with the bus mere inches from the gap and with little time for fore-thought Albert risked it all. Flooring the bus he launched it across the expanding gap, clearing the 6ft gap below and landed it on the other side of the bridge relatively safely. Only minor injuries were received by those on board with a young boy of 11 fracturing his clavicle and the conductor breaking his leg. All much more favourable than the long plunge into the icy waters below entrapped in the great metal weight of the bus itself. Albert was awarded an extra days rest and £10 for his quick witted bravery. It is also said that he became fast friends with one of the passengers aboard the 78 that day and later attended their wedding as part of the bride and grooms party.
The intention had just been to highlight and write about this brilliant piece of quirky British history. Though through my research however into the events and the life and times of Albert, I came across many a contradicting factor. No source could agree upon the full name of Albert as with many citing him as either Albert Gunter or Albert Gunton. The amount of passengers fluctuated from the unhelpful a handful to near twenty odd. Others claim Albert was awarded an additional £35 from the city of London for his services. All which left me with the task of presenting the story in its best possible form, using the most concrete and repeated of facts and choosing my own little flairs to apply, where and when required. Something I had never done outside the confines of a classroom.
While it’s important to remember such events and times it is the very medium in which we present them and the only way we can, as stories, which has caused a constant war between truth and fiction for historians. Facts are as unstable as any information they change and are renewed and re-evaluated under new lights giving rise to new ‘truths’. This is to be expected but the added mutation is the transference of such facts, they are re-told again and again with new perspectives applied. They could be re-told by a high and dry fact fanatic, a bored professor, they could be injected into flights of fancy or simply told historically but by a master storyteller. True events are told and re-told and told again. It remains a shame that such specificity’s and intricacies such as names and numbers can be lost to the epochs of time. But that is the way of the story , fictional or non-fictional. It is told as the author perceives true or not. Something the brilliant Noah Hawley and his team perfectly play to and replicate in the FX series Fargo, in which they never forget about the meaning and word, Story, in the phrase True Story.
This is a True Story.
A True Story.