The Maintenance of Headway
The narrative of The Maintenance of Headway comes from a bus driver relating the almost Kafkaesque process, or skilled art of trying to maintain the headway, (the art of maintaining the distance between buses, so that there’s never two arriving at the same time), he and fellow drivers seem to be always under the predatory eye of the bus inspectors who are lying in wait on the bus routes to pick them up on any misdemeanor no matter how small, the rules guiding this almost archaic system seem to shift whenever anyone seems to be getting a handle on them, the drivers are reminded of one the golden rules, ‘There’s no excuse for being early’, as Breslin one of the inspectors repeatedly informs them. The system is full of arbitrary principles and definitions, told in quite straightforward prose the book entertainingly encapsulates the almost backward logic of trying to enforce the almost unworkable system on to a working situation which repeatedly defies predictability, full of stories from bus driving folklore, the legend of a crime by the driver called Thompson, (who only the narrator seems to be able to recall), hangs over and refered to throughout the novel, only being revealed at the end. The next book by Magnus Mills I’d like to read is The Restraint of Beasts. The Maintenance of Headway is published by Bloomsbury.