trying it on – fare evasion

From the Brisbane Courier of 14 October 1879 comes this story of a mistake or deception. You be the judge.

Theological bus ticket

Note how the word bus is still used with an apostrophe to represent the missing ‘omni’ in the word omnibus.  A carriage for all indeed, especially if you used the correct ticket.

The “tanner” referred to is slang for a sixpenny piece (from the ever reliable Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable).

The “peeler” is a reference to a policeman, derived from Robert Peel, the British Home Secretary (and subsequent Prime Minister) who established the Metropolitan Police Force in 1829.

As an aside, the bus driver in this case missed a more literary calling.  His erudite response to the apparent fare evasion was much more sophisticated than one I observed many years ago from a Melbourne tram conductor when a $50 note was proferred by a man for his fare.  “I’m not a *#**@$ bank!” she said with some force while writing him a different kind of ticket.