Excerpts from Brode’s book:

The last train to Cockfosters

Click on the + icons below to expand the chapters and enjoy!


Hot headed Cyril Madrid

Hot headed Cyril Madrid

It happened in the late summer of 1967, well before we moved a couple of miles up the road into that swanky new factory at Hounslow, back then Dad and I were still working out of that big old dilapidated corrugated shed in Feltham, Middx.

Cyril Madrid, well I never asked him, but as far as I could tell was half English-Indian, a delightful light coffee coloured handsome man, with long jet black shiny hair, and warm but piercing black eyes with pure white shinning rims around them, he only stood 5’8, but I never held that against him, because so was I, and don’t ask me how he got that handle, Cyril Madrid, it always flummoxed me as well.

He was by far my best worker I ever had, and stayed with me for years, the thing with Cyril was this, he didn’t have the usual racial chip on his shoulder like almost every coloured worker that I employed, consequently he was a delight to have around, and the great thing was, Cyril got on well with everyone, and especially our customers, and he knew how to graft, which even back then was rare, but he did panic big time, at times, and when I say panic I do mean panic with a capital F.

This is an example of Cyril Madrid, falling into his, ♪Ring of Fire♪

One time when he was metal polishing, the polishing shop dust and fluff caught fire, which for me who usually did all the metal polishing was not a problem, as it happened quite often. The polishing shop was very crude, with no dust extraction, so the dirt and dust just accumulated, this particular time Cyril was polishing, and the shop was covered all over with a three inch thick layer of thick polishing mop dust, and fluffy cotton stuff from the raked out polishing mops, the stuff was all over the floor, clinging to the walls and raw cement ceiling, of course it should have been cleaned out weeks ago and had now accumulated into a fire hazard, which wasn’t as bad as it sounded, let me explain.

The thing was this, the polishing shop was an isolated old war time one foot thick flat roof concrete bunker, about twenty by twelve feet, but only seven feet high, and no way could it ever burn down, as it was made of concrete with nothing inside to burn. The only thing in the place was the 5HP polishing motor in the centre of the shop, and a pile of bronze metal castings waiting to be polished, the castings like the rest of the place were covered in this deep fluffy cotton stuff too, yeah it was a mess, and it needed a flash fire to clean the place out, which I had reasoned would happen to me, and probably the next time I was polishing.

Unknown to us over the yard in the plating shop, about twenty feet away, a flash fire had indeed taken hold that Cyril couldn’t put out.

Trouble was Cyril hadn’t worked out that he didn’t need to put it out, as it would quickly burn itself out, leaving the shop much cleaner, then all you had to do was run a broom around the ceiling, walls and floor and bingo it was dust free, but on seeing the flash fire take hold, and presumably not being able to control the fire, Cyril came flying across the yard into the plating shop in a state of panic, screaming!

‘David, David, Fire, Fire’, and then flew back to the polishing shop again, and I’m thinking, just get a mug of tea and watch it extinguish itself? Yes it was an amazing sight usually taking 15 minutes tops, seeing all these sparking and flickering flames migrating out in circular motions around the shop gobbling up the fluffy dust, then bingo a clean shop, whilst I’d had a mug of much needed tea, yes amazing?

I mainly did all the metal polishing back then, and when it caught fire I just opened the steel windows and walked out leaving the steel door open for a draft to waft through, and just left it to burn itself out while I had that mug of tea, you see that way you didn’t have to clean the place up too often as the fire would burn all this dust and fluffy cotton stuff clinging to the walls away, and actually quite a smart move, yeah let it flash burn itself out, hey back then tea breaks were hard to come by!

I walked over to the polishing shop and looked in on Cyril, who was wearing a half leather apron that came up to his chin, thick leather gauntlet gloves and a hat I’d made out of a Daily Mirror newspaper, these paper hats would have a deep rim around them, and were standard wear for metal polishers, they looked like small boats on your bonce, but were essential as they covered half your ears, and kept your hair clean, and no matter that you knew you looked a bit of a ‘paper hat’ plonker with it resting over your ears, that hat kept the crap and dust from settling on your bonce with the dust collecting around the deep rim of the hat instead of in your hair, and if the paper hats were made right, they were a nice snug fit to your head, Cyril always borrowed my paper hat, only because ♪no matter how he tried♪ he just couldn’t make theses hats, no matter how many times I showed him how, the dick!

Look I know it’s unlikely, but if the origin of ‘paper hat’ short for, ‘prat’ ever comes up in millinery Trivial Pursuit, you know where you first heard it. Hey I’ll say it again; it’s OK, no thanks needed, always happy to help!

So after Cyril’s out burst, I thought I’d take a look into the polishing shop, and remember what he looked like wearing that half leather apron up to his chin and leather gauntlets, plus that paper hat near over his ears, yes a commercial sight. As I look in, Cyril had hold of an large empty sisal sack, and whacking the fire franticly with the sack with great ferocity like a windmill, but as he came back for the next whack, the twirling air dust and fluffy stuff kicked up by the first whack of the sack, started a new fire right behind him which would instantly flare up with those sparkly flames, then upon seeing this new fire Cyril had set, he’d jump in the air and whack it again with great ferocity, and guess what, yet another fire started to the side of him, so up in the air he would go again, and then he would whack the new fire, and so it went on, me I’m casually leaning against the door frame thinking…….

‘Cyril what the fuck do you think you’re doing, just leave it alone, you dick’

It was an incredible thing to see and looking on in amazement there in front of me I had this half Indian loon, darting around up and down all over the place in fit’s and starts, making new fires where before there hadn’t been a fire, and the coffee coloured loon’s face was now as black as soot, with his piercing white eye balls stuck out like organ stops!

Cyril continued whacking the flames with ever increasing ferocity starting new fires that he’d put out, all over again, a truly amazing thing to see, and when he turned and saw me, he screamed out, ‘Help, Help! David Help!’ well I did consider stepping in and dragging the prick out, but thought fuck going in there with the demented prat, and in any case frankly this was too good to miss!

Cyril was definitely making things worse, and at times huge travelling flames would flare up the walls, and the stupid thing was this, the fire was not going out, which at this particular time in Cyril’s life, did appear to be his sole purpose in life, but you had to hand it to him, his concentration to the job at hand was un-shakeable, a truly remarkable and fascinating thing to witness, Cyril who was normally a sane and responsible man, but now hell bent on making himself look a total prat.

When Cyril saw that I was still leaning against the doorway frame and taking no notice, he screamed out loud again, ‘Help, Help’, and I have to say there was a certain level of desperation in his call, as the flames now had him surrounded, but he still kept darting around like a demented lunatic, whacking away setting new flash fires, frankly he needed locking up, thank fuck the place wasn’t made of wood, he’d have fried, but I was stunned into silence at this incredible, and totally unnecessary sight, and then it happened, as if what I was already witnessing wasn’t enough?

Now let me tell you something, every so often you will at very rare times in your life, see something so extraordinary that the sight never leaves you, and you wonder at it from time to time for the rest of your life, and in my case I usually, no matter where I am I just keel over laughing and that can be embarrassing sometimes, well I was about to witness one of those rare and extraordinary moments that do indeed stay with you for life, and I do hope you’re sitting comfy, if not rearrange the cushions, and settle back, this could hurt?

With all this twirling windmill action by Cyril, some of the dust and fluffy stuff that he’d throw up in the air had deposited itself around and into the already full of dust wide open brim of Cyril’s grubby paper hat, yes my ‘paper hat’, which in itself was a bit of a liberty, but I didn’t mind, as yes his pathetic attempts to make one for himself had to be seen to be believed, and in any case my, ‘paper hat’ was already way past it’s sell by date with old crap and dust deep in it’s rim from weeks of use by me, but my hat did look snug and quite fetching on Cyril’s coffee coloured bonce, and near shoulder length jet black hair cascading out from Cyril’s paper hat!

Tommy Cooper couldn’t do a better sketch, when suddenly Cyril’s borrowed ‘paper hat’ flash flared up with flames a foot high, yes Cyril’s paper hat was now on fire too, but Cyril didn’t notice a thing, then the paper rim of the hat started to burn too, with quite high licking flames, but Cyril’s problem was this, he was so busy darting about stopping and starting fires that he didn’t notice it at first, and I couldn’t say or do anything, well you can understand that on seeing Cyril’s head on fire like a beacon of flame on it’s way to the Olympics, I was fast dissolving into a crumpled and useless heap on the doorway floor, looking on speechless and in agony at Cyril with tears streaming down my face!

Look I have to break in at this point, cos I did actually carry the flaming Olympic torch around the English country lanes of ‘Stoke Mandeville’, for the 2012 English Olympic games, yes, yes I really did, just thought you’d like to know that, oh and I have the torch to prove it too, hey remember I’m a Harrow boy, you didn’t think I’d give it back did you, no, once they lit the next torch when I’d done my stint, I just turned left and kept running across the fields, then I had to hide whilst the torch burnt it self out, and frankly I looked a right dick when I stopped a taxi, and jumped in wearing that white Olympic jump suit with the five gold rings across my chest, telling the driver to head for the next village with a cloths shop, so I could buy a long coat, and get some news paper to wrap the torch in!

Look if you’re passing my place then come on by, I’ve got it hanging on my wall, oh and bring your camera too, its a once in a lifetime shot, yeah bit like Cyril’s paper hat on fire, just thought you’d like to know that?

Right back to that delightful coffee coloured loon, fire whacking Cyril Madrid, whose paper hat’s still on fire, when suddenly he get’s the message that he was in trouble up stairs, but instead of just pushing his paper hat off his head, which was now well away, he smacked his head a real hard whack with his left leather gloved hand, normally it would have been his right hand, as he was right handed, but in his right hand gripping tight he held on diligently to the empty sisal sack that he was doing all the damage with, hitting himself so hard on the bonce that he very nearly knocked himself out cold, shouting out in pain as he crumpled down on bended knees, and wobbling staggered back to his feet, what was he on? You see as he whacked his head hard a massive plume of flame and sparks flew up cascaded down and around his shoulders like a ship’s welder, which I guess not unreasonably had the effect of terrifying him!

Me, I was on the floor now in convulsions and in grave danger of never being able to hold a sensible conversation ever again, but as I looked up at him, Cyril was not finished, there were still small fires and smoke billowing up all around him, with Cyril standing in the middle of this lot with his head on fire looking down at me on the deck terrified, I know, I know, why the hell he didn’t just fling off his paper hat, I too just couldn’t understand either, but I was in no fit state to shout words of wisdom or assist, you see I was in big trouble too on the floor crippled with laughter heading for an early hernia, which indeed came my way 20 years later, but that’s another story!

Throughout all this self inflicted mayhem and drama Cyril had been shouting out, ‘Help, Help’, but I just couldn’t respond, not that there was any reason to, if he’d just walked out when the fire first started and made himself a mug of tea, the dick could have just walked back into a virtually clean polishing shop fifteen minutes later, what he was doing was pure lunacy, look I was only human, I couldn’t interfere could I, when was I ever going to see something like this ever again, yes sure you have to treasure moments like this, and certainly never bring them to a premature ending!

I was on the concrete floor holding my ribs, Cyril then did the most extraordinary thing, he stopped dead, dropped the sack with which he’d been causing all the carnage, and then with head still on fire, ran screaming out, jumping over me leaving the still burning and smouldering polishing shop, running across the yard into the factory leaving a smoke trail from his head that’s still on fire, heading, I found out moments later for one of our big open top water tanks in the plating shop!

Apparently I discovered as he passed my Dad who was standing in the middle of the plating shop, with his head flaring away leaving a trail of smoke and sparks, and to his dying day Dad said it would always be the funniest sight he had ever seen in his whole life, Cyril then Dad tells me, plunged head first up to his waist into our biggest water tank, pity I never saw the plunge, but as I entered the plating shop virtually on my knees, I was in time to see Cyril emerge soaking wet from the tank, my Dad was just standing there in the middle of the shop looking on in utter disbelief and amazement, wondering what the heck had happened to set Cyril’s bonce on fire, but he did glance at me with a wicked knowing look, that only Dad’s can give, you know that look don’t you, yeah I’d my fair share of them too!

Cyril pulled himself out of the deep tank, and standing next to the tank looking like a drowned cat with his wet jet black hair laying flat and shinny on his head and over his forehead, and his very black face and white eyes glaring goggle eyed at me, yes me, what had I done, and what was left of his, no, that was my paper hat, was now floating in the tank, which meant that I would have to make another one, as if I didn’t have enough to do!

Me I was bent double in the factory doorway still chocking with laughter, and Dad was still in the middle of the shop rooted to the spot in wonderment, looking on incredulously, yeah for Dad it amazing what can happen in what six seconds, Cyril was standing there as if glued to the spot, out of breath and panting, and well he should be, after all he’d just performed a near Olympic feat in our polishing shop, and the subsequent sprint into the water tank which would under normal circumstances have earned him a place in any English military assault course team, and don’t be fooled, Cyril may have been a delightful coffee colour, but make no mistake he was true blue Brit Bull Dog, with the Union flag cursing through his veins!

As Cyril stood looking at us like a wet scare-crow, he still had on his leather gloves and apron, and then without moving from the spot, he slowly raised his arms high and out wide to empty his long leather gauntlet gloves that were full of water like he had taps at the ends of his hands, and frankly he looked a right mess, and me, well I was still near on the deck with arms out stretched on bent knees, in a state of collapse, yes standing up was a problem!

Dad was still riveted to the same spot in the middle of the shop, he looked at me in disbelief, yes with that wicked grin, you see all he knew was that Cyril had sprinted in and across the plating shop floor in front of him with his head on fire leaving a trail of smoke, sparks and flames, as our eyes meet, I was still propping myself up with my hands on my knees, well there wasn’t much that I could add, except to roll my eyes up at Dad, and gently nod my head sideways one way and the other, Dad lowered his head looking over his glasses, still giving me the wicked evil eye, yet again, yeah at me, hey what did I do!

You won’t believe what Cyril did next, yes he actually accused me, yes that is me of deliberately not helping him, adding that if it was not for his rock steady nerve and composure, in the face of extreme danger, and I quote……

‘I would have been burnt to a fucking cinder right there in front of us all’

Me, I was speechless, which was a little unusual, but he did look in a right sorry state, in fact he looked just like Stan Laurel, after Oliver Hardy had just pushed that button, saying, ‘Stanley, leave this to me’, whoosh!

We calmed Cyril down, which wasn’t easy, and all sat down with a mug of tea in our canteen, Cyril looking pathetic and soaking wet, stooping forward elbows on knees, hands either side of his face, nodding his head from side to side, and every time I looked at Cyril I was back on the floor again, I just couldn’t help it, and I stayed that way for the next month or so, yes not unreasonable, hey you think a sight like that flies out of your mind, oh no sir’ee, it keeps popping up at the oddest of times!!

Dad asked him most earnestly why he hadn’t just brushed off his flaming paper hat, Cyril replied in deadly earnest, that he ‘He’d forgotten he had the fucking thing on my head’, thinking that it was his mop of hair that was on fire, and down on the floor I went again. Of course Cyril kept blaming me, saying that it was all my fault, the daft prat, and I was in trouble for months, I just could not get that vision of Cyril Madrid standing there, black faced with white bulging eyes, engulfed in flames holding that sack, with his head on fire out of my mind, well would you!

Yes I’ve told you, sometimes no matter where I was, I would just burst out laughing, and let me tell you something, at times I looked a right dick too laughing for no apparent reason in the middle of a shop or film, and still do, I just can’t help it.

To the day Cyril Madrid left us, and I should have never let him go, he blamed me for not helping him, saying that if it hadn’t been for his fast reactions, he would have been, ‘brown bread’, and that we would have all been sorry then, and that we would have missed him?

Cyril just wouldn’t have it that he was the daft prat, and no one else, or to be more precise, a right ‘Paper Hat’, but he was right about one thing, if he had gone up in ball of flames, we really would have missed him, where would we find another like long jet black hair coffee coloured Cyril Madrid, yes a perplexing thought?

Thank the Stars I was there to witness Cyril that day, and it will always remain one of my life’s truly ♪Magic moments and memories that I don’t mind sharing♪

You could also thank the stars too, there was no health and safety back then ‘♪All those years ago♪’, yes that daft H&S legislation is single handily responsible for all the savage boredom in factories these days, so it’s no wonder that you have to have the mind of a zombie and just one cell to work on a production line!

Cyril Madrid whom I really liked, was a cracking and loyal hard working guy, that made our factory lives a little brighter, and they didn’t come any better, who could and did take a joke, and it’s a real pity, but you see the guy, and yes it was the very same Cyril Madrid back in chapter 53 that drove our works Bedford Van all the way mid week up to freezing Silverstone to trailer my stunning racing 1300cc Ford Anglia back to my workshop, after I wrote off my brilliant Rover V8 in that roadside ditch on an icy A43 just across from Silverstone race track?

Well over the years I guess that I’ve employed over 1000 guys and quite a few dolls too, and although there were just a few rats amongst them, they were all as far as I was concerned my best friends, who didn’t know the word apathetic, or idle either, no every one of them were hard working, ‘get the job done’, guys, but you know a few were just amazing people, that were unforgettable!

Yes guys that you remember all your life, and the sad and sorry thing is this, eventually even they eventually leave for ‘greened pastures’, and I never blamed them for that, in fact I was very glad that I may of had a helping hand in their formative years, setting my kind of an example to them, yes turning out the best metal finishing, no matter how difficult that may have been at times, and of course I’d amplified that obsessive endeavour by winning maybe two or three races every weekend through out the summers!

All my men knew that I’d originally grown from a rickety leaking Tin shed, with just me initially processing the work, and that the new factory they worked in, was completely fitted out by me almost single handily, and that included everything, plumbing, electrics and the installation of all the very considerable plant, that had to run faultlessly 24 hours a day, all year, and they also knew that there wasn’t a process going on in that factory, that I couldn’t do to perfection, and often did, just to let them know that I could do anything that my staff did.

Yeah it was all that staggeringly hard work over the years, and treating your men with great respect, that gained me near saintly legend and respect from my shop floor, but you know the sad thing, when those grafting men had gone, it was rare after all those endless hours and hard work, that I would ever see them again!

So ok, you can think, maybe they were glad to be gone, but I never felt that ever, yes I always remembered the guys and dolls that worked with me, and always thought of them with respect and affection wishing them well, and I hoped that they felt the same way about me too, but you know something, you just cant please everyone, can you, hey you do your best, but I’m afraid that’s an unavoidable consequence, of success, and yes the odd case of envy will do that?


My first Racing car and Monty

My first Racing car and Monty

‘Where do you brake at Paddock bend Brands Hatch?


‘When I see the other guys bonnet go back’

Boley Pittard, 60’s, supreme saloon car racer.


One Saturday morning when ♪I was just seventeen, you know what I mean♪, I was looking into the window of Smith’s the news-agents in Harrow, and slap in the middle on a tripod is this motor racing magazine called ‘Autosport’, I was mystified so went in, thumbed through it’s pages and found it fascinating for a simple reason, and although it was full of recent motor race reports, they had no interest to me, but in the back pages I was especially interested by the adverts, that included racing cars and all sorts of modified parts for racing cars and engines. I also noticed that there were plenty of race parts that suited my 800cc Austin A30, intriguing, so I bought the magazine for two shillings, yes 10 pence, and started collecting parts to build a new and much more powerful engine for my soon to be A35, with an 1100cc engine!

Hey it seemed a good idea, but little did I realise that buying that magazine, ♪would be the start of something big♪, well to me it’s been, as along with it came a whole new world and way of life, with amazing people to meet and wonderful friends.        This new life that evolved from that day on would otherwise have been beyond my dreams, and I did some dreaming, but I never once dreamed of going motor racing, but that ‘Autosport’ magazine eventually changed that!

Buying modified engine parts, meant travelling all over the country to pay and collect them, they looked great and as I didn’t trust storing them in our garage they went under my bed all laid out neatly on newspaper, my sister Susan would say to me as the collection built up.

‘David, I refuse to clean your bedroom until you move all those smelly metal things from under your bed’

Well that was not about to happen, and no amount of explaining that these were precious items to build a very powerful engine for my car had any effect on her, so regrettably Susan never darkened my bedroom again until I took the lot down to my pal Monty’s garage at Pinner, where the two of us built the engine! Mind you, even I was beginning to think the stink was revolting, and if the opportunity ever came to get a chick up into my bedroom, she would pretty soon be gagging, but once that lot went to Monty’s, out came the Hoover and polish, and in came the odd girl when the coast was clear, I couldn’t go upsetting sister Susan and Dad, could I.

My best pal at school was Monty Roberts, and right out when he came into our class mid term he was my kind of guy, Monty and family having moved down from somewhere! Our teacher said that I was to look after him, well big, big mistake for Monty, but it didn’t take me too long to realise that he was a brilliant, inventive and very smart kid, with great ingenuity. Monty could do anything with his hands if he wanted too, or if you could get the idle sucker off his ass, you see Monty only ever did what he wanted to do, if he liked what was going on, there was no one better on your side, but if he didn’t like it, it was as if he was blindfolded with ear plugs in, it just didn’t happen, yeah, definitely my kind of guy. During Monty’s last year of School he would come to class first thing in the morning, get his name on the register and then just sod off for the day! Yeah unbelievable, he did this for the whole last year, so no class teacher ever saw him or knew of his existence, of course every kid in the class knew what he was doing, and guess what, for the whole year no one shopped him, not even the class goody two shoes, so how about that, cool or what, mind you ‘shopping Monty’ would have been a death sentence!

Think about it, he got off gym which he was next to useless at, in fact when he attempted gym he resembled an epileptic bendy toy. Now hears the odd thing, when Monty was eighteen he took up boxing at a local club, how do you explain that, no sports teacher could ever get him to work out at school, but three years after he left school he’s in a boxing ring knocking three shades of shit out of some poor sucker, amazing, so as a consequence of his actions, Monty never learnt anything at school, no maths, no English, no nothing, he would just hang out all day where ever he wanted during that last year. I never had the nerve to follow his impressive lead, but the truth was this, Monty Roberts was naturally intelligent, and that’s rare, but then of course he was a Harrow boy, so say no more!

Would you believe this, on the very last day of School before he goes off into the big wide world of work at 15, he decides to stay at School for his last ever day and do the classes. Well that really confused the teachers, who just couldn’t believe a new boy would start on the last day of term, which all the teachers agreed was ridiculous, and that they would have something to say to the headmaster!

Whilst I was doing an extra year at school, Monty worked for a short while at a garage as a mechanic, but surprise, surprise, they couldn’t control him, so he soon left and started a car repair business of his own. Yeah, no messing at 15 he prints a ‘let me repair your car’ leaflet, posted them around the streets near him, and the phone starts ringing. So Monty started repairing cars outside his house, in the owners drive ways or kerb side, yeah the original ‘Kerbside Motors’. When the job was finished, he gave them an invoice on the spot, and they paid up, no credit, cash in hand, at 15 incredible, and he never worked for anybody ever again, then by the time he was 18, he rents a workshop behind some shops in Pinner, Middx, where he’s at it right away, up goes the sign, and immediately he’s smooth talking clients into the palm of his hands, it was a cherry, this is how it worked.

For instance, say a car came to him with a simple fault like a broken clutch cable, Monty told the customer that the clutch itself was blown apart and needed to be replaced, well what did the owner know! So Monty would replace the cable and clean up the clutch housing, so if his customer did look, it looked like a new job had been done, and charged the unsuspecting mug accordingly. The clutch cable job would have cost say £5, but the client was charged for a new clutch, thrust bearing and that new cable and a large dollop of labour too, amazing, so a half hour £5 job, overnight became a £35 job that only took an hour tops. This is the best thing about a scam like that, you could do quite a few of those a day, and you would have to say, ♪Nice work if you can get it, and you can get it if you try♪, and Monty knew how to try, personally I found it disgusting immoral behaviour, but frankly, inspirational.

This was the very best bit, his customers loved Monty, and being a good and compassionate guy with an engaging personality and knowing that the client urgently needed his car back, he told the mark, that he’d worked right through the night to get him, or her back on the road. So guess what, when they paid up, they gave him a whacking cash tip too, what, no wait, it didn’t end there! Oh no, would you believe they then told all their friends that they had at long last found the most amazing and thoughtful mechanic ‘in the world’, what, yeah it’s true. Now you really won’t believe this, but I actually heard one of Monty’s clipped clients say just that, I ran over to the stream and vomited! Clients shaked his hand off, and some of the ladies even hugged him, yeah no kid, I saw it time and time again. Monty wasn’t daft, when he was about to pull an all night caper, he would turn up the radio, switch all the lights on, lock the door, and then fuck off home!

I never forget one guy, who desperately wanted something out of his car, telling Monty he was thrilled when his wife took him back to the workshop, and he saw that Monty lights were on and he was working late on his car, but try as he might banging on the door he just couldn’t get Monty to open up, as the radio din was terrible. I was there the next morning when the guy was explaing this! Monty cool and quick as you like tells him he was so knackered working 18 hours straight off he fell sound asleep for a couple of hours on the clients back seat with the doors closed and never heard a thing, the mark loved it, and out came the big tip, yeah as I said, totally inspirational stuff.

Monty would even invent jobs too, like ‘Sir, I noticed your shock absorbers are shot away and about to go’, the customer would say to Monty that he ‘wondered why the car felt so odd’, the dick, so Monty supply’s and fit’s a new set of shocks to the car, you wouldn’t believe the clients amazed reaction, another Monty cherry, this is what Monty really did!

Monty would take off the old shocks, mainly the Armstrong leaver~arm type that most cars were fitted with, wire brush them clean, paint them yellow and fill them with heavy duty fluid and up rate the internal valve spring, and of course charge accordingly. Funny thing was when he did this, the cars were always more stable and cornered much better due to the new heavy duty valveing and fluid, so the owner was delighted and sent all his mates to Monty for the same treatment, come on, own up, yeah totally brilliant, I even saw one such mug give Monty a whacking £5 cash tip for improving his car handling, and as he said, ’making it safer to drive’, and just in case you don’t know, £5 back then would buy over 20 gallons of petrol, yes that is 20 gallons, shall I say it again!

Al Capone had nothing on Monty, no one died. They lined up like sheep to be clipped by this young ‘master of deception’, and all in the nicest possible way of course. Truth was it was inspiring for us all to see the redoubtable Monty Roberts stringing and clipping his grateful clients, just priceless, well not for the client that is!

Monty soon got rich, very rich, he was an excellent mechanic, but just couldn’t help himself, if he thought he could get away with it, he did, Monty was a master at working the angles, which he did big time, for a long time. Monty had a Doctor client who wanted his car refurbished, so Monty fits new shock absorbers, clutch, brake drums and a whole bunch of other stuff, where the truth was nothing was new at all, all the original parts had been up rated and given the clean and paint treatment, by silky tongue Monty, but amazingly the cars always performed better the Monty way!

Although Monty worked very commendable long hours, the way he was working the angles, every hour was the equivalent to 10 normal hours, plus of course the cost of parts, so Monty’s system soon racked up big earnings! Q

Quite frankly truth be told, this was not the way for a Harrow boy to behave, and Tony Bristow, Roland and me told him just that, but then Monty always paid the considerable bills in the café, and ‘fair doo’s’ he always kept the Juke Box going too, so yeah were we really gonna moan, don’t think so, yep inspirational stuff, and we all thought good luck to him!

Eventually when I had collected enough modified engine parts together, it was over to Monty who built the engine in just a few days, then Roland, Monty and I fitted it into my A30, transforming it instantly into an A35, I even had the big rear window fitted, what a buzz, the engine looked great with it’s four Amal carburettors and polished air intake trumpets that Roland made. when it was finished we just couldn’t wait to light it up, and did it go, well too bleeding right it did, as we were to find out once the motor was run in, but I never at any time ever thought that I would end up racing the car, and that Monty’s engine would eventually power me in my first race and to a win, and what a Saturday at Silverstone that turned out to be, hey there I go again, jumping ahead.

I’d had my fair share of minor accidents and knocks on the road with this car, and was always having to repair the bodywork. Like the time I was travelling along the Stanmore road, on my way to Rickmansworth to pick up my pal Ray, who worked at the ‘Tornado Car Sports Car Co’, building the fantastic Tornado Talisman cars!

My pal Ray Hitch~cock, who drove like a cock too, was at the time banned from driving, but as he’s working on Saturday I’d agreed to drive over and take him back home to Wembley, but I’m running late and hitting the gas hard, zooming past every car that had the impertinence to be in front, and driving like that I might have guessed trouble lay ahead as I whanged flat out down Stanmore Lane!

Yeah you see I hadn’t realised the road narrowed dramatically alongside the delightful ancient Anglo Saxon ‘All Saints Church’ to my right, and to be fair it was lucky that I was a non~believe’er, cos what was about to unfold from my actions outside that Church that afternoon would tax the dedication and fervour of the most dedicated religious bible holding fruit cake that ever walked into that misguided place of worship, and I might add, after what was about to happen, if I do ever turn up at the pearly gates looking all innocent, I’d be rumbled and the locks get changed with a ‘no entry’ sign, yeah that’s all the thanks you get for being a proper guy!

So I’m blasting past ‘The all Saints’ and just in front was this ‘Red Bond’ three wheeler mini car, get out of it, you never heard of them? Yep quite amazing little things with the one wheel at the front powered by a ‘Royal Enfield’ two stroke motor bike engine on top of the front wheel, steering left to right by a swing arm that came off the engine assembly just like a boat rudder, the arm had the clutch and throttle grip from a motor bike, with only the brake on the floor boards. On full lock the Bond would turn in it’s own axis, very funny to see, yeah truly amazing devices, and this red one was about to have an unforced destruction test, which I have to tell you it failed miserably, but in truth the driver only had himself to blame, being a near perfect example of what happens when drivers don’t pay attention and insist on driveing way, way way too slow, the pricks, so ok maybe he is going past a Church!

Well so was I, but I’m flat out overtaking the Bond, when suddenly I realised that the road narrowed and that it’s gonna be very tight getting by the Bond without whacking it, and at the same time not having the head on with the car coming towards me. Trouble was there is no way I can slow down quick enough as the A35’s brakes were not that good, so being a man I take a deep breath and went for it on full throttle passing the Bond cutting across it’s front to miss the on coming car, which was now standing on it’s radiator with tyre smoke pouring off it’s locked front wheels, but skilled as I was, I’d fucked up, as I hadn’t quite cleared the red Bond when I ♪cut across♪, but I did feel the sideways yank at the back! At this point being observant I did see in my rear view mirror for just a fleeting split second the most amazing sight. The red Bond was now in two parts, with the red rear ally body panels flying up in the air like a bunch of kites, with the front engine single wheel bit minus it’s roof, side panels, rear bodywork and twin wheel axle careering across the road to the left with the driver sitting tilted back on the bare floor boards hanging on to the rudder for all he was worth, then unfortunately it disappeared out of my sight exit stage left. But I did catch a glancing sight of the rear end complete with wheels and drivers seat going exit stage right and out of sight. So I’m thinking, ‘what a catastrophic wreck, it would be amazing if anyone survived that lot, this is serious Brode, better get the hell outta Dodge and pronto’, but I had slowed down way too much to watch the action, well some ‘get away’ driver I was, but what could I do, he had to be dead, so being a proper bloke I drove on to Rickmansworth to picked up my pal Ray! I had a good look at my car, and sure enough there were red Bond paint scratches along my left rear wing panel, and my chrome rear bumper which had obviously hooked the Bonds bodywork somehow was pulled back out of shape! So being cute, I drove over to the local Police station, and told the desk Sergeant that I had cleaned my car that very morning, and now going back to my car there was red paint scratches all down the near side and the bumper was bent back too, so Sergeant, some bastard in your town had driven into my car whilst parked outside Tornado Cars, so I was reporting it to the Police.

He looked at me like I was mental, saying. ‘Well Lad not to much we can do about that is there, how do you expect us to catch the person that did that, there are a lot of red cars about Rickmansworth’ ‘Oh so ok PC xxx, and what is your name please’, I just thought that I should report it to you, so he made an entry in his day book, yeah, you got it, clever or what, and as I’ve said, after I felt that rear yank, like a twerp I’d slowed right down to see the Bond disintegrating and diving off left and right in two parts into oblivion, and as I drove off I figured that some Church fearing busybody may just have had time to get my number? I was right, I got the Police visit the next evening, big mistake slowing down, you see having a conscience can at times get you into terrible trouble, and the moral, have an accident, then fuck off!

I had my story ready telling the Cops I had no idea an accident had happened and I never heard a thing as there were loose tools crashing around in my empty boot, but I did notice the paint damage when I got to Rickmansworth and reported it to PC xxx, giving them his name, which I had conveniently remembered, come on, smart, or very smart. Ten years later I woke up, you never admit to anything!

Of course I told them I was decimated to hear that I had crashed into the Bond and, ‘what ripped it apart’, but was much relived that the driver was ok. So they booked me for ‘driving with undue care’, dropping the dangerous driving and failing to stop for an accident charge, yeah pretty neat. Hey there was no way out of this one, so in court I pleaded guilty thought insanity, nah only joking!

At court, the prosecution read out a damming account of my actions, which quite astonished me, well I had no idea what had happened, as I driven off hadn’t I, but I can tell you this! There’s no doubt that that part of Stanmore saw more action that Saturday afternoon, than it ever did in the Great War!

The Judge, not magistrates, very usual, not only fined me he also ordered me to pay for the third party’s personnel damage to his private property, what, so yeah indignantly I asked, ‘What private personnel property damage Sir?’

‘Well Mr Brodie were you not listening, then let me remind you, it seems that the front of the Bond mini car with the driver still attempting to steer it ended up driving off the road and across the pedestrian foot path, through a private house holders front garden gate and then embedded it’s self into the house holders front door, severely damaging both gate and front door’

I looked at the Judge gob smacked frowning, saying, ‘What Sir’

‘Yes Mr Brodie ‘what’ you might well say all quite extraordinary really. So Mr Brodie I am making an order that you pay for the gate and front door repairs or renewals, as they are not covered by a driver’s third party only insurance’

‘Hey Sir, does that mean that I have to pay personally for that damage Sir’

‘Yes Mr Brodie I am afraid that it does, the clerk will give you the address, if you’re insurance company hasn’t yet, so I am making an order for you to pay for these damages, is that clear to you Mr. Brodie….How would 28 days do to pay?

‘Yes Sir, no problem, I will do that’, and off I went stunned, and that was rare!

Hey not so smart, what me buy two bleeding doors, I had better things to do with my hard earned money, than buy a new gate and a bleeding front door. Fuck I thought this is going to cost me, and when I checked, they were right, your not covered on third party insurance for personnel property damage to a third party, like the guy who owned the decimated two doors, well that was back in 1962, and guess what, your still not covered on most policies, and not many people know that, and if that should come up in car insurance, Trivial Pursuit, you remember where you first heard it, it’s ok, glad to have been of help again.

So over to the scene of the accident, and tracked across the path the errant Bond went, they were right, there was no front garden gate with the left gate post ripped out, and the house front door was frankly a disgrace, all patched up with bit’s of ply wood. I knocked on the door and the owner appeared, I introduced myself, apologising for the damage that I had inadvertently, well according to the Judge, I’d caused, and told the old man that the court had ordered me to make restitution for his losses, by way of a replacing his front garden gate and front door!

‘Oh thank you Lad, I would like to have them fixed as soon as possible’

‘Look Sir of course you do, but I may just be able to give you something better as my uncle is a builder with a yard full of really great gates and doors, and if I could just measure up, I may be able to find something a bit special for you!’

‘Well you go right ahead and measure up lad, and thank you for being so considerate, I’ve waited weeks to get my new doors, so a further few days wont hurt’, yeah he really did say that, what a decent man he was, and I felt a twinge of conscience all over again, mind you that didn’t last too long, but where would I get a suitable gate and front door from, it was an intriguing thought, but first thing Roland and I did was to cement back in the dislodged gate post!

Look if you don’t know, pay attention to a simple little builders lesson, this is how you cement in a post, and amazing as it may seem, I knew about things like that back then, so ok I may have been surrounded by ladies hairdressers, but I knew the odd builder too! So first thing you get a narrow spade, ok, ok behave yourself please, really, slavery was abolished way back before that gate post got tore out. Were talking, spade~shovel here, not spade~coon, really I give up!

So this is what you do, you dig out the post hole with a narrow spade, with about 3 inches overall post clearance, mix two of sand to, two of cement, no water, pour a bit of the mixture in first and then stick the post in the empty hole, fixing it accurately in place, in our case with a strip of wood screwed to the other gate post, and then pour in the dry sand-cement mix, yes that’s dry, compacting it down tight with a broom handle as you go, and bingo, over the next two days, the cement mixture draws in the ground moisture fixing the post solid, and if you fuck up and want it out, your gonna need ‘Arnold’, so tell me, clever or what, and just in case you didn’t get it, yes NO water, dry~mix only, and remember this was back in 1962, yep I knew thing’s even back then, so I wasn’t your average wanker, was I~was I?

Right post fixed I go back to the old man, who needed a gate and a door!   Yeah right, an uncle with gates, in my dreams I though, and armed with the measurements off I went to find a used gate and door, but when I enquired, even used ones were serious money, so I had to think, and it came to me that the best and most cost effective way out, was to simply nick them, so I went door hunting, and as it turned out finding a front garden gate was a doddle, the side streets of suburban west London and Harrow were littered with all sorts of short robust wooden front gates, with a vast array of different patterns and designs, and within just one evening scouting around and it wasn’t difficult, I became a front gate expert!

I figured that I would find him a gate from a street well away from the Stanmore road, so Roland and me looked around the streets at night where I lived over at Kenton, about 10 miles from the old boys home. We soon found a great gate in garish bright yellow identical to his smashed gate, and it measured up perfect too, seems they were all the same size, and easy to remove as all you had to do was lift the thing off it’s hinge pegs, and as the chosen gate was conveniently located down a side street from my house in Kenton just two roads away, it’s fate was sealed, all I needed was a dark night, then it would mysteriously just disappear, to reappear at it’s new home up the Stanmore road, first problem solved, easy, nice one!

So next Saturday night, Roland and I park around a corner two hundred yards away, walk casually up to this rather nice looking art deco wooden yellow front gate, with a ‘sun and rays’ pattern, and in two seconds it’s off it’s two hinge pins. We run around the corner and tied it to the roof of my Austin, a bit of a pain as we had to tie it down by putting the ropes through the open windows. I stopped the roof paintwork being damaged by putting Dads kitchen carpet between the gate and the roof, look sometimes you have to think of everything!

We then had to clamber in through the open windows, drive using back roads over to the old boys house at about 11pm and plonk the gate straight on to his twin peg hinges, and do you know something the gate was a perfect fit, it seems they were all jig set, and all the man had to do was move the latch into position, so, one gate supplied and fixed, one front door to go, which I had a feeling was going to need a little more ingenuity than the front garden gate had needed, boy was I right, this was going to be, down my way, national front door nicking week!

So I’m thinking that’s the easy bit done, finding that front garden gate, but finding a good front door to his spec was going to be difficult. I phoned the old boy Sunday morning, and he was ‘tickled pink with his new yellow ‘sun and ray’s’ gate, but he did say that the bright yellow was a bit too bright, and did not suit his house colour, so he would be painting it black that afternoon, and if possible, could I find him a black or white front door, yeah that’s what he said, the cheeky sod, well bleeding cheek I thought, complaining about the colour, you can’t help some people, but I was very pleased that he would be painting the gate black, as it would be very bad luck to have the bloke from Kenton, drive by and see his lost yellow gate outside someone else’s house, and if that happened do you know, I just could not for the life of me think of a rational explanation of how I got to have his particular yellow gate in the first place! Yeah a tricky one, mind you I was after all a Harrow boy, so I would have soon thought of some old bollocks to get me of the hook, or is that, the latch!

Back then the name of the game was ‘ducking and diving’, and the rule was to always have a very good plausible explanation instantly ready if you had your collar felt well before you had done the foul deed, but concocting a story on how I had got hold of a used replacement front garden gate, and maybe a front door too was way beyond my fertile imagination at the time, that kept me awake at nights unsuccessfully dreaming up an excuse, but as buying a brand new gate and a door was out of the question, robbing some poor sucker was the only option.

The angle of having an uncle with a builder’s yard stacked high with second hand doors was a Cherry that gave me time to find a suitable gate and door, but the problem was if I get nabbed, I didn’t have a builder uncle, so that story if I was rumbled was a non starter. Then out of the blue, another option dawned on me, guess what, gypsies were operating everywhere even back then, so simple really, ‘if push came to shove’ just blame it on the thieving gypsies’, yeah I brought it from them, those thieving scroungers had a lot to answer for, so what’s new today!

Now just where was I going to locate a suitable front door, it was a difficult call, and how the fuck when located was I ever going to remove it, yes indeed a tricky problem, and I’m having double trouble coming up with not only an answer, but a front door as well, and especially as the old boys patience was wearing thin. Look think about it, you just can’t stroll into a strangers house, say, ‘Good good morning Sir, we are the Council’s dangerous front door inspector, yours is dangerous’, then whip it out of it’s frame and leg off with it, can you, no this was going to require first order ingenuity, and this was where being a Harrow boy, meant I came into my own!

So if I was going to avoid paying for a new leaded glazed four windowed door, because that’s what the old boy expected me to replace his well and truly fucked up door with, meant that I was going to have to come up with a good plan, and pretty quick, and lets just spare a minute here, to go over the mayhem that I had caused that sleepy warm summers afternoon on the Stanmore road, opposite ‘All Saints Church’, with my deadly weapon, my pre 1100cc, dear little Austin A30!

After I’d whacked the Bond mini car, looking in my rear mirrors I see an amazing sight, there is this once intact red three-wheel Bond mini car, but now minus it’s red body panels, it’s rear wheels and most of it’s chassis, being steered by it’s presumably conscious but somewhat terrified driver sitting on the floor boards hanging on to that steering rudder for grim death, as it powered across the road on full throttle with it’s red painted aluminium panels flying up in the air like bright red frizzbies, the rear two wheel part exiting to the right, and that’s where I lost sight of the projectiles and mercilessly what fate had in store for the luckless Bond driver!

In court I’m playing dumb, professing to know nothing of all this mayhem, the prosecutor rubbing it in, and then the Judge in his summing up, tell the court that the Bond three wheeler being side whacked by me and wrecked, swerves left across the road complete with driver going across the roadside dirt verge, over a pedestrian path then crashed through a front garden gate. Yes the ‘sun and rays one’. Then sped unabated down a short pathway ending up embedded half through a person’s front door! The innocent startled owner looking up his entrance hall in fear see’s what at first glance he thought was a misguided guided missile sticking through his splintered and shattered front door. Not knowing what he was looking at he rushes to his front window to see a hot smoking stinking oily two stroke motor cycle engine revving away half way into his entrance hall, with it’s luckless terrified driver straddled across what was left of what turns out to be a Bond three wheeler motor car, adding,

‘Mr Brodie, it would have been a terrible shock to anyone, let alone an elderly gentleman peacefully making a cup of tea in his own kitchen and home’

When I heard that lot, it was all I could do to stop crumbling to the floor, but I noticed smiles around the court, why even the Judge had a smirk on his chops, so at least a few of them in court had senses of humour! When the judge explained events ‘as he saw them’ for the second time specifically for my benefit, and in vivid detail why ‘I would be paying for the gate and front door’, as he finished there was this kind of sighing sound all around court, me I’m trying not too cry, laughing that is!

When the old boy who never heard any of this in court, as wisely I’d pleaded guilty, told me he’d heard the crash outside, and then the splintering thud as he called it as the motor bike engine crashed first through his garden gate and then his front door! Well the dear man was explaining all this to me most sincerity, adding that when this projectile smashed through his front door he all but jumped out of his skin!        Me I’m nearly crying, and it was all I could do to stand up, apparently he was in his back kitchen at the end of the hallway making a pot of tea when it happened, and heard the initial screeching crash outside, then the second crash as the missile demolished his front garden gate, he’s looking up his hallway at his front door trying to figure out what was happening and what all this noise outside is about, then he see’s to his horror a Royal Enfield motorcycle engine and front wheel burst through his front door half into his hallway, smoking and stinking of petrol and hot oil.

Frankly at his sage, it was little wonder he didn’t have a heart attack and also little wonder too that I never followed him. He explained all this to me in detail with deadly seriousness, that on seeing the engine and wheel burst through his front door he rushed into his front room, ♪shaking all over♪, looking out to see what it was? He sees this man, who was of course the Bond driver, just sitting on bits of iron, which was of course the Bonds floor boards, or what was left of them, with apparently his face buried in his hands in a state of rank shock! The old boy went on to say that he had no idea that the thing he was looking at was, or had indeed once been a car, telling me most earnestly that at first he thought it must have been some military experiment that had gone very badly wrong!

Hey not bad, he’s on the case, telling me about some secret US army camp I too knew of at Stanmore that for years had all sorts of odd rumours flying about! Then he tells me that at first he thought one could have gone astray, ‘one what’, I exclaimed, ‘well a rocket experiment that is, going out of control landing through my front door’, I sensed that when he saw that it was only a motor bike, he was quite disappointed, a misguided rocket much better, bloody sham it wasn’t really, as I wouldn’t be having to wangle these two cursed doors, would I!

Well that nearly did it for me, and as sincere as he was, I was in grave danger of collapsing from a silent heart attack right there in front of him, but as nice as the old boy was, the thought of him attempting ‘mouth to mouth’ made me feel quite sick, so I pulled myself together pronto. Then he tells me, after seeing what pulverised his front door, he rushes out back and up his side entrance to the front of the house, to see the guy with the Bond standing up staring back out of his now gateless little front garden in a daze, with his ‘sun and rays’ garden gate all over the place in splinters!          He tells me he asked what had happened and the poor sucker told him that his Bond car had just blown up on him, and that he just couldn’t fathom out how he got to be in this garden smashing through his gate and half buried in his front door, apparently he had absolutely no idea that my left rear bumper had tagged his Bond, yanking his car side ways, into ♪bit’s and pieces♪

I’m thinking right there and then, pity the court case was over, that Bond fucker deserved all he got because if he never saw me just as I thought, he was obviously not paying attention to his driving and could have given me more room, so when all was said and done, he caused the fucking accident, not me, the prick! Yep he should have given me room, but he wasn’t paying attention, and here I was paying, well kind off paying that is, for all this private property damage, that’s no fault of mine, well you understand that is from the way that I was looking at it back then, and do you know something, I’m still of the same opinion today, the Bond driver was a prick and should be picking up the tab, not innocent little ol’ me, and now I have to provide not only a garden gate, as supplied, I need a front door too!

Personally, the way he disappeared out of sight in my rear view mirror, exit stage left, and the rest of the wreck going right, frankly, I though he was lucky to be alive, and the way things worked out I could have swung for that caper, so maybe I got lucky, who knows, but if the Bond dick has been concentrating, things could have been very different, of course I should have just blasted off into the distance, instead I clip his front wing and then being a good guy, stupidly I slow down allowing some smart ass busy body to get my car number, was I unlucky or what, and then I have my collar felt ending up in front of a Judge at the Harrow County Court, ordered to pay third party costs, which I hope you now agree with me was a right fucking liberty!

The old boy telling this sad tale was deadly serious, well to be fair I suppose that he would be, it was after all his two doors that took the hit, and it’s not every Saturday afternoon whilst making a cup of tea that you have a stinking hot revving it’s bollocks off Royal Enfield motor bike engine buried half way through your front door with a dumb struck guy hanging on to it, is it? He went on to tell me it took three men over two hours to remove what’s left of the Bond from his smashed front door and screw on temporary repair panels!

Then in some defence, I told him that the Bond driver must have had the reactions of a snail and should not be allowed back on the roads, and do you know what, he only agreed with me, not that it helped I still had the problem of finding a replica front door at no cost to me, no doubt about it, this was going to be a tricky one. Later when I told the guys, they all exploded in the El Toro coffee bar, yeah, well it was alright for them, I was the one with the problem! So just how would I acquire a four window glazed front door, and then paint the sucker black, those things cost money that I didn’t have. I looked all over our manor for days for that replica front door, and although I found a few that would have been ok, I found nothing I could easily nick, but help came in a strange way, kinda like an apparition! Well would you believe someone just feet away from where I lived, front door status was about to change, and real soon!

Next door to my house, was a smart ass prick who was always bitching at just about everything that happened in our street, he even painted on the border line between our house’s a white line across the kerb, and if one of my pals parked their cars as much as an inch over that white line, he was straight on to them to move back, the dick, so as you can imagine with that sort of behaviour he was asking for trouble, wasn’t it, yes this was Harrow and retribution was inevitable!

Odd thing was we’d had mysterious incidents of twisted car aerials and wiper blades, and odd things happening all the time, of course we suspected him! Then one time I’m driving down the road from my house when the steering began to vibrate something chronic, so thinking I had a puncture I stopped and cheeked but couldn’t find anything wrong, so I drove off, but had to almost instantly stop again, as now I could hear a kind of tinkling noise coming from my suspension too?

I eventually took off one of my hub caps, to see only one wheel nut half undone holding the wheel on, and another wheel nut, there should be four, inside the hub cap that had been making the tinkling sound, the other wheels were all the same only two wheel nuts, both loose, with the left front wheel about to pop off.

I tightened the remaining nuts up, drove to the BMC dealers, bought eight new wheel nuts and whanged them on tight. I then painted the hub cap rims with clear nail varnish, so that I could see if my wheels had been tampered with in the future, luckily they weren’t, but it was a close call, with all fingers pointing to the prat next door, yeah retribution was imminent, the problem was deciding just what to do to the prick that didn’t hurt his wife and two kids who were nice people, so burning the house down was not on, and in any case it was attached to our house, but whatever we did had to be savage, you know had my A35 wheels come off, I may never have raced, and no book, ok ok, I hear you, strike a medal for the guy!

One time when the prick next door had just moved into our street and were talking, he told me that he would call the telephone exchange operator about three times a week to say he’d just got three wrong numbers, so she would refund the three calls! ‘David it’s worth about 18 pence a week, adding that, ‘every little helps you know’, the prick must now be working for Tesco?, then he tells me!

‘You try it David, it mounts up over the year’, I thought, what a total dick, and he’s living in my street and right next door too!

One Sunday morning when we were all washing our cars outside my place, a regular thing, there was a line of four cars along the kerb with water sloshing everywhere, and can believe he’s actually sweeping our water away from his pavement and gutter back towards us, it was hysterical, he was obviously heading for the breakdown, and what I now had in store for him may just about be the last nail in his coffin that would push him over the top, this was gonna be fun!

Until that cretin of a Judge had made that order, I had never taken any notice of front doors before, well you wouldn’t would you, a front door is a front door, but at this precise time, for me it was national door week, being somewhat obsessed with English domestic front doors, and had at least two ear marked in our area for a new home up on the Stanmore road, but getting at them without being nicked, was screwing up the heist. You try figuring out how to nab a front door from a stranger’s house, not easy, but guess what’s lurking just 40 feet away, you could say next door, yeah you got it, amazingly right next door this moron had just what I was looking for, a four glazed leaded window door, and what’s more his door was in cracking nick and already painted black, so I had to have it didn’t I, and quick, but how?

The answer came when his kids, two really nice guys, told me that they were all off to visit relatives over the coming weekend, and would not be back until late Sunday evening, what, well this was going to be like taking candy from a kid, or more to the point, a menacing pain in the neck moronic neighbour, the plan was simple.    We, that’s Roland and I, would wait until it was dark on the Sunday evening, then I would go over the back garden fence up to his back door, and if it was locked I would go up his vent pipe, they were cast iron back then and bolted to the brickwork, so I’d be in through his kitchen, toilet or bathroom window, then through the house, open the front door where Roland would be hiding outside by the shrubs with a set of big screwdriver’s and a hammer, if we needed to chisel paint out of the screw heads, we’d had thought of everything, we even had a slim line flash light with us!         Look we had to do it Sunday night as soon as it was dark, as it wasn’t fair to leave the house without a front door over the weekend we’d reasoned with a sense of neighbourly civic and moral duty! Look this was Harrow and we were Harrow boys, who don’t pooh on their own door step do they, but next door, well maybe in this case, all we had to do was get our skates on, wait until it was dark and remove the front door from next door pronto, had to be easy! So Sunday evening Roland and I sat in with Dad watching TV, and at the end of an episode of an amazing series ‘The Prisoner’, we told Dad we were going out for a short while, I get his standard reply!

‘Hey Son don’t you be late, we have work in the morning’

‘Yes Dad I will be back in an hour or so, won’t we Roland’

‘Oh yes Brode, that’s if were not nicked’, he said laughing, the silly dick.

‘David, what are you two up to’

‘Roland will you stop messing around’ I said, clipping his bonce.

‘Oh sorry Brode, just joking Mr Brodie’, and out we went to do the foul deed.

Now I should tell you, as you will be thinking the way Roland was behaving he was short of the grey spongy stuff north of the eyebrows, but no, the kid was actually as bright as a button, with not a mean bone in his body, rare, very rare, but no matter how he tried to be cool, he never came across like that, and many’s the time Monty or one of us had to clip his ear to bring him back to reality, odd I know, but that’s how it was with my great pal Roland.

I drove the A30, soon to be up rated to a racing A35 up the road and parked under a tree where it was nice and dark, and walked back the house whose front door was soon to be no more! Roland was ready in the front garden tooled up, I gave him a quick whistle, went around the back, over the fence and up to the moron’s locked back door, so up the vent pipe I went, and squeezing my arm through the open small kitchen window, opened the main window, and zap, I was ‘In like Flynn’ and go straight up to the front door and open it really carefully, Roland was dutifully waiting, I had thought that Roland may take a hike, but there he was with the tools, he wasn’t my best pal for nothing, I was looking down at a guy that could be relied on in a tight situation, saying ‘Right Roland lets get this thing off it’s fucking hinges’

We were never going to get any problems from the moron’s next door neighbour, a very frail old lady that was a very sad sight to see. Her house was virtually derelict, with dense over grown gardens, and she never appeared when it was dark, and most times at night there was no light on in that house either, and although we never ever bothered her, that was not the kind thing to do, most days she’d go by at a crawl shopping dressed in cloths that looked as old as she was, yes a very sad sight, this dear lady needed help, and it was only when she was discovered dead a long time after she had died, that I realised how neglectful we had all been, the poor luv, yeah I’m serious, it was shameful, so when I felt a little guilty about nicking my neighbours front door, I also thought about that nice frail old lady, his neighbour not mine, whom he never lifted a hand to help, so any guilt I felt instantly evaporated, yeah your right nothing wrong with my moral up bringing.

Mind you my Dad may not have agreed with that, but remember this was the prick that had removed my wheel nuts, the last straw, so what he had coming, he had coming, and frankly the way he treated that nice old lady, well yep the prick deserved all he got!

Roland and I had the door open wide into the hallway, and I pushed as hard as I could with this huge screwdriver on the bottom screw in the door, and bingo out it came, the rest followed no problem, then using the hall chair we loosened off the top two hinge screws, whacked a screwdriver under the door to take the weight, took out the top screws and the door was free, it has taken 5 minutes tops, and probably the first indication I would be ok at DIY, but I can’t speak for Roland, I was the one doing the unscrewing!, being reasonable we left the door hinges in the door frame, a nice considerate touch, I then screwed out the handles and lock assay, and left them on the hall window shelf, so all the moron needed was a new front door! How about this, I unlocked the back door obviously the robbers point of entry, so someone was going to carry that can, I hoped it wouldn’t his kids or wife, thinking always thinking!

It was now just a matter of carrying the door up to the A30 and fixing it to the roof, so out came our kitchen carpet again and up went the door onto the roof and down came the windows as we lopped rope across the roof and through the open windows pulling the rope tight, with more rope from the front bumpers, around the door to the rear bumpers, then we climbed in and wound the windows up, and ace’ed off slowly in the direction of the new door owners house up on the Stanmore road, taking the dark back roads, smart move, well you think about it, you get stopped, and the cop says,

‘Hellow~Hellow, what we doing here Sir, IS that a front door on the roof’, well you got a smart ass answer at 9pm on a Sunday evening, cos I’m fucked if we did!

We stop, unhook the door and in a jiff It’s leaning up against the side passageway of the old boys house, and on the way out, just to be sure, I checked the now black ‘Stars and Moon’ front gate, perfect, I would call him in the morning to tell him we had delivered his stunning new front door, and that we’d be around the following weekend to fix it into place for him!

We rushed back to my street, parked outside my house; the whole job took what 45 minutes tops. Then Roland and I hid in the garden over the road, two reasons, first we didn’t want some clever clogs going into the morons house and nicking things, and second we just had to see what he said and did, when he found his front door had, ‘done a runner’

So we hide in the dark behind a privet hedge in a front garden across the road, and waited, it was odd, but looking at the house all we could see was black, where once we knew there been a front door, so if you passed by you couldn’t see the front door was missing in action!

We’d only been waiting ten minutes, and the moron arrived back home with his family parking in the road outside his house, if ever there was a case of perfect timing, no doubt about it, this was it.

He was first out, and at it right away, saying, ‘I’ll open up luv and get the kettle on, while you get the things out of the car with the kids’, so his wife and two kids not him the lazy prick would be lugging all the luggage into the house, yeah the lazy bastard, well was he in for a surprise!

We were now having to stand up to see, as his car was obscuring our view, he went up to the house and we heard his keys rattling, Roland whispered.

‘Brode, he wont be needing them’, we both started to silent giggle.

He lifted his hand up to unlock the door and nearly fell into the house, that’s the point when he noticed all was not too kosher.

‘Good God he said, the bleeding door’s open’

‘Open, it’s fucking missing in action’, I whispered to Roland.

The funny side had not really hit us fully yet, then as he stepped in and switched on the hall light, he screamed out.

‘Fucking Hell the front doors gone, it’s gone, we’ve been robed’

‘OH my God’ said his wife struggling with a case up the front path, ‘our lovely door gone!’

‘Our lovely door’, our lovely door’, said the moron, ‘what else they taken you kids stay out there they may still be in the house, I’m phoning the police’

Then it hit us, we collapsed onto the grass in silent hysterics, but we had to get back across the road quick and into my house, as any time soon the law would be all over the street, we jumped the front garden flower bed and flew over the road, strolling around the back of my house into my kitchen, put the kettle on, and just fell about all over the place. On hearing us, Dad and Susan came in, Dad said.

‘Boys what’s so funny’

‘Oh nothing much’ said Roland, ‘but we’ve just seen the funniest thing were ever likely to see Mr Brodie’, yeah the dick was just about to spill the beans, when I jumped in.

‘Roland, it’s not that funny was it, Dad it was just this poor old man chasing his dog around the main Kenton road, we stopped and helped him catch the thing’

‘Well done Son, that was a nice thing to do’, and looking at Roland, Dad said, ‘so Roland what’s so funny about that’

‘Oh nothing really Mr Brodie, it’s just that I get the giggles sometimes, mind you the man did only have one leg’

‘Roland for Christ sake, stop it will you’

Susan said, ‘Roland you are daft sometimes’, then the two of us, cracked up again, tea and toast time.

Dad and Susan went back to watch TV, whilst Roland and I had a well earned cup of tea and buttered toast, then attention focused out front as bells were ringing in the distance! When the Police arrived we all went outside to see what the fuss was about, there was quite a crowd gathering, some neighbours told Dad that Mr. Moron had just had his front door nicked, nothing else, just the front door?

Dad said, ‘Front door nicked, who the hell would want to steal a front door’, and then under his breath, ‘Son do you and Roland know anything about this?’

‘Dad give me a break will you please, what do we want with a front door’

It was at this point that I was very glad that I never ever told Dad the details of my many court cases; it was always a case of, ‘what the heart doesn’t know, the heart can’t bleed about’, or something like that. You see I was a good kid, and always did my best to protect my Dad, can’t have him worrying about me all the time can I, no I couldn’t. Out in the road were surrounded by neighbours, when one of the two police said, and quote, ‘we can’t understand it, why would anyone just take a front door and nothing else’ Then Roland the daft priceless prat said to my Dad, loud enough for everyone including the Cop and moron to hear.

‘Mr Brodie, I know exactly what’s happened here’, we all looked at him!

‘Well alright then what’s your take on this?’ said the Cop, and before I can whack him around the ear hole, Roland only says. ‘Personally I think that it must have been an inside job’, and with that, about 15 people went into hysterics!

My sister Susan, Dad, Roland and me and the two Police officers were all laughing, but oddly, the moron wasn’t even grinning, mind you we did see a wry grin on the moron’s wife face, which lit up when Roland said, ‘inside job’, well what could she know?

When things quietened down, we saw the moron screwing fence wood across the door frame, and put up a curtain inside, then for a few days until the new door was fitted, as it was difficult going around to the back door, the family had to get in and out of their house through a front window, using a step ladder which Roland and I thought was hysterical, but we did feel sorry for his wife and kids. Look it’s no easy manoeuvre getting in and out of a front bay window, much easier to shin up the rear vent pipe and in the kitchen, but I couldn’t tell them that, could I, no not really!

I phoned the old man in the morning to tell him where his new front door was, but he’d already seen the door and was well delighted with it, saying, ‘much better than the old one’ and telling me ‘not to worry lad, he’d have it fixed in place over the next weekend with his sons help’, and if I was ever passing to come by for a cup of tea, which was reassuring, you see there are nice people out there, you just have to find them! Well ok, granted it had taken quite a tortuous route to find this particular one, but now Roland and I knew, that up there on the Stanmore Road, amongst all the rats, was a very nice and proper elderly guy, yeah, quite refreshing really!

As far as I know that garden gate and front door may still be in place today, and that little caper may have taken its fair share of ingenuity, but it saved me a good few bob, like over 30 quid, which back then was not to be laughed at. That door nicking caper was another matter, and Roland and I still to this day get creased up when the case ‘all those years ago’ of the missing front door, next to No1 Rowland Avenue, Kenton Middlesex, comes up!

Hey don’t laugh £30, that’s not much your saying for all that risk and trouble, but remember, I was only getting 8 quid a week way back then, so you see it had to be done, what me go into debt for a couple of doors, I’d never live it down! You know it’s funny how an innocent car accident in Harrow, can lead to the most extraordinary things happening, like, gates and doors going missing over town, leading to domestic chaos, but this was the amazing thing, this little episode had a recuperative effect on quite a few people, let me explain?

Guess what happened to the moron next door, yeah the next door dick completely changed his demeanour, we assumed as a result of us nicking his front door, it’s unbelievable but over night the moron turned into a good guy, yeah that’s right, he was friendly from the very next day onwards, and he even painted the white line black on his kerb side, and on one occasion when we were all washing our cars, he actually helped Roland leather down his Morris Minor, amazing or what?

So you see without realising it, we had indeed performed a small civic duty by curing the tosser moron of all that pent up anger, and the nervous breakdown he was undoubtedly heading for, and as a bonus, his kid’s were allowed to spend time with us again when we were working on our cars out front, and his wife, always a nice lady, was back bringing us out tea and cup cakes with little icing and red cherries on the top, totally amazing really, and in return I sometimes let his kids have a lump of Dads amazing ginger cake, come on, were Roland and me, two good guys, or what.

Hey you could be forgiven for thinking that next door must have suspected something, but nah not them, well to be fair, the wife, a very bright lady, had a good idea, but she kept on smiling. So we reasoned, it just took that little door removing capper to bring some excitement into their dull lives, that amazingly turned the moron next door, when his ‘next door’ was fitted, into a decent all round good guy, isn’t that just astonishing, and Roland and me were proud of the part we played! So if you have a truculent next door neighbour who’s wrecking your life, the remedies very simple, just nick the pricks front door, but be warned, vent pipes are not made of cast iron these days, take a ladder!

So in the end, you would have to say quite unexpectedly, this door capper ended up with a happy ending, and you can’t expect or do better than that, can you, and both Roland and I thought, all in all, we had performed quite a humanitarian civic service for the local Harrow community, as the moron was getting out of hand, and his sabotaging our car’s was over the top, so something was going to give, like him getting at least a smack in the mouth! Of course there was no doubt his impending nervous breakdown would cost the National Health Service fortunes, and our actions saved those costs, and in any case the prick must have been hell to live with, but by our actions he was a nice and polite good guy again, and amazingly all through a missing door, but unbelievably it get’s better!

The old boy, who’s door’s had been so badly assaulted, very nearly scaring him witless by the thoughtless Bond Mini car driver, now had a pair of much, much better doors, and was well happy, so yeah it may have taken a while, but he’d benefited too, and was now as happy as Larry, with a great story to tell!

Next door’s two nice kids, a boy and a girl, were now always hanging out with us if we were working on our cars out front, there Mum was a dream too, and all it cost the moron, was the cost of a new front door. Hey, and I can tell you it was some new front door, it had more bolts and locks on it than the local jail, so in the end for the man next door, when his next door was fitted, all ended well.

Oh did I mention that when I left the moron’s house, I unlocked the back door, so they thought that the house had been entered that way, we heard that the moron got the blame for leaving it unlocked, as he was last one out.

Hey if they thought that the way in, was thought that kitchen window, who were they going to be looking at, you got it, nimble yours truly, clever leaving that back door unlocked, well I thought so at the time too, you could always trust us Harrow guys have the angles covered. Roland and I looking back were well pleased with the end result too, and at one stage we even discussed going into some form of charitable work, well we figured that with our new found therapeutic skills, we could be of help to the local community, but we didn’t, ‘so many things to do, so little time’, so maybe another lost opportunity, who knows!

Of course we will never know how the bemused Bond driver faired in the future, but he must have gotten a new Bond Mini car, as the one that I had wrecked for him was a total right off, don’t you just love insurance companies. So in the end, he came out very ok too, and without so much as a scratch either, yeah a miracle, well mentally he might have been a bit scared and rickety for a few months, but nothing too lasting we surmised! Oh and the guy that had his yellow, ‘Sun and Rays’ garden gate nicked, well I can’t tell you how he got on, but I did notice that he had a new and bigger gate fitted just days after Roland and I had nicked his small yellow sun and rays gate, so ok he may have been the odd one out, but ♪no matter how you try♪, trust me, you just can’t please everyone all of the time, can you!

Oh you know that expression ‘Early Doors’, well if where that saying originally came from should ever come up in ‘House Owners Trivial Pursuit’, need I say more!

Took on a Ford Zodiac, and a girl from Shenley and Lost

Took on a Ford Zodiac, and a girl from Shenley and Lost

One Saturday evening six of us were out in Dad’s Ford van, we’d been to the bowling ally at Golders Green, taking two nice girls along, and were now driving them home. this part of London’s suburbia was major Jewish territory, and pulling birds there was quite a feat, you see Jewish guys might be a boring bunch of pain in the necks, but Jewish guys had smart cars, and the birds liked that, and although we only had the Ford van, it helped that the chief Rabbi at the time was called ‘Brodie’, so we told the Jewish chicks that I was his favourite but renegade nephew, that did the trick, we were ’in like Flynn’, Jewish chicks seemed to love a rogue, enter the Brode gang, with a name like mine we were on the case!

You see you just have to work the angles, we were out for thrills, and if telling them that we lived on ♪Blue Berry Hill♪ did it, then that’s what they got, and me being the chief Rabbi’s out of control nephew, was icing on the cake. After we dropped the two girls off, and no, we didn’t, mind you, the two girls were in the back of the van with Vic Prig and little Johnny Radcliffe, two great movers, so I guess they may have had a grope or two, but they never said?.

So out go the two girls, and were heading back to Harrow. I was driving, with Vic and Little Johnny in the back, next to me was big guy and egg head Tony Bristow. Were heading down the North Circular road for Staples Corner, where the Edgware Road crosses London’s North Circular road. I’m almost alongside a two tone yellow and cream Ford Zodiac. I can see through the Fords rear window that the guy driving was a big fucker in a black leather jacket, collar up like Elvis, with arm around this blonde chick.

Now I don’t have to tell you guys, there is nothing quite like a bench seat, girls can get up to all sorts of naughty things with a bench seat, and you don’t even have to take your hands off the wheel, and if it’s an auto, it’s crumpet heaven, then as I went by the Zodiac on the outside under the stone Railway Bridge, he eased me over to the right, driving me off the road and up the steep kerb, the steering wheel spun out of my hand as it hit the kerb, and I very nearly broke my thumb, I should have braked hard, and let the prick go, but I was a smart ass and thought I could out drive him, well silly ol’ me.

The van ran up the kerb and rolled over shredding doors, windscreen and the two guys in the back at 70 mph, it was quite a shunt, the van coming to rest on the driver’s side. John and Vic were both thrown out when the back doors went into orbit. Tony in the front couldn’t get out as his passenger door was jammed shut, and with the van on its side he was trapped. Big Tony was confused, and thought the van must be on fire with all the dust and leaking fuel fumes chocking him, so in blind panic, he lunged into the back of the Van, and according to Vic and Johnny, did this amazing forward roll out the back and up onto his feet like a ballerina, ‘touché.

I never saw this, but Vic and John in fits of laughter later told me it was very impressive and amazingly agile for a big guy, the power of adrenalin. Tony did get one stitch in his head, and according to Vic and Johnny at the Hospital, Tony asked, no demanded that the nurse make it at least five stitches! Tony was smart, look with a shunt like that and the stories that were bound to unfold, how could Tony possibly tell people he only had one stitch from this catastrophic 100mph end over end roll, so you see even under extreme stress, Harrow guys are thinking all the time.

The following weekend, after reading about the accident in the local paper, Tony’s toothless Grandmother, well apart form her two huge long distorted rat like front teeth that came down over her bottom lip turns up at Tony’s house, all in a fluster!

I only ever saw her once, but believe me, once was enough. She resembled, for those who can remember, ‘old Mother Riley’, with a tight scarf over her head, a stone white face and those two savage teeth sticking down, she looked a good few Halloweens past her prime, if she ever had a prime?

She storms up to Tony’s front door unannounced and starts banging away, Tony’s Dad, who was about as quick as an ant eater answered, and the first thing she says is.

’How dare you not invite me to Tony’s funeral, why you didn’t even tell me his ‘loving’ Grandmother, that he was killed in that car accident’

Tony’s Dad who was a man of very, very few words, shouted out.

‘TONY, your Grandmother’s here to see you’

Apparently when Tony showed up in the hallway to greet his ever loving Grandmother, she was most indignant to see him alive. You see she liked funerals, where you were always assured of a good meal, and according to Tony she reckoned that he had cheated her out of that all too infrequent culinary pleasure, and from that day on, became even more grumpy! Well to Tony that is, which was a little ungracious, as Tony like the rest of us Harrow guys had feelings, we were not all made of stone back then you know, and having his Grandmother wishing him dead, just so that she could get a plate of free sandwiches, could have been the reason that Tony, ♪from that moment on♪, turned into an even more cynical fucker than he normally was, hey it’s just a guess?

Me, I was thrown out of the van, and somehow on the way out, got my left foot caught in the driver’s seat frame, and after being bashed around inside as the van rolled, I was then dragged down the road as the van slid to a stop, bashing my head and back, my leg was pinned under the van, but I managed to yank it out, yeah that was painful. My foot looked a bloody mess. I shouted to the guys to help me right the van, so we all heaved and tugged to get it back onto it’s wheels, which was in itself pretty daft, as the front wheels were pointing in different directions, the last thing I remember was heaving away, but then nothing else, apparently I passed out, the van was wrecked, and I came around in hospital.

Just before I passed out, Vic Prig, you may remember that’s the smart guy who was going to be a film star. Was insistent that he was going sue me, as his new ‘Lilywhite’s of Piccadilly’, pullover, which wasn’t even cashmere, now had a hole in the arm, the dick. Amazingly Vic and little Johnny, had been thrown out the back, and didn’t have a mark on them; they both must have been made of rubber.

Little Johnny Ratcliff, a tiny fellah was shell shocked, and wandering around in a daze. Johnny went on to be one of ‘Vidal Sassoon’s’ premier hair stylists, and worked the Covent Garden shop for over thirty years, and was still working there in the mid 90’s, when I last saw him. Little Johnny was a great guy, that the girls just loved and wanted to mother, he always said, that being small had it’s good points.

My poor Dad, I had just wrecked his only means of transport. He gets this call at 2 am that I am in Hospital, and he can’t even get to see me, because I just wrecked his wheels. What a little prick I was, as if he didn’t have enough problems, he now had no transport, what sort of help was I? I felt ashamed and a real prat, I was in hospital for three days, and then spent the next ten days waiting for my foot to heal, whilst the work piled up at the plating shop.

Was it painful, my left foot hurt like hell, well serve me right. I’d never known pain like it, it was so bad that I would watch the TV until the last program, and only when the little dot disappeared on the screen did I go up to bed. The only way I could get up the stairs was backwards on my bum, and then it took me ages to actually get into the bed. I can feel the pain now, and do you know what, Dad never gave me as much as a telling off. What a bloke, I didn’t deserve him.

With what money he had, Dad bought a big ungainly Morris J Van, with sliding front doors. It must have nearly killed him lugging that big thing around. It had no power steering or heater, and leaked like a sieve, so during that savage freezing winter, we wore duffel coats with the hoods up, and thick woollen gloves in the van to keep us warm, Susan would always ride up front on the warm engine cover. Winters were very cold back then in the early ‘60’s, with thick snow and ice everywhere, it was cold like you would not believe’ it was so cold it hurt, and we didn’t have central heating either. Week days I got dressed and undressed in bed, in the mornings the inside of my bedroom windows would be covered in thin ice, so you couldn’t see out, the windows looked like frosted glass, but it was the real thing.

One year in the early 60’s, ‘64 I think, it was so cold that the ice and impacted snow didn’t melt on the roads and pavements until late April. I know just how cold it was, as that was the year that I had to walk those three freezing miles each day to work in Uxbridge. The weather was so bad there were no warm buses running for months, so no choice, I had to walk. Dad would pick me up in the evenings on his way home; I would unload, and then re-load all the work that I’d polished that day. It was tough, but a lovely warm ride back home, in Dads Vauxhall Victor estate.

That Zodiac driver taught me a lesson, only take on a big guy if you’re sure you can win, or got a gun, and if he’s got his arm around a chick, hey stay clear, he’s got other things on his mind, like giving her a good shagging, so what the fuck does he want to be prating around with a daft dick like me for, in a crummy Ford van!

Look hindsight, it may well be a wonderful thing, but I say bollocks to it!

After my foot had healed, I bought that little Austin A30, that eventually I turned into an A35, my first racing car, I’ve told you about that already, more later.

Amongst my best pals then were Mick Nugent and Don Cole, and both, like me were from Harrow, one Saturday morning Mick phoned and asked if I could take him and Don to see his mother in Hospital at Shenley, Hertfordshire.

‘In bleeding Shenley, what’s she doing there, that’s a mental Institution?’

‘Brode she’s in for observation, that’s all, nothing too much wrong with her’

Well that didn’t surprise me, Mick was a right handful and tearaway, and would fuck anybody’s brain, especially his parents, but what did I know!

‘Oh sorry Mick, of course I’ll take you up there, you wanna go now’

I went over to Mick’s, and with Don on board we zapped over to Shenley in Hertfordshire, parking right outside the main front door, strolled into the lobby, to be confronted by a gorgeous looking blonde bird called Claire, holding a little brown travelling case, she had the best slender long legs and tits you ever saw, this Claire kid was some sexy and good looking chick.

Don and Mick were on her case instantly, and that’s her, not her travelling case, she told us that she was going home for the weekend, and had been waiting for hours, but didn’t know what had happened to her ride. We asked her what she was doing in a place like this, and when she told us that she had been in trouble with some Yank Airmen, that did it, Don and Mick were even more on her case!

We left her in the lobby and headed up the stairs to find Mick’s Mum sitting out on a balcony in the sun with a bunch of other ladies. She was a really nice lady, and after an hour or so with plenty cakes washed down with gallons of tea, we said our good byes. When we arrived back at the bottom of the stairs, the blonde girl with the great legs and tits, was still waiting for her ride! Just looking at John and Don mooches, I could tell they had a different kind of ride on their minds!

‘Hey you still here Claire, just where are you going’, Don asked.

‘Oh a place called Willesden in Middlesex’

Well we all knew Willesden well, which was just ten miles north of Harrow, over the North Circular road, on the outskirts of West London.

‘Hey Brode, you can drop us off, and take Claire to Willesden, can’t you’

Don said, digging me hard in the ribs from behind.

‘Oh yeah no problem, Claire you wanna lift with us, I can drop you off’

‘Oh yes please, do you mind’

‘Nah kid, no trouble, let’s go’

I showed her into the front passenger seat of my car, making the two guys sit cramped in the back. Hey I was not letting them get their hands on her, they always got the best chicks, but this time we were in my car so I was on the case, and amazingly they left the way clear for me to pull the chick, had I, had half a brain, I would have thought this was a little odd, but hey, I had a feeling that my dick was about to get some action, so all sense of reality went right out the window, you know the feeling, the sniff of crumpet will do that ever time, and especially to Harrow guys!

♪I should have known better♪, and realised right off that something was up, when the two of them stood aside, and just let me attempt to pull her, and all the way back, they were continually digging me from behind my seat in the ribs, indicating that I was doing ok with her. I dropped off Don and Mick, and over the car roof they both looked me in the eye, giving me the ‘Heave~Ho’, and a wicked look, saying.

‘Good job Brode, you’re as good as in her knickers’

We headed to Willesden, Claire and I chatting all the way, the kid was about 20, and real nice, and I was beginning to not only fancy her, but like her too.

I found her road and house number, and dropped her off by the front gate of a line of small pretty terraced cottages, agreeing to be back next day at 2pm, to take her out, as I drove off she was walking up her front garden path. That evening I went out with Don and Mick, and all they talked about was me getting into Claire’s knickers the next day, and I still like a twerp, I didn’t see the light.

Next day at 2pm sharp I picked her up, she was waiting at the bottom of the road, with her brown travelling case, which should have been another clue. It was a daft time to date a Bird, 2pm, as what was I going to do with her all afternoon. My plan was to get her early to the flicks, find a Pub, have some grub, and put a couple of ‘date rape’ Vodkas in her drink, then find some lonely dark place on the way back, stop, jump in the back with her, push the seats forward and get to work, then drop her off home. Hey the guys were expecting big things, and I was on my honour to give them a ball by ball report.

She jumped in the car and gave me a kiss, wow I was already in. I had about two hours to kill, before the flicks, so I thought that I would take her to Kew Gardens, look over the place, and sit out in the sun with a coffee, but the traffic was so bad I decided to go up to Horsenden Hill, a local west Wembley beauty spot, nicknamed ‘Lovers Hill’, for that walk in the sun, and if the opportunity arrived, I figured that I would get her down on the grass and give her a good lust up, kind of a warm up for later, this hill, turned out to be a no thrills, ‘Blue Berry Hill.

We strolled up and around the hill, and I found a neat place to sit down along side a clump of bushes, and take in the view out west Within two minutes I had her on her back and was wading ‘in like Flynn’, with her tits out. this chick was some kisser and was she going at it, I was getting a right pain in the groin and thinking, I can’t get it out here, there are too many people around, but no doubt about it, it was good practice for later, and then it happened.

All of a sudden she started to kind of twitch, which at first I thought was a bit advanced, but what the fuck, if that was what happened when she was turned on, it was OK with me, seconds later her twitching and grunting was getting ridiculous, I may have had her tits out, but I had never had a reaction like this before from a chic, this was something else. I remember thinking lucky I haven’t got a hand full of snatch, she would go into orbit. I pulled away and looked at her, she had a kind of white foam coming out of the corner of her mouth, and a deathly white colour, I thought, fuck that, I’m not getting my laughing gear round that any more, but she was pulling me in towards her which frightened me, I pulled back, jumped up and stared down at her, the bulge in my jeans soon took a hike.

It’s amazing how your dick can instantly retract in situations like this, I had on tight fitting blue Jeans, and I don’t have to tell you guys what that can do to a guys tackle do I. As I stared down at her she was laying there with one tit out and her eyes kind of flicking open and shut, well that was it, I was off, so I head at full speed down the Hill towards the car park, to hit the trail wheel spinning out of there.

I’m half tripping over running for my car, and I’m thinking, what the fuck, this is red head sexy Mary Googe all over again, me taking off, leaving the girl stranded, but this time without the whack around the head, to look forward too, what’s going on, this is the last thing I want to make a habit of, hardly the object of the exercise is it, and then I remember a few years earlier taking a hike from Julie Chessman as well. They say things go in three’s, and this one makes is three. Mind you, Julie’s sexy Mum made up for any disappointment with Julie, but there was no chance of that happening today, what a waste.

I ran around the corner into the dusty car park and was startled to see, not only Don and Mick, but Roland too, who lived just 200 yards away, all three were laughing there selves senseless, they were so consumed in laughter I couldn’t get a word out of them. What was happening, I just couldn’t figure out what the three of them were doing, and why they were covered in dust laughing, they couldn’t possibly have seen the chick twitching up on the Hill, what was going on?

I wanted to tell them about the crazy chick up the Hill, I was almost shouting at them to listen to me, but I seemed to make thing’s worst, and then the penny dropped, I just sat on the kerb side with my hands in my face, feeling a total dick, which of course was exactly what I was, a daft dick, what the fuck was I doing taking this poor chick inmate, away from the Shenley mental Institution?

It was a good ten minutes before the three of them were of any use; Mick came over to me first saying….

‘Brode this is hysterical, we have been following you all afternoon in Don’s car, and you never sussed us out, when you took her up the hill, we were only yards behind you ducking in and out of the bushes, you must have heard us, but you didn’t did you, we can’t believe you didn’t spot us, and at times we were only yards behind you in the traffic’

Don chimed in, ’Well he wouldn’t would he, the dirty fuck pig had other things on his mind’

‘No I didn’t you wankers, why the fuck didn’t you tell me she was a psycho loon, I have wasted all day, and now I guess I will have to take the demented loon back to Shenley’

‘it’s understandable Brode’, said Mick, ‘you were expecting nookie weren’t you, so your brain was out for lunch, it’s the first time anyone has ever followed you in a car’

I just stood there looking at the three of them.

‘Yeah Brode, as I said, you dirty little fuck pig’, said Don agreeing with Mick.

Then they told me that before following me up the hill, they had gone around to Roland’s house just down the road, to get him out to witness me fucking up, can you believe that, they got Roland out just to see me fuck up.

Mick looked me in the eye, and said, ‘Brode I feel real guilty, you did me a favour taking me to see my Mum, and we do this to you’, then he collapsed on the pavement, charming, some great mates they were. Don and Roland came over, but couldn’t utter a word, people were looking at the four of us, and laughing too, the pricks, and they didn’t know what they were laughing at, what was I gonna do?

Mick told me that the blonde was famous for spending all day standing in the lobby with that brown travelling case, thinking she was about to be taken home!

‘We didn’t expect you to pull her Brode, did we, we thought that you realised that she was a fruit cake’, then looking at Don the three prat’s started up again, I just sat there silently on the kerb, I was having real trouble seeing the funny side of all this. ‘Gee’z Louise’, I had just had a hard on over a fruit case, with a little brown travelling case, was I the mental case? Guys there must be a joke there somewhere?

‘Look you smart ass prat’s, if you can tear yourselves away from giggling like a bunch of school girls, what am I going to do, she is up there somewhere wandering around with one of her tits out’

‘Well Brode’, Roland chimed in, ‘You are just going to have to take her back to ‘the nut house’, and explain to the Doctors what you have done to the poor girl, aren’t you’, police will have been alerted by now, your just gonna have to tell them it was an innocent mistake, made by a fucking idiot, you prick!

I had a feeling Roland was enjoying all this, and was somehow, getting his own back on me for past deeds, cruel thought I know, but bang on.

‘Yeah said Don, you dirty fuck pig, you have probably put her back decades beyond saving, that’s not very nice is it Mick, and Mick, what’s your Mum to think when this get’s around the Hospital, that her only son Mick, has helped pull, or is that kidnapped, a fruit case’.

‘Yeah Brode you fucked up big time, this time, what you going to do’, chimed in Mick? ‘I tell you what I’m going to do, I’m going to go find her and take her back to Shenley, then I will find your Mum and ask her to look after Claire, that’s what I will do, Roland you coming with me?’

‘Ah no Brode, like to, but your on your own pal, I’m afraid’, see I knew he was enjoying this.

Mick shouted out, ‘Brode, don’t you dare disturb my Mum when you get her back, she’s got enough problems’

‘Well you lot had better help me find her and quick, so we all trooped up the hill and fanned out to find her, but she was exactly where I left her, just standing by those bushes, I took her hand and said that I was taking her back to Shenley, she just said, ‘Thanks David’, and do you know what, I really felt sorry for the poor kid.

I had no idea what she had been doing between me dropping her off the previous afternoon up that street in Willesden, and picking her up again the next afternoon at the same place, but she looked clean and tidy, so she must have been somewhere, maybe she did live there?

I said bye to the guys and headed all the way back to Shenley in the heavy traffic.

I had decided to drop her off at the main gate and get out of there, but as she was chatting away all the way back, and seemed as right as nine-pence, I changed my mind, I was even considering a quick divert down one of those dark little lanes, she knew how to neck, and they were real nice tits, but decided not to push my luck, a smart move.

I dropped her off late in the afternoon outside the main door; she leant over, thanked me for a nice day and gave me a peck on my cheek. I know, I know, she was a nice kid, and I could have ruined her for life, but what did I know, I always blamed those other two smart ass prat’s Don and Mick. We never saw Claire again, not even Mick when he visited his Mum, so I guessed she eventually went home?

I have to tell you what happened that Saturday afternoon when I originally drove out of the Institution with the girl in the front, and Don and Mick in the back, heading for Willesden via Harrow, to drop the girl off, and even after the incident I’m about to tell you, I still never sussed that things around this nut house were a little off the wall, even though Don and Mick never stopped laughing all the way back to Harrow, this is how it went!

I stopped by the main entrance, got out and asked a guy who was digging this long trench in the grass about two feet deep, that ran parallel with the drive way out, ‘if there was a better way than turning right to get to the main A1 road?’

He said there was, and directed me left, and even got out a small note book and drew a detailed map how to take the short cut to the main A1, so I asked him just what he was doing digging a hole at this time of the day, as it was almost early evening, and suggested that he must be getting paid weekend, treble time?

Oh no he said, I don’t get a cent for doing this, I am an inmate here, and as I’ve been a labourer all my life on the buildings, they have given me the job of digging this trench along side the driveway, for a new power cable.

I was flummoxed’ this was a perfectly sane man, just what was he doing in a place like this, so I asked him how long he had been at the Shenley Mental home.

‘Oh it’s been more years than I can remember now, my Lad’

‘But there’s nothing wrong with you, is there, how can they keep you in this place all these years, there’s a life out there’

‘Look I know that, and so do all the other nuts in there, but you try telling the board of doctors, I have been pleading with them for years now to go home, but nothing I can do about it Lad, I keep asking to be released, but each time I get kicked back, what can I do, I don’t even get visitors any more, and that medicine they make me take, makes me all dopey’

You know I really felt sorry for this very nice and kind middle aged man, who was probably about 50, and working like a dog digging this very neat long trench.

Was this some kind of concentration camp? It just didn’t seem right to me, I was determined to get on his case, look I might have only been eighteen, but I could recognise cruelty when I saw it.

‘Look old chap, what’s your name’

‘John, but they all call me John-Boy’

‘Well John-Boy, my name is David and my Dad knows people in high places, I will tell him all about you, would that be OK with you, it might lead to your release, you never know John, I will have my Dad write a letter to this place’

‘Oh would you please, that would be great, Oh thank you so much, thank you from the bottom of my heart, I thought that I would see out my time in this place, is there anything that I can do for you in return David’

I thought what the fuck could he do for me; he was the one in the looney bin, not me? Now that should have been another clue, but I was on crusade mode, and far to thick to pick up the pointer, I had crumpet in the car to take care of, which kind of clouded my view, yeah it happens when your dick thinks it’s going out to play.

‘Look John-Boy, write your full name down on the map, where you originally come from, plus your age and birthday, we have to be sure to get the right John, I handed John the map that he had so carefully drawn directions on, and he wrote down all his details in the best handwriting I had seen for a long time.

I kept looking over to the guys, who were pulling faces and gesturing me to get going, the insensitive prat’s.

‘John, look at your hand writing, and this map you have drawn, it’s immaculate, you sure you were just a labourer?’

‘Yep been a labour all my life, but I do write letters to the Times Newspaper and poetry too, want to hear some?’ Now had I had a single brain cell, that should have been my second or third clue, but I was still too dumb to realise it, I was now really on a roll for my new found buddy, John-Boy.

‘Look John-Boy, what ever happens, I will be in touch with you, you have my promise that I will do my best to have them look at your case more closely, it’s plain ridiculous you being in here, what a waste, your an educated man’

‘Oh thank you so much Lad, you’ve given me hope, I never thought that anyone cared, thank you so much my Lad, God will bless you’

‘John, I have to be off now, my pals are waiting, don’t you worry I will be on your case with my Dad on Monday morning, no promises, but I will do my best for you, and that’s a promise’

I turned to go to my car parked just twenty feet away, with Don, Mick and the girl patiently waiting for me.

As I looked away from John-boy, I swear I saw tears in that man’s eyes. I was thinking what a nice unfortunate and kind man he was, As I walked back to my car, I thought I heard him shuffling across the road behind me, not turning around to see, was my third, or was that my forth and final missed clue and mistake?

John-Boy, if that was his real name, whacked me a right clout on my empty brain box with a huge clump of grassy turf, it hit me right over my left ear, the very same side of my head that had been hurting for weeks, ever since Mary Googe had hit my empty brain box that evening with her crocheted hand bag, in the El Toro coffee bar in North Harrow, when she casually strolls up behind me, whacked me, and then fled the joint, you remember back in chapter 29.

When John-Boy whacked me, I half went down on one knee, my left ear was ringing something rotten, and I had dusty dry earth dirt in my ear and all down and inside my open neck shirt, I looked up at John who was now standing over me, expecting to be finished off with his spade.

I said, ‘John what the fuck did you do that for?’

He smiled and said in a totally different high pitched voice as he pointed at me with his finger.

‘Now don’t you forget will you David’

I got up and told the fucking lunatic, that I certainly would not, dusted myself down, jumped in my car, and drove out of that insane mental Institution.

I had trouble thinking straight with Don and Mick in hysterics, then thought, well Bollocks to John’s instructions to turn left, I had just had a packet of what he thought was a good idea, guess what, as I drove outta there, John was waving good-bye like he was saying good bye to a long lost friend, the fucking lunatic.

Don and Mick were still in an uncontrollable fit when I dropped them off an hour later, the wicked fuckers. What was I on’ I knew it was a mental Institution, first I get pushed into pulling the blonde with the great tits and legs, Claire, and all things considered, that was not so bad, at least I could boast that I had a good lust up, and had her tits out, which were fantastic with rock hard nipples.

Then as if I was not on red alert, I am befriending another bleeding loon who spends his weekends digging long fucking holes in the twilight, for a bleeding hobby, called John-Boy, whom I got nothing from except a ringing mud filled left ear, and an even worst pain in my neck as well, maybe I was I the one that was mental, had I had a brain, I should have booked a bed in that hell hole, and through out all this with John-boy, Claire never as much as smiled, yeah another clue missed.

I was wondering if Mary Googe was behind all this, but no I only had myself to blame, only I could do it, two new loon friends from Shenley mental Institution, and all in one day, I ask you, would I ever learn.

Next day I met with the three guys, Don, Mick and Roland in the El Toro, and in earnest seriousness, as the funny side of John-Boy had not hit me yet, like that lump of dirt had, excuse the pun. I went over the whole sager of me being so kind to that John-Boy, and then for my troubles, the cretin clumped me around my ear with a lump of fucking turf.

That did it, they were all on the deck, it took a good half an hour for thing’s to settle down. They kept asking me….

‘How you do it Brode, befriend two total psychotic loons in 24 hours’. They just looked at each other across the table in dumb silence.

Roland broke the silence, saying.

‘Brode what do you think you will be doing for an encore?’

Well that did it, the place broke up again, was I a dumb cluck, or what?

It would be a long time before I lived this little capper at Shenley and it went on the back burner, but by the time Don, Mick and Roland had spread the story around, which went something like this….

‘Basically, what a total wanker and dick I was’, and from that moment on everybody I bumped into, knew of my escapades up at the Shenley Mental Institution with two loons, I had to repeat ‘Brode’s Shenley story’, as it was now know as, more times than I could count, even the girls wanted to have a ball by ball description too, and then they went into convulsions, the wicked fuckers.

Mind you, I was secretly seething inside, but if you can’t laugh at yourself, which is the ‘Great Escape’, who can you laugh at?

It’s a very good lesson, so learn it well, if you don’t laugh at yourself, they get you every time, guys am I right.

How to wreck a new Capri

How to wreck a new Capri

A few years later in ‘73, I had been asked to drive the works Ford Escort at the Spa 24 hour Saloon car race, well I wasen’t daft this was my big chance to show Ford what I could do, and I was determined not to mess up the opportunity, so I drove over to Spa a day early in my brand new special edition Black V6 Ford Capri, quite a stunning car, in an effort to at least learn the public road part of the track before official practice! I’m booked on the last hovercraft at four pm out of Ramsgate near Dover, but I just couldn’t get out of my factory, but eventually just before 2 pm, I left, but there was no real chance of making the hover flight, but I’d give it a try!

Back then with no M25 my only way to Ramsgate was through congested central London, near impossible to hit Ramsgate in two hours, but I was on a mission so off I went driving like a loon, up pavements, up kerbs, jumping lights and spending most of the time on the other side of the road, I burst out of London and hit the A20 Dover road having made miraculous time through London. Thinking, ‘Hey Brode’ you may just catch that 4 pm hover-craft, this was turning into some roller coaster drive and how I wasn’t nicked and the keys thrown away, has always amazed me!

I’d been warned there were Police Helicopters patrolling the A20 and hitting 135mph I reasoned if I slip streamed all the cars and Lorries in the slow lane, and then popped out only when overtaking and then back in again; I stood a chance of not being spotted, I still do that today, not an unreasonable plan!

Near to Dover, I see a long line of lorries looming up in the distance, so I zoomed up behind them intending to pop out at the last split second going by the lot at 135mph then in again in one swoop, only to discover as I pulled out that the road at precisely that point, went from three lanes into two, and not too far up the road into one, but trouble was I’d tailed that line of trucks for so long I’d not seen that the second lane narrowed into one lane only and that’s why the trucks were all lined up in file, and the middle lane that I was on at 135mph was now blocked by more road works with all these rusty angle iron tripod posts, supporting lines of white and orange narrow plastic planks with a strings of orange and white plastic flags that I was just about to run into at 135mph, yeah I was in trouble with no where to go in fifty yards, I needed a Martin Baker ejector seat, but they weren’t a Capri option!

At 135 I was on a ‘one way street’, so ducking down behind the steering wheel I hit the throttle smashing into the first line of posts, planks and flag bunting, the noise was deafening, then I was alongside the line of Lorries ambling along at 40mph expecting a plank or angle iron frame to smash through my windscreen, then wallop no option at maybe 120mph I hit another load of planks, which went flying up in the air with the rest of them. Fuck knows what the lorry drivers were thinking, seeing this lunatic in a Capri launching all this stuff into the air alongside them.

The end was in sight as I smashed into yet another line of tripods, planks and bunting, and up the lot went flying with the rest, the dust and flying junk behind looked amazing, the truck drivers must have though I was running from a bank job!, then miraculously I was out on the clear carriageways again, in the rear mirror it looked like a tornado with coloured stuff landing all over, the dust and junk being thrown up by my air stream was incredible, it looked like a huge whirl wind behind.       That was now way over 40 years ago, and I figure those lorry drivers must still be talking about it today, at 135mph had there been any machinery or a hole, it would have been, ‘San Fairy Fuck Pots’, and good night, Brode!

I was still hacking on up to 135, looking at the oil and water gauges like a hawk. There could be no way I hadn’t damaged the radiator or sump, let alone the screen, which miraculously was ok. I must be about to lose oil and water, no one could get away with that little lot scot free. I had my eyes glued to the gauges, and they didn’t move, in no time I was heading for the terminal at Ramsgate. I arrived, collected my ticket just as they were lifting the hovercraft tail gate. I tooted my horn, and they lowered it back down and on I drove, was that perfect timing, or what?

It was some amazing drive from Hounslow, I’d made it with no time to spare. I jumped out and as they were strapping down the Capri I looked at the front, guess what, there was hardly a mark, not even the head lights were smashed, but the slatted chrome front grill was pushed up V fashion spot bollock in the middle, so neat it looked like it was meant to be like that. The only other damage was a big hole in the under shield below the chrome bumper, and that was all, amazing, I should be dead, had to be a good omen for the race, yeah just had to be, I settled into my seat in the Hover-craft, and put up some zzz’s! Up went the ramp and in no time I arrived at the circuit and drove my Capri around the public road part a few times to see where the track went, it looked easy to me, but fast, yeah very, very fast.

In first official practice session I did a good lap time, which surprised a few including me. The circuit was so fast, just sitting there flat out in top gear for ages between corners at 140mph was a new experience to me. Normally you hit top speed and then moments later, you’re braking hard, and turning in, this was spooky!

The great Graham Hill had said to me the previous weekend at Brand’s in the drivers changing room, and you might remember he always called me Ace!

‘Where you racing next weekend Ace?’, I told him the Spa 24 hrs, he replied.

‘Hell Ace, but you’ll be ok the second time you go there’, what?

I had no idea what the great man meant, and wasn’t about to question him, but I understood later just what he meant. It’s odd, but at some tracks that are so fundamentally different to what you have been used to, like say old Spa, or Monza, you have to drive those circuits the first time to come to terms with them in your mind, and when you go back the second time, you have it taped. A track like Spa was a totally new experience for me, and by the time that I went there for the first time in ‘72 I’d driven well over two hundred races winning most of them, but driving at such high speeds between corners was new to me, what just sitting there for ever at top speed waiting for the next corner to pop up, believe me that’s unnerving!

The worst thing was your concentration would wander, you found yourself looking at the trackside scenery and into the distance, I even looked in detail at other race cars on track, noticing that some going by had untidy paint jobs and badly laid out logos and stickers, and I’m thinking, yeah at 140mph, why didn’t the driver sort that scruffy lot out, yes just plain ridiculous, and I had to keep telling myself to concentrate, something I’d never thought in a race car was possible, what would Le Mans be like, well some 20 years later I found out, yep same thing, too much time driving down long boring straights, to me racings about corners, not long straights!

I was used to concentrating for the full race to the exclusion of just about everything around me, and apart from the race cars near me all I ever saw was one corner followed by another and another, so the whole race became a series of count down corners and straights until eventually the chequered flag. Most times after a race I’d concentrated so intensely I couldn’t remember anything about the race, but it flood’ed back later!

At Spa, this sitting strapped into the driver’s seat with the motor flat out for ages was eerie, it was the first time in my driving career I’d had time to see and notice that I was travelling very fast and in danger, and better take care, or I was likely to be looking at the big one. I’d always had huge respect for all the race cars that I drove, and I knew right from the start, that if I didn’t respect the race car, it could and would hurt me. You know in some ways driving my A35 all those years earlier with the frightening horror of driving in practice with the mixed racing Crossply’s and road Radial tyres with no limited differential, taught me that respect and how to drive with a delicate touch, and I never forgot it, I think that first lesson kept me safe over all the years, but you can never make allowances for the unexpected on track, and when that happens, which it will at some point in your career, you have to do your best in the split’s of seconds that are available when the unexpected occurs, your know, you’re either going to be ok, or you’re not, it’s that simple really, but when you have banked in your mind hundreds of race incidents, a truly amazing thing happens when the unexpected happens, that’s happened to me many times!

Yeah, you get a flood of data and experiences zip through your brain like lightning, and you seem to automatically cherry pick the actions that have helped you out over the past decades, it happens instantly and seemingly without thinking you put them into action, and with luck you pull through, or at least most times the situation is in some way manageable. You may still have the accident, but it was a managed accident that you recall every split second, and I can tell you a truly concentrated mind is one heck of a powerful tool. At some stage of human evolution we may all or at least some very special people be capable of extreme concentration for very long periods of time. That’s when the real and stunning technical inventions will occur on our odd Planet. In a racing car, it’s not too smart to lose full concentration, the consequences can be disastrous!

At Spa in ‘72, I was driving in a team of three works 2litre Ford Escorts for the mighty UK Ford Motor Company. One of the cars was driven by two girls, Yvette Fountain and Gillian Fortescue~Thomas, two very quick girls too, if you can believe that. Of course they really should have both been at home making cakes, beds, or having their hair and nails done, not prating around at an insane race track called Spa in Belgium doing a 24-hour motor race, that’s a man’s job, and have you noticed just how much birds like to do men’s jobs? Why they can’t stick to their own girlie activities beats me, I suppose it comes down to an imbalance of male chromosomes, I can’t think of any other reason, can you, well plenty shave their top lips, am I right?

The second Escort had my English pal Dave Matthews at the wheel, whom I’d raced against dozens of times. Dave was quick, and so was his German co-driver, Harold Menzel. Those two would be hard to beat. I had a Dutch driver called Han Akersloot as my partner, I didn’t know if he was quick or not, but he put in a good practice lap, so we were looking reasonably good for the race.

In between practice sessions, Gillian came up to me, asking if I was doing the great Bourneville corner flat, I thought for a second going through the track layout in my mind and casually said. ‘Yes Gill no problem’….‘Christ really David’, she replied and wondered of shaking her head, and I’m thinking…. ‘Do I ask her about knitting!’

Twenty minutes later her car was dragged in with the right front and side fucked, she came over to me saying, ‘David I just don’t know how you’re doing Bourneville flat, I tried it, and look at the mess my cars in’

Matthews was amazed I could do it flat too, saying ‘you’re a fucking hero’, I’m thinking no big deal, and couldn’t understand why they were all so impressed.

That evening Matthews and I were relaxing on our hotel beds when I spotted a race programme on the floor. I picked it up and found the circuit diagram runing my finger around until I came to Bourneville corner; remember this was the old and very fast Spa circuit, not the poncy thing you see unshaved, spotty chined spikey hair guys prancing around today thinking their heroes, no the old track was for real men!

Bourneville was a very fast right hand bend followed by the Masta straight, half way down was the famous Masta Kink as it was called with a very quick left entry, followed by a just as quick flick right in the middle of the turn, on the right was a white cottage with a line of pretty coloured flowers edging the small front garden, where the two elderly owners would sit in deck chairs watching the race cars whang by just feet away and into the distance, they were brave, as coming in at 160mph, the good guys, works drivers, braked, launched up high over the kerbs zooming out by the ol’ couple at 130mph and flat out into the distance in a crowd of exhaust fumes, yeah you’re right, those were the days!

What a prat I was, I’d mistaken the next corner Stavelot, another very fast right hander at the end of the Masta straight for Bourneville. I was doing Stavelot flat no problem like everyone else, but the right hander back up the track at Bourneville, I had to lift off just like the rest did, there was no way it could be done flat, a cold shudder went down me, I looked over at Matthews and I thought….

‘Christ Brode what have you done, that girl could have killed herself’

Matthews thought I was a hero doing Bournville flat, so I thought, hey Brode just kept quiet. Look if for some reason people think that you’re a bit of a hero, and you find out its misguided, there really is no point in disappointing them, is there!

Ford sent us out in the evening to get used to night driving, something new to us English. I was not too fazed as I thought I was pretty useful in the dark on English country lanes. So out I went, oh great the bleeding front lamps were bouncing up and down all over the place, and I couldn’t see a thing at times, frightening, so right I thought, don’t fuck around Brode, get stuck in, be as quick at night as I am in the day, that will impress them, yeah job done!

It would be a scary lap with limited vision, but that’s how you impress, so on my first flying lap I came down the hill lights all over the place heading for Bourneville on full throttle, the dark track surface going straight on which I naturally followed at about 140mph, then suddenly two big five bar gates appeared before me in my bouncing headlamp beams, being flung open as I zoomed through! I stood on the brakes, whacked it down the gears and ground to a stop, only yards from the main public highway with a thousand headlights going by, did a quick three point turn, what the fuck had happened, where was I, then out of nowhere a mans standing by my driver’s window banging the roof, I wound it down, he looked in saying!

‘Zee race track, she gooes vis vaay’, pointing back the way I had just come!

‘Dis vaays you gooes to Brussels if youss von’t too, but youss don’t von’t zzat dooes you?’…..’Ah No’, I shouted back’

‘Zenn youss has to gooes this vaays’, pointing back the way I’d come!

I drove through the two gates, rejoined the circuit, and went straight into the pits, ‘Hey why did you take such a long time to do the lap David?’, Ford asked.

‘Oh I was just spotting in the circuit carefully’, I told them. ‘Why, do you want another lap?’

‘Of course we do David’

‘Oh ok then I’ll do a few more laps if you like, and try for a quick one’

Fuck, got out of that, and do you know something, I very nearly did the very same thing again on my next flying lap, now that would have been daft.

I agreed with my co driver Han, who suggested that we could be smart and drive to finish letting the others crash, trash and blow their engines up, and when I agreed, he thanked me for being a gentleman, telling me he’d been to Spa six times and never finished, but ‘this time we stand a chance David, thank you, thank you’, yes a nice guy, and Dutch too, yeah rare, very rare!

Han was an example of a good guy at work. I liked Han, even if he was Dutch, and I have to say he was the only Dutch race driver I ever meet to this day that could actually lie in bed straight and no pun intended. The race started and we immediately settled into our pre arranged lap times. The other two Ford Escorts disappearing into the distance, and I have to tell you, it was tough not going with them, but we had a plan and we would stick with it, 24 hours is a long time in a race car, and a lot can and will happen. I figured that Han would be as good as his word, so felt duty bound to honour our agreement, but within a few laps of starting, Han’s in complaining of a vibration at the rear, no radios back then.

The Ford manager Peter Ashcroft had the mechanics jack the car up and started to change the prop shaft, so I asked why they were doing this, he told me the problem, I went potty saying. ‘Peter were just wasting time, I was the last to drive the car and it was perfect, the only thing we’ve changed is the engine, so the vibration is probably just the flywheel and clutch, or the actual motor, no way to cure that, you must tell them to stop what there doing, and get Han back in the race, it will be ok were driving like pussy’s anyway on purpose to the finish’

‘Yeah you’re right Brode’

So they bolted the car back together and sent Han out to finish his stint, we had already lost precious minutes, and what with driving like ol’ ladies a good result looked hopeless. I jumped in and was fuming when I realised that the vibration was only through one short period of mid range revs, and then it was smooth. We’d wasted all that valuable time prating around in the pits for nothing. You see with no radios, it was up to the driver to access situations and the possible ramifications of attempting a cure, and slight none wheel vibrations are impossible to cure in minutes, if at all, but with a savage continuous vibration, head for the pits pronto, switch off, get a shower and collect your car keys!!

We had fucked up wasting about three minutes, but what’s this, within four hours the girls were in with big body damage, and the Matthews-Menzel car had its head gasket blown, so both our other team cars were in the pits for a long stretch, we were looking good. Han and I were putting in rock solid and careful laps, and slowly but surely pulled in the other cars in our class, and by five hours we were in the lead by a country mile, and looking good, all was going to plan, the car was just going round and round on auto drive, like a kid’s train set, I liked that. and soon we were now deep into the evening and been extending our lead remorselessly into the chilly early morning! I was patiently crouching on the pit counter waiting for Han to come in to hand over. He went past on his last lap of that stint, and I was ready to jump in, but he never arrived back in the pits, I can’t tell you the despair that goes through your soul and mind, what had happened, then suddenly Han burst into the back of our pit out of breath, less car, ‘It’s out of fuel’ he screamed, ‘It’s out of fucking fuel?’, Han was ashen faced, I felt sick and empty, what had happened!

Ford employed a mouthy drunken prick called Ginger Devlin, whom they put in charge of fuelling. At Han’s last pit stop the wanker had not told anybody in the team that the third churn of fuel was still one third full when he took it out of the fuel filler! So unknown to the guy who was working out the fuelling stops, Han had been sent out with 20% less fuel, so going up the hill on his change over lap, poor Hans ran out of fuel, which must have wrenched his guts, I felt sick, and very sorry for Han as he held the tears back, he was a good co-driver, we’d both kept our word and we should have won our class at a canter, what an unrecoverable cock up!

On investigation, it turned out that the stupid prat Devlin had filled the fuel tank when the rear was jacked up changing rear wheels, so the fuel tank had an air lock, and would not accept the last third of the churn of fuel, and the fucking stupid thick sod never told anybody, can you really believe that, that was his job, all the prick had to do was put the stuff in, thank fuck they don’t jack cars up anymore, they stay at ride level on four point jacks, it’s called progress!

So poor Han only had eighty percent correct fuel load, and was now beached just twenty yards behind our pit by the track side, he was distraught, but there was no way to get fuel into the tank, the marshals were watching the car like a hawk. All he needed was a pint to get back to our pit. if we could have done that the way we were running and although the minutes were ticking away, we’d still have won our class easy as wink, but I just couldn’t figure a way to sneak in that pint of fuel, we all looked at each other in despair, that was as near as I ever got to crying at a race track, what a terrible empty feeling, I never felt that way at a track ever again!

Just think, on the way out I not only I set a record for crossing London, but I’d whanged by all those lorrys on the A20 at 135, kicking up metal frames, planks and pretty flags sky high with an incredible vortex of junk and dust behind for absolutely nothing, what a waste, but hey, I guess those truck drivers still have a tale to tell?

No factory Ford Escort had ever finished the Spa 24 hour race, or in the future either, so a golden opportunity lost, It was sad to see Han so distraught, but then so was I and the guys on our team too, and all thanks to that thick prick Ginger Devlin, not long after Spa Ford asked him politely to leave!

That evening we were all slung into the Hotel pool by the German Ford team mechanics. I protested that I couldn’t swim, ‘Yes’s David’s, zey all zay zat’, and in I went into the deep end and very nearly drowned, it was terrifying, and as I came up from the bottom for the third and last time with bursting lungs, Peter Ashcroft the Ford assistant team manager saw I was a near goner, jumped in fully clothed and saved me. I lay on the pool side with water coming out of my nose and ears as they pumped out my lungs, I called Peter close to me, he said, ‘What’s up Brode?’

My throat felt like sand paper, I croaked, ‘What’s up, what’s up, Peter I nearly drowned that’s what’s up, you owe me a fucking drive next year for this’

‘Yes Brode Yes’

It took me an hour coughing and spluttering to recover with those wanker Bosh mechanics laughing till they cried, and I never got the drive!

That night this ok English bird Jenny Dell, who thought she was a racer, yeah I know, no chance, told me she’d missed her ride home and now had no where to sleep! So I said that she could kip in our room using a duvet and pillow that were in the wardrobe, ‘ah great David, thanks so much’, I’m not sure Matthews would be that pleased, but heck, I was a Harrow boy and a damsel in distress, was a damsel to be rescued. She came with me up to our room, and no I really wasn’t gonna, not my type at all, when in minutes a remarkable thing happened right in front of my eyes?

As soon as she walked in, no looking for her duvet and pillow, no, she almost pushed me aside moving the central locker between the two single beds out the way, and then stripping the beds sheets off, she pushed the two beds together out in the middle of the room and opening her bag, took out two lengths of what looked like pyjama cords and proceeded to tie the two bed legs tightly together, so the bed now resembled a king size double, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, then she pushed the now double bed back in place, and back went the clean sheets but the way she did it with the sheets going across the bed you would never know they were ever two singles, and all in what 5/6 minutes tops, this kid was a professional, it was fucking incredible, no pun intended, or about to happen that night from me either!

What Matthews was gonna say when he saw this lot beat me, but what a transformation to a once dull room. This ‘Jenny Dell’ bird knew her stuff, and was obviously expecting action, but being border line in the good looks department, all she was gonna get from me was a ‘good night kid’. Matthews wore glasses, so in the dim light maybe she would strike lucky with him? She’d told me she’d missed her ride home, but now with a place to stay was expecting a double ride with Matthews and me, but I had news for her, she was in for a one way ride with Matthews!

The door opened and Matthews walked in, at first he turned thinking he was in the wrong room, so I quickly told him of Jenny’s plight, ‘but Brode how’d you get them to change the beds so quickly I was in here not 30 minutes ago, we would have been better of with an extra single, there’s plenty of room?’, I said the Matthews.

‘Dave it was amazing, Jenny turned two beds into one in less that 10 minutes’, Jenny’s listening to all this sitting in the arm chair smiling, well she would wouldn’t she, she was expecting action, double action, and back then Matthews and me were both not too bad looking either!

Dave couldn’t believe they were once two beds, but being a good guy resigned himself to a three up, or so I thought, then he went into the bathroom and ten minutes later come out in his Y fronts and jumps into bed, I followed him into the bathroom, and then jumped into bed too! Jenny was next in, coming out with a long shirt thing on standing in front of the bed as the shirt slipped off, wow great tits, she was ready for action, and to be fair from the neck down looked pretty ok.

I’d made my mind up I wasn’t banging her, but trouble was it seemed that Dave didn’t fancy her either, but I didn’t know that as she jumped into the centre of the bed ready action did I.

Look call me a prude if you like, but I truthfully thought that Dave would be giving her one, and that I would be turning a blind eye, and probably an ear too, but I soon found out that Dave felt the same way I did. Well you’d have thought one of us had balls wouldn’t you, so we three just lay there in the dark as a no movement surreal silence descended on that bed, Christ knows what Jenny was thinking, but ‘when are these two wankers gonna hit on me’, might cover it? But being a Harrow boy I wasn’t completely daft, and thought I’d at least have a squeeze of her great tits before I turned over, and then Matthews could get on with it, whilst I was pretended to sleep, yeah really, I couldn’t wait to hear the double grunts!

So lying to her right I stretched my right arm across and with my hand over one tit gave it a bit of a squeeze which I have to say was not bad at all, nice and firm, when suddenly Matthews hand found the back my hand and tapped it twice saying, ‘Good night Brode’, and then we both turned over and went to sleep, with the naked chick Jenny on her back in the middle looking up in the dark at the ceiling, possibly really thinking what a pair of wankers we were, and no, I didn’t do that either, but I can’t speak for Matthews, in 30 seconds, having just driven Spa for near 15 hours and very nearly drowned too, I was out for the count!

In the morning Jenny insisted on coming back to England with me in my Black V6 Capri, she had good warning I would not be fucking around on the way back as I was well wound up by running out of fuel, chucking away an easy and historic win.

‘Oh that’s ok’, she said, I can handle your driving, yeah really I thought, so I whooped it up to 135 and that’s where it stayed virtually all the way home, nothing slowed me down, and if there wasn’t enough room on the road, up the kerbs I went. Jenny was strangely silent for almost the whole trip, yes I know rare, very rare!

At one point in the distance in Belguim I saw the Dunlop race tyre truck. I always liked to liven things up when I saw them tugging along on the way back, the guys appreciated a little action to liven up their tedious 50mph journey home, so I always went past them up the inside on the hard shoulder at around 135 with my arm out of the sun roof waving at them kicking up an impressive dust cloud with the trucks flashing head lights shinning through the dust like two glowing bright halos, yeah, Dunlop drivers were proper blokes back then, if you tried that now, you’d spasm their pacemakers!

It was no big deal really, but you should have heard Jenny, who must have though that I was about to ram into the back of the Dunlop Truck as I slipped up to it’s rear end, she screamed so loud it frightened the life out of me and could have caused a very nasty incident at that speed, women! For the rest of the journey she sat out stretched straight holding on the door grip and the side of the seat with white knuckles her legs locked straight, with her feet firmly planted on the floor boards, she looked like she was in a coma, how’d the song go, ♪I couldn’t carry Jenny she was out like a light, poor jenny♪, well I warned her, didn’t I, yeah women, and I’m gonna change my ways for them, ah don’t think so!

I dropped Jenny off in a daze at Ealing and arriving home late Monday afternoon and went straight to bed. I slept right through to ten am the next day, got up and thought what a total waste of a weekend and what a missed opportunity. I was steaming, its one thing loosing because of something you can’t control, but running out of fuel in a long distances race was just plain fucking criminal, and it looked like we were going to be the first ever factory Ford Escort to win our class in the Spa 24 hour race too, well yeah was I still pissed off.

I had already decided to do the fastest lap on my last few laps, to prove I was the quickest of all the Escort guys, but didn’t get the opportunity to do that either, what a waste. You only get a few chances to shine in front of the guys that matter, and we’d had that chance blown away from us, by that incompetent tosser Devlin.

The next morning revived, I drive outta my drive and left up the famous Hurley Hill bends and thought, ‘Fuck it, I’ll do it flat’. Remember I told you I was good going down the hill, but going up that twisty hill, trust me I was awesome, but it was only something I did flat out at night, that way I could see headlights to forewarn me of on coming traffic, but I was still so revved up about running out of fuel at Spa what did I care, so I’m onto the main Henley on Thames road, thinking fuck it, I’m doing it flat out, and that was a big, big, oh yeah whacking big mistake!

I pulled on to the main road and got right on it, hit third gear and with the rear end out turned into the first right-hander, which unknown to me, late on the Monday afternoon whilst I had been soundly sleeping, they’d erected temporary traffic lights for road works half way up the hill, yep you got it, I was in double trouble in my pristine black V6 Capri for the second time in five days, and seeing the stationary lorry I instantly realised I had around 70mph I could do without, and with the fronts locked I buried my Capri up to the rear axle of the lorry that had been patiently waiting for the road works lights to change, yeah right up to to the truck’s axle with the bonnet folding up and coming in through the Capri’s windscreen, and with no belts on I went flying forward taking the glass rear view mirror out with my forehead, just before the crumpled bonnet smashed through the screen pushing me back into the car, like the crumpled front end of my Capri, I too was in trouble, deep trouble!

The Capri had come to a standstill from 70mph to zero in four feet, so no wonder I’d shot forward, I tried to get out but the doors were jammed shut. so I clambered out of the driver’s window dropping onto the road, realising as I stood up that I was cut bad, I went to run up the road for help, but remembeing I had three grand in cash on the back seat, I went back and dived into the cars rear seating through the drivers open window to get my case, but as I stretched across to retrieve the case full of loot, blood was pouring from my head, the stuff going all over the seats, I needed to get to Hospital, and quick, so I ran past the Lorry up to the traffic lights, and the only car waiting was a Vauxhall Estate. I pull the passenger door open, sitting there startled was a nice lady with a baby on her lap, but there was no room for me in the back as the rest of the car was full to the roof with camping gear!            With blood streaming down my face and neck, I shouted politely to the driver. ‘Quick, quick, I need to get to Hospital, there’s one a few miles up the road, with Vauxhall being in front of the Lorry, the two in front would have had no idea how I was injured, but they may have heard the bang as I went in, the very cool lady bless her, seeing the state I was in, without any hesitation said to her husband.

‘Darling you take this poor chap to Hospital, and I will wait for you here with the baby, it won’t take too long’

I gotta tell you, you meet the nicest people in the strangest of circumstances don’t you, and this unusually, was a very good doll at work, am I right. The Vauxhall driver turned out to be a dick, and I’ve always wondered how he managed to hook up with such a lovely natured doll, but frankly, ♪It goes to show you never can tell♪

So out she jumps with the baby in her arms, I thanked her, saying it’s only three miles to the Maidenhead Cottage hospital, he should be back in 15 minutes, then I jump into the Vauxhall and with lights green we hit the road, I reached over to the back and pulled out a small towel pushing it against my fore head to try to stop the bleeding. As we got on to the main A4 Maidenhead road with just two miles to the Hospital, oddly he’s driving very slowly, in fact his speed which had been fast at first was now almost at a crawl in top gear with the engine shunting, so I grabbed the gear leaver and actually managed to get from top into second gear for him, the Vauxhall accelerating but soon slowed again, what the fuck was up with him, there I am next to him, near bleeding to death, and he’s virtually parking the car? So as if he needed reminding, I told him I was losing a lot of blood, and very respectfully asked, ‘could you hurry up’, sure he went faster, but as he approached Maidenhead he was slowing to a crawl again in top gear, with the engine shunting so bad it was causing us both to be thrown back and forth, not good, so I told him.

‘For Christ’s sake fellah, you have to speed up and get me to hospital and quick’, I even reminded him I had eight pints of blood in total, but with three of them down my face and in my lap, I wasn’t going to last much longer and that I was likely to check out right there and then in his Vauxhall, so please you must drive faster!

Do you know what what the dick said to me, and this is word perfect.

‘It’s all right for you, but I don’t like the sight of blood’, and I’m thinking well who fucking does, and especially when it’s yours!

Yeah right, that’s exactly what he said. He drove another two hundred yards, and with that he was finished and stalled the car in top gear, right in the middle of the bleeding, and excuse the pun, main A4 road traffic, which fortunately was very near to the old Maidenhead cottage hospital. I had a quick look in his mirror, I did look a mess, with blood all around my neck and chest with streaks down my face which stunk rotten, I couldn’t wait for him to recover, he needed treatment more than I did.

So I jumped out, thanked him, and asked him to give my warmest respects to his lovely wife, he just looked across at me head bowed through the corner of his eyes. I’m the one pegging out, and all he had to do was get me the three miles to the cottage hospital, yeah I’m the injured one and there he is slumped over his steering wheel about to throw up, looking worst than I felt, poor lady, fancy being married to him, he must have taken classes in boring, look no matter how you looked at it, this was gonna be some future story for him, and he should be logging every second, instead of slumping over his steering wheel like a big girl, and I had to pick this dick!

I was feeling very weak, but ran across the road leaping over the bonnets of cars in the car park heading for casualty. I was dizzy and knackered so the blood loss I reasoned must be big with all this sticky stuff around my chest and waist. I run into the main hospital entrance and looking down into the porter’s window shout, ‘Where’s casualty, where’s casualty’ to an ol’ chap reading his paper, who looks up and screamed, I looked down the corridor, how’d I miss it, at the end in huge letters was, ‘Casualty’, I ran in and tapped this tiny Philippine nurse on the shoulder!

‘Hi Luv, can you please stop this bleeding?’

All hell let loose, I was surrounded by nurses, who had me on a bench with salt packs over my head in a flash pressing down hard, wow it hurt. It took nearly an hour to stop the bleeding; then they stitched me up with 38 stitches, a lot of them along my forehead hair line. My head felt tighter than a drum, I went home by taxi with a headache, and yeah with my case of loot too, hey I wasn’t that bad, then as soon as I got home I phoned the Ford dealer and ordered another 3ltr V6 Ford Capri, but this time in yellow, fuck the black ones, way, way too unlucky!

I had a problem, how was I gonna get through race ‘signing on’ at Snetterton this coming weekend with two black eyes and 38 stitches in my bonce, you see I had a Group One race race in my V6 Capri, and as I was leading the championship there was no way I was about to let Dave Matthews nick any easy points from me, and especially after he haden’t given that ‘Jenny Dell’ bird a good shagging at Spa, and then leaving it to me to take her home, the dick, so fuck handing him points!

When I arrived at Snetterton for signing on the following sunday, I had dark glasses to hide my black eyes, a cap pulled over my forehead to hide the bandages and my collar up, and do you know, no one as much as noticed, and there was me thinking that the ladies in that cabin thought I was a bit of alright, well silly ol’ me!

It was a struggle getting on my crash helmet for practice, and by the end of the session I was on pole by a country mile from Matthews, but I screw’d up, you see I’d reasoned that if I used a load of kerb and grass on the way in and out of the old Russell esses I could do them flat. So I tried it, and It felt fantastic bouncing high over those two kerbs with first the near side and then the off side wheels way in the air, and my lap times dropped by a massive 1.5 seconds instantly, I was so pleased with myself I looked for Matthews Capri, got in front of him going into Coram corner and led him down to old Russell.

I was about to show him how a real man takes Russell. So he’s sitting on my boot lid as we aimed down to the Russell esses, but I didn’t lift off the throttle as he braked and he must have been thinking, ’well that’s brode in the barriers’, but wallop I went flat up one kerb and then flat across the exit kerb, taking a ridiculous amount of kerb and grass and as I pulled away out of the corner the gap between us suddenly went to about fifty yards, bingo take that, Davy ‘Boy’ Matthews, that’s how a real man takes Russell, yeah I know, I know, or is that a dope!

After practice some of my stitches had pulled out, with blood seeping down my face, Kath was horrified, but who cared, I had pole and I’d also made Matthews look a real chump at Russell, yeah you got it, what sort of a chump was I, I’d just shown Dave how to do the corner flat, my stupid showing off had thrown away an advantage I could have used on the first lap to put big distance between the two of us, and on to win. I knew right away what a prick I was, as Matthews and I were evenly matched in those V6 Capri’s, a thing I’d regret in the race later that day. You see Matthews was way too good a driver to hand an advantage like that to on a plate, and bound to take the same flat line at Russell that I’d stupidly just shown him how to do, and he as good as said so to me after practice. We’d spent the whole season legging off into the distance bumper to tail, and it was anyone’s guess which one of us would win those savage bumper car Group One races!

The flag dropped, and off the two of us went side by side overtaking all around the track lap after lap. No other driver came near to us, and especially the two hairdressers in BMW’s, like every race we just fucked off into the distance, with us both doing Russell inches apart synchronised flat, it must have looked incredible, and if I thought Matthews was slow in the corners he got a good whack up the rear end to wake him up, trouble was he’d be doing the same to me at the next corner. We were side swiping each other lap after lap bashing our cars up, by the last lap neither Capri had a square body panel, wing mirrors, door handles with our front and rear lamps in tatters, both Capri’s looked like they’d been in a demolition derby.

Who would win this one was down to the last run into the bomb hole ‘esses’, but I was ready for him, I had it all planned, so I would purposely let him lead on the last lap into the old hairpin so he thought he had it made, so I drove very carefully on the last two laps to be sure my tyres were in good nick. Of course he would be expecting me to dive down the inside at the hairpin, which was just what I wanted him to think, so he’d cover the inside line, and that would mean he would be slow out of the corner and run wide, then I’d come across and pounce, bingo!

All was going to plan, at the hairpin he covered the inside line, while I drove back a little out wide to get the perfect line out, Dave had taken the defensive and slow line in, and zap as we came out of the hairpin, I went by on his inside and pulled over getting the all important inside line into the next corner the ‘esses’ and on to win, but as we ran down to the ‘esses’ the prick was alongside and kept coming over on me, and we were now really bashing panels hard for real, and the worst thing was I was getting the worst of it and about to be heading off the track via the outside earth banking, quite shocking behaviour really from a pal, but then he was from the ‘undemocratic socialist republic of South Yorkshire’, and you know how they can’t stand being beaten by us Southerners don’t you!

The trouble was the race track was just a strip of tarmac down the middle of the old war time cracked concrete runways, with bashed up cracked concrete and weeds either side, and I was now being pushed hard onto the old weedy and dusty cracked concrete, with huge dust and rubbish being blown up behind us. Matthews knew that being on the inside line I had him, and was about to make him look a right dick when we turned into the ‘esses’ with me in the best seat in the house and in any second the race for him would be over for basher Matthews!

We were side by side with the ‘esses’ looming up large, and although I had the all important inside line, Matthews was on the gripy tarmac, keeping me over bouncing around on that busted up concrete, and if I didn’t get back onto the track and quick, I would be history. I was rimming the trackside banking to my left as the track narrowed for the ‘esses’, and I couldn’t brake hard on this junk, if I did I’d lock up, and he’d go in front, and if that happened, that’s curtains for me, I had to be on the tarmac to get the grip on turn into the Esses, but although I’m steering aginst his car he kept leaning hard on the off side of my Capri, not too good.

This was last chance time, and I was in real danger of planting my Capri into or up over the earth banking, and Matthews knew it, I was already rimming the dirt on the edge of the banking, and just another good side whack I was history. With the left turn into the esses coming up fast, we were still tight over to the left, but both needed to be as far over to the right to make a good left turn in, but at this speed we were on an impossible line, something had to give, and it was me slithering about on the dusty cracked up concrete about to launch myself off the earth banking, and up the A11 to Norwich!

Yep no choice, I had to lift off, or plant my Capri, so I slotted in behind Matthews as he took the lead linked to his rear bumper, pushing him all the way through the esses, up through Coram corner and down to the Russell esses where we both went through flat, over the kerbing with wheels high in the air, out and then the run up to the finishing line, yeah I came along side, but missed the win by feet!

‘Fuck it’, I thought, we pulled alongside each other, and gave the thumbs up, some race, and if you come second in one of them, well that’s ok, I guess!

Matthews and I laughed at each other in the paddock. He couldn’t believe the state I was in, blood trickling down my face and two black eyes. I told him if he had tried that on the streets, he would be up before the beak for attempted manslaughter!

The police that had pulled me when I drove into the back of that lorry on Hurley Hill, travelled up to Snetterton armed with tickets I’d given them. They were good guys and had only booked me for ‘Undue Care’, the least they could do, personally I thought I should get a VC for survival in extreme circumstances!

The two coppers came over to where I was parked after the race, and were stunned seeing my black eyes and blood still trickling down my face, saying they had been down at the esses grandstand, and along with the cheering crowd there had never seen anything like it, and ‘did all races go like that, David?’

‘You must be joking we would all be dead if we drove like that every weekend’

They went off laughing, and always gave me a kind nod thereafter when I saw them driving around town in their cop cars, and do you know something I was never stopped by the Maidenhead cops ever again, can that be a fluke, nah?

During the week Matthews called me, fretting like a big girl.

‘Brode I gotta tell you this is fucking stupid, how about we have a truce not to smash each others car’s up at every fucking race pal, it’s costing me a fortune in the body shop after each race, it’s ok for you you’re sponsored by a Ford Main dealer with a body shop, me I have to personally pay for the fucking damage’

‘Oh ok Dave guess so, but you have to be nice to me from now on’. We finished the season driving like gentleman both winning eight races each, but for some reason that I can’t remember now, I won the championship by a few points, I guess maybe there must have been points awarded for fastest laps?

Now a race like that you never forget, you remember every last little detail. I had quite a few just like that, that would stay in my mind for ever, and as we get to them, I will reel them off in detail, some were downright unbelievable.

I was back at the hospital 10 days later to have the thirty eight stitches removed, the bossy matron wh’d put the stitches in insisting on removing them herself personally as she emphatically told her junior nurses.

‘I put them in, and I will take them out’

Then she told me that she had her own system to remove multiple stitches!

‘What I do is this, I cut all the stitches first, and then go along and pull the lot out quickly by the ends one by one’, yeah seemed a good system to me too!

So head back I’m sitting in a chair as she proceeded to cut all thirty eight stitches, I should of been counting, and not that easy as some of the stitches were by now buried under my skin, it was bliss as she cut each stitch and the skin tension slowly went away along my hair line, when she’d cut all the stitches she proceeds to pull them out one by one using tweezers, calling out the score as she went, one, two, five, six ect.

She then came across a stitch she’d missed, and my head get’s yanked forward as she pulled on the uncut stitch.

‘Fuck’ Fuck’, I said, as my head lurched forward!

‘Oh sorry’, she said, ‘missed that one’, the junior nurses were cringing.

She had lost her count, but about five or six stitches later, same thing happened again, whack, my head went flying forward.

‘Fuck’ Fuck, Fuck’, I said again.

‘Oh must have missed that one too, don’t worry luv, wont be any more’

As my head yanked forward yet again for the third time, ‘Fuck, Fuck, Fuck’ Fuck, I said yet again.

‘Now look’, she said, ‘that’s not appropriate language for casualty you know’, and with that my head now bleeding in four places, wallop, went forward yet again.

Two young nurses left the room in stitches, a good pun, now let me tell you why I’m telling you this, it’s as a warning, yes that matron with the unique stitches removal system, may just still be lurking around some small village Cottage Hospital casualty department somewhere in Blighty, so if your unlucky and slice up your bonce, be on the lookout guys, that matron knows how to hurt.

Now just in case you didn’t know, if ‘In Stitches’, should ever come up in medical Trivial Pursuit, heck you’re gonna know the answer, yep that saying came from that lunatic Matron at the ol’ Maidenhead Cottage Hospitalback in ’72, ♪all those years ago♪

No it’s ok don’t thank me, happy to have you in stitches!

So by now, yeah you just read over 550 pages, where I hope apart from a few smiles on your chops, you should have got that if nothing else DB’s book is about a fun life, and although what I considered fun, will not be everybodys ‘cup of fun tea’, but that’s just my way of having fun, you have find your own way, yes you can do it!

Yep thats right you just have to find your own kind of fun, and keep that fun going, and live for fun, which is very ok, and when you get right down to it, tell me what else we got, don’t believe me, so ok when did you know a time when moaning made things better! You see the important thing is this, fun’s ok, as long as you don’t hurt anybody having your kind of fun, what ever it is, and I’ll tell you why for a settled enjoyable fullfilling life, you have get right on down to my ‘fun cafe’, where your gonna find fun’s the remedy to almost everything! You see there will come a time when, believe me, you will look back and kind of go over your life, and where it’s at, or been been going, or indeed is now heading!

Now this look back may go back many or just a few years depending on age I guess, I call that ‘personel realisiation time’. I know that I do just that from time to time, and yeah it can be an eye opener, or indeed an eye waterer, and frankly if you don’t look back and analyse your life a few times as the years roll by, you must be brain dead, and I just hope that you were not turned into a brain dead zombie by ‘Doll’ dominance, remember my three doll rules! or indeed allowed yourself to be fately tarnished by cruel events in your childhood, well if so, get over it pronto!

So my friend treat my fun advice as an ongoing therepy from now on, where you only do thing’s that are gonna be fun of one type or another, yes you can do it!

Put it this way, when you look back and realise that you’re nearer to the end than the beginning, you really wanna come and go with nobody noticing you were here, NO, I didn’t think so!

So you see having fun not only makes everything a lot easier, it’s also kinda calming too, and it also empoweres you and all around you as well, now that’s what you call enlightening. and the great thing is you did it, yeah it’s never too late, so go on, no time to lose, go have fun, fun, fun from now on!









'Show him Brode'

‘Show him Brode’

My pal Roland’s Dad and Mum loved him so much, that while we were all scratching around in second hand cars, unbelievably, they bought him a new Morris Minor for his birthday, which at the time was very handy as my A35 was laid up, so it was cool to be ferried about in a fresh smelling buggy, like Roland’s brand spanking, and sparkling new black Morris Minor1000.

One weekday evening I called Roland, telling him that our new friend, Dave Zimmerman was with me, and did he want to, ♪Come on over to my place♪ to meet and show his Morris to Zimmerman, and at the same time, collect Zimmerman’s Austin Healey 100/4 cylinder head, that we’d agreed Roland would machine to raise the compression ratio, all pretty simple really!

‘Yeah Brode on my way, give me twenty minutes’

True to his word, twenty minutes later Roland rolled in. We looked over his new Morris, and decided to try it out with a spin up to the busy Bee Café, out on the Watford bypass, with new pal David Zimmerman tagging along in the back seat. The busy Bee Café was the very same café, that we’d drive to when as school kid’s we nicked that American airman’s big Studebaker Skylark, so I was well acquainted with the winding country lane route to the ‘Busy Bee’, fun café.

We weren’t daft, we suspected that Zimmerman was trying us out, to see if what he had heard about the way we conducted our lives, was fact, and not just fantasy. Well was he in for an enlightening time and ride, and looking back I guess he may have regretted that decision, and wished he’d never tried us out.

Dave had only come by my place to drop off that Healey cylinder head, for Roland to modify, and being a hairdresser, Zimmerman should really be getting home to bed early, and not aceing around with a pair of daft loons like Roland and me, but when we told him that no café did a better ham egg and chips, with piles of soft buttered bread and endless mugs of hot tea, like they did at the Busy Bee Café, and that there was always super crumpet with big tits to ogle at, he said, ‘well the quicker we all get there the better’, silly choice of words, and big mistake, but at least it confirmed he wasn’t a poof, cos if he was, ‘big tits’ would be off his menu!

Dave Zimmerman had a hairdressing business in Pinner, and my sister Susan worked for him, he was a big fellah, and although a hairdresser we thought maybe he’s an ok guy, but way too quiet for us, frankly I’d seen more life in a tramp’s vest, but we figured he might liven up once he knew us better! So we all jump in the Morris, heading on out to the Busy Bee, our favourite greasy spoon fun café.

Roland’s in the passenger seat, as I’m trying out his new Morris, were at Bushy pushing on, and as I turn at speed into a fast right hand bend, hairdresser Dave in the back said.

‘You can’t do that one flat can you Brode’, but before I could tell him no way, Roland chirps in with, ‘David there are very few corners that Brode can’t do flat you know, I reckon Brode could do that one at close to 100mph’

I looked over at Roland, shrugging my shoulders thinking.

‘100mph, well yeah if you say so Roland you daft twerp’, but the truth was no 1000cc Morris minor ever did 100mph, the speedo may well be reading 100mph but it was doing more like 85mph tops!

Now at this point, I should tell you something about Roland. He was a quiet kind of guy most of the time, and to be fair quite unlike the rest of us, as he didn’t have a mean bone in his body and never looked for trouble, and like me never touched alcohol or smoked, but there were times when he could be quite unnecessary explosive, here’s an example.

None of us knew why, but one of the few things that really riled and revved him up into a frenzy was a simple thing, and something that I and everyone else that we knew, didn’t give too much of a ‘mother duck’ about, but for some strange reason Roland would be revved out of sight when it happened to him, and the thing that so upset him only ever happened at night, and if any of us were passengers in his car when it happened, we hit the floorboards real quick.

What Roland objected to so strongly whilst driving at night was this, simply being blinded by an oncoming car whose driver was possibly partially sighted, or had just plain forgotten to dim his headlights as Roland approached. Hey we all do it, so what’s the big deal, but Roland never saw it like that, and no pun intended. So if the oncoming car’s main headlight beams were blinding Roland, he went potty, yeah can you believe that, he gets a dollop of main beam, and he’s in orbit, the dick!      It was as if the bright beams blinding him for those few seconds, were two powerful magnets pulling him into their warm glow, except of course our Roland was incandescent with rage, and revved out of sight, another pun!, when it happened there was only one place to be and thats on the floor boards, fingers crossed!

Look guys you and I just squint and look at the kerb, or road directly in front don’t we, but hey, not our Roland. Oh no, he would scream out at the offender, using the most foul language, yeah our signal to hit the boards, and then accelerate at full throttle across to the other side of the road heading straight at the on coming car, with his own headlights now on full beam looking for the head on, yeah really, can you believe that, the daft dick. The only way out was, don’t venture out in the dark with Roland driving, you could be going home in a bag. At least twice, I saw oncoming cars exit stage left through hedges, or lock up all four wheels screeching to a halt, as we went by them slowly and sedately looking across at their car and its terrified driver engulfed in stinking exhaust and tyre smoke. Or the poor sods just braked so hard that they squirmed all over the road, grinding to a halt, stalling the engine in top gear!

Roland would then dim his lights, and calm as you like, as I’m getting back up into my seat, sedately drive up to the offending driver’s side window stop, and when they’d collected their thoughts and wound their window down looking at Roland stunned, with their eyes sticking out like organ stops, Roland would calmly look at them and say. ‘Anything we can do to help, Sir’

After being jammed down on the floor boards whilst all this screeching of tyres and hard braking was going on expecting the accident, when I realised I was still alive, I would unwind my self from being jammed in the belly of the car and be cringing in the passenger seat recovering, counting my blessings, but Roland would now be amazingly calm, addressing the poor sod still in a daze most politely!            The odd thing was most times Roland was as quiet as a church mouse, but show him a pair of full beam headlamps heading towards him down an English country lane, and our placid pal Roland turned into a demented loon, those of us that escaped the accident talked about Roland’s demented headlight behaviour many times, and wondered could Roland have been a rabbit in a previous life!

It’s strange how the most trivial of things grab some people, of course your understand that statement mainly applies to women, but where headlights were concerned, it seemed to apply to Roland too, the big girls blouse!

After that dumb statement by Zimmerman, and Roland’s stupid reply that, ‘Brode can do most bends flat’, we drove on in the pristine Morris Minor to the busy Bee Café not giving that dumb statement another thought. Parked the Morris at the café, had our ham egg and chips, piles of soft buttered bread, gallons of tea, ogled the crumpet and then set off for home, and yes you guessed it, as we approach the now left hander on the way back, Zimmerman says from the back of the car.

‘Brode you can’t possibly do this one flat at 100mph can you?’, and before I could say a word in agreement, Roland interrupts again saying.

‘Fucking show him, Brode’, well I thought, it’s your new car pal. Now I should tell you, that at about this time, it’s fair to say that Roland had this insane idea that I could do no wrong, well driving wise only that is, in fact it would be very fair to say that driving wise, he actually though I could, ‘walk on water’, yes astounding I know, and you guessed it, that was all about to change big time, any time like now!

A word on this winding lane that wound from Bushy in Hertfordshire out to the Watford bypass, surrounded either side by a dense tree lined canopy, no kerbs or pavements, just dirt verges, and on the left side, now our side on the way back, a dry wide long shallow ditch that took away rain water, but tonight, bone dusty dry!

I remember thinking, as I bore down accelerating hard to the corner.

‘Geeze, if I’m gonna to do this flat better give myself a chance of succeeding’

Yes I really did, so I drove right across to the other side of the road rimming the dirt verge to get a perfect turn in apex line into the longish left turn that I’m now approaching at about 90mph, about flat out in a 1000cc Morris Minor, and frankly I was expecting the worst, so I told Roland and Dave to ‘brace themselves and hang on!

I turned in hard on the throttle, and the car settled down nicely on it’s off side springs and powered left across to the apex, clipping the verge perfect, yep so far so good, and as expected the car started to drift out of the turn, but, and fuck knows where it came from, a black Rover 75 was in the way coming from the other direction in the middle of the road with an old boy at the wheel, we were in trouble, big trouble, sadly what had started out Text book, was about to end Tex Ritter!

What the fuck the inconsiderate old tosser thought he was doing out at this time of night, and in the middle of the road, I just don’t know, he should have been tucked up tight in bed, with a glass of hot milk and a little honey hours ago!

Ok guys come on that’s enough, that’s a little honey out of a jar, not a little honey with great tits and silken slender legs, Christ he was well past all that stuff!

To be frank, I’d seen it time and time again, old fuckers driving with no consideration for other road users, and if you want my opinion, when you’re past, what, 75, it should be mandatory curfew time, save a whole lot of fuss, am I right!

Yeah, I was in trouble, because the Rover was on exactly the piece of road that I badly needed to drift out onto if we were to make it out of the corner in one piece, and being blocked by a Rover, things were not looking too good, but you had to hand it too the two guys in the Morris, were heading for disaster, and not a squeak from either of them, well it was no surprise, they were both almost from Harrow, but get this, one actually owned the Morris, yeah Roland, so how cool was that!

With that Rover cluttering up the road I was forced to yank the car out of its neat drift and over to the right, cutting across the front of the Rover missing it by inches to avoid the head on! So ok I save the head on, but were now not where I really need to be on the road if I was to save the night, yep off line by a country mile. Yes not good and way too much speed on, sure I’m still in the corner, but dodging out to miss the Rover, we miss the apex by 20 feet, and sure I’m still full of confidence, but to be frank, there was no hope really, I don’t know how the other two were feeling, yeah not a squeak, strange really, you’d expect a curt ‘oh fuck’ from at least one of them, and probably on balance Roland, yep as I’ve said, it was his car!

As we zoomed across the front of the Rover, I looked the old boy momentary dead in the eyes, what an astonishing sight, his mouth’s wide open with huge amazingly bright white teeth and white eyeballs sticking out like organ stops. He had delayed action, and only braked when his path was clear, courtesy of yours truly I might add by yanking the Morris out of his way.

Now what was the point of that, I ask you, him braking to a stop in a cloud of rubber and exhaust smoke, he should have just kept ambling along on his way home, but instead he stopped way down the road, and eventually limped back to us on foot when the show was over, and were assessing the damage, but being gentlemen, we walked over to greet him, he was out of breath, stuttering and trying to tell us something, but although his mouth was making all the actions, nothing was coming out, very odd behaviour for a grownup, back to the accident.

After narrowly missing the Rover 75, the Morris instead of clipping the inside apex and drifting out in a controlled slid, culminating in a job well done, was now heading at a fair rate of knots for the earth banking on the other side of the road, the wrong side, and a line of trees and wooden slat fencing! I instantly realised that whanging into that lot would have been disaster, so I gave the steering another good yank to the left to bring it back into line again, but we had on way too much speed, and if I’m being honest, at this point I was clean out of ideas, so sadly, the inevitable was about to happen, unless, unless, nah, nah silly boy, there was only one place we were going, yep back over the road, across the dirt verge and across the ditch on the left, shame really, such good intentions, but hey wait, I’m thinking maybe I can still save the night, you see that’s it with Harrow boys, always optimistic, we never gave up, and ♪always look on the bright side♪

I’d had a few good crashes, but with the speed we had, this one was about to top the lot. We’d discussed it plenty of times before, and all agreed that at a certain point in an accident, no matter what you did, the car seems to get a mind of its own!         It was at precisely this point that I now needed all the help I could get, the two in the car were of no use at all, the big one in the back had suddenly let loose, screaming, fuck, but at least Roland was hanging on in there, in silence, yeah I know, probably stunned at the prospect of seeing his new car going up in smoke!

At times like this, you have to thank the stars you were a real Harrow boy, as you knew with out a doubt that Roland’s new car was about to be comprehensively bolloxed, so my immediate job now was to see it was less bolloxed than necessary, enter what can only be described as talent, that you just can’t get ambling around being Mr Nice Guy, no this kind of talent is only gained over many driving fuck~ups!

It was a shame really, well I guess for Roland that is, as I was doing ok and it’s looking like minimum contact, but when the car lost rear traction as it hit the dirt, yeah definitely a shame as I still thought that I had a slim chance of pulling out of the mess we were in, but at this speed when your out of control, there is no turning the clock back. The Morris clipped the outside verge sideways on just missing the line of trees, and as I yanked the steering to the left again, the rear end came zooming round on all that dirt. Of course I put on full opposite lock in a token effort to, ‘save the day’, opps sorry night, but opposite lock to correct a full on rear end slide at what 80mph in a Morris 1000 on 3.5 inch wheel rims and 3 steering turns lock to lock, well frankly forget it, a next to a useless excise, and in these situations, for those of you that haven’t had the pleasure of an accident like the one we were about to have, here’s another strange oddity!

Yep in the split’s of a second at about this point of the accident, it dawns on you that the accident will either be trivial, manageable, or substantial, I don’t know what the other two were thinking at this precise time, other than ‘fuck~fuck’, but I’d assessed that ‘substantial’ best described what was about to unfold, yes it happens every time, yes three uncontrollable slow motion options, and this one, substantial.

The Morris lurched over, with the rear end broad sliding and hopping along the outside verge, I was still piling on 3 full turns of opposite lock, but there was no grip we were just going too fast, and in those milli seconds I thinking, ‘fuck that Rover 75’, we were doing so well!

The rear end had lurched over the dirt and run up the bank, and the car now weightless flew for a split second on full opposite lock back across the road to the inside, just missing the front a huge lorry that had unreasonably appeared on the scene maybe 50 yards behind the Rover, the Morris then whacked a telegraph pole head on, that came crashing down onto the Morris’s roof, popping the screen out, leaving a savage vee dent in the roof line right in front of the drivers head, fortunately that telegraph pole slowed the fucker down, ok not intended, but none the less welcome, oh and somehow it missed my head too!

The Morris out of control with a mind of it’s own, spun around and then went down into that wide shallow dusty ditch sliding along on it’s driver’s side, spinning around once slowly grinding to a standstill, and amazingly although I couldn’t take the credit, we finished up facing the way we were heading, home, how about that!

I mentioned that I was out of control and ideas, well not too surprising really, as before we came to a grinding halt, I was upside down in the drivers compartment with my head down amongst the pedals, and had been down there when the Morris hit that telegraph pole and spun around unto that ditch, so this is the point, at some point and I’m not passing the buck, no one was holding the fucking steering wheel, and was I the only one in the car, no, so what were the other two doing, you’d have thought at least Roland would have grabbed his steering wheel! Well I don’t want to state the obvious, but if no one’s steering at any point in an accident, that’s a recipe for disaster, and when I went down ending up, upside down under the dash, we were in the middle of a big one!

The telegraph pole put such a huge great dent in the roof, that the roof actually hit the steering wheel rim, putting a big Vee in between those once neat fine multi chromed spokes, but in all this mayhem there was one thing to be thankful for, we were now at least on the right side of the road and facing the right way too, but to be fair I really couldn’t take any credit that, and nor could the other too either!

We’d all been thrown around inside the car, yes with me somehow ending up feet in the air down by the foot pedals when we came to a standstill, with Roland on top of me, panicking and stamping on my head with both his feet, screaming at the top of his voice.

‘Get out, Get out, fuel, petrol, petrol get out’, the dick!

I shouted up to Roland, ‘Roland will you stop jumping on my fucking head you daft prick’, he looked down at me startled, and as our eyes met, he quietly said, ‘Oh sorry Brode…..what you doing down there?’, I scream back.

‘I’m down here, because that’s where I fucking well ended up, you dick, and Roland, will you get your bleeding feet out of my face, I think you’ve already busted my nose’, and do you know what the prick casually said, ‘Oh sorry Brode’, but he was right, there was a terrible smell of fuel, so I shouted out, ‘Yeah your right, lets get outta here’, and with that Roland sort of calmed down, well temporary calmed down that is, until he realised that I had just fucked his new car, but it did take a few minutes for that particular penny to drop!

We three climbed out of the Morris submarine hatch fashion. Zimmerman hadn’t said a single word, apart from that initial short screaming outburst, which was kind of odd, as most guys when they are almost upside down at 80mph usually keep on screaming, and especially hairdressers, so maybe he was an ok guy after all?

I looked over to Zimmerman, who was just standing by the dirt verge looking back up the road in a kind of daze. He’d been remarkably quiet throughout all this, which could be explained by the fact that he was now weighing up the considerable disadvantages of knowing his two new found buddies, ‘Roland and Brode’, I don’t know, but he was very quiet. When suddenly he came back to life, and was now complaining that, ‘one of you mad cunts’, as all of a sudden he now called us, had kicked him in the back of the head when the car went over!

Roland and I looked at each other disdainfully at such bad language directed at us, and we were all supposed to be pals, so we figured this was serious, as that was the first time Dave Zimmerman had ever used any form of bad language in our company, and when he did, shock of shocks it had to be that terrible C word, Frankly Roland and I were very shocked to hear such flagrant profanity, but on inspection of the rear of his bonce, he did indeed have a very huge bump the size of half an apple to prove it, but we, like him, were at a loss to know which one of us had inflicted this terrible whack to the back of his bonce, as if it mattered, the fucking tosser, and in any case, that bump was no excuse to use that vulgar C word, was it!

We all stood back, and looked at the bashed up Morris Minor on it’s side, with the lorry driver giving us an earful, apparently he had seen it all, I couldn’t listen to any more of him having a go, and told him to stop having a pop at us, and do something useful, ‘like what’, he said, well I told him, you could help us push the Morris back on it’s wheels, so I can drive it out of the ditch, and being a good guy he did just that. So with a huge heave we all rocked the Morris back and forth, and then wallop, it was back on it’s four feet again half way out of the ditch, geeze it did look a mess, no windscreen, that huge vee dent in the roof, the front smashed in, and generally not a straight panel to be seen!

I had a good look around the Morris, and came to the not unreasonable conclusion that all things considered the Morris, considering the speed it had gone off and what it had hit, was not in bad nick, and told Roland just that, and do you know, the prat only agreed with me, hey you had to love him!

Inspection over, I opened the buckled bonnet and checked the oil level, as a load of engine oil and petrol had leaked out. Great, it still had some oil on the dip stick, so I jumped in and attempted to start the engine, but the ignition key was bent flat across the dash and it took some doing to get it to turn, then I pulled the starter, and the engine burst into life in a cloud of smoke, everyone was smileing, the first good thing to have happened in what, the last two minutes!

With the guys pushing, I drove it along and out of the ditch, up onto the road side, reversing back. The lorry driver was just standing there scratching his head. Do you know something, and I may have said this before, but you meet good guys in the oddest of places and circumstances, and don’t knock it, as ♪it goes to show, you never can tell♪, that truck driver was an ok guy, alright at first, he’d had a bit of a go at us, but just a few words form me and he turns into a good guy, fascinating really!

Strangely, no one had bothered to tell me there was a fair amount of blood running down around my left ear and neck, small point I know, but then I never told Roland that his eye brow was bleeding either, I’d guessed that he knew that, and same goes for me, I suppose, but you know, it’s the little things that matter, but do soldiers or rugby players complain during battle, well course they don’t, same goes for Harrow boys too, and there were two of us there, but we couldn’t vouch for the other tosser with the huge bump on his bonce, who’d been strangely quite since that initial outburst, but to be fair to him, he was taking orders, that as I jumped out of the Morris, I very nearly knocked over that old boy with the Black Rover 75, who’d hobbled quite a way back to us leaving his Rover way up the road, as I bumped into him I said most politely.

‘Oh so sorry sir, just hold on, and we will help you’

You see, although he was trying, he was having trouble getting, what ever words he felt were relevant out, and at first I’d thought he was a deaf mute, so what were the chances of that happening, you go off at 90mph, broadside and then spin around hit a pole and end up on your side in a ditch, and the first witness on the scene is deaf and dumb, what, yeah could only happen to a Harrow boy!

We were wondering what to do next with the Morris, when ‘fuck off quick’ came to mind, but the old boy with the Rover was in distress, and needed our help!

Now no matter what we were going through, being led by a Harrow boy, me, I took the view, that we couldn’t just fuck off leaving this old chap in distress, could we, no! So we all stood around this very tall old boy by the side of the road, with the intention of calming him down. He was towering over us out of breath trying to say something, but the words just wouldn’t come out, plenty of spit came out, as he putt~putt putted away, but no real sounds, and I remember thinking that we should be wearing rain coats, or be under an umbrella, it was quite a spluttering shower!

We were all in front of him looking up in anticipation, kind of willing him on to get whatever he wanted to say out, but he was actually physically ‘dumb struck’, something I’d never seen before, and never would again! Look it’s only a guess, but I don’t suppose that my bloodied face and neck, and Roland’s dripping eyebrow were helping, who knows, look it couldn’t be the bump on Zimmerman’s long hairy bonce that was fazing him, could it, as that was out of sight!

Yeah it’s true, dumb struck, I’d never seen that before, or since in a human, it was amazing, after all this wet putt~putting, with his top lip kind of stretched up exposing his brilliantly quite big white top front teeth, and his nose kind of turned up and his lower jaw going up and down like it was sprung loaded, you would have thought the way he was going, he was about to burst out like the town crier, but amazingly absolutely nothing was coming out, not even a squeak, and then it happened, his top false teeth fell out onto the dusty road side, we all jumped back and looked down at the teeth, and no one was about to pick them up, but as he was incapable of bending more that a few inches, we all looked up at the dumb struck old boy, but do you know he hadn’t realised that his top railings were missing in action, so he’s still silent chattering away with toothless bright pink top gums exposed, lucky no kids were around, quite a frightening sight.

That did it, Roland and Zimmerman started to laugh, and the lorry driver walked off, doubled up in stitches, but I wasn’t having any of that was I, Oh no and told the insensitive fuckers so, and that included the truck driver too!

‘Hey you three fuckers stop that laughing and now’, I demanded, plucking the old boys handkerchief from his top pocket, and picking up the once very bright, but now very dusty false teeth, wrapping them in the old boy’s handkerchief and respectfully popping the lot back into his top pocket.

‘Look you three’, the truck driver still bent double, ‘Cut it out will you, we’re all going to be old like that some day you know’, and do you know something, we may not like it, but Roland and me are, now, and the truck driver, well who knows!

Yeah disappointing, we’d all like to stop at what 25, but age happens, yeah the bitch creeps up relentlessly, till one day you get out of a chair and it’s ‘ouch’, but this is the trick, if you think young, you stay young, try it, it could be a life saver!

Seeing the plight the ‘ol boy was in, Roland said under his breath, ‘Brode if I ever get like that, you have my permission to bleeding shoot me’, I told Roland straight as we three were standing in front of the ‘ol boy, ‘Roland that is very unkind’, adding, ‘Roland this gentleman has just had a very nasty shock, Isn’t that right Sir’, he looked down pathetically nodding in agreement for way too long, extreme shock will do that, and yes he’d just had quite an extreme shock!

Of course Zimmerman, forgetting the bump on his bonce, was laughing too at the sight of that exposed top pink gum with flapping bottom lip whanging away up and down, yeah quite a nasty sight, stopped laughing immediately when I put the two of them right, well he would, he was after all a ladies hairdresser, I told them both.

‘Now that’s better guys’, and looking up at the ol’ boy, told him.

‘Look Sir, we have to get out of here and as soon as we can, so were just checking the car over, then we will help direct you back to your car, is that ok Sir, and again he nodded for way too long in agreement, we fired the engine up again, looked around, shook hands with the smirking lorry driver, and were ready to roll.

Roland and I went over to the old man, me, with a certain amount of urgency, but fuck knows why Roland was so relaxed, it was his car that was mangled, but do you know I don’t think Roland had really taken that on board yet, strange I know! I said to the old boy in the kindest and most compassionate voice I could muster, not too easy with blood curdling down the side of your face, ‘Look ol’ fellah, go back to your car and sit in it for a while to relax, before you drive off home’

Look don’t be too surprised, hey I’m a Harrow boy, it’s to be expected!

He gave me a very kind toothless smile, exposing that smooth bright pink toothless top gum yet again, that I will treasure to my grave, even if it was a somewhat sickly sight, but you know it was his kindly smiling eyes that pulled at my heart strings, yes your right, compassion will be the death of me one day, but I got to admit it’s taking it’s time!

To be honest even with the smile, without his teeth the old boy looked savage, and you know something, nightmares can be triggered off by the oddest of things, so I’m thinking on the way back, fuck waking up in a cold sweat with that toothless pink gum picture imprinted in my sub conscious, yes quite a disturbing thought!

I asked Roland, who now had blood flowing from his eyebrow down to his chin, to please, escort our new friend back to his Rover’

‘Right my old Luv’, said Roland, taking his arm, and with that he only started to walk the old boy way back down the road to his almost out of sight car, the dick.

‘Roland just what the fuck you doing’

‘I’m walking him back, like you said Brode’

‘Hey don’t you think that we’d better get out of here before the John L arrive’

‘Oh yeah I suppose so Brode’

‘So Roland, point him the right way, and that’s straight ahead, and say good-bye to our friend will you please’

So we said our good-byes to this nice old man, who had never uttered a single word to us, we shook his hand and pointed him the way back to his Rover, and then promptly all jumped back into the Morris, me driving with blood now soaking into my shirt, Roland rubbing his forehead, realising for the first time that, as he put it, ’He was mortally injured’ the dick, with Dave Zimmerman back again in the rear seat, still moaning and rubbing the back of his bonce!

As we drove off the ol’ boy was still standing where Roland had left him, fifty feet away by the dirt road side looking bemused, and do you know something, he raised a shaking right arm, almost level with his shoulder to wave good-bye to us! Now come on, was he a good ol’ boy, or was that a very good ol’ boy indeed, well too right he was, and at another time and place, it would have been good getting to know him, I’d bet he’d a good tale or two to tell, and probably a war hero too, well when he had his teeth back in that is, well old boys do have great tales to tell, don’t they, why else do you think your reading all this stuff, boom, boom!

Personally I never felt any bitterness, or animosity towards him, or his Rover 75 for deflecting me out of my expertly executed drift, onto the off side earth banking and sadly what then followed. You see, in a way I blamed myself, hey I was a Harrow boy, and should have made allowances for old boys out at night in Rover 75’s, and I certainly did in the future, and in any case, it wasn’t my fucked up Morris Minor 1000 was it, no your right it wasn’t, it was Roland’s!

‘Right let’s get out of here quick fellahs, before the bleeding law arrives’

Zimmerman was still rubbing his head, Roland had at last woken up, and was starting to panic as it was slowly dawning on him that he would have to tell his Dad what had happened to his new car, which by the way was not just any old present from his lovely Mum and Dad, oh no, it was actually an eighteenth birthday present, yeah a special day, well fine thanks they got.

As were about to leave I looked up through my window at the lorry driver standing quietly by my side, seemingly deep in thought, our eyes met with an eyrie silence, then he suddenly proclaims in a raised kind of admonishing voice!

‘You three are fucking MENTAL………but good luck to you’

Of course it did cross my mind that he couldn’t possibly be including that moaning hair dresser Zimmerman, what the fuck had he done!

Look I don’t want to sound ungrateful for his help, or big headed either, but ‘mental’ was not only, well in my view that is, actually an affectionate farewell, and to some extent a compliment too, and yeah as I say, you meet nice guys in the strangest of places, and at the strangest of times too!

It was past midnight when we left, and do you know, the Rover and Lorry drivers, were the only two spectators that showed up, for what had been quite a show, but of course this little caper didn’t end there did it, oh no!

As I went to drive off, Roland and I thanked the Lorry driver for his help, but not, ‘a dickey bird’ from an ungrateful moaning Zimmerman in the back. As I drove away I stretched out of the driver’s window and looked back, I must have been a sorry sight with blood all down the side of my face! The lorry driver dressed in dungarees was standing in the middle of the road hands on hips, and back down the road was the old boy with the Rover 75, standing where we’d left him by that dusty road side, I shouted back to the truck driver.

‘Thanks for your help mate, and hey pal, can you look after the ol’ boy with the Rover for us’

He just waved a weak floppy arm, goodbye, which all things considered when you think about it was a little unreasonable, and why is that you may well ask?

Look we had just provided him with what was undoubtedly going to be one of his best ever stories for years to come, but I guess he wasn’t thinking that way at that particular point in time, was he, well understandable, after all it was way gone midnight, and he should have been way up the M1 motorway by now, or having ‘ham and eggs’ at our favourite fun café, the ‘Busy Bee’, but as the whole episode was over in what, ten minutes tops, he had time, like we all have, to make up time!

We ♪hit the road ♪, but I’m having trouble steering as the roof was bent down so far it’s hitting the steering wheel as I tried to get lock, and with the front windscreen out there was dust and specs of glass blowing into my face too, we’d had better rides! The buckled steering wheel was looking a bit sad with this huge vee dent bending in the once neat chrome spokes, so I stopped and lying across the front seats put my feet up on the dented roof and pushed up as hard as I could, and bingo I get the roof a good way off the steering wheel making driving back much easier, but what is this, once again I was in trouble!

Heaving up that roof did it, suddenly blood was spurting everywhere, I knew I had quite bit running down the side of my face and neck, but it was now bleeding badly and smelt something rotten too, I seemed to be getting used to that revolting smell, so with my left hand putting pressure on the gash on the side of my head, I drove back one handed, odd but it’s quite difficult steering and changing gear with only your right hand, well it would be, it’s not something you practice is it, and where’s Roland whilst I’m struggling, sitting in the passenger seat fretting, instead of driving his wreck home! But with blood dripping down his face from that gash in his eyebrow, he was really starting to crap himself, saying with some trepidation!

‘Brode how the fuck am I going to explain this to my Dad’

Well frankly, it was a very good question, because I was fucked if I knew!

Being wet and sticky with blood right down to my belt, and when I looked at my left arm there was blood running down to my elbow, yeah not good, but pressure was keeping the red stuff at bay, you want proof, yep I still have the deep scar as a memento, and if I ever go bald, well yeah pretty cool, but frankly quite torturous route to cool, and especially when you can’t going bald.

Later we figured that was how the ignition key had got itself bent so flat, yes flattened by my bonce as we spun around and rolled over onto the driver’s side! Roland’s moaning that his eyebrow was stinging rotten, and what with Zimmerman continually moaning about the bump on his fucking head, frankly I should have stopped and kicked the two ungrateful wankers out, but it was Roland’s car!

Our normal ‘positive attitude’ had along with the windscreen gone missing in action in that Morris 1000, and we needed to be thinking positive to ease our selves out of this mess! I could handle Roland, but Zimmerman wasn’t helping, yes with all this agro the only thing he’s interested in was trying to work out which one of us had kicked his dopey head in, as if it made any fucking difference, the wanker!

We eventually get back to my house looking pretty second hand, Zimmerman got out holding his head, and on his insistence, both Roland and I felt the bump he was moaning about, there was no doubt about it, he did have a very big bump at the back of his bonce, but he wasn’t hanging around, and off he headed in a daze to his car to go home, saying like the lorry driver had, ‘You two are fucking mental’, but in the most unkindly of ways, Roland and I looked at each other, there he goes again, swearing, it was most unlike him, but he turned on his heels, and came back saying.

‘I assume my Healey 100~4 cylinder head is still in the Morris boot?’

We’d all forgotten he’d put his huge Austin Healey cast iron cylinder head in the back of the Morris’s boot for Roland to machine, which was why he came over to my place, in the first place, we looked, but no cylinder head, so where was it?

‘Fuck I proclaimed, it must have come out in the accident, we will all have to go back and find it’, and I can tell you, Roland, Zimmerman and me were not looking forward to that prospect, as we were all feeling a little sore all over, I had pains in places I never knew existed, the other two, felt the same way!

Dave looked inside the Morris, and there it was on the floor behind the driver’s seat, odd it had been in the boot, but after inspecting the rear seat cushion figured that during the shunt it had miraculously gone straight through the middle of the rear seat leaving a huge split, presumably whacking Dave’s bonce on it’s way, causing that massive bump, and a wonder really it didn’t kill him outright, it weighted a ton. We told him he was lucky in more ways than one, telling him to stop blaming us for the lump on his bonce, reasoning that as he was the one that put the cylinder head in Roland’s boot, not us, adding that if he had any brains he would have left it in his car until we returned, then he would be the only one who’d not been injured, so he only had himself to blame! Now that’s Harrow logic for you at its best, pretty good eh, and another thing Roland shouted as Zimmerman strolled back to his car, giving him a wicked finger!

‘Remember Zimmerman you were the daft prat that asked if Brode could do 100mph around that fucking corner, not ME’, and frankly at that point, I gave up!

I looked at Roland, thinking, you prat, well if that isn’t the pot calling the kettle black, I don’t know what is, and off went our new pal Dave Zimmerman in a state of shock, saying yet again, that we were both fucking mental and lunatics, well really, but strangely he never ever ventured out with us again for quite a while, which was a pity as we’d both gotten kind of fond of him. Well there’s nothing like a really good car accident for bonding, is there, we’d seen that happen with guys time and time again, but it didn’t seem to work with Zimmerman, the ungrateful wanker!

After all, we’d just shown him the best place in our manor, The Busy Bee Fun Café to get the best ham egg and chips, with great crumpet to ogle at hadn’t we, now that had to be the plus point for him of that night, the inconsiderate prick!

Roland and I were quite upset, and thought he was a bit hard on us, and was bound to tell my sister, who worked for him, next day that the two of us should be chained up, which was very unfair. After all it was him that had asked the question, ‘Brode you can’t do that corner flat out, can you?’ and if truth be told, he also knew by reputation that we never, ever, ever shirked away from a challenge.          So when Roland said smugly, ‘Fucking show him Brode’, we quite rightly reasoned that he really only had himself to blame for the impending disaster, and anyway, what the fuck did we expect, he was, after all a ladies hairdresser!

My head was oozing blood and needed stitching, and Roland’s eyebrow wasn’t much better. We creep into my house, went upstairs, switched on the light and woke up sister Susan, who upon opening her eyes was mortified when she saw the state Roland and I were in standing innocently by her bedside, saying ‘oh ouch’, of course she wanted to know how we got ourselves into the state we were in, so we half told her, do you know something, she never once asked after Zimmerman her boss, very strange, did she know something we didn’t, we never asked!

She cleaned us up as best she could. I asked her to snip away the hair either side of my cut, and then cut a long pathway through my hair either side of the wound, then stretch a strip of plaster tape across it to keep the wound sort of closed.

Roland and I had no time to sit around in a hospital emergency waiting room, it was now 1.30am and I had to go to work with Dad in a few hours, who’s putting up the Zzz’s soundly across the landing, but sadly Susan’s efforts to stem the blood didn’t work as the stuff kept oozing out, and Roland’s cut was bad too, so off we both went reluctantly in Dads car to Harrow’s casualty dept, to get stitched up.             Within ten days both Roland’s eyebrow and my head were as good as new, leaving a hell of a deep scar on my bonce, yes, something to look forward to!

As Susan was attempting to stem the flow, I was explaining to Roland our dilemma, which was this, I didn’t think I was fully comprehensively insured in his new car, and to repair that mess would need fully comp insurance, a bank loan, or a heist, but we didn’t have a .38, adding ‘Hey Roland it just might be written off!’, Roland went flying round the lamp, then I said, with some authority!

‘So Roland my old pal, you will just have to tell your Dad you were driving, which won’t surprise him at all, because after all it is your fucking car’

‘Fuck off Brode, fuck off, do you mean to say I have to tell my Dad that I fucked my new car, and not you, no way Brode, no way, he will kill me’

‘Well Roland I figure that’s the only way it will get repaired’

‘Oh Fuck, Fuck, Fuck’, he said, ‘Mum will kill me too’

‘No, no, no she won’t Roland, I know your Mum she loves you to bit’s and will only be too glad to see you’re ok’

‘Fucking Hell Brode, what am I going to tell them?

At this point Susan had, had quite enough of our bad language, and told us in no uncertain terms to mind our P’s and Q’s, we didn’t argue!

‘Tell you what to say Roland, we blame that lorry driver that stopped, we will tell your Dad that he caused the accident, by swerving in front of you’

‘Yes, yes, that’s a good idea, that way its not me is it, I can’t help it if the fucking bastard cuts me up, can I Brode?’…’opps so sorry Susan, what I meant was nasty man’

‘No Roland you can’t’, I’m thinking close call Brode, but you’re off the hook!

By the time Roland went home all stitched up, in his bashed up Morris, and Christ knows what his Dad thought seeing that wreck in his driveway in the morning!     By the time Roland arrived home, he had convinced himself that the lorry driver was a psycho and had done it to him on purpose. Yes it was the lorry driver that had swung over and cut him up, what could he do, and his lovely Dad and Mum fell for it hook line and stinker, so all was well, and I was off the hook too, lovely!

When I visited Roland’s house next weekend, Roland had a right shiner of a black eye, we were both a bit fragile I had scrapes all over my face courtesy of Roland’s stamping all over my head and chops, plus that deep stitched up tram line above my left ear was still thumping away, and I had black bruises in places I never knew I had, yeah I’d looked better!

I was dredging visiting Roland’s joint, but Roland’s Dad and Mum were all over me with smiles, kindness and a mug of tea and biscuits, then he took me to one side into their immaculate front guest room, wow this must be serious, no one ever went in there, so I’m thinking I’m rumbled, my best pal Roland’s shopped me, he’s ratted on his best pal, which, and I don’t have to remind you, is by far the worst crime ever, and I’m thinking, fuck the Morris Minor no one ratted as retribution would be all consuming, and I certainly didn’t want to kill Roland did I, how often you get pals like that! So I’m standing in their immaculate front room, with my busted up head bowed looking like a guilty damp dick, expecting true accusation’s, and then what, the rozzers, borstal or maybe even jail. You know It’s at times like this, you need a book of excuses, but at this particular time, as to how and why Roland’s once glittering new Morris Minor got smashed up with me steering, I just couldn’t come up with a plausible excuse, well apart from the impossible truth that is, so I was in trouble!

Roland’s Mum said kind of sympathetically to Roland’s father, ‘I’ll leave you to talk to David, Dad’…’Oh alright Mum’, said Roland’s father, and she left the room pulling the door too behind her, I thinking that’s it I’m for the high jump!

Roland’s father looked me straight in the eye and said.

‘You know something David, Mum and I are very worried about Roland’

What, worried about Roland, what’s wrong with him, well apart from his black eye and that stitched tramline through his eyebrow, I stood there bewildered. Roland had now slunk up to the half open door, and was all ears behind his Dad, who went on to say most sincerely.

‘You know David, Roland’s not an experienced driver like you are’

Well he wasn’t daft was he, and yes a very fair observation, well I knew that, didn’t I, just look what a total prat he’d made of himself in his first two races in the Turner sports car, and now he’d fucked his new Morris Minor 1000, so I’m thinking well yeah of course he’s not, but what’s all the fuss, and why are we in Roland’s Mum and Dad’s never stepped over the threshold before front room. Roland’s Dad continued, with Roland now standing in the open doorway pulling horrid faces behind his Dad, I found that very distasteful, look one thing about Harrow boys, they always, and that is always, showed the utmost respect to their Mums and Dads, I felt like telling him to fuck off out of that doorway, and show some respect, but that might just have been pushing things a bit too far, his Dad went on!

‘No David, Mum and I have discussed this between us, Roland’s not experienced enough as a driver yet, why it’s not long since he passed his test’

Well I figured Roland’s Dad did have a point there, but why’s he telling me all this, very odd, what I wondered was he on about, but one positive, at least Roland hadn’t shopped me, as when his Dad wasn’t looking I sneak a glance over his Dads shoulder at Roland’s now inquisitive mooch, giving him a wink.

‘Look David, Mum and I have been talking, it was a great pity that you were not driving at the time’, now call me a skunk, call me a rat, or anything you like, including calling me a Taxi, truth was I was a Harrow boy, so it’s time to own up!

‘But, but Mr Perring’, as I near choked to death coughing away, attempting to explain my miserable dastardly behaviour! Look I might well know how to work the angles, but getting my best pal to carry the can, and a big can at that, oh no, I really had to own up in that front room, yes I was after all a Harrow boy, and where was my sense of duty, I’ll tell you where it was, back up that lane in Bushy with that discarded Morris 1000’s windscreen, that’s where it was, so I was keeping stum!

Roland on hearing his Dad say that, spun around silently on his heels his face all screwed up, white teeth and gums exposed letter box red aghast, frankly a wonderful sight, but Roland’s lovely Dad wasn’t finished, and added in a most concerned kindly way, interrupting me as I was about to spill the beans.

‘But, but Mr Perring I have to tell you something’

‘No, No, it’s all right David, we know that you would have know just what to do when that reckless lorry driver drove right over at you all, it was a wonder that you were not all killed’. What, yeah right suddenly I’m on the case, this was good, and I milk it big! Yeah, yeah I know, ‘yella turncoat’, is the expression you’re looking for!

‘Ah Yes Mr Perring, I saw at once what was happening and told Roland to swerve, I even reached over to yank the steering over too, but it was all way too late, we were in the ditch in a flash, if that lorry had hit us, well, as you rightly say Mr Perring we would all be dead now, and no doubt about that’, yeah pretty cute eh.

Roland spun again, put his hands over his face looking at me through his open fingers, I was starting to like this, could I really be following Vic Prig into films!

‘Look David, Mum and me have been talking, could you please do something for us, kind of a favour’, I was all ears, and so was Roland too, saying ‘well of course Mr Perring, what can I do?’

‘Well thank you David, this is what we would like you to do please, David next time you all go on a long journey in Roland’s car, well when it’s repaired of course, will you please do Roland’s Mum and me a very big favour David’

‘Well of course I will Mr Perring; just what is it that you want me to do?’

‘Well David we know it’s a lot to ask, but will you please take over the driving from Roland on the longer journeys, we will both feel a lot happier, if we know your doing the driving’

I looked at Roland, he was incandescent and about to go into orbit, silent wide jaw mouthing terrible thing’s to me, I was on a roll. ‘Hey you leave it to me in future Mr.Perring Sir, oh just one thing, you will be telling Roland, wont you?’

‘Oh yes David of course, thank you so much, yes I will be telling Mum and Roland that you’ve agreed to do the driving’. Then the dear man went on saying.

‘David we will explain everything to Roland, Mum will be so pleased that from now on, until he’s more experienced, that you will be doing any long distance driving in his car, that way we will both feel a lot happier when our boys out in the car, with you looking after him’

Roland had heard all of this, you should have seen his face and contortions, he was a picture, and at one point I really thought he was about to explode, but he hadn’t ratted on me, now come on, that’s a proper good guy and, ♪that’s what friends are for♪, am I right!

First evening when Roland gets the repaired Morris Minor back, he came over to my place picking up Don on the way, then off to the coffee bar; it was hysterical with Don and me telling him to get out of the driving seat, and let me drive, just as his Dad and Mum wanted.

‘You two can fuck off’, he told us, so I told him straight.

‘Ok, ok Roland if that’s how you want it, I will just have to phone your Dad, and let him speak to you, hey what do you think Don’

‘Yeah Brode’s right, he drive’s, it’s only fair, he promised your Dad and Mum!’

Don was on a roll sating, ‘Roland no way we’re letting your Mum and Dad down, so out you get, Brode’s in’, we pulled that one on him all the time.

A few weeks later Roland arrived in his gleaming Morris Minor to collect me on the way to watch ‘all in’ wrestling at the Watford Town Hall.

Amazingly as predicted, both Roland’s Mum and Dad had been ok about the accident, well that’s what Mums and Dads are for, bless them. So ok, just where was my Mum, yeah took a hike when I was four, ouch, I felt that, ♪don’t be cruel♪

‘Brode if you don’t mind, I really think that I should drive to Watford’

‘Well ok Roland, no problem, you drive, let’s just hope we don’t see your Dad on the way’

All this was pre lunatic Pat Dailey going wrestling a few chapters back, you must remember Pat, the sexy piercing dark eyed nymph from Pinner, who with the slightest provocation came just about anywhere!

So off we went to see the wrestling, when we get to Watford the town centre in two weeks the place was transformed, it was like a builder’s yard, with cranes and hoardings up all over the place covering up new building sites, what a mess, we park and head into the hall, and settle down to watch the wrestling, then a few minutes before the last fight ended, we took a hike to miss the traffic, so out the hall we creep, run to the car park, jump in the Morris and drive away from the Town Hall and like chump’s only get lost in town. Roland said, ‘Geezz what they done to the place, it was ok driving in, so which way out of here Brode’, I told him straight ahead, and around that bend between all the tall hoardings, I won’t ever forget his reply.

‘But surely that’s a one way street isn’t it Brode’

‘Well you will only be going one fucking way wont you Roland, so lets go’

‘Oh yeah right’, and like a dick he drives down this blind one way street heading for a right hand bend with me cringing in the passenger seat praying a car wasn’t coming the other way, the right way, and then would you believe ‘heavens to murgatroide’, a motor bike came hacking around the other way, yes the right way!

Roland being a little startled at the sight of this motor bike doing 40mph aiming at him from the wrong direction screamed! Obviously in Roland’s mind seeing the bike coming the wrong way, not unreasonably he froze at the wheel totally reactionless, well he did hit the brakes as the bike and rider plunged into the drivers side rear of Roland’s newly repaired Morris Minor with a right thudding whack, and if I’m being honest, it quite startled me as well, not a good result really, we were both Harrow boys, trained to be prepared, well tell that to the rear wing!

‘Fucking Fuck, Fuck’, screamed Roland as the bike went in with a wallop! We pulled over and parked, instantly as cool as a cucumber, I confronted Roland with. ‘Hey Roland you are a Silly Billy, why didn’t you let me drive, like your Dad and Mum wanted’. Roland didn’t see the funny side; I did and couldn’t stop laughing!

‘Will you stop fucking around Brode, what are we going to do’, yeah you heard right, that’s a WE, as if it had something to do with me! ‘Roland don’t move’, I jump out and go around to see that the drivers side rear wing was virtually hanging off, I told Roland thinking it might be worth a smile, but he looked ill, so I told him to ‘leave this to me my ol’ pal’, I ran back to the biker, and sat with him on the kerbside, trying to be friendly, ‘placate’ was the attitude I was aiming for!

So it’s, ‘Hey pal, you sure you’re ok, just sit here and collect your thoughts’

‘Yes I think so’. Then I quickly pulled his busted bike, a 350cc Royal Enfield out of the road into the kerb~side, then go back and sit down with the biker, your never believe what he said to me, yeah, he thought it was a one way street too!

‘Yeah your right mate, it is a one way street, trouble is you were going the wrong way’, as I’m praying that a car didn’t amble by towards us from the right way!

‘Wrong way, ah for fucks sake, I was sure I was going the right way, is the guy in the Morris ok, these new roads are so confusing, fuck I’m in trouble’

Hey we’re on a winner here I thought, so it’s wind up time, I’m still praying no other cars come along, that would blow my cover, so I had to get this lot over with double quick, so I tell the guy.

‘Christ you could have been killed in a head on, going the wrong way, look you take it easy pal, just sit here, I will go and see if the car driver is ok’

I’m just about to run back to Roland, when he say’s, ‘Well is he your friend’

‘Friend, are you kidding, I was just taking a walk and saw everything, but hey I’m not blaming you, these new town centre temporary roads are a nightmare, the RAC would get lost’, now that tickled me, ‘RAC would get lost’, I ask you, and I started chuckling, then the ungrateful fucker said.

‘Well glad you think it’s so funny’, and do you know something, any feelings I had for the guy went up in the air, like the smoke rising from his bike, the prat, ‘glad you think it’s so funny’, what was he on. Ok, ok I know, seconds earlier a motor Bike!

Roland was now sitting up the road on the kerb~side by the Morris, with it’s mangled driver’s rear wing hanging off limply like a huge dead plant leaf, and like a poof his head’s in his hands, I ran up to him, he looked up at me almost sobbing.

‘What am I going to tell Dad this time Brode?’

‘Fuck worrying about that now, let’s get out of here Roland, you were going the wrong way down a fucking one way street, you prick, the police will fuck you, we got to get outta here quick before a car comes the right way’ ‘But, Brode, you said it was ok’ ‘Yeah I know, but I didn’t expect you to believe me, did I, you dick, no time to discuss that, let’s get out of here before a car or the cops arrive, the guy on the motor bike thinks he was the one going the wrong way, I’ve had a go at him, he thinks I’m checking you out and reporting back to him, there’s a crowd gathering down there. Roland looked at me and said, ‘What reporting back to him, is he fucking mental too’, which I thought was a little unkind, as he looked at the Morris’s mangled rear wing, saying. ‘My car Brode, fucking look at it, how will I explain this to Dad’

‘Roland the wing’s the last of your problems, will you stop prating around and get in the car now’, so I pulled the wing back into place and tucked it behind the arch, and told Roland I would get the biker’s attention.

‘Then as soon as you see me talking to him, you drive around the corner, and for fucks sake be careful, you don’t want to hit another bike or car do you, then stop, I will meet you there’. So I ran back to the biker, and when he saw Roland drive away, he shouted after him, I told him not to worry, he was just parking out of the way, and that I would go back and get him, so that they could swap addresses.

‘Oh thanks mate, that’s kind of you’

I run around the corner, jump into the car, and we both fucked off pronto!

‘Roland what’s up with you, you only have your newly repaired car just a few weeks and already you fucked it’

‘Me’, he said, ‘I’ve fucked it, you told me to go down a one way fucking street you prick, Brode what am I going to tell Dad’

‘I tell you what, when we get back to my house, we will call your Dad and say your car wont start, something electrical to do with the accident at Bushy, I’ll take you home in my Dads car, and tomorrow you tell your Dad Monty will come by my house to repair it’, ‘Yes, Yes’, said Roland, ‘that will give us time to sort out the rear wing’

We did just that, crack of dawn, I picked up Roland and sharing the cost we collected a new rear wing from, ‘Stewart and Arden’, the big local BMC dealers. We unbolted the smashed rear wing, and then Roland and I sprayed the new wing with one of these new fangled spray cans, in grey undercoat, rubbed it down with fine dry grit paper, painted it two coats black, and that evening we fitted it back to the Morris, polishing the new wing to an amazing shine, and bingo, it looked better than new!

When we had finished, the paint job looked better than the rest of the paint work on the car, Bunt was most impressed, and offered us jobs in his spray shop, the piss taking pick. Roland drove proudly home that Saturday night in his now, once again immaculate Morris Minor, a happy chappie, and that was the great thing about my best pal Roland, he was always real easy to please!

Sadly my days of, ‘being able to walk on water’ driving wise that is with Roland, seemed to have slipped beneath the rising tide of well meaning reckless endeavour, what a shame, it’s so neat being a hero to your pal’s!

Yeah there was something special about being treated ‘god like’ at such a tender age by your best pals, but sadly after that capper at Bushy, followed by the ripped off rear wing at Watford, to Roland I became an ordinary mortal, but the great thing was this, Roland’s lovely Mum and Dad still though I was special and the protector of their favourite son, treating me like a prince, how about that!

Oh and just in case you don’t know who ‘Tex Ritter’ was?.

Well way back then, and then some in the ‘50’s, smooth looking singing Tex Ritter was a cowboy out on the Texas range seeing justice done where ever he roamed, and me, all that talent, but that night yeah a Cowboy driver!

Hitting the tracks

Hitting the tracks

For the 1970 season I employed a full time mechanic called Nick Jordan, who unbelievably, and unknown to me at the time of his interview had come all the way down to my place in Berkshire from Berwkick on the Scottish borders, telling me that he’d worked on Jim Clark’s Lotus Élan, a good start as I was racing Lotus Élan’s at the same meetings as the Escort, and both had Lotus Twin Cam engines fitted, but further questioning revealed it was only Jim’s road Élan he’d worked on, what I wanted a race mechanic who knew about race cars, not a grease monkey.

When I told him that he was wasting my time, and that I couldn’t believe that he had come all that way to be interviewed for the position as race mechanic, when all he had ever worked on was road cars, then he as good as begged me to give him a chance. I looked at him in disbelief, thought for a moment, looked at my race car, that needed a load of work doing, but by whom, looked at him again and gave him the job, made him a coffee and he started immediately and he never let me down in two years, and the best part was this, I really liked him, but I’ll tell you more of the great race mechanic Nick Jordan, who’s still wrenching spanners, later.

Every weekend, Kath, and I went off Saloon car racing all over England and Ireland, and once to a zany little track called Ingleston in Scotland, where I had three wins on the same day in three different cars, the 2.1ltr Escort, 2ltr Lotus Élan and Lotus 62. We were taking on anything and everything they could throw at us, and did we have some ♪fun, fun, fun♪, well too right we did, and no one was taking my ♪Tee Bird♪ Escort away. The Escort never let me down, and the wins were piling up, and as I promised Kath, we always stayed in great places, just like I’d said we would.

During that ‘70 season, I took part in over forty races, and in 1971 I did over fifty races, in 1972 I took part in nearly sixty races using five different race cars, including F3 and Sports cars, and if I wasn’t race driving, I was testing at some track, it seemed like my bum was always in a race car, but somehow I was managing by working huge hours in my factory too, you know you hear this excuse all the time,

‘Oh I haven’t got the time to do it’ or ‘I didn’t have the time’

What a lame excuse, we all have time for anything that we really want to do, and if you really want to do something that bad, somehow, believe me, you’re going to find the time and the way, and if you can’t find the time, the truth is you didn’t want to do it that bad enough in the first place, did you, am I right, well too right I am!

One memorable bank holiday weekend that year I did nine races in three different racing cars over three days, at Oulton Park, Mallory Park and Thruxton. I won the lot, with lap records in all three race cars too, and believe me, I was in very grave danger of getting way, way, way too big for my boots.

In 1972 I also did the Spa 24 hour race in a works Ford Escort, but guess what, and you won’t believe this, they let it run out of fuel when we were so far in the lead, we could have stopped for a picnic, but you’ve heard that already, haven’t you!.

In late ‘72 at the invitation of Stuart Turner then head of Fords UK’s completion dept, I was taken on in 1973 Internationally as a ‘Ford of England’ works driver in a 16 valve 4 cam 1800cc BDA engine Ford Escort, in two International championships.

Yes you heard right, two International championships, the British Saloon Car Championship, and the all important European Touring (saloon) Car Championship, both very important championships for Ford. This would be no easy task using the same race car for two International championships, one in England, the other all over Europe, from Monza Italy to Anderstorp Sweden, and in between back to Blighty to nail my fellow Brit’s, wow, very possible, but not easy!

It was going to require a lot of organising, I would be rushing in and out of Europe all season, but what the hell, I was on my way at last to being an International pro racing driver, where I’d be taking on England’s and Europe’s best, and I just couldn’t wait for the season to begin.

If I was keeping fit before, I was now really putting myself through it. Every evening I was running sometimes up to ten miles, and during the day I would do over five hundred press and sit ups anywhere I had a chance, in the office, parking lots, and even alongside my factory plating tanks, so I knew that when I hit the tracks in ‘73, there was a fair chance that I would be the fittest driver out there.

The Ford works car would be prepared at Gomm’s, who did all Ford competition chassis fabrication at their workshops down in Woking, Surrey. The Escort would also be part sponsored by a main Ford dealer in Uxbridge, Middx, whom I understood once we had the car sorted, would do the race preparation at their workshop under my supervision. Well that was supposed to be the idea, but the car never got to leave the workshops in Woking, Surrey, until I insisted that I look after it, but I’ll get to that later, it’s quite an astonishing story, and if someone told me this story, I’d have trouble believing it, but unfortunatly I was the star attraction rtaking the hit!

The head man on the project at Gomm’s in Woking, would be none other than the famous English race car designer ‘Len Bailey’, who actually worked for Ford America, on loan to Ford UK. At Gomm’s, Len was working on secret special projects and designing rally cars for Ford. Len had designed the all conquering Ford GT40s for the mighty Ford Le Mans program that won Le Mans three times on the trot. He’d also designed the famous Ford FPL sports prototype fitted with a Cosworth V8 F1 engine, and while I was there he was penning out the new Ford RS100 and 200 rally cars and other top secret projects, so I thought I was in good hands, but as I’ve told you, I will be getting to all that later, probably in volume two, bet you can’t wait, but hey I’m jumping forward way too far, get your hand brake on Brodie boy!

Right so back to the start of the 1969 season, where I knew our mighty big bore four cylinder engines would be the match for anything that I came up against, and only on the long track’s would I have a hard time from the big American V8’s, but I reasoned that if drove as hard as I was capable of driving for the whole race, and particularly on the long tracks I would eventually wear down the V8 opposition, reasoning that those big American monsters could not possibly go flat for the whole race distance, and if they tried to, they would soon run out of tyres and brakes, well we would see, but one thing for certain, I’d be giving the Yank V8’s a hard time.

With the training I was doing the opposition were not about to find me flagging in a race either, let’s face it, if you have a great race car, it would be wicked to let it down by being unfit to drive, so roll on the start of the ’69 season, I was ready, and let’s face it, and so ok I’ve said it before, but ‘69 was always a very good year’

I drove in about forty races in the coming season, and on the short circuit’s I was never beaten, but on the high speed long tracks where I had thought that I could eventually overcome and beat the V8’s by wearing them down, it didn’t always work out that way, I’d get rid of the junk V8’s, but sometimes I was struggling against a few very determined V8 drivers, that just like me, hated being beaten.

As the ’69 season rolled on, I realised that I would be needing a load more power for next year, and that would require some radical technical innovations to my engines. So something special was going to be needed over the winter in the power dept, in preparation for the 1970 season, where the only time I wanted to see the mighty V8’s, was in my rear view mirror!

Through out the season, I was continually thinking about how to further modify my engines to nail the V8’s once and for all. There was no way they were going to beat me up easy next season, so we had some work to do.

I would need all the ingenuity that I could think of to beat those V8 suckers, and a fair amount of persuasive good will from my pals, Spike, Ken and Reg on the engines, and I’d figured that I would be sending a lot of important people, well to me that is, very nice Christmas cards that ’69 year!

Big win at ‘The Palace’, and Graham Hill

Big win at ‘The Palace’, and Graham Hill

‘If you love what you’re doing, it’s never ever a waste of your time’

Yours truly DB.

My 1971 season started much the same as ’70, and although there were some good spec, cars with the potential to do the job, not one of them was really giving me a hard time, which I found odd, as it seemed that none of my competitors were developing their cars relentlessly like I was, holding lap records at every English circuit simultaneously, and you can’t buy them, plenty of drivers have tried, but done their money!

There were plenty of cars with more power than I had, why some of the V8’s were rumoured to have over 600bhp, but their drivers couldn’t turn that power into completive lap times, which I found disappointing, sure I wanted to win races, but not on a plate, and just aceing off into the distance was no fun, even if I drove every lap at the end of my limit, the only driver in an Escort that gave me a run for my money was a never give up quick driver called John Bloomfield, who was not only a very skilful driver, but a good guy too, and that was rare, in fact thinking about it now, most of the drivers that I was crushing race in and race out, were very ok guys, it was their hangers on, who were no talent spiteful big mouth rats, very odd that!

As soon as the ’71 season got under way, I knew that to have hard fought competitive races against quick drivers would mean that I would have to move up to International racing next season. So I’m thinking that I’d spent long enough driving against good ol’ boys, it was time to try myself out against the professional drivers, and find out just how good I was, and hopefully give them just as hard a time, hey you have to be positive, if not, what’s the point, and tell me, when did moaning ever make things better, yeah right never!

By 1972, my Escort was a finely honed race car that handled like a dream, and over the seasons I’d never stopped improving the car. I was always testing something different to improve it’s pace, it seemed the more I tested, the luckier I’d get, and to give you an idea how the car was improving, although I had lap records at every circuit I raced on, the yard stick was my short circuit Brands Hatch saloon lap record that now stood at 52.4 sec’s, down nearly a massive three and a half seconds from 57.6 in just three seasons, hey it wasn’t just me, everybody was going quicker due to the never ending relentless developments in power, tyre grip and braking, with that dreaded ‘we could do without’ aerodynamic aid called ‘down force’ creeping in restlessly to further mess up things!

My 2.1ltr engines were now fitted with Cosworth four cam 16 valve cylinder heads, yep gone were the gigantic amazing side draught 58IDA Weber’s for fuel injection, and with forged pistons would now rev to 9,500 giving amazing power and torque! Guess what, it was the earlier version of this engine with the Lotus Twin Cam 8 valve cylinder head, not the 16 valve head that gave me forever my 57.4 sec lap record set at the wonderful Crystal Palace track on the 7Th Aug ‘71, and just in case you’re wondering how long forever is, I’ll remind you, it’s eternity, yeah a long time!

Crystal Palace was a great driver’s track and a sad day when they closed it down for racing shortly after my lap record race. I would have liked to have gone there with my new 2.1litre 16 valve 320bhp engine that revved to 9,500, I told you about. You see with high rev’s you could run a much lower CWP final drive, giving closer gearing, the key to greater acceleration and quicker lap times. With that engine installed I would have been going down most of the straights sideways, getting the lap record down into the ‘55’s, now that would have been a sensational lap time around ‘The Palace’, and even now over 40 years later, I often dream about it, can you imagine, you cross the line to start your record lap, and just 55 seconds later you re~cross the same start line with a lap record up your sleeve, wow a 55 sec lap, what did I say about dreaming, yep, you have to have a dream for a dream come true! To put my Palace ‘57.4 record into perspective, no other Escort driver could get anywhere near that time, except the great John Fitzpatrick who did a similar time in his Group 2 Escort, but John had the benefit of works Ford support and the best tyres available, whilst I worked out of my shed workshop at home, and after a savage weeks work, so yeah I was doing ok!

The other drivers including the V8’s could only just break into the ’59’s, let alone the ‘57’s, and that’s it really, racing is all about quick lap times, you can either do them, or you can’t, and if you can’t, I already told you, you can’t buy them, your either quick, or your not, it’s that simple!

During that lap record race, although I was going as quick as I could sliding in and out of the Glades and Esses with huge throttle on, it was actually uneventful as no other driver gave me a hard time, so I just drove as fast as I could all race! Now I say uneventful, well it was apart from crossing the finishing line on the last lap zig zaging from one side of the track to the other, just missing the track side banking, and at high speed, so what was all that about, yeah it flummoxed me too at the time and I was driving? I’d seen off all the V8’s on the day and had put some distance between us before I settled down to break the lap record, but as I drove up to the finishing line on the last lap on full throttle to win The Daily Express Trophy, I was feeling pretty pleased with myself, as this was the big annual Formula Two meeting with all the great UK and European drivers there, and a lot were watching my race.

The great Graham Hill was on pole for the F2 race, and I knew Graham would be presenting the winner’s trophy for my race. Yes thats that huge solid silver trophy I told you about that I gave to the Springfield Boys Club in the ‘80’s, and stolen a year later, yeah that’s what you get for being a good guy, I wonder where it is now?

This was gonna be my best win to date, so as I whacked it into top gear and eyed the finishing line and the man with the chequered flag, I thought,

‘Nice one Brode and hello Graham, thanks for the trophy’

When suddenly ‘bosch’ with out any warning the car dived over to the left, what the fuck? I whack on right lock to correct but it kept going left, so nothing to lose I whack on left lock which brought it back into line. What the hell, but it now dives over to the right with left lock on, and the only way I can keep it in something like a straight line is whack on more right lock, but it then instantly steered over to the left, as I steer hard left again to correct the car, yep steer left go right, steer right go left, I’m off the throttle but still had 100mph I could do without, I had to make it to the line the flag, and Graham. Steering hard left the car went sharp right, and then when I steered hard right the car instantly steered sharp left, It must have looked incredible, zig-zaging using the whole width of the track zig-a-zaging to the chequered flag.

As the car slowed it became easier to handle, and as it went across the line at 20mph, I thought, ‘Thank fuck for that’ and immediately stopped, no one would know the reason why or how I was zig-a-zaging up the track, but it must have looked either hilarious or a big headed attempt at, ‘look how good I am’, who knows! I jumped out and told my great mechanic Nick Jordan that something had broken in the rear suspension and to get the car away and on to the trailer. It turns out that two of the rear axle four link brackets had broken, the top two, allowing the axle to not only twist up and down but pivot from side to side too, giving rear steer, but for a while I thought I was about to stare the grim reaper dead in the face, via those hard trackside railway sleepers, whack into them a 100 and your history, but the best bit was yet to come!

‘Hello Graham oh is that for me, yes, well thank you so much!’

Graham Hill, winner of five Monaco’s, Indy 500, Le Mans and twice World F1 Champion, presented the huge solid silver winner’s trophy, saying in a low voice.

‘Ace, that was a fucking spectacular run up to the line, it looked amazing’

Yes the great man actually thought that I did it on purpose, so I never told him the cause was broken axle brackets. Hey he thought it looked good, so why ruin a good story, but I did wish Graham well in his F2 race and thanked him for presenting my Daily Express Trophy. Another great driver of the time, the late Peter Gethin, who to this day still holds the record for the closest finish and fastest ever F1 race at Monza back in the ‘70’s, said to me at one of Hailwood’s parties.

‘Hey Brode that zig-zaging over the line at the Crystal Palace was the funniest thing I’d ever seen on track how’d you do that Brode, I never thought it was possible to get a car to do that’, he said inquisitively.

‘Peter I have to own up, my axle brackets broke as I drove up to the finishing line and were rear steering the car all over the track, and that when I turned right to correct it, the fucking thing went left, and when I turned left to correct that, it then went right again, I was lucky to get over the line and win’

‘Oh’, he said looking disappointed, ‘and there I was thinking you did that on purpose as a finishing touch, geez it looked impressive’

Daft owing up, after all he not only had me down as a race winner, but a bit of a crack stunt driver too, silly me, I should kept them guessing, it’s called collecting, ‘brownie point’s’ and you can’t get enough of them, you know!

Later that day the F2 race started with Graham Hill on the front row. I stood along the straight down from the start line to see the F2’s entering the Glades, and like everyone I was rooting for Graham our hero. Graham had been driving F2 all season, but he’d not been doing too well, in fact the truth was he had been mugging his great reputation, which was sad to see, you see by then Graham was probably past his prime and I wondered just why he was mixing it with all these young F2 psychotics that wanted to die early, hadn’t he done enough, but the great thing was today at the Crystal Palace he had shown all the younger drivers how to do it, and was right up there on the front row for the first time that season, it would be an amazing race, and the great thing was, the whole paddock wanted Graham to win.

The flag dropped, and a Scottish driver on the second row called Gerry Birrell, jumped the start and rammed into the back of Graham’s car, sending Graham sideways off and out of the race. The race was stopped, with cars splattered all over the track, but Graham’s car was so smashed up, and he couldn’t rejoin.

Years later, the same Gerry Birrell lost his head literally in an F2 race at the French circuit, ‘opps way too kind’, scruffy dump of a track at Rouen in northern France, that’s the track with the disgusting and smelly hole in the ground loos. I never liked Gerry and his very big mouth, who would say anything he thought impressive, to impress people, but hey, he never deserved that dreadful ending at that grubby French excuse for track.

It was very disappointing to see Graham out of the race, and as I wondered back, the great man was sitting alone knees up on the grass banking by the start line, looking really unhappy and desperately disappointed. I walked over to him and said. ‘Hey Graham, what a shame, we were looking forward to you winning that one’.    He looked up at me, we made eye contact, this great man had tears in his eyes and couldn’t reply shrugging his shoulders, as if to say, ‘What do I have to do!’

I could have cried too, it really upset me then, and still does today, you know it’s an amazing thing, no matter what you’ve done in your chosen sport, or how old you are, or how many years you have been at it, and the fact that you have just about seen it all, if you’re competitive, and Graham was, that competitive urge never dies, you still want to prove you can still cut it, cos you love what your doing!

Graham was no different to the rest of us. it was a very sad seeing this great and much loved man, who’d done so much for motor racing all over the world for many long years looking so sad and upset, you just had to love him for still loving it after all he had done, now that’s passion. Graham died along with three other guys, in a horrific light aircraft accident one dark and foggy black night coming in to land at Elstree airport. Graham by then had stopped racing, embarking on a new career as an F1 team owner, and I did all their chrome and electro plating, pretty good eh!

That crash probably took the best prospect for an English World Champion; we would have for the next decade, yes a brilliant driver and very confident tough kid called, Tony Brise, who was destined to be something very special in motor racing.   That was another very sad day for everybody that knew Graham and Tony, two very sad funerals. After Grahams funeral service held at St Albans, I was standing outside next to the great Ken Tyrell when Colin Chapman of Lotus came up to say hello to Ken, as they shook hands Ken said prophetically.

‘Colin, we have been to way too many of these things’, to which Colin agreed saying. ’Yes your right Ken we sure have’

I didn’t go to Colin Chapman’s funeral, but I did go to Ken’s funeral at the magnificent Guildford Cathedral in 2003. Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, the wonderful New Zealand opera singer sung a beautiful and mesmerising operatic aria, that seemed to just float up into the air and fill every corner of the huge Cathedral, I remembered what Ken had said to Colin Chapman that day at Graham Hill’s funeral, and tears streamed down my face, I was still crying outside the Cathedral, all these great passionate guys dying that loved what they did, never to be doing it again, so sad.

You know something, truly great inspirational people should never be allowed to die, we should stop that, they should be with us all forever, just another thing the supposed big guy got wrong, it would be so simple. You’re the kind of inspirational guy everybody loves, so bingo you qualify to live forever, you want a better incentive for world peace, forget mass destruction churches with their indoctrinations, just give my ‘good guy for life’ a shot, and live forever, risky I know, but it makes sense.

There was a twist to the story of the Graham Hill plane crash on 29th November 1975 that killed all on board. Good guy Graham had offered my dear friend the late and great Swedish Lotus F1 driver Ronnie Peterson a lift back to England at Nice airport. They had all been racing at the French Grand Prix, which back then was held up in the hills from the South coast, at the delightful Paul Ricard track. Ronnie eagerly accepted the lift, you see after a race all drivers want to do is get back home as quickly as possible, but Ronnie had not thought it through!

Ronnie walked out on to the runway with his bags, put his foot on the steps of Graham’s little aeroplane intending to climb aboard the six seater, but looking into the plane saw it was full to the roof with luggage plus three passengers, a very cramped flight back to England. Ronnie thought for a moment, he had a problem, he didn’t have his car at Elstree Airport, his car was parked at London Heathrow, just 20 minutes from his home in Maidenhead, Berkshire, whereas Elstree in Hertfordshire was around two hours from Ronnie’s home, and no car, so although he desperately wanted that lift back home, having no car at Elstree, Ronnie thought nah, he’d go back on the schedule flight with his mechanics, an hour later and get some much needed sleep. So Ronnie thanked Graham for the offer, and trudged all the way back to the Nice terminal with his bags.

Ronnie got lucky that day, but sadly he was not so lucky just a few years later, where a tragic blunder at an Italian hospital caused that dear boy to lose his life.         Look were talking Ronnie Peterson right now, and I ought to tell you how I first met the mercurial Swedish ace and fell in love with him, it turned out to be quite some first meeting! It’s late March 1972, and the first Formula 2 meeting of the season was up at Mallory Park, hope your sitting tight it went something like this.

Frank Williams and I had gone to the track for the season opener, to see how the new BMW F2 engine in the 72 March performed with French ace John Pierre Jarier driving, a driver whom I rated and told Frank a few years later, to get into his F1, he didn’t, so who knows!

We get to Mallory and wander down to the very slow first gear 30mph hairpin to watch the F2 race from inside the track, a great viewing point if you had the right pass, where you could look down into the driver’s cockpit. If you looked cool back then, you could go virtually anywhere around the tracks to view the racing, well it certainly ain’t like that now, go down to that hairpin during a race today, and you’d think the marshals were Hitler youth and personally paid the rates on the place!

As soon as we get to the hairpin, were joined by Australian driver Tim Schenken and his friend a surprisingly tall Ronnie Peterson, who just standing there in the cold afternoon air looked sensational, dressed in a dark tan fur coat that came down to his ankles. Ronnie was dripping with charisma, and with his long blonde hair, blue eyes and good looks, everyone was mesmerised by him, he looked fantastic, I can tell you if I were a bird I’d have lifted my skirt.

I was already in awe of Ronnie, I’d seen him drive in F3 and F2, where he was in a class of his own, so meeting him in person was very special, and probably for Frank as well if you could get him to admit it, look no matter who you are or who you know there’s always some guy that impresses you, am I right, enter Ronnie!

As soon as the flag dropped, Jarier ace’ed off into the distance just about lapping the lot, it was some first race for the BMW F2 engine that signalled the end of an era for the F2 Ford engine, and from that day on, if you didn’t have a BMW F2 engine, well you might as well stay at home, because you weren’t going anywhere.

The race finished, and we all started the trek for the car park, on the way Tim innocently said to Frank. ‘Hey Frank do you know the quick way out of this place?’

Frank replied back in all innocence, that, ‘No he didn’t, but Brode does, so why don’t you follow us, oh Tim, that is of course if you can keep up?’ Frank knew how to be a prick at times, and this was about to turn out to be one of those times!

Ronnie hearing this ♪from that moment on♪ road war was declared. I looked at Frank astounded, saying through clenched teeth, ‘Frank what the fuck you saying, that’s Ronnie Peterson you dick, and he’s doing the driving, follow us if you can, for fucks sake Frank, that’s Ronnie Peterson, and HE’S supposed to have a hard time following ME, are you mad, so Frank, how we gonna handle this, nice one you dick’, and that’s about word perfect, still makes me cringe even now, 40 years on!

Frank looked at me mystified, saying, ‘So what’s the problem Brode?’

Ronnie’s car turned out to be a Lotus Élan 2×2 model in light Blue, you might want to remember these colours, so that’s ‘light blue’ Lotus, and ‘bright yellow’ Capri!

Frank full of confidence says. ‘So what Brode he’s in an Élan, I’m expecting you to give him a driving lesson, why not losing your touch are you ol’ pal?’

‘Hey losing my touch, Frank give me a break, fuck off I’ll soon droop them two’

Gee’s what can you do, and I’m thinking, ♪there may be trouble ahead♪ and I wasn’t wrong! We get to our cars and head on out of the track, and I go the no traffic way down the narrow lanes with the blue Lotus following, and were doing great, just one more lane and were on the main road heading for the M1, but when I turn left down this long country lane it’s clogged up with going home race traffic, and instantly were at a standstill trapped with cars piling up behind us, and in front maybe 200 cars all patiently edging forward one at a time. Yeah just what we wanted, and crawling along at this speed were looking at least 30 minutes just to get to the main road, well I was not about to sit and wait that out, and especially with these two super stars expecting great things from me, the Swede Peterson and Aussie Schenken and told Frank just that and to hang on as were going down the outside past all the slow moving cars, leaving Tim and Ronnie to sort themselves out, well silly ol’ me, ♪I should have known better♪ with guys like this on my tail.

So out I pop, aim down the empty outside lane past all these crawling cars, and look in the mirror saying out loud ‘take that suckers’ to the two guys I just left behind, but unbelievably glued right up our boot lid is this bleeding blue 2×2 Élan, the fucking cheek, and I told Frank just that, who looked across at me with his Sunday news paper covering his forward view, saying,

’To right Brode, it is a fucking cheek, lose the pricks’, so yeah, game on.

The lane was maybe 400 yards to the main road, with almost stationary traffic the whole way down on the left. Ronnie must have thought that I knew a farm road just up this lane on the right that we would quickly dive into and away, but no, I drove relentlessly way down to the main road on the wrong side, hitting 60mph still with this bleeding Swede glued to my boot lid, what was he on, guys never did this to me, look I had a rep to protect, so I had to drop this Peterson guy! So ok ok, he knew how to drive a bit, but so what, this was street driving and I was a Harrow boy who’d won quite a few races, and in fact plenty more races than this Swede fellah, so no contest really, and in any case you can’t out drive trained Harrow guys……can you?

We were 50 yards from the main road, and doing ok, when fuck, fuck, fuck, a huge horse transporter turns in and heads up the empty lane in front of us flashing it’s head lights blocking our exit onto the main road, yeah a bummer, just another 10 seconds, that’s all we needed, yeah just 10 lousy seconds and we were out of there! I had to do something, and quick, you ever tried reversing back past 200 cars you just pissed off passed on the wrong side of the road who all want to kill you, well that wasn’t an option as far as I was concerned, so Ronnie and Tim were on their own. thing was this, I was never any good at being embarrassed and this situation was rapidly getting embarrassing and needed some quick thinking, Frank would expect that wouldn’t he, who said sheepishly!

‘Oops, I think were fucked Brode’, then quick as a flash, inspiration!

Look put yourself in my position, yes a tricky one with these two superstars behind expecting me to show them the way, well not exactly the way of life, no much more complicated than that, the quick way out of Mallory Park and then home!

You see reversing out, was out, that would have me reversing back behind Ronnie, now he may be good going forward, but believe me reversing back at full rev’s for 400 yards up a narrow lane was a whole different skill, and what if some total dick pulled into the lane with the same bright idea as me, wallop, yeah way too risky! Personally if you really wanna know, I could handle reversing backwards for 400 yards at high rev’s no problem, well you can if you’ve been going backwards all your life, yes an acquired skill, but fuck having this Swede trying it with me following him, way, way too risky and in any case Frank was expecting something special from me, and there’s hardly anything special about going backwards is there, so I’m thinking ‘bollocks to the Swede’ when suddenly I have a flash of ‘no time to loose’ inspiration shouting out, ‘Frank were outta here’

So no messing I told Frank to hang on as I’m going up the grass verge and banking on the right dropping into a garage, then drive up to the forecourt and out pronto onto the main road, adding

‘Frank that Ronnie and Tim will then be looking at a head on with the horse truck, not us, so Frank they can get themselves out of this mess, were gone hang on’

Frank stooping down looked across surveying the earth banking, then looked at me and just said, ’Oh fuck me’, not quite what I had in mind, no encouragement, but I knew what he meant, fuck this up, and we’d end up rolling over that banking ending up on our roof down the side of the garage, now that would be embarrassing!

So over the verge and sideways up the grass bank I go, just getting rear traction, slithering over the top and sliding down sideways into the petrol station back yard with a thud, thud, as first my front wheels followed by the rears hit the deck, I get some lock on and hit the throttle, but I was going way too fast, and very nearly drove straight into a dead end ‘Tec-Calamet Jackson’ lube bay sliding to a stop, so I de-clutch and get reverse gear and wheel spinning backwards drive out doing a half doughnut, hit first gear and head past the pumps for the main road, if I say it myself it must have looked very impressive, but of course all those cars in the lane never saw a thing did they once I’d disappeared over that earth banking, shame really!

As I drive out the garage, I look in my mirror and was horrified to see Ronnie’s Élan sliding down the earth bank, getting traction and then following us out of the garage glued to my boot lid again, no doubt about it, this was war, no one ever followed me when I was on it, and especially not a ‘day~go’ and his Swede mate. Who was this bloke Peterson, I had a distinct feeling that he was about to get very annoying, this was serious stuff, I had to shake off this menace Swede, and the continual gestures of Schenken next to Ronnie were beginning to annoy too!

So I told Frank to hang on tight while I dumped these two impertinent superstars, we really couldn’t have them following us all the way home could we, no we couldn’t, after all I had a certain reputation to defend. Frank seeing the Élan behind us was as stunned as I was and told me straight, ‘to stop fucking around and get the fuck out of here and drop those two wankers behind’, it was one of the few times that I detected a level of anxiety in Franks voice, and bad language too, not good, Frank was expecting better! As we drove off towards the M1 from behind us the two in the Lotus would see Frank reading the huge ‘Sunday Times’ newspaper that’s blocking my view to the left.

Frank wanting to see what was happening had carefully torn a small flap out in the centre of the paper, so he could see through the front screen and of course the imminent accident that was bound to happen, no way we could get away with this for too much longer, there had to be shunt, it was at this point during the mayhem as if I didn’t have enough to do, Frank started laughing, yep, laughing, saying.

‘Brode tell you what, I will keep the newspaper up in front of me all the way home pretending to read it as if nothing out of the ordinary is happening, and when we get to your place, IF and that is IF they are still behind us BRODE!, we will pretend that is the way we always drive’, well yeah now were talking, I liked that.

Frank was always ever the optimist, but at these breakneck speeds the accident had to happen sometime during the next 100 miles back to Maidenhead, but at least he’d have the pleasure of being with his best pal Brode and see it coming, and of course, a big plus, it would be something to laugh about in the future, well that is providing we didn’t fuck up to much and wing our ways to the great track in the skies, and the way I, opps, we were driving, that was a distinct probability!

We’d snaked between cars in the Garage forecourt, and just made it out onto the main road with cars doing emergency brake tests all around. On the way to the M1 we were soon up to speed, hitting 110mph, diving in and out of traffic, if the way was blocked, I went up the inside, or rimmed hedges and earth banks, with Ronnie still glued to my rear, I had to shake the sucker off, Frank from behind his news paper demanded it, saying,

‘Brode for fuck’s sake, will you drop the fuckers and lets get outta here’

I was stunned, this was the first time any driver had ever hung on to me for more than half a mile when I was on a mission, but of course this was no ordinary driver was it, NO, this was the Swede superstar Ronnie Peterson, yep, no doubt about it, ♪I should have known better with a guy like that♪

Of course I should have expected double trouble with that loon Schenken egging him on, like he did everyone, I don’t know, but possibly it’s an Australian thing, egging guys on, and then acting like you’re a goody, goody two shoes!       Frankly this had to have a bad outcome, and if I were being paid I couldn’t drive any quicker, I’m diving up the inside of cars and trucks, leaving inches to spare like my, or is that our lives depended on it, and ‘shiver me timbers’ who’s got the fucking audacity to follow, that bleeding Swede in a poncy blue 2×2 Lotus Élan with his passenger permanently grinning and gesticulating like a demented monkey! Whilst from the rear, as far as those two know, Frank appears to be peacefully reading his paper, but thoughtfully Frank was offering the odd word of wisdom like.

‘Brode am I going to have to sit here arms out stretched pretending to read this fucking paper for much longer, for fucks sake lets get going, and drop those two wankers’, well charming what did he think I was doing, delivering milk!

I was now in trouble, with all the accelerating and hard braking, my bright yellow 3litre Capri, you are remembering that colour I hope, yeah yellow!

Well with all this hard braking my front brake calliper fluid had boiled, so I was now having double trouble stopping, in fact I couldn’t. This was getting serious, I had to judge manoeuvres perfectly, or we would end up buried in the back of a truck, or disappearing through a hedge into a field, or worst, what I desperately needed was a long straight road to cool the brakes down. Of course Ronnie had no idea that I was out of brakes and must have thought that my judgment was incredible as first my Capri and then his Élan scrapped by cars, trucks, zig zaging through traffic and in and out of corners!

Boiling V6 Capri front brake callipers had happened before, so I knew the cure, yeah avoid using the brakes, so brakeless I was judging every move perfectly on the way to the M1 motorway, of course I told Frank that we had no brakes, but he just said, ‘Brode I have every confidence in you’, what, no brakes, and he’s got every confidence, was he mad, I wished I had his confidence, and all the time Franks glued to that small peep hole in the Times, come on, steel nerves or what, nah….mental.

No matter what stroke I pulled Ronnie stayed glued to my boot lid, indeed serious stuff, how could he still be on my rear end, no one had ever stayed with me when I drove like this, and I resolved that before we were home one way or another I would shake the sucker off, then I could claim I gave the Swede a driving lesson!

After all I reasoned, we were Brit’s and couldn’t possibly have some Swede, even a super one, and an Aussie of all people putting one over on us, could we, and to be frank, Frank demanded better!

I’d pulled a few famous cappers in the past, and if I didn’t bury this Swede and that grinning Aussie soon, my cred skilfully built up over many years acting like a dopy loon was frankly ‘brown bread’, and for a none drinker all things considered quite a sobering thought, and the distinct possibility that Frank would disown me too!

A couple of times, I thought Peterson might actually go by me the cheeky tosser, which really was too much to contemplate, lets face it, I’d have to cut my wrists and I couldn’t have that, could I. Yeah that’s right, I had things to do, great things, look at the time to be honest I’m fucked if I knew what these’s great things were, but hey, we all have to have ♪high hopes♪, am I right?

Up the M1 slip road, we burst onto the motorway and straight over to the fast lane, my speed went up to 130mph, but the Élan ran out of top speed at around 115mph, so were pulling slowly away! I badly needed 10 miles of clear road to cool my brakes, it looked like I was in luck, the outside fast lane was clear, and with Frank still hiding behind his ‘peep show’ Sunday Times I powered up to max speed and relaxed, yeah I know, silly move with out brakes, but Ronnie thank the fuck, at last was slowly falling back and would soon be history!

We’d been on the three lane M1 for about four miles, in the distance maybe a half mile in front were two big trucks side by side, taking up the two inside lanes, the outside truck had a red Morris 1100 tucked in behind it, but that was no problem, I would soon be by the three of them and away into the distance cooling down my brakes before they woke up, the Élan’s still dropping back, ‘that’s much better’, said Frank, having the visor mirror turned down, so he knew what’s going on behind.

You’d have to say unflinching cool Frank had nerves of steel behind that huge Sunday Times newspaper spread across blocking my view to the left, but then Frank’s always been very cool, so what did I expect. I’m flat out and if I can keep this up for a few more miles my brakes will come back in, and then when we hit the winding lanes across Buckinghamshire heading for my home in Berkshire the Capri will be in good shape again, and frankly on the lanes I’d be in a class of my own where my considerable talent would prevail. I mean its one thing keeping up on main roads and motorways, but English country lanes with me at the wheel, come on, no contest, well that is if by some chance this cheeky Swede, by some even odder chance is still behind us!

Looking back I did find it odd that Schenken was laughing and grinning so much with his mouth so wide open I could make out his fillings, and on the plus side, there being so few, displaying the brightest set of railings I ever saw, and I’m thinking, well he may be Australian, but fair do’s, he must have nerves of steel, just like Frank, so what’s the chances, yes it’s a distinct possibility that perhaps way back Tim’s transported ancestors came from Harrow, they had to be safe crackers!

I’m on the three lane M1 bearing down on these two trucks and the little red Morris that’s doing maybe 50mph behind the outside truck, and I’m thinking.

‘Boy when I go by at 130mph were they in for a surprise’

We were about 100 feet from the rear of the Morris, when he it made its move, and when it did, even Frank clenched his fists crumpling up his newspaper, this was not good. Yes suddenly the Morris pulled out into the fast outside lane overtake the truck, I’m in deep trouble, leaving me only one option, I couldn’t risk the brakes, this was instant decision time, I’m going way to fast and to near to the trucks to get over to the hard left shoulder and short of ramming into the back of the Morris or going over it, my only option was to drive onto the central hard shoulder to overtake the Morris that’s now blocking the fast lane, then get back on the motorway, but I had 130mph that I could do without, it was the only time I ever saw Frank, with white knuckles, his paper was a mess! You can’t blame Frank, he knew what was coming without me saying anything, yeah a ride down the central reservation, you see back then there were no central dividing Armco barrier up at Leicestershire, as there was further down the M1 at Luton to stop cars going over into oncoming traffic!

So driving onto the central reservation was the only option we had, I shout, ‘Frank hold on I’m going onto the central reservation’, now you have to give credit where credit is due, Frank never so much as flinched a muscle, maybe as he was too busy sorting out his crumpled newspaper edges on his knee, but as we hit the central reservation instantly up came the newspaper, with Frank’s glued to the small hole and flap still displaying nerves of best Sheffield English tempered steel, quite inspiring really, and indeed impressive stuff, and I know that much later in the ‘90’s, Frankie~boy was given an OBE, and then would you believe only knighted by our wonderful Queen Elizabeth, well bless her ermine socks! Can you believe, Frank OBE, became SIR Frank, what, nah can’t be can it~oh yes it is~nah~oh no it isn’t?

Frankly I still can’t quite get my head around that, but in truth, he should have had those titles a lot earlier in the ‘70’s for his considerable fortitude and total faith in my ability to drive my bright yellow Capri, on that cold March 72 afternoon down the M1’s central dividing reservation at 130mph, and frankly the SAS would have trouble staying cool behind the Sunday Times at that speed, let alone Frankie~boy! My Capri was slithering around losing speed from 130 trying to get grip, and Frank not so much as flinched, yeah no doubt about it, Frank that day, turned out to be ‘the stuff of leg~ends’ behind that newspaper, of course he could have just been hiding?

So with no option, over I go onto the 5 foot wide central shoulder, which take it from me don’t leave too much room for an errant semi out of control Ford Capri doing 130 that’s just missed ramming a Morris’s rear end.

Amazingly as we went pass the Morris I did notice that the combined age’s of the man driving and his lady passenger with a big black shinny hand bag on lap, were probably well over 160, and even back then I so hated to upset our older folk, and still do, and especially as I’m now one of them!

Once I hit the reservation I thought I’d be able to drive straight back onto the motorway, but no the car was sliding around virtually out of control with me making delicate corrections to the steering to keep us from spinning off, so unexpectedly the next, what 1000 yards or so all things considered were quite alarming. You see central hard shoulders are never sweep clean are they, no, so when you hit them at 130 the resultant rubbish that had collected over the years being kicked up by the cars high speed air stream is quite startling and had to be seen to be believed.     Looking back in the mirror, we were laying down a dark grey swirling dust cloud that was obliterating everything behind us, a truly astonishing sight the like that Frank and I would never see again, and that probably goes for Tim and Ronnie too, and the battering noise from inside the wheel arches was quite alarming too!

All we could see behind us was this massive cloud of grey dust vortex, with bit’s of paper, packets, drinks tins and stones flying high into the air, the twisting vortex must have been at least 100 feet high obliterating both carriageways and the grass banking either side of the motorways, it was like a grey curtain had descended across the motorway behind us, a truly incredible sight that I doubt ‘Wells Fargo’ ever laid a more impressive dust trail across early Texas!

Frank only looked behind just once the whole trip, now that was very cool, but seeing this amazing dust storm behind in his mirror as were slithering about, he turns and shouts out, ‘FUCK’, and then went back to his newspaper, could this be boring!

I was in big trouble; we were now way past the two trucks and the old timers in the Morris who were out of sight in the dust vortex, and I still had maybe 120mph that I could do without and no brakes, and although I’m off the throttle, I was having trouble slowing the car down near enough because when I attempted to steer back onto the motorway the car started to over~steer, which needed correcting, and although the speed was dropping off rapidly down to around 90mph, we were fish tailing along taking huge amounts of steering lock to stop a rear tyre touching the road edge, and that would have been instant spin off, yes tricky stuff, and especially as a huge concrete bridge was looming up about 400 yards in front, but Frank never as much as flinched, amazing, now come on, cool or what, and just had to be worth at least an early OBE, and me, well an early VC wouldn’t go amiss, but the way we were going it would likely be posthumous!

Now you should be thinking, well that put paid to Ronnie and Tim in the blue Lotus Élan didn’t it, they must be history, yeah at the time I thought that too?

Wrong, I was convinced I’d dropped Ronnie in that dust cloud, and couldn’t believe my eyes looking back in the mirror, would you believe Ron had closed up and was now not far behind me on the central shoulder too, half buried on the edge of the vast dust trail with his pop up headlights on full beam, yes impressive, and very, very cool, and right away I figured that Ronnie was doing his bit keeping that dust cloud going kicking up even more dust and rubbish, he must have had problems with that red Austin too and had followed onto the central reservation! Ron must have been nearer to us than I’d realised, but for the life of me I couldn’t quite figure out what Tim was waving both his arms around for, with mouth open even wider, and nor could Frank either when I told him, was he really cheering, yes mystifying!

In my rear view the Élan was a fantastic sight, half way buried in all this grey dust and crap, kind of halo illuminated in its own headlight haze, an eerie sight to see. At around 80mph I managed to drive back onto the motorway with Ronnie glued to my boot lid, just in time for us both to miss that huge concrete central bridge pillar!

It was at this point, that I realised that this guy Ronnie Peterson was some piece of work driving like that, and oh yes my kinda guy, I guess looking back, that’s when I first fell in love with the guy, which was ♪not unusual♪ as along with everyone else Ronnie came in contact with, I discovered they fell in love with him too, do you know something incredible, people male and female from all walks of life would look at Ronnie adoringly, I never saw that happen to anyone else I knew, apart from maybe George Harrison, and all these years later I still miss and love him bundles, well who wouldn’t, guys like that don’t pass by to often, if ever, do they!

As we edged back onto the M1 with Ronnie in tow, Frank tapped my left knee just once in recognition of a good drive so far, see I told you that nerves of steel Frank was my kind of guy.

The sight behind was amazing, the whole motorway was blanketed in this gigantic dust cloud, and even oncoming cars on the other carriageway were braking flashing their headlights at the sight of this huge unexpected fog looming up on them. Ronnie just sat behind driving steely eyed, looking like he never had a care in the world, which I have to say was not only a little unnerving, but a bit troubling too as were still only half way home and Ron ain’t flinching, but we’d soon be driving across country, and those twisting English country lanes and little villages that I knew so well, yep once off this dangerous M1 motorway, it would indeed be no contest!

Looking back at steely eyed Ronnie in the Élan he looked like he were on a Sunday afternoon picnic run, I guess that was when I realised it takes a lot to stir them Swedes into action with cool Ronnie looking like he didn’t have a care in the world, but Tim another thing altogether, he was making up for that with eyes sticking out like Organ stops and arms waving about. Frank and I had no idea just who he was waving and mouthing at as there’s no spectators along the M1 are there! The rest of the M1 was pretty hectic, but now with a good brake pedal again, we came off at junction 15 and headed down the up and down old A34 at full speed, heading for those twisting Oxfordshire lanes, where I would be ♪king of the road♪          We turn left off the A34 past Silverstone on the winding Dadford village road that I knew like the back of my hand, so this menace behind would soon be history, we hit 80 swerving in and out of cars leaving the circuit, yep not a scratch so far, mind you I did see two cars lunge out the way across the grass verge, and wondered if they knew F2 star Ronnie Peterson had cut them up, but no time for autographs!

I set too with a vengeance attempting to out drive Ronnie on the lanes all the way back, sliding out of corners, half sliding up grassy banks, standing on the brakes, making tight turns, revving out through the gears, but amazingly with out success, sure I pulled ahead a few times but soon he was back glued my boot lid again, something had to be done, and quick, what we needed was a ‘rear gunner’

Through out all this Frank would continually be intersecting with requests like, ‘Brode will you please drop the wankers’, or ‘Brode will you please stop fucking about and let’s get going’, or ‘Brode this is getting embarrassing’, and all the time appearing to be diligently reading the Sunday paper, or so the two behind must have thought, but to be fair to Frank, as a matter of interest he did make the odd comment on such varied subjects as, used cars, mainly Porsche 911 prices, and the general state of the UK economy, yes most interesting when your sideways half way up rimming an earth bank, but when he said that, ‘Atlantic flights were on special offer, but had no urgent business over there’, I did think he was going over the top, but you know Frank, always looking for a bargain!

I’d driven as fast as I could through the lanes from Silverstone, it was some sensational ride, but still I couldn’t shake off this annoying Swede, something Frank was continually reminding me off, as if he could do any better, well Christ perish the thought, what Frank driving, we’d have had the accident way back at Mallory Park down that one way lane, buried under that inconsiderate bastard in the horse Truck!

`We came out of the lanes onto the Marlow by-pass and still the sucker was with us, I figured that I had one last chance at the Hurley, Henley-on-Thames road roundabout, telling Frank to.

‘Hang on tight were about to shake these two foreign wankers off’

The thing was this, when we started out from Mallory, we’d prearranged that the two of them were coming back to my place for afternoon tea, well they must have been pretty desperate for tea the way Ronnie was keeping up with me, maybe he though my tea was very special, but then I guess it was understandable I suppose, everyone had heard about Kath’s cakes!

Well it was last chance saloon, and I was fucked if I was settling for a draw, we had to win, and I told Frank just that, he replied in a steely voice.

‘Brode you’re leaving it a bit late, but David I have every faith in you’

Frank had been peeping through the Sunday times for the last two hours, offering encouragement and advice, now it’s ‘leaving it a bit late Brode’, and I’m thinking where the fuck had Frank been, I’d just about driven my bollocks off, and still the wankers were glued to our rear end, but we were now just a mile from arrival, I had one last chance, and I wasn’t fucking up, what ‘leaving it late Brode’, the prick!

We hit the roundabout from the by-pass slip road at about 80mph, braking hard in a straight line I drove out wide to get a good line in, but that Swede must have sensed I was up to something so he dives out wide with me the smart ass, I then turned sharply right into the roundabout with the rear end out, and held the drift.

We did a full lap of the roundabout like that, both our cars were sliding with the rear ends way, way out like synchronised driving, I then did another lap, but Ronnie was still on my tail, what, in all I did 5 rear end out drifting laps with stinking rubber smoke pouring off our rears, but still the Swede was glued to my tail, but we were in trouble as big traffic was pilling up stationary at the three entry roads onto the roundabout, and I don’t think that they were too impressed by my arm out waving at them, so I had to pull my master stroke and pretty soon or the law would be on us, but I kind of suspected that the cars watching all this drifting were maybe quite enjoying the sight of my yellow Capri and Ronnie’s light blue Lotus Élan sliding around the roundabout lap after lap in tandem, Tim still grinning and waving away!

This modern drifting thing, tell you what Ronnie and I had that covered way back in the early ‘70’s, but those smart ass slant eyed Jap git’s think they discovered drifting, well have I got news for them, and personally I’ve always thought they were cold bloodied reptiles from ‘out there’, tell me, why else don’t they cook their food!

On lap 6, I was about 30 yards from our Henley-on-Thames turning that lead off to my house, I eased off and let Ronnie pull right up inches behind me, and just as I was about to go past the left turning, I yanked the steering hard to the left, checked the broad slide on the loose stuff and shot up the Henley road to my home, leaving Ronnie and Tim to do another full lap of the roundabout all by their ’lonely ol’ selves’, and bingo that’s 7 perambulation’s to my 6, call it a kind of lap of honour I guess, or is that dis~honour, by the two wop tossers, opps I mean losers!

As we flew off left leaving a cloud of dust, Frank screamed out, ‘YES~YES’, and I shouted, ‘BINGO’, it had taken two hours of incredible savage and mental driving, but at last I’d shaken this fucker Peterson off, well touché Brode!

Hey I didn’t come from Harrow for the fun of it, and in any case, Frank and I just couldn’t have a Swede and an Aussie put one over us, could we, the two of us were after all ‘Bull Dog Brit’s’, and anyway, wouldn’t you just hate being turned over by a foreigner and a colonial, and at the same time too, not really the done thing is it!

Frank’s much happier, both of us smugly laughing back to my place, hey I was a good guy and never ever liked upsetting or letting my best pals down, and Frank saying. ‘Good job, I knew you’d do it Brode’, hey you just had to love him.

I drove the next mile very slowly home with Ronnie’s Élan sitting all cosy behind my Capri, slowed and pulled into my cul-de-sac, down 200 yards and parked outside my house, phew some drive home. I looked across at Frank who’s very carefully folding up his Sunday paper, and he said again, ‘good boy Brode, nice job’, then he reminded me that we had done absolutely nothing unusual, it was a totally normal ride home and if the two pricks behind us complained, we would act most surprised, not knowing what they were talking about, yeah you had to love him!

The mechanical noises my parked Capri was making had to be heard to be believed; it was popping and cracking with a heat haze coming off the bonnet. Ronnie parked a little back from my car, and whilst he was changing his dopey driving shoes, Tim came running up to my drivers window screaming his head off, uttering the most foul crude language the like that Frank and I had never ever heard, and certainly would never ever have used, and to be honest it quite shocked and upset us, but then Tim was after all an Australian wasn’t he, sitting comfy we both looked across blankly at him in astonishment, I remember Tim saying.

‘You, nasty C word, have really taken Ronnie back, he can’t believe that anyone can drive like that’, and then he said it at the top of his voice too, and this was Sunday, so I hoped the neighbour’s had their windows shut. Tim used again that most foul of all bad words, the crude C word directed at both of us at least five times in the next 20 seconds. Which to be honest quite shook ‘god fearing’ Frank and me!

Well that’s it with us Brit’s isn’t it, no matter how excited we get we always observe the correct proprieties, don’t we! Australians, well what can I tell you, they sure do have a lot of catching up, and don’t mention, Ponting, Lee, McGrath, Gilcrist or Warne either, yeah I know, sickening! You see where that five are concerned, I go with this theory, frankly that lot must have been born in England and then smuggled out as babes to Aussie, so the words that come to mind is, traitors!

Tim screaming obscenities at Frank and me was quite unnecessary, Frank and I looked at each other knowingly, were thinking that he was a little ungrateful, and we hoped that Ronnie, my hero, was not as rude, after all they were both unlikely to ever have another drive of that quality, at any time during the rest of their lives’ were they, but I’ll say it again, you know what it’s like with Australians don’t you, seems the Swedes might just be the same, so we were interested to see how Ronnie behaved once he’d changed his silly shoes, and did we get any thanks for showing them the quick way home, did we fuck, manners, can’t buy them, can you!

Frank and I just looked at Tim dead pan faced saying, ‘What do you mean Tim, relax, Ronnie taken aback, how could we have possibly upset him what’s happened, Tim lets get a cup of tea, and you can tell us what’s upsetting you both?’

We got out of the exploding smoking Capri and headed into my house for that afternoon tea and cakes. Silent Ronnie, whom had made no comment at all, asked Kath for a lemon tea, which was a first. Ronnie surprised Frank and me, as he just sat quietly in an armchair not saying a word, sipping his hot sweet lemon tea, yuck, yuck! Frank and I winked at each other, you see Ronnie unlike Tim was displaying a certain level of cool unexpected quite class, and very nice to see too, so I reasoned he just might have had a tiny drop of Harrow blue blood in his veins!

Frank, Tim and I were trying to ball-aced about the sensational new BMW F2 engine, but Tim kept changing the subject to the drive home, upon which Frank and I just looked at each other in blank surprise and incredulity, saying ‘what drive home do you mean Tim’, then out of the blue laid back Ronnie blurted out loudly an astounding statement in that lovely soft melodic ding a’ling Swedish accent he had back then. Oh as an aside, about this time James Hunt would tell the story of them both visiting a chemist’s shop, where Ronnie asked the assistant for a deodorant.

‘Yes Sir which would you like…..Ball or Aerosol’, Ronnie reply was a Peach.

‘No yust for my Armpits, thank yous’,….. Back to my house.

Ronnie now sitting forward suddenly says. ‘What I don’ts under-der-stand’s, ezz how’s your Ford can be quicker’s than my Lotus in yours corners?’

Yes quite an astounding question really to Frank and me, by the soon to be F1 racing legend Ronnie Peterson, well he’d been witness to my Capri’s exceptional road holding hadn’t he, and now he’s looking inquisitively at me too for my somewhat obvious answer to Ronnie’s simple question, Tim was all ears?

Frank incidentally was now very bored, not unusual, and really reading the Sunday Times in detail for the first time that day!

Hearing this Lotus verses Capri in the corners comparison from no lesser a person than the great at the time F3, F2 ace Peterson, Frank and Tim were looking my way for an answer, did Ronnie really think it was a Ford V6 Capri versus Lotus Élan competition, I looked at Frank shrugged my shoulders as if to say, ‘what’s the trouble’ it was just a ride home! Frank, Tim and Ronnie are looking at me for a plausible answer; I replied dead pan and straight faced looking Ron dead in the eye!

‘Well the answer’s really quite simple Ronnie’, who’s looking at me bemused saying, ‘Why is it simple?’ as he looked at the other two, saying again, ‘Why is it simple’. Look it’s just a hunch, but I think Ronnie had already forgotten my name!

Frank, Tim and Ronnie stared inquisitively at me sitting comfy on my sofa end for an answer, so after a short polite pause, I replied rubbing my left lapel with my right finger nails!

’Ronnie It’s simply called talent, yes Ronnie that’s Talent’

We all looked blankly at each other, and for a split second it was deathly quiet as if time had stood still, and then we all went into uncontrollable fit’s of laughter that lasted for ages, well except Ronnie that is who was staring at the carpet, apparently I found out later for a Swede to laugh, someone has to die in a car crash, but we were all alive, so no wonder Ronnie was silently looking bemused at the three of us!

You see it seems the Swedish sense of humour is very much like the German sense of humour, ‘No laughing matter’

Kath hearing us, came in and stood in the door way looking at us three idiots dissolving in tears of uncontrollable laughter, and Ronnie, well yeah he can’t decide which is more interesting, the carpet or us three, now that’s what you call personality, of course after a ride home like that, Ronnie could have simply been dumb struck!

So that’s my introduction to the amazing and great Ronnie Peterson, the fastest driver I ever knew, and ♪from that moment on♪ we became great friends, and after a ride home like that, and with no moaning like Tim did, no doubt it Ronnie was my kind of guy. Hey only kidding, Timmy boy was my kind a guy too, I loved him, but you see this little story didn’t end there did it, oh no, it seemed that our attempts to kill ourselves on the drive home from Mallory, had upset a few people, and two Frogs to be precise, it went like this.

The next day Monday, Tim phoned me in a terrible neurotic state using that quite revolting C word yet again and again, saying, with out taking a breath!

‘You f’ing C… Brode, YOU have done it now were all going to prison’

‘Tim what you talking about, going to prison’, he repeats again.

‘Brode the police are looking for YOU, we’re all going to prison YOU won’t believe what happened?’

Look, as an aside I didn’t have a clue what Tim was about to disclose to me, but I did assume that it might have something to do with the afternoon ride home from Mallory Park and thought what’s all this, ‘YOU, YOU, YOU’ stuff he keep’s on about. You see silly me had mistakenly thought there were four of us on that ride home, but Tim was after all Australian, wasn’t he!

Anyway I was intrigued to know what was troubling him, so I’m all ears, that’s it really, when it comes right down to it, isn’t it, look I know that Australians fought like great hero’s in the great war, and please don’t mention Cricket, but it seems this modern lot just don’t have balls quite the size of the previous lot, of course I knew what he was talking about, no one ever drove like that for two hours on English roads without the risk of dark blue uniformed intervention, an accident or death!

‘So Tim what’s the big deal, stop moaning will you, were home free?’

‘Big deal, big deal, I’ll tell you what’s happened, listen you prick, the police put out a road block further down the M1 motorway at Luton intended to stop us’

‘Road Block’, well that was a new one, hadn’t had one of them yet!

Well time out, to be honest, I did have another one ‘road block’ that is, eight years later at ‘Reigate’, and to crawl out of that capper, I had to call on my best pal Frank’s assistance, but don’t worry, you can read all about it in chapter 91, and let me tell you something, it made this little fracas with Ronnie and Tim look like the adventures of ‘Noddy and Big Ears’, not that I would ever describe Tim and Ronnie, as Noddy and Big Ears! Oh no, but hey, you know that saying, ‘never a truer word spoken in jest’, but hang on, now that terrible duo, ‘Batman and Robin’, hey another thing, and you get only one guess who was Robin!

Tim went ranting on, as if I was the only one involved, using that terrible C word yet again and again, telling me that the Police had pulled the two Frog racers Francois Cevert and Jean-Pierre Beltoise on the M1, whom had both been at Mallory Park in the F2 race, so I innocently enquired.

‘Well what they do that for Tim’

‘For dangerous driving and endangering the public, that’s what for you prick’

So I reply. ‘Well Tim serves the fucking Frog’s right, as guests in our country they should learn how to behave, I hope they swing’

Then Tim went on to tell me, and at the top of his voice that the Police had banged the two bemused and protesting Frogs up over night in a fucking jail. Me I’m thinking, well so what, they must have deserved it so good on the Police, and after all, they were Frogs!

Tim went excitedly on. It seemed they’d both just been ambling down the M1 with not a care on their way to the ferry at Dover, with plenty of time to spare. I was all ears when according to Tim, ‘wham~bam’ they get pulled on the M1 road block, arrested and thrown overnight in clink, how very odd I thought, why they’d do that, must have been driving like loons, well snap, but what’s that got to do with us! Tim went on, now more relaxed, apparently the police carted the Frogs off to the ‘Luton county court’ first thing Monday morning, where they protested their total innocence!

The magistrates weren’t having any of that Frog nonsense and fined the two of them huge money. Then the police escorted them down to Dover and the Ferry back to France, advising them not to come back to England!

You must be thinking, like I was at the time, why arrest the two Frogs and not you two loons, yes Ronnie and me, yeah perplexing, and then before Tim could blurt it out the third plum dropped. You figured it yet, yes it was obviously our two cars they were after, not the two innocent International F 2 Frog drivers who were just ambling down the M1 heading for home, no doubt reflecting on that BMW engine!

Tim then blurts out agitated, ‘Yes you prick they were after us’

‘Well Tim blow me down with a feather, how could they make such a mistake, hey we left at junction 15, not 30 miles further down at Luton?’

‘I’ll tell you why you prick’, said an increasingly enraged Tim.

Yeah right he’s all agitated and enraged again like he’d been somewhere else the day before, and another thing, if according to Tim I was a prick, I think using Tim’s logic, Ronnie must have been a prick too who been driving just like I was, but I bet you goody two shoes Tim never called Ronnie a prick, did he, yep Australians need I say anymore! Tim explained in ever higher pitches, that Cevert was driving a Frog ‘Martra~Simca’ sports car and that Beltoise was in a Frog ‘Rene~Bonnet’ sports cars when they were stopped at the road block, to which I casually replied.

‘Well so what Tim, why did the police pull them, and in any case we were in a Ford and a Lotus, so how could they possibly think it was us?’

‘I’ll tell you why you C, well I never, there he goes again, foul language, most upsetting really, but not finished Tim went on to tell me in an even higher octave, and I might add with some very aggressive scorn directed solely at me, and quote.

‘Brodie their Matra~Simca was French blue and the Rene~Bonnett was bright fucking yellow, so they thought the two of them were us’, and then he blurts out, as if I need reminding ‘Yeah Brodie your fucking Capri is bright yellow, and Ronnie’s Lotus is light blue, so if they figure it out, were all going to jail’

Suddenly according to Tim my Capri was now a ‘fucking Capri’, whereas Ronnie’s Lotus was still only a mere ‘Lotus’, yeah bleeding cheek, so what had my Capri done to earn such scorn, perhaps Tim was directing his scorn at me through my innocent Ford Capri. Well I tell you that hurt, cos by saying ‘If they find out were all going to jail’, Tim was implying that if they did figure out their mistake, and as I’d be getting the ‘boys in blue’ visit first, that I’d rat, grassing us all up, yeah that hurt.

I wasn’t made of stone, but surely Tim knew that I’d swing before ratting on my pals, but then you see what did an Aussie know, or a Swede either for that matter about a good proper ol’ boy. You see I was not only a Harrow boy but an English boy too, what rat on my pals, come on give me a break I’m Brode, and in any case, how’d those two they think we won the war, being whImps, don’t think so!

Wow hysterical, so they arrested the two innocent Frogs and I’m thinking ‘Blue~Yellow~Yellow~Blue’, in a way a simple mistake that anybody could make, so I told Tim, ‘Thank fuck for that, most considerable of the Frogs to take the rap, and Tim, I tell you what, from now on I’m going to look at Frogs in a totally different light’

Odd, but it took quite a while, like weeks, for Tim to talk to me without raising his voice, but not so Ronnie, oh no, he thought the whole thing hysterical and kept telling me just that, but guess what, not once did he ask for a test drive in my Capri, yeah chicken, but from that moment on, I always thought it was that little drive capper from Mallory Park to my place at Hurley, Berkshire that late Sunday afternoon that cemented the two of us as confirmed great friends for life, yep had to be, and the best bit was Ronnie unlike Tim it seemed, Ronnie just loved the way I drove, astounding I know, but it’s true!

You know it’s amazing what a simple bit of good natured speeding can do, yep you make new pals all over, people flash head lights at you, and some even wave, I’ve always thought that’s how to bring the best out in people, seems it worked for Ronnie Peterson too, not too sure about that Schenken fellah though!

Well the police never figured it out, and we never went to jail, and the great thing was, ♪from that moment on♪ over the years to come, Ronnie and I had some of the most hair~raising drives imaginable around our manor, in fact, it got so bad, that in the end when we knew we were about to drive to the same place, one of us would hide and get going first, and so avoid the inevitable mayhem, but if we caught each other up, the action started all over again, nudging and bunging our cars around the streets together, yep no doubt about it, the best road fun I ever had, and I guess Ronnie felt the same too. Tim of course was just as bad, but he was subtle, he never bunged his own car around like Ron and me, but he was a terror to have as a passenger, for instance this is what Tim would do!

You’d be coming up to an English village green with a cricket match taking place, and he’d shout out ‘Brode stop fucking around get some speed on’, and like a dope I’d do just that, and then when we hit 90mph he’d whang on the hand brake and hold it on locking the rear wheels for 50 yards, while I had huge lock on, stopping the thing going off the road into a ditch or the cricket pitch! The two black skid lines left by my Capri at Peppard Green tapered into the distance and were still visible 3 months later, yeah and the stupid thing is this, I kept falling for it!

All good fun, and where’s Tim whilst all this is going on, yes in the passenger seat looking all coy and innocent. So it’s you that get’s it up the ass, not the look how ‘goody two shoes’ I am Aussie Tim Schenken Esq., and yeah you may well be thinking, well some pal he was, yeah you know that dawned on me too after a while!

Ronnie for tax reasons had an apartment in Monaco, well you wouldn’t want to live there for any other reason would you, why you couldn’t go a yard, without bumping into some famous twat who really did think they pooh’ed chocolate ice cream, well I ask you, what sort of a place is that to live, Nobs everywhere!

One afternoon I’m having a cup of tea in Ron’s kitchen, when he starts laughing and tells me about the commie Russian President Brezhnev, whom Ron tells me had a very big apartment in the same Monaco block as him who according to Ron it seems Brezhnev would turn up at the back gates unannounced out of the blue without fuss or fanfare in a blacked out LWB Mercedes, surrounded by his numerous body guards, also in blacked out, Merc’s. At first Ronnie had imagined that Brezhnev was there for a few days private rest, or some clandestine world leader’s conference? Then tells me as soon as the Merc drove into the rear area, Brezhnev would be ushered up to his apartment by his bodyguards never to be seen again until he emerged a few days later surrounded by his entourage back into his blacked out Mercedes and zoomed off presumably heading to Nice Airport and back home to commie Russia, and we all thought good commies and especially leaders stayed at home, cutting corn fields by hand for bread, well silly us!

Ronnie was discreetly watching the bodyguards in the rear court yard late one evening, when he saw the real reason why Brezhnev and his mates were in Monaco, suddenly the back gates opened and a blacked out Merc Limo turned up, and out got half a dozen stunning hookers that looked like film stars, to be quickly ushered up to Brezhnev’s apartment for him and his Russian pals to enjoy. Ronnie told me that he soon got friendly with the Russian bodyguards who were all fluent in English, German and French. The bodyguards told him that the hookers were flown in from Germany, Sweden, Italy and France, but Russian hookers were never allowed on these discreet Kremlin R&R trips!

Ronnie went on to tell me, that one day when he was in the back courtyard, the French Matra Car Company delivered a brand new little Matra sports car for Brezhnev’s collection, personally ordered by him. The car was off loaded and driven into the basement car park, but unusually it had been painted commie red by Matra, instead of the delightful French racing light blue, presumably as a mark of respect to Brezhnev and commie Russia! Brezhnev arrived a few days later, and according to the bodyguard Ronnie had befriended, the first thing that he wanted to see was his new Matra sports car, but when they drove it out into the sun, Brezhnev looking down from the balcony was horrified when he saw that it was painted commie red, and cursed the place until he nearly had a heart attack.

The car was quickly collected, and a few days later, a normal French racing blue, the only colour Matra sports cars were ever painted arrived, Brezhnev was a lot happier. So if you ever see a Matra sports car from the mid ‘70’s in original red, it’s a fair bet that it’s the very one intended for an ungrateful Russian President Brezhnev, who had anything he wanted delivered on a plate for him in Monaco back then!

You know what I say, ‘Show me a good communist with power, and I’ll show you a good capitalist’; it’s amazing what Presidents get up to whilst the peasants toil in the fields cutting wheat, or freeze at home, now there’s a surprise!

Ronnie loved that story, and told it to a lot of people, but he wasn’t so happy with our good friend Tim Schenken who was now doing F1 too, and driving Ferrari sports cars with Ronnie, or me for that matter, when we tried to knock him up at home for a cup of coffee~hot chocolate, after midnight one Friday evening!

It was a simple request, all we wanted was a cup of hot chocolate and coffee, not unreasonable, but when we rung Ron’s door bell he just wouldn’t answer, which we couldn’t understand as Ronnie was our pal and always looked forward to seeing us, so ok, it’s 1.30 am, but what the heck were pals. Thing was we knew Ronnie was at home as both his and Barbaro’s cars were there, but they continued to ignore our knocks on the front door and also the pebbles that Tim, yes that is Tim, had thrown at their bedroom window, so I ask you, what sort of best pal is that, that can’t get out of bed to let his pals in for a drink, very odd, yeah right, had us two flummoxed too!

Ronnie’s town house was just 25 feet from the road, and when we get the ‘cold shoulder’ Tim and I sat there in my yellow V6 Capri looking up at Ron’s front bedroom window for ages, expecting for him to give us the nod, ♪and let us in♪. We even lightly tooted the horn, but nothing, could it be that Ronnie and Barbaro were ignoring the two of us, a little unkind at 1.30 in the morning, we needed a hot drink, they surely knew that, yes unreasonable, so there was nothing for it, we would have to somehow wake the inconsiderate sod up.

The odd thing was, it never dawned on me at the time, but Tim had been drinking at this nightclub ‘Skindles’ minutes earlier, and thinking about it all these years later, Tim just may have been two parts gone, whereas non-drinker me, was four parts sober as an English Judge, so frankly I only have myself to blame!

Things like that always took time to sink in with me, as I never drank alcohol, so a guy had to be on his hands and knees, or slurring his speech, or winding me up, before it dawned on me that he was two or three parts gone, and it would be fair to say there was a very fair chance that Tim was winding me up that night, and back then, it didn’t take too much winding for me to act like a loon, ah thanks Tim, but truth is I’m more settled now, but back then, I could be a trifle over the top at times that might occasionally upset people, and I know for a fact that due to my occasional bad behaviour some people actually didn’t like me at all, what, what, yeah I know, I know, unbelievable, but I fear it’s true, which I found a trifle unfair, the boring wankers, you see I always loved everyone, well ok, ok, maybe there’s a few I don’t, but then own up, nobody loves everyone or wankers, do they!

Tim had the solution, which of course I would be carrying out, or as it turned out, actually carrying the can!

‘Right Brode, we know the fuckers awake and won’t come to the window, SO you do some doughnuts that will shift the fucker’s ass’

Well tut, tut, tut Tim, more bad language! Look you might want to remember at this point that this doughnut thing was Tim’s idea, NOT mine ok, I didn’t need a hot chocolate that bad, but three parts gone Tim was insistent.

So I positioned the car in the middle of the narrow road, wound on some right lock, put about four grand on the clock and took my foot of the clutch sideways, gave the engine some more welly and around the car started to spin, round and around and around we went, but as we passed Ronnie’s window time and time again, the sucker would not open his drapes, we had perambulated maybe ten times when I figured this was turning out to be some doughnut, when Tim shout’s out.

‘For fuck-sakes stop Brode, or we will have two punctures’, I kept going, well it was his idea wasn’t it. look was I complaining, no, and they were my tyres not his, but it was getting difficult seeing through the dense rubber smoke churned up by the rear’s and the stink of rubber in the car was chocking both of us until we were coughing our lungs out, so after about 15 revolutions, I called it a day got of the gas and stopped, with just about every house lit up in the cul-de-sac, we were facing Ron’s house.

This was some impressive bunch of doughnuts, Tim and I anxiously looked up as the fog cleared to Ron’s front bedroom window, nothing, disappointing to say the least, as in that tight road, doing 15 doughnuts without taking a wheel off on a kerb was an amazing feat by any account, and shame really that Ron had missed the lot, apparently Barbaro had been under the sheets, what a waste too, even she would have appreciated that lot, you don’t see doughnuts like that every night of the week you know!

Then Bingo, one good hoot on the horn and suddenly the drapes flew back, and there with out stretched arms stood Ron, in his stripped pyjamas top, look just a thought, but I assumed Ron had bottoms on, if not would have been a horrible sight for Barbaro, anyway we stared up at Ron, expecting a welcome in sign, but couldn’t understand what he was attempting to utter!

Ronnie’s mouth was wide opening and shutting very quickly with glaring eyes sticking out like organ stops, not good. Tim was the first to speak, well he would wouldn’t he, it was after all his idea saying. ‘Ah Brode, it doesn’t look like Ron’s up for coffee right now, so shall we just get the fuck out of here’

I didn’t need telling twice, I whanged the Capri around on the throttle and we headed on home, I dropped Tim off and had a nice cup of hot chocolate all by my little ol’ self, before I turned in for the night, disappointed not to have shared a drink with my two best pals Ronnie and Timothy, ah well you do your best.

The phone rang at around 8am, I picked it up, you should have heard the abuse that Ronnie hurtled down the phone at me, it was savage and scathing, something about his reputation, thank Christ there were no children about to hear such foul language, frankly you could understand it from an Aussie, but from a Swede who collected fucking ‘goldfish’, yep quite shocking really!

Ronnie didn’t quite have a full command of English at that time, so I was laughing, but I fell silent when Ronnie told me that Tim whom he’d called first, had told him it was ‘all Brode’s fucking fault’, adding that he tried but couldn’t stop me, well there’s surprise, I did tell you didn’t , that Tim Schenken was Australian!

Ron’s outburst cut me to the quick, I wasn’t made of stone, I had feelings just like other people, but I tell you what, from that day on all Tim and I had to do at any time past midnight, if we wanted a cup of hot chocolate or a coffee with Ronnie, was just park outside his house and give the Capri’s engine a good rev up, and within fractions the drapes of Ron’s front bedroom window flew wide open, to expose the smiling face of ace formula one star Ronnie Peterson illuminated like an angel behind the window, beckoning us both in for a night cap, and just seconds later the front door would open wide with Ron looking up and down the street, to be sure that his neighbours were all still sound asleep, yeah you got it, now that’s a proper pal.

Ronnie and Barbaro were of course considered model neighbours, but it took the combined efforts late one night of Australian Tim Schenken and Brit yours truly to get their neighbours thinking way which all things considered was indeed a neighbourly thing for the two of us to do for Ronnie and his residents down the, ‘cul~de~sac’, called ‘The Farthingdales’, at Maidenhead, Berkshire, England.

Just a couple of years later one black Sunday afternoon at Monza on the start line of the last European F1 race that season, staggeringly sad tragedy struck that felled us all to the ground, you see as the flag dropped and the race was getting underway with cars juggling for position, a few cars became tangled up and Ronnie flew off at high speed into the barriers. It was no one’s fault, it happens, but Ronnie sustained injuries that later led to his untimely death in the early hours at that wretched Monza hospital, that night Motor racing lost one of the greatest F1 drivers that ever lived, but his friends and family all lost a lot more, it was like losing family, and even today all these years on writing this, I still feel sick to the pit of my stomach!

To his friends and family, Ronnie’s passing was like someone had just cut a huge chunk out of our very souls, there’s no adequate description of how you feel when that happens. I was sick to my very core, and it stays that way for a long time, it’s the worst feeling of despair imaginable, made worst as I’d already had, way beyond my fair share of feelings like that, having lost my dear friend, the marvellous driver Roger Williamson, just a few years earlier at Zandvoort in July 1973, and now my lovely pal Ronnie was gone too, what would our lives be like without them, and what would our lives have been with them, so much richer that’s what, yes and you know that, and that’s what makes it all the more sickening for the rest of your life!

When an extreme tragedy like this happens, the pain is no different to a member of your family dying, and the reason for that is simple, your best friends are an extension of your family, and although the love is different, you love them no less, in fact you often see more of your dearest friends than you do family, so the loss is totally consuming and devastating, it’s like a never ending punch in the stomach, oh how I hate that feeling, who invented that!

One of the totally consuming and overriding thoughts that keeps in your head for ever, is that you will never have any more fun, love, or good times with your pal, or loved one again, and you just can’t take that in, it was something that was never going to happen to your friend, whom you think you will know for ever, but like the flick of a sick switch, this indestructible life is unexpectedly turned off, and you’re left wondering for the rest of your life, what might have been, with that all consuming feeling of empty despair, you so hate. You so want to turn the clock back, but you know that is never going to happen, so in the end you just have to say to yourself it was a privilege to have known, and no matter how painful it is, that’s about it really!

Yep no doubt about it, it was ‘Better to have known, loved and lost, than never to have known loved and lost at all’, yep that’s about it, and although it totally sickens you, that’s what it comes down to in the end, and no matter how you look for some kind of reason, ‘loved and lost’ just about covers it. The other consuming thought particularly with sportsman, is what your friend still had to offer and show the world, and with Ronnie, well he still had and desperately wanted to show the Formula One world what he was really capable of, and we all so wanted him to do just that, it was his destiny, and when that’s taken away, there’s nothing sadder than unfulfilled destiny, believe me.

I was at Ronnie’s lovely Tudor house at Cookham where he’d moved to from ‘The Farthingales’ a few days before he went to Monza. I knocked on the door but no answer, then I heard his ride on lawn mower, so Ronnie was at last cutting the grass that had grown to over two feet, with huge weeds growing up all over, it really was a mess that Barbaro had been reminding him about with increasing fury for months. So with blade set high, Ronnie was hacking down the dense weeds and grass on his ride on mower. I had come via the patisserie with half a dozen traditional English Jam filled, sugar coated doughnuts, the type that Ronnie loved. Personally I couldn’t eat the things because if I did, I would wake up next day 14 pounds heavier, but Ron loved the sickly things, and the more jam the better, yuck!

Oh years after that Sunday ride home from Mallory Park, Ronnie admitted that he loved that ride back, and had never thought it possible to drive like that for so long without dying, and then heaven, he only tells me the way I did those doughnuts outside his house late that night with Tim was amazing, and although he wasn’t looking at the time, he realised by the never ending tyre squealing that it must have been some sight to have seen, and couldn’t understand when he saw the tyre marks how I’d done so many doughnuts in such a narrow road, what, the great Ronnie Peterson heaping praise on me. I’ll say it again; if he wore a skirt I’d lift it! Of course on hearing that, I offered to come round that very night and do a few more, but Ron declined the offer!

So not to be outdone Ron would quite often give me his own doughnut demonstration in his BMW, but truth be told, pretty good, of not quite so good as my 15 doughnuts in my Capri at 1.30am outside his house, so yeah it’s true, Ronnie may have given me some bollocking, but time heels! So all things considered F1 star Ronnie Peterson was a sucker for doughnuts, whether they were sticky jam filled ones, or tyre squealing ones, and particularly out side his house by a professional Harrow boy, hey its ok, no need to pat my back!

So hearing the mower, I crept around back to the garden, and seeing Ronnie hacking down this jungle down, I crawled on all fours into the long grass and lay low until he was nearly on me, then I popped up with this white paper bag of doughnuts, to surprise him, the sucker almost fainted, but once he saw the jam doughnuts, he switch’s off the mower and is all over me, we went into his kitchen, put the kettle on and got stuck into the doughnuts with a mug of tea. Ronnie quickly put four away, and I had the remaining two, and for my sins, put on 28 pounds!

Ronnie was very excited that the European F1 season was at last over after the final European race at Monza, and told to me in his kitchen that afternoon just before he went off to that fateful weekend, that he couldn’t wait to get Monza over with, as the next two races were the end of season closers in the US and Canada, as once Monza was out the way, Ronnie’s agreement with Chapman to stay behind Mario Andretti was honoured.

So Ronnie had a plan that he couldn’t wait to put into effect, to him those two races in Canada and the US would prove conclusively and beyond any doubt just who really was the quickest driver at ‘Team Lotus F1 and what he’d been doing all season so far, you see Ron was like all truly completive sportsmen, they want the world to know their the best, and he so wanted the Formula One circus to know that he’d been riding around behind Andretti twiddling his thumbs, and these two wins after Monza would get his pride back to the level it rightly deserved to be, yeah that was our Ron, you just had to love him, Ronnie’s almost last words to me were.

’Brode I am sick of driving behind Mario all season one handed, when I get to America the agreement to stay behind him is off, so I’m off into the distance’

We all knew what that meant and were excitedly looking forward to seeing that happen, and when it didn’t happen as Ron had gone forever we all felt a huge sense of despair and being cheated, not only for us but for Ronnie too at what could have been, as he so deserved to show the F1 world that he had been ‘show boating’ all season behind Mario, by agreement with Colin Chapman, but after Monza, that was about to change, and Ronnie couldn’t wait.

We knew that when Ronnie made a statement like that, he pulled it off; he never ever said anything lightly, for instance. Kath and I were going to Monaco to see the GP and when I told Ronnie he was delighted, as he loved to have his friends with him, and immediately said. ‘Right Brode, then you must bring along your evening suit, and Kath bring your best evening dress too, I’m going to win the race, so afterwards we will all be having supper with Prince Rainier and Grace Kelly’

‘HEY you sure Ronnie?’

‘Yes Brode I’m going to win the race’

‘Well OK Ronnie, we will pack our zoot suit’s’

Later when we were packing for the weekend trip, Kath said to me, ‘Brode do I really have to pack an evening dress?’ I replied.

‘Well he said that he would win, and you know Ronnie, so if he does we will look right dicks if we don’t have the right gear for the winners Royal supper’

So we packed our best evening gear, and guess what, Ronnie only won the race, what a bloke. So Ronnie, Barbaro, Kath and I go off to the Monaco winner’s ball, joining Prince Rainer and Princess Grace Kelly, and had a ball of a time.

So you see when Ronnie was adamant that he was going to do something, only a fool would ignore him, like that time at Brands Hatch when Ronnie asked Colin Chatman for a new set of Q tyres, only to be told by Chapman that he was going way too fast already.

‘So no you can’t have a new set of tyres’, said Chapman, Ron replies.

Ok give me the hardest set we have, I need to do some more laps’

So, on go the hard tyres and Ronnie knocks a whacking big chunk of his best Q lap time to put him firmly on pole position, way, way faster than Mario Andretti his team mate, whom to get the Lotus drive he’d agreed to stay behind and that meant that Ron would have to drop back behind Mario in the race!

Yep it would be smart to listen to Ronnie when he had made his mind up to do something, so Kath and I packed our evening gear which for me included my expensive patent leather shoes that I bought at ‘Saxones’ in Regent street, when I was just 18 for the staggering sum of £32, wow was my Dad impressed, and a small fortune back then, and guess what, I still wear them 50 years later, now that’s what you call value for money, just thought you’d like to know that.

So that evening after the race we had a sumptuous supper with the Royals of Monaco at their Palace ballroom. That was in 1977, and I have rarely been back to Monaco since, you know why, well how do you top that, it’s kind of like, ‘better to have had, than never had at all’, you get the picture.

That is actually not quite true, but I like to think that it is, however in 1980 I went to Monaco with the new fledgling Williams F1 team that I’d helped Frank set up, and would you believe we were short of pit passes. So to get me down to the pits I put on Alan Jones’s crash helmet and drove the Williams F1 to the grid, but going through the tunnel it was all that I could do to resist giving the thing a load of throttle to see how it accelerated, but I managed to resist the temptation, but it was a close call, and I distinctly remember thinking as I drove through the tunnel in first gear at 30mph in this beautiful F1 car, that it would be real stupid to cream it all over the Armco barrier on the way to the grid, and what do you learn for that, yep I can be sensible at times, rare I know, but that was one of the few!

So truth is, I’ve actually been to the Monaco F1 race twice, you know anyone who had two better trips there, first with Ron winning and then supper with the Royal family, and the second time I go there, I get to drive around the track to the grid in a William’s F1 car, hey not bad eh, you know anyone who did better! Oh so ok you knew Graham Hill did you, oh and Senna too, well aren’t you the clever clogs!

So that’s my ever lasting memory of F1 at Monaco, watching my lovely pal the great Ronnie Peterson win the race for Lotus, and then Kath and I joining him and Barbaro for a Royal supper afterwards, and then a few seasons later, driving the F1 Williams to the starting grid. Tell me how do you top that, easy answer, you can’t, so don’t try, and I wont be either, so I ain’t going back unless I can top the first two trips, yep I know very unlikely!

Hey there was one other time with Ronnie, that I should tell you about which was a bit spooky, it occurred when I was driving my Bentley in the direction of London with Tim Schenken and Ronnie up front with me, and in the back nattering shopping ten to the dozen were Ronnie’s new wife Barbaro, Tim’s wife Bridgett and my wife Kath, three absolutely gorgeous girls! Well we weren’t daft, we knew if your gonna latch on to a girl for life, better be sure she’s gorgeous, oh and it’s a good move to take a good look at her Mum too, wise words believe me, we’d done out homework well with these three dolls!

The reason we were heading for London was that Ronnie and Barbaro had just got hitched at the registry office in Maidenhead, yeah married! So afterwards I was driving us all to London’s ‘Café Royal’ for a slap up lunch before they flew to Sweden to tell their respective friends and parents the great news. Yeah just us six, so you can guess from that their wedding was a very quite and special affair, until that is the Bentley cruise into central London, and of course I’m doing the driving!

At this point I should tell you that Ronnie had the ideal chance to marry Barbaro whilst on holiday with Kath and me in Barbados just a few weeks earlier!   Yeah I gave Ronnie the perfect chance to get married there, as a two up with Kath and me, but after looking at the wedding form for ages he couldn’t bring himself to sign it, the ‘silly Swede’, and you can believe I told him straight,

‘Ronnie don’t be daft, follow me and Kath under the palm trees by the beach, your never gonna get a better opportunity’, but he just couldn’t bring himself to do it, yeah silly Swede!

So some weeks later when the very lovely demure Barbaro found herself ‘knocked up’, with what turned out to be the delightful Nina, they took the plunge and did the foul deed, and of all places at the very drab Maidenhead registry office, which you could not begin to compare with Barbados, of course I pulled Ron’s leg mercilessly about that telling him time and time again, that he should listen to his best pal Brode in future it could be life changing, but of course in Barbados he didn’t, yeah silly Swede, so well ok maybe he did sometimes!

A few days before their wedding as we were using my Bentley, being a good guy I naturally went to London’s famous stage and film outfitters, ‘Berman and Nathan’ and hired a full chauffeurs outfit in dark green, that’s flat cap with shiny black peak, brass button up tunic with high collar, plus-four trousers, long black boots, and brown gauntlet gloves, if I say it myself, I did look a bit good, and with the whole outfit matching the mid Fern green of my Bentleys paintwork and sumptuous green leather upholstery, to be frank, I’d say I looked, pretty darn dandy!

You know to be honest and not to brag, there are times when my best was as good as it gets, and this was one of them, ‘as good as it gets’ times. Yeah you won’t find me letting my best pals down, and if I say it myself it’s called, ‘class’ and to me my lovely friends Ronnie and Barbaro deserved class, didn’t they, on the way to Ron and Barbaro’s I pick up the Schenken’s, who on seeing me, near collapsed, that hurt!

Kath by the way was horrified at my chauffeurs outfit, and thought I looked a right dick, with ‘Brode your not serious are you!’, yeah really, anyway when we pulled up outside Ron’s house in the Bentley complete with twin white silk ribbons stretched across from window pillars to bonnet B badge, I knocked on their front door, Ron answered and taking one look at me swung around on his heels shouting up to Barbaro, ‘Brode’s hired a chauffeur’, I called out to him.

‘Hey what do you mean hired a chauffeur, it’s me, not a chauffeur, you dick’

Ronnie couldn’t believe his eyes, and then starts cursing, cos he couldn’t figure out how he’d explain a chauffeur in the wedding photos, reminding me for the fifth time, that I was best man and witness too, so how could he have a chauffeur in uniform as a witness, which according to him would look stupid, well I had news for him, just what did he think marriage was! There’s me looking the part and immaculate, but Ron was actually quite cross, as I said the ‘Silly Swede’. You know, it’s at times like this, that if I wasn’t a Harrow boy, despair might creep upon me, I’d done my best and what thanks did I get, yeah your right, fuck all, and that’s not a lot, is it, immaculate maybe, but I’m the one looking like a stand in for something out of a Bogart film, complete with limp!

Look I told Ron, forget it’s me, just tell’em the wedding was on the spur of the moment and the only witness you could find was the chauffer, who drove you both to the registry office, why Ron it fit’s in well with not telling your parents doesn’t it, and they won’t recognise me anyway will they, as they never met me in the first place did they, you dick, and with that it slowly sunk in, as eventually the third plum dropped and a wry smile crossed his face, and he flew upstairs to tell Barbaro the plan! Swedes, Christ did I have to think of everything, yeah, and what was that smart ass Aussie Schenken doing, doubled up in pain on the pavement!

So off the six of us drove without any fuss around the corner to the mental Institution, opp’s sorry, registry office building, and went through the cold blooded process of getting married in that bleak drab office, which took all of six minutes, and so quick in my opinion had to be contestable, and I quietly whispered this very important observation to Ronnie after the court hearing, opps, so sorry again, wedding! Then after photos on the door step of this stark drab office block, we all piled back into my Bentley with it’s silken white wedding ribbons across the bonnet, with our three darling girls in the back, and us three guys in the front, with yours truly still dressed as their chauffeur driving with precision and perfection, heading out onto the M4 motorway for London and our celebration lunch at the ‘Café Royal’ in Piccadilly, and you might well be thinking, well what’s so unusual in that, and yeah your right, but you see this celebration drive didn’t go quite according to plan, nah!

So no panic plenty of time we cruise into London town with three hours for lunch, and on the way back I’d be dropping Ron and Barbaro off at Heathrow to fly to Sweden to tell their folks the good news, which I presumed included that Barbaro was well and truly, ‘knocked up!’

You know there’s nothing quite like cruising in a Bentley motor car wrapped in all that sumptuous leather, and especially with three good lookers in the back, even if for them impending babies, cots, baby clothes, baby food and baby sitters, were the boring order of the day!

As we approached what was then called the ‘Cherry Blossom’ roundabout, on the outskirts of London, named after the famous boot polish company, things started to take an unexpected turn, and I’d have to say for the worst, and I declare before my maker, who ever that was, what was about to unfold had nothing to do with my driving, yeah really, although no one has ever believed that to this day, and that included Ron and Tim who were sitting up front next to me, as witness’s, and they weren’t asleep either, well some defenders of the right those two twerps were!

As we approach the ‘Cherry’ roundabout were in the middle stream of three lane traffic but going slightly faster than the lanes either side of us, so like the cars in front I just went with the traffic flow doing no more than 40 mph chatting away to Tim and Ron. In the outside lane I’d noticed a tatty red Ford Cortina estate car that badly needed a wash that for no reason suddenly lurched into my path, but displaying great talent, what else would you expect, I brake gently to avoid the accident and slot in behind the Cortina that had just wildly swerved in front of us, hey it happens, but then I go out into the now faster outside lane, so the red Cortina is now alongside us in the middle lane, you with me so far, good, cos at this point ever observant Tim, said under his breath, so avoiding a good slap around the ear from Bridgett.

‘What the fuck’s up with that prick?’

I reply no worrying in the slightest about a slap from Kath, ‘Fucked if I know’, but that was just the start of our problems with the red Ford, on the way to the Cherry roundabout as it swung across our path four or five times attempting to crash into us, with me taking avoiding action. The girls oblivious to what’s going on with the Ford, had dropped the baby bit, and were now talking for England, Germany and Sweden, had amazingly had not noticed a thing, although the Bentley had been slowing and braking quite hard for no apparent reason that they would know, well come on they wouldn’t would they, they were talking shop, you know clothes, shoes, hairdo’s, holidays, furniture, that kind of very important thing that would take an earthquake or plunging down a ravine to shake them out of mesmerising chat like that, into what’s called ‘the real world’, a place where only guys exist, obviously you ‘know what I mean’ Whilst all this was going on, Tim was under breath cursing the ‘stupid fucker’ in the red car, Ronnie had been silent all the time, he may well have been in a self induced coma, marriage will do that, I’ve seen it happen, yeah to me, twice!

Then at the sixth attempt at crashing into us the Ford driver get’s lucky, smashing along the left side of my pristine green Bentley making a terrible scrapping noise, we were almost on the roundabout by now, so, no more Mr Nice Guy from me as the red Ford now in front slams on it’s brakes with both cars coming to a shuddering tyre screeching stop, well that woke the girls up pronto who all said as one with raised voices, ‘What’s the matter?’, well actually Bridget said, ‘Vots zee matter’s?’, small point I know, but it’s stuck in my mind ever since!

I couldn’t believe what had just happened, or why, and was flying round the lamp at the thought that my beautiful gleaming Bentley was damaged for no good reason that I knew of, what was the red Ford driver on, his death was the only option, mind you the thought did cross my mind that maybe he might have recognised me from an earlier indiscretion, but nah, what me have a dust up with a filthy red Ford Cortina, give me a break, no contest, I had standards!

We sat there for a few seconds flummoxed and just couldn’t work out why this psycho had been attempting to smash into us for the last mile when suddenly he appeared by my side window screaming his demented head off at us, uttering undecipherable words, what was he on about, but being super cool, I calmly said!

‘Tim~Ronnie in situations like this you need to be calm, so let’s relax and I’ll count to ten, then I’ll kill the prick’,

So whilst I’m calmly counting to ten the demented loon keeps screaming through my now open drivers window, and the girls in the back, well yeah, I’d assumed that all three had jumped in fright into their handbags and clicked the catches tight, as I couldn’t see any of them in my rear view mirror!

So I start counting, it went like this,1..2..3..4.5678910, I jumped out, or rather limped out as my left leg was still recovering from being smashed into 23 pieces a few months earlier and went between the two cars to inspect the left side to my Bentley which remarkably had no damage at all, as the huge front rap around chrome bumper had fended off the red Ford very well, that now had a huge deep gash all along it’s right side, and seeing the Bentley had no damage, I thought.

‘We’ve wasted enough time with this demented idiot, no damage so no point in killing the prick he can stay here whistling dixie lets get going to the ‘Café Royal’

It was at this point that the Ford driver did a very silly thing, you see as I was standing in front of my Bentley with the Ford’s rear just two feet away looking at the massive traffic threading it’s way around the two stationary cars 20 yards before the ‘Cherry’ roundabout, and was just about to turn around when the Ford driver grabbed my left shoulder from behind me, now that was a very silly thing to do!

Forget ‘Sugar Ray’ and ‘Casius Clay’, I instantly spun around on my good right leg with spring loaded left arm and clenched fist and landed the perfect straight left connecting smack in the guys left eye, which instantly split’s open and pours blood. Now if I say it myself, it was a classic punch that under other circumstances would have been voted by boxing peers, as the punch of that ’75 season. The punch landed and the Ford driver instantly crumpled down going off balance, putting his left hand over his damaged left eye, and using his free right hand to balance himself against my Bentley’s beautifully chromed radiator, oh and just in case you’re wondering, yeah your right I’d re-chromed the sucker to perfection!

Still stooping down he’s fumbling in his jacket with his right hand he gets out his wallet, fuck knows why, perhaps he wanted to tip me, then started screaming that he’d be suing me for ‘grievous bodily harm’, I replied, ‘bodily harm, your fucking lucky to still be alive, you mental prick’

As he thumbed out came his wallet, I grabbed it out of his right hand and tore it into two pieces, small point I know, but a pity really as it was made of the very finest crocodile or snake skin, but blaming a ‘spur of the moment’ thing I tore it in two, throwing the two parts into the oncoming traffic, yes, a silly thing to do, I should have nicked it, but I did pick up his business card putting it in my top left tunic pocket, and the last I saw of him with left hand firmly covering his left eye, he’s on his one hand and knees in the road attempting to recover his torn up wallets contents and money from the traffic zooming over it. Tim, Ronnie and me jumped back into the Bentley, I went back ten feet, put on hard right lock and out into the traffic we drive, being careful not to drive over the red Ford’s demented driver who’s still on his knees.

So show over in what a minute tops, so we proceed on our way to the ‘Café Royal’ in London’s’ magical Piccadilly, but, and this is where it get’s a trifle tense, oh dear, dear, dear, from the back we could hear the sound of muffled tears from all three girls, strange really, surely they could see I was unhurt with out a scuff on my left knuckles, well they’d hardly be crying for that Ford Cortina loon, would they!

We three were bemused and couldn’t figure out why this idiot had behaved like he did, but what did we know, we figured that he must have been having one hell of a bad day, and to compound it would you believe he chose’s to cut up an armour plated Bentley, and then have a go at three pretty good race car drivers, one in particular, so ok with a limp maybe, that had been unbeaten as a boxer in a former life, well was he fresh out of luck, no doubt about it, the prat had, had better days!

Then a few miles down the road, Kath said meekly from the back that she thought she knew the red Ford driver from somewhere?

‘Kath what you talking about, were virtually in central London how could you possibly know that idiot?’ she replied.

‘Brode he just looks familiar, I’m sure that I know him, but I can’t think how?’

Well I said, ‘this might help you’, and I passed over my left shoulder the Ford driver’s calling card, there was silence in the back, and then rock steady Kath, who could never ever, ever be considered as a bit of a drama queen said.

‘Oh my God…..Oh my God Brode, you just whacked my Doctor’

Now over the years, yeah I admit it, I’d had a few close calls, but, whacking a doctor, don’t think so, ‘Kath, what you talking about, your doctor is Dr Spink, who the fuck is that prat, ah sorry girls, pardon the language girls!’

This was startling news, what’s she on about her Doctor, well if he was, I’d never seen him before at the surgery, and more importantly what’s the loon doing in London driving a Ford like he’s in a dodgem car, and a scruffy dirty one at that?

I can see Kath in the rear view mirror looking bemused and sure enough she confirms it is indeed her doctor, saying dejectedly.

‘Oh Brode what have you done, he’s Dr James, he’s seen me but only does early pregnancies and common colds that’s all, they don’t allow him to do anything too complicated, as he’s a bit odd’

‘Odd are you kidding Kath, he very nearly ran us off the road his mother must have been fucking ‘Boadicea’ and he’s your doctor, opps sorry again girls, Kath were in central London on a busy day with thousands of cars around us, and I get to whack one of our family doctors, well what are the chances of that happening?’

See I know you had to wait a bit, but I told you it was spooky, didn’t I.

Kath was right, everyone knew that the infamous Dr James a few years earlier was just about to have the local Nob Hill wedding of the year, yeah with a carriage pulled by six white horses and all that stuff, when his bride to be does a no show, yeah the bitch stood the poor sod up, which according to his doctor partners, when I saw them later that day, he’d never ever recovered from!

Well that had me flummoxed I can tell you, there he is now apparently in deep depression, when she does that no show, letting the twerp off Scot free, so ok those six horses and all that other stuff cost a bundle, but surely he knew that was a once only payment! What an escape, I had to shake my head back to reality!

His doctor partners assured me that they would take care of him, and not to worry about it, and that they assumed when he saw the Bentley with the white wedding ribbons, all that jilted grief he’d suffered came flooding back blowing his brains!

Then Dr Spink added, ‘I can’t understand it; he was so happy this morning, waving around a cheque from Japan, as payment on one of his patents’, and I’m thinking, ‘so happy this morning’, who are these provincial village doctors I’m confiding in that have a ‘fruit cake’ as a partner, and let the demented physco loose with a stethoscope. I tell you what, I’m also thinking our National Health Service have a lot to answer for, hey it may well be free, but with looney Doc’s like that around, I’d be paying in future! Of course I had to also warn his two partners, Doc’s Spink and Sheen, that when they next saw their third partner Doc James he may look a bit second hand, and that his left eye may need some attention.

We never heard any more from the Doctor that caused that little interruption and skirmish on the way to London’s swanky ‘Café Royal’ for lunch, on the occasion of Ronnie and Barbaro’s Peterson’s wedding day, and apparently Kath never saw that whacky loon Doctor James at the surgery ever again either!

That insane doctor will never know what a damper he put on that special day for Ronnie and Barbaro, or that I, yes that’s me, took the can for the whole miserable episode, but apart from that little showdown with the red Ford on the way into London, the wedding went off very well, and ♪I got them to the Church on time♪, and I also got them to the Airport on time too. Oh and I also paid for lunch at the ‘Café Royal’ too, along with the chauffeur’s outfit as well, kind of wedding present I guess, some wedding that was, some present too!

You know it happens all the time, you do your best, and some other sucker, fucks things up, and who carries the can and gets it up the ass, yes you got it, you!

Well to be honest, I thought bollocks to the wedding, for me the highlight of the day was that perfect straight left, and I was out of practice, there’s no doubt about it if I’d carried on boxing when I was a kid, I could have been a contender and guess what, until I took up Ice Hockey, I was unbeaten with the gloves on, and not many can say that, can they?

Ronnie’s and Barbaro’s darling daughter to be Nina, who was hiding quietly in her mummy’s tummy through out all this Bentley mayhem, and I might add, the very reason for this hastily arranged special day too, must have wondered what all this ‘rock and rolling ‘around in the Bentley was all about, but get this!

The lovely Nina told me in June 2008, that if she was ever to have a tattoo, it would simply read….. ‘Made in Barbados’

I just loved that, Mum Barbaro and Daddy Ronnie would love that too, Ronnie was a fantastic guy and some never to be repeated class act, no wonder we all loved him so much, and you bet we miss him, and we miss his darling wife and childhood sweetheart Barbaro too, who joined him just a few years later, but they left behind the most lovable little impish daughter called Nina, who grew up to be the most amazing looking and loveable Mum with two adorable children, whom Nina’s Dad and Mum Ronnie and Barbaro would have dotted over, and been so very proud of.

I still live in the same area of Berkshire, that Ronnie and I drove our cars around like loons swapping places and performing amazing driving tricks on each other, but you know sadly it’s not the same any more. So when I drive along these winding English country lanes today, I always remember those days in the ‘70’s with Ronnie car stuck to my boot lid, or me trying to get by him half way up a grassy muddy bank with fun and great affection, but also a huge amount of sadness too!

You see I miss those days as they were the best, and I’d like them to come back, but that can’t happen can it, so you just have to smile at the memories from time to time, yeah, my friend Ronnie Peterson was some class act.

Stefan Svenby, Ronnie’s manager, invited me in June 2008 to visit the Swedish race track Anderstorp, to celebrate our friend Ronnie’s memory, yes very emotional and I knew that would be a tough weekend!

At the track I took one look at Nina, and was thrilled to see that she’d grown up from a beautiful little girl into a beautiful lady, and after a warm proper hug welcome, Nina introduced me as her daddy’s ‘best friend’ in England to the very likable Swedish King, Carl Gustave, well that shook me rigid!

You see I had never ever though that, what me Ronnie’s Petersons best English friend, I liked that very much and instantly had tears in my eyes, the King seeing this put a hand on my shoulder and Nina gave me another hug, as if to say they understood, and although over 35 years have gone by since that dear boy died, I like many others in motor racing, and of course his family, still miss him so very much, but it was great to see Nina and Ronnie’s friends and family again, geez I know I do, but heck they must all miss that Ronnie bad, I sum it up simply like this.

Great men leave a huge legacy behind them, that you just can’t follow!

So with his sad death at Monza in 1978, Ronnie’s wonderful spirit passed on, and into to our special memories of that amazing man, the incomparable Swedish Formula One legend, whom we all loved so much, ‘Ronnie Peterson’

Ronnie’s younger brother Tommy was at Anderstorp with a collection of Ronnie’s memorabilia and memento’s on show, frankly I’d better at home, so when I got back I sent everything I had on my great friend Ron, to Tommy, including the last race suit Ronnie wore that Barbaro had given to me in 1978 a few weeks after his death, I cherished that suit, and yes I’d admit it, I sometimes wore it in private sitting in one of my races cars, yeah I’m not ashamed and don’t mind admitting that, kinda made me feel a part of him again, but it was better off being back with Ronnie’s family, what would have happened to it when I get to the great track in the sky!

After Ron winged his way to the great race track in the sky, as I’ve told you a few years later Ronnie’s angelic and truly lovely wife Barbaro whom we all loved very much, and whom I’d know before I knew Ronnie, followed her beloved Ronnie to the great track in the sky, where all good racers hang out talking endless great races!

That dear girl we all loved never recovered from loosing Ronnie, how could she, he was some dynamic, once in a life time guy that couldn’t be replaced.

You see that’s it with guys like that, they never walk into your life twice, so you have to enjoy them whilst you have the chance and consider it a privilege to have done so, and if you do get to grow old knowing them, well you know, that’s icing!

I never knew two more charming and decent people than Ronnie and Barbaro, and I so wish that they both were still around, their families, daughter Nina and their grand children deserved that, but hey, we live on Planet Earth, a tiny spec amongst a trillion, trillion, trillion billion tiny specs ‘out there’ in and beyond our solar system, and when you’re gone, unfortunately that’s it, your gone forever, and don’t doubt it, you ain’t coming back for another go, so better make this trip worthwhile!

So the moral is this, you have to make the most of everything you love and respect and enjoy as it comes at you throughout our short time on this odd planet, that’s oddly the longest time we will ever have, so we should all really, really ♪thank our lucky stars♪ that our short time spent on this amazing, and ok sometimes sad place that I call ‘The Planet Odd’ is as good a time as you can possibly have!

Better remember this, you only get the one chance, which can last a lifetime, or if your very unlucky sadly just a few fleeting years, months or even days, alarming I know, but you see we have no control over that, we all get what were gonna get, yes that’s it, no second go’s or chances!

So grab and appreciate the people and special moments as they on roll by, in your one and only life on this odd planet, you owe that to yourself, the ones you love and the ones that you loved that left you way too early that so deserved more time, so always remember to have fun for them too, that’s important!

You wanna know his biggest sin of all on this fascinating planet, no, well it’s this, and never forget it, you must never waste your time, cos as the incomparable George Harrison once sung, ♪someone else might like to use it♪, and I’ll tell you this!

When you love people, it’s an inescapable fact of life your gonna miss them bad when their gone, believe me, that’s something I and a few people that I know, know quite a bit about, but you see there’s no way out of that, I call it the ‘life on planet odd cycle’, yes a series of endless disguised recurring events, with different scenes and people, some good, some bad, the thing is to make the good one’s far out do bad one’s, not easy I know, but you have to make that happen!

Look I say it somewhere else, but it’s worth remembering what the great American actor, well actually he was born and went to school in Bristol, England, ‘Cary Grant’, once said as he headed into the twilight of his life!

‘You know it doesn’t do to out live your best friends’, and never forget this too…

♪Everybody loves somebody sometimes♪, as the great ‘Dean Martin’ once sung.

Yeah it’s true, no matter who or what you are you’re gonna love somebody sometime, who if your lucky are gonna love you right back, so you must always respect that.

You see love is a gift you can’t buy, you have to earn love, and when it find’s you, better look after that love, and you know you may think so, but that’s not always that easy, so if you feel it slipping away, grab it back and cherish it, cos love ain’t gonna past you by your way too often, and that’s a fact!

The Lotus 62, and the Jazz Man

The Lotus 62, and the Jazz Man

‘Remember for every action there is a re-action, you never get away from anything’

Ask Ernie and Bennie, the mechanics on the Jazz man’s Lotus 62.

Del Shannon


The great Jazz band leader, and solo trombonist Chris Barber who formed his famous jazz band way back in the early ‘50’s, was a reasonable race car driver back in the 60’s, and an ardent car enthusiast too, and in 1972 Chris asked me to drive his now aging and heavy old Lotus 62, Sports racing car at two German sports car events, the first at Hockenheim, and second at the famous Nurburgring, and if we could fit them in between, two English races as well.

Although the Lotus was a heavy lump and way past it’s best, I jumped at the chance to do my first race at Hockenheim with 66 plus competitors, I reckoned that I could hide amongst that lot, and reasoned that if I did well it would do my CV no harm at all, and it would also help me to learn the two great German tracks, and as no one would expect me to do well in the Lotus, no harm would be done. So I figured I could just quietly hide amongst all the other runners, and get on with the two races, and then when an opportunity arose in the future to drive a proper modern race car, I would know my way around these two world famous German tracks, the Nurburgring and Hockenheim, sounds reasonable doesn’t it, yeah that’s the way I saw it as well.

The Lotus was way to heavy compared to the latest breed of lightweight 2litre sports cars, but was fitted with what turned out to be a very robust 2.3ltr, we think, Vauxhall based four cylinder 16 valve engine, that reputedly gave around 260BHP, and amazingly went to 9000rpm, and back in 1972, that was quite high rpm for a race engine, and especially a long distance motor, even more amazingly the engine turned out to be remarkably strong as well, and in over 10 hours of racing and practising by me, it never let me down, and no one could tell me when the engine was last re-built either, if it ever was, which meant that the engine had done around 40 hours race running, so I’m thinking, surely it couldn’t last much longer!

During all the time this Lotus 62 had raced, unknown to any of us the engine had been over revving it’s balls off all the time, as the mechanical rev counter, had been fitted with the wrong cam drive, I’ll be coming to that later, so yeah the engine was exceptionally strong, and I was secretly really looking forward to driving the car, as two of my racing pals had previously driven the Lotus 62, and I could swap notes with them, and reasoned I had nothing to lose, and in any case I really liked Chris Barber and his band, they were all my kind of guys, and do you know something, they still are today 40 years later, and if they are playing near to my home, I’m the first one to book and go see the great show they put on, and then go back stage to see the band. Their great Horn player, the ever smiling Pat Halcoxs had been with Chris since 1954, retiring in 2008 after 54 years playing with Chris, that’s longer than any other known player in any other global band, amazing, and it’s also proof that they all get along with each other, very rare in entertainment, but in February 2013, the ever smiling lovely Pat Halcocks, went to the great jazz concert in the sky, so sweet dreams Pat, my lovely ol’ friend.

Plenty of great musicians started their careers with Chris Barber, like the late great Lonny Donegan, Ken Collyer, and the legendary clarinettist Monty Sunshine too, whom amongst others including Chris, released the lovely musical tune, ‘Petite Fleur’, but it was Acker Bilk and his jazz band that made it so famous, oh and I just heard in that in March 2013, Kenny Ball, just joined Pat too at that concert in the sky!

Chris was always good fun to be with, and I looked forward eagerly to meeting his two mechanics Ernie and Benny at my first test drive in the closed top Lotus 62, scheduled for a Thursday morning shake down at Silverstone, and then over the channel for the long slog down to the 7 mile a lap and very fast Hockenheim race track, deep down in south-east Germany, near the huge town of Stuttgart, the home of Mercedes, so far away, our bombers couldn’t get there and back in WW2, just thought you might like to know that.

I figured that I could do with a few laps around Silverstone to learn the Lotus, as I didn’t want to be learning the car, and also a seven mile very fast and narrow race track at the same time, mixed in with 66 assorted Sports race cars, some with 8 litres engines driven by professional race drivers, that would be doing 220mph on those three long and narrow straights, and also quite a few very Mickey Mouse drivers as well, so I thought about 20 soft laps in the Lotus would do me fine, wrong, or was that very, very wrong!

Way late in the afternoon I jumped into the Lotus, put it in first gear and drove slowly along the Silverstone pit lane towards the first turn, Copes corner, as I built up speed I changed up to second gear, and instantly found a box full of neutrals, I kept searching for gears, but there were none left in the gearbox that I could find, so I didn’t even make the first corner, and oddly I never realized it at the time, but, ‘searching’ you might like to remember that, would soon be the operative word for this Lotus 62 team, during the fraught days ahead at Hockenheim!

I coasted to a halt and walked back to the pits as the two Barber guys ran up to meet me, ‘what’s up Brode’, I told them that the gearbox was empty, so they pushed the car back to the pits and immediately loaded it on the trailer, I changed back into my Jeans, and strolled over to Chris’s chief mechanic, Ernie Prior saying.

‘Hey pity about that Ernie, I was really looking forward to driving the Lotus’, his reply quite knocked me back!

‘Well you will have plenty of time to get used to it when we get to Hockenheim David, see you there sometime tomorrow afternoon, Benny lets go’

Was he mental, I was gob smacked, here we were at Silverstone and the thing won’t go more than 50yards, and Ernie and his mechanic Bennie had loading up in a panic and heading on out to Dover desperate to catch the evening Ferry crossing, and then the long slog down to Hockenheim, they had to be mad, and the daft fruit cases expected me to go along with their madness too!

‘Ernie stop, stop are you serious, the car can’t make 50 yards, but you expect me to do practice and a 500 kilometre race single handed in the darker part of some dark forrest in bleeding south eastern Germany, in two days time in a car I haven’t driven one lap, and at a track that I’ve never driven around either, Ernie come on’

‘David don’t worry I will fix the gear box when we get out there’

‘But Ernie you don’t even know what’s wrong with it do you’

‘No, but I can fix it, and stop holding us up David, we have a long way to go, see you in the paddock tomorrow, here’s your track entry tickets, don’t let me down’

Me let him down, now I knew that he really was mental, and with that he and Bennie jumped back into this insipid couloured huge yank tank shooting brake they used to trailer the Lotus around, that’s full of what to me looked like junk and spare wheels, and off they sped out of the Silverstone paddock, leaving me standing alone in a cloud of exhaust smoke stunned.

I drove home, collected my things, picked up my best pal Mike Lawlor who was in a bit of a bad way and needed a break, as he had just discovered his wife in the back of his precious modified 1500cc Ford Anglia, getting shagged rotten by some limp dick wimp of an airline pilot that lived down the road, and by Mike’s account what he saw in that Ford Anglia, was not a pretty sight, well if you were married to the bird at the time, that is!

It happened when Mike was out in his van one afternoon delivering bread from his bakers business in Henley-on-Thames, Berkshire, and guess what, Mike’s been physically baking bread in Henley for over 60 years, and he’s still doing it today at 76, pretty cool eh, a bit like Chris’s jazz horn player, the great late Pat Halcocks, I told you about, two great examples of, ‘you can’t keep a good guy down’, until it’s final down time!

Anyway back to the shag in the Ford Anglia, Mike’s driving down a local remote Henley country lane when out the corner of his eye he notice’s the rear end of a similar looking Ford Anglia to his, almost out of sight sticking out between some bushes just off the side of the road, and thinks to himself, ‘well I never, there’s another Ford Anglia just like mine in my manor, how about that, got to have a look at that’, well was he in for a surprise! I

Intrigued he reversed the bread van back, and went into the bushes to take a better look at the racy looking Ford that looked just like his, then as he rounded the bushes the car was half way buried in, he looked at the number plate and realized that it was his highly prized and considerably modified 1500cc twin Weber carburettor Ford Anglia, a very nice bit of kit, thinking ‘wow had it been nicked?’

Yeah at first he thought, ’what’s my car doing out here half way buried in bushes’, and then he thought, hang on it must have been nicked from his house and was instantly on his guard, but closer inspection revealed that there were people in the Ford, so on his guard Mike quietly leaned over the rear boot lid for a better view through the rear window to see just who was out joy riding in his precious Ford?

Now at this point what Mike saw quite freaked him out, it was indeed a joy ride, well for the two people inside that is, where to his abject horror the first thing he saw was the back of a head that he recognized, it was that limp dick wimp of an airline pilot who lived up the road, and then as his eyes focused beyond the back of the pilots head, another head slowly appeared rising up just in front of the pilots face looking out the back window and Mike dead in the eyes, but with her eyes closed, where to his utter astonishment he recognised his wife Margaret, whom had been bobbing away on the pilots lap, or having an early nosh, which ever it was, and certainly not the kind thing you wanted to see when you were out delivering bread, was it? Anyway, Margaret was cuming up for air, and no pun intended, but you know it’s one thing discovering your lady getting fucked by some insipid looking moron, but in your precious modified Ford, come on, thats just not on is it, ‘Gees Louise’, they know how to hurt you, but Mike wasn’t a Harrow Boy for nothing was he, so he didn’t fuck around, well no, to be fair Mike wasn’t the one fucking around, was he, no his wife Margaret was the one fucking around, wasn’t she!

So what to do, situations like this do leave the offended party with a dilemma, there’s Mike innocently delivering much needed bread, when suddenly on inspection he’s confronted with this quite appalling sight, his Ford Anglia being fucked around in, and as he didn’t have gun, Mike was a bit lost for his next move, which should all things considered be a bit dramatic at the least, but Mike being mild of nature, just tapped his Anglia’s rear window, to I assume let Margaret know the game was up, and that it seems the not so limp dick wimp pilot, that he’d been up his missus for the last time, and according to Mike, who’s telling me all this later that evening, ‘this tiny action of tapping the rear window, got quite a reaction’, well yeah I bet it did!

‘Brode I tell you what, the last person on this planet that Margaret wanted to see at that precise moment in time, when she opened her eyes licking her lips, was her old man, looking her stone cold dead in the eye’

Yeah we can go along with that, can’t we!

Suddenly all hell broke out in the back of the little Ford, yes it seems that the pilots dick was not so limp, yes Mick’s suspicion’s were right, it was buried where the sun don’t shine, or if you want to be a little more charitable, she may have been giving it a right going over with her ruby reds, Mike was not too sure, but then she did cum up licking me lips, didn’t she, yes, yes I know, a wicked pun!

On seeing Mike peering in, Margaret’s and the pilot’s reactions were instant, they both smashed their heads on the roof of the car in fright, whilst disengaging in rank panic, and what happened next was hysterical, well to be frank, Mike didn’t think it to hysterical at the time, his wife getting a right rodgering, in the back of his precious Ford Anglia from a poncy looking pilot, but us Harrow guys certainly did think it very funny, and we were on the deck when he was relaying this sorry ass tale to us all, well that’s not unreasonable is it, look Mike may well have been our best friend, but hearing this lot, tact and discretion goes out the window, and you all end up heaped up on the floor, look it’s only natural, ain’t it guys, yeah I know, I know!

According to Mike, who was telling us this sad tale most earnestly, Margaret after bashing her head, jumped out of the Anglia in a right state of undress leaving her knickers on the front dashboard, and tried to tell Mike that they were just talking, and that nothing was going on, then the pilot now with limp dick, and his hair looking like he had just stuck his dick in the cigarette socket, slowly got out of Mikes treasured car in a state of shock too, and confirmed the same story, that they were just talking and that nothing was going on.

You know it’s baffling, but just what intellectual subject would take you deep into roadside bushes, for an innocent afternoon IQ chat in the back seat of a husbands car, is that intriguing or what, yeah beats me too, and to be frank, I’ve heard that one a few times, yes it’s a standard lame excuse that just captured in the act, illicit lovers use on the spur of the confused moment, as if it’s going to be believed, the two prat’s, no that can’t be can it, one was a dick!

Well I’ll say it again, Mike wasn’t a Harrow boy for the fun of it, and remember he went on to be a baker from Henley-on-Thames as well, that’s quite some pedigree, so that little charade didn’t fool him, oh no, he was smarter than that, and figured right off, a shags a shag, and there’s no hiding that, well you tell me, other than a shag, what intellectual subject requires you sitting on, or noshing a dick to get the message over, yeah your right, the subject’s getting your leg over!

Well that little roadside episode not unexpectedly signalled the end of Mike seemingly impregnable marriage to the lovely Margaret, and sympatric as I was, personally I didn’t blame the wimp pilot, as that’s what guys do, and although I thought the pilot whom I’d met a few times was a total and insignificant insipid wanker of the first order, you just never know with women do you, fact is they love men, and I’ve said it already, what they see in some wanky looking poncy guy never ceases to amaze me! Yes its right, they seem to have a totally different view on the best way forward for an ordered life on Planet Odd, compared to us guys. Look come on, you’ve seen it time and time again haven’t you, but no matter how many times you witness their odd behaviour, it still never ceases to amazes you, am I right, well two fucking right, I’m right, and no pun intended either!

Look I know I may have said this before, but gals are so totally different from us guys, that it’s more than likely that the lot of them come from a distant planet in another Solar system, as the bastards up there, ‘in a far off galaxy’ have swapped their women for ours at birth, hey no, don’t laugh, It’s an intriguing thought that would explain why the lot of them are permanently out to lunch on the Disney or Shopping channels, while guys are tuned to the sports and news channels, or would you believe ‘working’ to make a better life for the family, arn’t they, yes of course you agree! I mean how stupid are they, out getting shagged in her old mans pride and joy car, in the road side bushes of the very route of his daily bread round, would guys pull a stunt like that, hey no need to answer, but women, what happened to!

‘What you serious, shag me in my ol’ mans treasured car, are you mad, what’s wrong with your car, oh and by the way, shall we do it in another county?’, and then she delivers the final cruncher that you’ve heard time and time again until your sick, ‘do I have to think of everything’

As I said, women, daft as brushes the lot of them, and yes personally I didn’t blame the insipid pilot, although I’d like to smack him around the ear, and I told Mike just that as tactfully as I could, that on reflection may not have been quite what he wanted to hear at this particular troubsome time, saying as subtly as I could.

‘Mike that’s what guys do if the opportunity arrives and the bird’s putting out, they take the shag’, and I went on to say, Mike be realistic.

‘Look be fair Mike if it happened to you, you’re bound to end up in her knickers, aren’t you, so come, look were both at it all the time, so you can’t fully blame the pilot, can you, even if he’s a total insipid wanker’. Which we know wasn’t strictly true, as Mike had witnessed that Margaret was either ‘noshing or shagging’ his dick, but as Mike didn’t know which of the two, ‘shag or nosh’ it was, and was not about to ask Margaret, a ‘hand shandy’ wank, was a worthy third option!

I never said anything to Mike at the time, but if questioned, personally I’d go for the ‘nosh’ every time, look I was trying to help, so for good measure, I reminded Mike of the married bird in Harrow he was shagging twice a month regular as clockwork, and the thing with that was this, and although she was in a different county, the trouble was we all knew her ol’ man, yet another wanker who’s only claim to fame was this, he was a session player back then with the great ‘Acker Bilk’s Jazz Band’, and played on the recording session for, ‘Petit Fleur’, getting a lousy £25 quid, with no repeats that over the decades would by now have added up to a bundle!

Yeah as I say, a wanker, so he deserved to have his wife shagged rotten, and Mike for once in his life, was at the right place at the right time, so he shagged the bird, so after digesting his own frailties, Mike started to feel somewhat better, and then finally to wrap it up, I added.

‘Look Mike, when it comes right down to it, there’s no doubt about it, you have to blame the bird, who if she’s hitched has a duty to keep her fucking legs closed’, and no pun intended. Then being particularly tactful, I tried to make some sense of the situation, realizing that Mike needed good solid friendly advice, and who better to give that advice than his best pal Brode, hey don’t clap, I would do the same for you, it’s only what a good friend would do, it went something like this.

‘Mike you have to look at this logically, Margaret is a good looking sexy bird with a great figure and tits, that’s why you hooked up with her in the first place, am I right, yeah, ok I am, so right lets get this straight, if she puts out big, she’s going to get a result, and some lucky sod is bound to end up in her knickers’

As I said this, I added, ‘look Mike it’s programmed into us guys, we can’t help it, so if it’s on offer a guys going to ‘snatch’ the moment, so it’s her that you want to blame, not the asshole pilot’, adding, ‘but I tell you what, he’s surprised me, I truly thought all pilots were poofs that crunched pillows’

Mike looked at me in astonishment, saying with a tinge of depression!

‘Oh great, thanks for the advice Brode, you been giving Margaret one as well?

‘Now come on Mike, we all fancy Margaret, but she never put out to me, and in any case best pals birds and wives are always, always, way, way, way out of bounds’, well unless you were the wife of that guy we all knew in the, ‘Acker Bilk Band’ that is, so the moral here is this, no matter what’s going down, and again no pun intended, there allway’s exceptions to all rules!

‘Ah all right Brode, just checking, I thought the way you were talking, that you’d been in Margaret’s knickers, well at least if you had, she would have been with a pal, the thought of a stranger fucking with my wife makes me feel quite sick’

‘Yeah I know what you mean Mike, great attitude’, going on to add that if it happened to me, and it did, I would far prefer a best pal to shag my bird, or wife for that matter, truth is, who wants’ some poncy dopy looking stranger fucking around with your woman, at least if it’s a best pal you can make up, I mean you’re not going to fall out with a best pal over a bit of skirt and snatch are you, no matter who she is!

Mikes loyal and moving reply nearly brought a tear to my eye!

‘Yeah Brode my lovely old pal, your quite right of course, no percentage in falling out with your best pals is there, who you gonna drink with’, now just in case you’re wondering what the other motto is on this one, it’s simply this.

‘If you’re screwing around with another guy’s bird, always be sure that it’s a best pal’s bird’, cos if your rumbled, you can at least swop notes!

I told Mike, ‘Look, us proper guys have to stick together, if it’s good enough for you, it just has to be good enough for your best pal too, don’t you agree’

Mike thought for a moment and replied, in all sincerity.

‘Yeah you’re so right Brode, there’s no doubt about it, it’s really the thought of a stranger fiddling with your bird that pisses you off’, and you know something, there’s never a truer word, spoken in the heat of the moment, and that’s the truth!

At the time I was thinking that Mike appreciated my philosophy on the subject, but on the other hand, and all things considered, at this delicate time in Mike’s life, it may not have been quite what he needed to hear from me, his best pal?

He may well have preferred to hear something a little more sympathetic, tactful and endearing from me, but the fact is that we Harrow Boys, faced with adversity and a bad situation, can’t help but face up to it with reality, saying it as it is.        So if my great pal Mike wanted sympathy at this particular time, there were plenty of poofs and wimps out there to console him, but that would be no good to Mike, as obviously we had no idea where that perverted lot hung out, did we, so Mike had to lump it, it was Brode logic that won the day, and always remember.

‘For every action there is a re-action’, you never get away with anything!

Mike’s reaction, or at least one of them when Mike had to face the stark discovery and reality that his ever loving, or so he thought, wife’s infidelity had an amazing effect on him that was medically remarkable, his reaction within days caused massive mouth ulcers to develop, that meant that he could only eat mushy soggy ‘corn flakes’ swimming in milk, yes really. Now who would have thought that, it’s truly amazing what stress can do to the innocent, and in Mike’s case, all it took was an unexpected shag in his pride and joy Ford Anglia, is that intriguing or what?

So like the good pal that I was, I reasoned that he could do with a few days off to get his head around the forthcoming problems with his dastardly disloyal wife, and heading out for a race in distant Germany with his best pal Brode seemed like a good remedy that he would never find in any bottle, hey own up, where you going to find a good pal like me, in a time of crisis that can come up with a simple logical tonic like that, is that rare, oh yeah very rare!

Mike thought for a moment, left Margaret to it, locked his pride and joy Ford well away, and fucked off to Germany with his best pal Brode, smart move!

I was right, and by the time we went home, Mike was off the soggy corn flakes and back on medium rare steaks and plenty of cold Lagers. Now let me tell you something, that’s what a best pal is for, and can do for you in times of crisis, and it gave me great pride to think that I had indeed helped my pal Mike Lawlor ease out from the doldrums of this unwanted mid life crisis with his wife, into fighting fit condition to take on the savage domestic battle, that surely lay ahead. Well yeah ok, so Mike had the odd shag, but did he do it in a bush where anybody could, and did see it, no, he did it in another county, and you know, ‘what the heart doesn’t see, the heart can’t grieve over’, can it, so the moral here is simply this, if you thinking about shagging the bird next door, can it, find one in another county!

So you see although my best pal Mike loved to come racing with me, at this particular time it was mainly for moral boosting medical remedial purpose’s, and not the racing, and with a car that could only manage 50 feet, there was not too much chance of any racing was there, no, but we did recon to have some fun in Germany, which is more than you can say for the Germans, what a miserable bunch of boring fuckers they are, who would want to live in that boring dump of a country, even the architecture’s a boring disaster, well there was of course Dresden, oh dear Oop’s!

So as we drove south, I looked around that dark boring country with all those bland boring buildings they lived in, and thought, hey little wonder they started all those wars, I figured it out right away, when you got down to it, it was nothing to do with war, it was just a way to get out of that boring country and see the world, by take over, yes your agreeing with me, but yeah, yeah I know, it beats me too, so if that was all the masses of Germany wanted to do, jump the joint, just why did they have to be so despicably savage and cruel to all those Jews and Gypsies, they must have realised that they too had to live in the boring dump as well, what can you do, just blame it on the vagaries of Planet Odd, that’s what, that never cease to amaze!

Well ok, ok so Germany’s not all that bad, like I said, take delightful Dresden back then, well you can’t really can you, as we flattened the place, well to be fair, that would have been an a ok place to live, if you had to live in Germany, but you know what happened that dark night on the 15th of June 1945 to that unique historic town don’t you, no, well I’ll tell you, not too much you can do when 800 English Bombers drop their load on you in the dead of night, followed by the yanks who do another massive bomber run in the daytime, is there, and whoosh the lots gone!

Well you certainly can’t blame a Harrow boy for that one, oh no, blame that lunatic ‘Bomber Harris’ the megalomaniac, mind you the bastards did try to get their own back by bombing the fuck out of our classic, and just as historic town Bath just for spite, but our fire bomber pilots did a much better job of raising the once delightful Dresden to the ground, so there, up you boring Bosch bum’s, and personally I’d rather live in ‘The Gobles’ than Germany, well at least you can get, ‘fish and chips’ on a Friday night, providing you weren’t mugged on the way home!

Right, background over, so back to the Lotus 62, and the Hockenheim race track, we’ve had enough distractions, but I did find it gratifying that by the time we came home, my down in the dumps, best pal Mike Lawlor, was well and truly on the mend, but of course we had to get there first didn’t we, Hockenheim that is!

So we loaded up our gear, jumped into Mike’s other car, his, ‘Gold Leaf’, Team Lotus Élan 2X2 road car, a special limited edition model painted in bright red and gold stripped Lotus F1 team colours, and off we set, hopped the early Channel crossing on Friday morning to Calais, then settled down for the long slog down through boring Germany to Hockenheim, averaging 80mph, stopping for a coffee after a few hours, where Mike said to me,

‘How the fuck we going to order coffee Brode, when we can’t speak any German’, ‘Mike will you please, leave this to me’, so when we roll up to this coffee cabin, I look the girl straight in the eye, and with great confidence, say!

‘Zwei café mit milch bitter’, pretty good ah, and then when the two coffees arrived,

‘Dankeschon, mine Furher’

We hacked on, with spilt hot coffee down our fronts, and eventually arrived at the circuit late in the afternoon, and on entering the paddock, bingo, the very first racing car that we saw was Ernie with a big grin on his chops driving the apple green Lotus 62 around, it looked indeed like he had fixed that errant gear box!

Next morning Saturday, out I went in first practice with all the other 66 sports racing cars to do a few exploratory laps and learn the track, I’d never seen so many race cars on track in my life, they were all over the shop, but as the Lotus had only made a few yards at Silverstone, I wasn’t holding out to much hope, but I was looking forward to finding out how the Lotus performed in the corners!

Hockenheim has always been fast, but back then the old track was an especially fast and daunting track with three very long narrow straights, connected by three fast right turn in ‘swan neck’ proper chicanes, and then a complex of five corners within a stunning stadium area that seated 200,000 race fans, looking down on the track, starting grid and pits, but to be truthful it was actually a poxy circuit, with those three very long and fast straights, and three chicanes, and then those five winky corners in the stadium, the only decent corners being the one that sweept you in, and the following left that sweept you out to the middle winky turns and a half way decent right turn up past the pits and right out of the stadium.

On one of these first explority laps going down the first long back straight, I looked in my mirror and saw one of the huge 8litre Can-Am BRM sports car driven by NZ, Howden Ganley, way back in the distance, and thought,

‘I’ll move over as I exit the next chicane, ol’ boy and give you the clean line’

Then something remarkable happened, as I thought those very words, the this 8litre V8 Can-Am thing, came hurtling by my little Lotus on the inside so fast it was if I were standing still, going so near to my Lotus that it literally blew me over 10 feet, and I very nearly had the accident, I must have been doing 140mph at the time, I later found out that these huge Can-Am BRM’s were doing 220mph between chicanes, and 30 years later, it‘s still one of the most impressive things that I have ever seen on a race track in my life, just an awesome sight to see this monster race car loom up behind and then by in a shimmering vibrating heat blur, shaking my car, and disappearing into the distance in an exhaust heat haze becoming a small spec in just seconds, wow, you never forget a sight like that, fuck knows how the drivers were dealing with all the slow cars dotted around littering the track, just amazing.

So from then one very time those two BRM 8litre Can-Am cars driven by Brit Brian Redman and that NZ guy Ganley came by, at the precise overtaking moment I put pressure on the steering to stop being blown off the track, and I’ll say it again, a truly amazing sight to see these huge powerful race cars go by, brake for the corner, go down on their suspension, through the corner and then disappear in thundering hazey seconds into dots in the distance, they were indeed brave drivers, and there is nothing around today that remotely match these awesome race cars, they belonged to a racing era long gone in the early 70’s, and anyone that witnessed these thrilling and massively powerful race cars, will never forgets them, that I promise you!

I came into the pits and reported all was ok, and went out to put in some quicker laps, it was then that I realized just how stiff the Lotus’s steering was, it felt like it was semi seized, which made it difficult to drive fast as you just couldn’t hold the car in a slide and expect to get it back in line smoothly without over steering it, so if you got the car sliding you were always over correcting the stiff steering, it was best to drive and steer the car as smooth as possible and not get out of line, I didn’t like to drive like that, as back then you never got the best out of the race car just steering it as if on rails, but there was no alternative with this Lotus 62, and it’s odd stiff steering, and whilst on the subject of stiff steering, let me tell you a little story!

In 2006 I was testing at Silverstone, when a pal who was testing his awesome late 50’s ‘Lister V8 Chevrolet’ asked me to do a few laps, well I didn’t need asking twice, and jumped in before he changed his mind. The car was very quick on the straights which quite surprised me, but had terrible stiff steering that needed ‘Charles Atlas’ to drive the projectile in and out of the slow corners, and particularly the Abbey chicane, which was a ok for him as that was just what he was, ‘Arnold’ with arms like girders, well he would be wouldn’t he with a name like Bronson!

I couldn’t drive fast in this thing, so came into the pits and told him about the savage stiff steering, guess what he said,

‘What stiff steering, nothing wrong with that Brode’

‘Hey who you kidding, nothing wrong, what, look I just drove the car, it’s so stiff you just can’t drive it with any precision on the way out of mid speed corners, in fact I can hardly turn the steering wheel in the chicane, you have to continually yank at the steering in small increments, there must be something well wrong’

‘Nah can’t be, right let me have a go’

So out he goes, and is back in two laps later, jumps out and says to me,

‘Fuck Brode your absolutely right, it does stiffen up mid corner, I never noticed that before and I’ve had it five years, I can’t believe that, that’s fucking amazing, you only did a few laps and figured it out right away, well done’

I didn’t like to remind him that over the past 40 odd years I’d sorted out, and forgotten more about good handling race cars than he would in the rest of his driving career, and that went for all his vintage and classic so called race driver twerp pals as well, who were mostly like him, good natured ol’ tossers!

We pulled up the front body to reveal a very long steering column, and guess what, it was so long that it needed a tight fitting metal sleeve to support it half way along to stop it twanging around, and was obviously gripping and tightening up the steering column, as the car cornered and the chassis twisted, not good.

As an aside, none of those old classic race cars back then had stiff chassis’s, which to be fair didn’t matter too much back then, as they all had very narrow tyres with no real grip, so the cars slid easily, but when they are raced today, on modern grip’y tyres and shock absorbers that work, all that changes!

Yeah that’s right, but it seems that the ‘good ol’ boys’ who drive classic’s today, with notable exceptions, spend all race day with sleeves rolled up, greasy hands and faces, and eating just as greasy burgers all day long as well, and don’t have too much understanding about such tedious things like grip, or fundamental mechanical limitations, odd that don’t you think, and they all think their experts too, what did I say about tossers!

I found some grease, and forced it into the Lister’s steering joint, and it was a lot better after that, but advised that he should fit a spherical joint in place of the sleeve, and bingo problem solved, he could then get the best out of the c and it’s twisting chassis, driving with smooth precision, do you know what his reply was!

‘But Brode they are all like that’, so I told him, ‘Well that doesn’t make yours, or rest all right does it?’

He looked at me like I was the prat, well so much for helping out and I never had the promised race drive either, you see had I jumped out and said how wonderful the Lister Corvette was kissing ass, I would probably have had Christmas dinner in it, but tell the truth, and you get it up the ass every time don’t you, but then we have covered that strangely odd, ‘Planet Odd’, phenomena already haven’t we!

Surprisingly Julian Bronson, who owned that stunning V8 Lister Corvette, still talks to me, but no Christmas card, but when a guy turned up, saying he’d like to buy the Lister, Julian told him it wasn’t for sale, then shall we start at half a million, so Julian never had to worry about the Lister’s stiff steering, because that became it’s new owners problem! No more background, back to the Lotus ‘62 at Hockenheim.

Now at this point, I should tell you that this Lotus 62 with a number of good English drivers had never finished a race for Chris Barber, as plenty of the smart ass English drivers in the paddock couldn’t wait to tell me, when they realized I was driving the thing, and one driver there, my pal the Englishman John Jeremy Miles who went on to partner the great Austrian F1 driver Jochen Rindt in the Lotus team, had driven the Lotus ‘62’s, a couple of seasons back, and feeling my biceps said.

‘No chance Brode, with that steering two laps and your be fucked’, charming!

I started to worry, I was looking at going if the car was reliable 500 kilometres single handed, that’s around three hours of race driving, with only fuel stops to get a drink, and no pee, but when I thought about it, there wasn’t really too much prospect of that happening, and told my pal Mike we had better make the best of the trip, as there was a good chance we would be going home early, after all I’d only managed those first gear few yards at Silverstone, so what were the chances of finishing a 500km race on a demanding high speed track, yeah about ‘Nilch Mine Nazi’s’, oh incidentally now the FIA don’t allow such long driving stints, or one driver 500 kilometre races, back then you drove for as long you your heart beat!

On the third of my quick laps as I approached the first chicane after the endlessly long first straight, I started to change down the gears, and as I braked for the chicane, guess what, I got another box of neutrals again, I pulled hard left to the out-side of the track, free wheeled over the grass up to the tree line, and parked this Lotus thing, that was going nowhere!

There was no Amoco barrier around the track, just maybe 40 feet of grass, and then deep forest with tens of thousands of Pine trees surrounding the circuit, how dangerous was that, I jumped out but the forest was so dense and dusty, I couldn’t get in for cover, so ♪nowhere to run nowhere to hide♪, I crouched in the dust under a big bush by the tree line to await the end of practice, very frightening, being just yards away from these powerful Can-Am cars that came out of nowhere hurtling up to the chicane, squirming around as they braked hard for, and went through the chicane thundering away vibrating the ground like fighter planes with afterburners on, into the hazey distance, if one of them had left the track at high speed there was no way out for crouching me and the little Lotus, I would be very glad to see the end of the first practice session, and get the hell outta there, it was scary!

At one point before the end of the practice session I moved back for better protection and cover under the bush, and promptly fell backwards over a small rock onto the dusty dry earth, I got up covered in dust, and looking back I realized it was not a rock, but a small grave headstone, and stupidly thought they must have buried a dog out here, so I looked at the front of the stone which simply said,

‘Jim Clark’ ‘07 04 1968’, I went stone cold, yes pretty chilling I can tell you!

Unfortunately they changed for ever the old Hockenheim track in 2002, doing away with the three long straights and chicanes, and if you wanted to find that exact spot and chicane where the great Jim Clark died today your gonna have to look hard, and your gonna need good boots as well, as the old track has been returned to nature. There’s a not too impressive official memorial to the great Jim Clark in the Hockenheim paddock, but way out in the forest where I had been crouching under that bush waiting for practice to finish, an unknown fan not that long ago planted a very neat cross in place of the small engraved headstone that I tripped over, which is nice, I wonder just what happened to that tiny and sad headstone, but it’s not really the kind of thing you want to have as a door stop keepsake is it, you would be crying for Jimmy Clark every time you looked at it opening the door!

Apparently now, and although I’ve not seen it, out in those woods, and it’s quite a hike, at exactly the spot there is a very respectful memorial to Jim Clark, and with the virtual closure of the Hockenheim circuit, I truly hope Jim’s ageing German fans keep that memorial in good shape, and in turn I trust the younger Germans race fans that know about the great Jim Clark will do just that too!

So here’s a thing you guys can do, your driving that way, south east Germany, then stop off and pay our respects, oh and take some materials with you too, you never know, you may have to do some tidying up, what would be the point going to all that trouble only to find you need, shears, trowel and all that gardening stuff, so be prepared, come to think of it, I may beat you too it, and as a Harrow boy, I was taught to be prepared!

As I looked at that small stone, I could not believe I was actually crouching right next to the great Jim Clark’s memorial headstone, come on, spooky or what, and was thinking, so this must be the very spot at which this fantastic man and driver had died, and I instantly remembered that time back in ’68, when my pal Roland and I were working all Sunday in my factory, where I’d rigged up a TV so that we could watch the motor racing as we worked, then when we heard that Jim had died, we were so upset that we just packed up, and drove home together in silence.

That was the respect that every driver worldwide had for this we all thought, ‘indestructible man’ that we didn’t know, but the news of his death had finished us both off for the day, and now here I was a few years later at Hockenheim crouching under a bush at the very spot that he’d crashed and died, besides this great mans memorial headstone, I can tell you it was an eerie feeling that still today sends a shiver down my spine.

The Lotus was towed back to the pits, and I was given a further right ribbing by almost every pee taking English driver in the paddock, who all to a whimp, knew of the cars disastrous mechanical history under the care of Chris Barber’s very likable mechanic Ernie Prior and his hop’o Bennie, they all thought it just hysterical that we had come all the way from Silverstone, where they also all knew that the car had only gone just yards before breaking down, and then to compound it and true to form, it only did a few laps of practice at Hockenheim, before it broke down yet again, the heartless pee taking wankers, that got off spending their Daddys money!

Was I pee’d off, well you bet I was, hey I was just a kid doing his best, and those pee taking English drivers really had me going, the heartless pricks, mind you 90% couldn’t drive sheep, so fuck them!

The problem was this, and simple to put right, providing you had the correct part, the right angle inner splined gear box linkage joint, had fallen off, so two things!

Firstly it wasn’t tightened properly when re-fitted, and second, with out that joint the gear shift rod was not connected to the gearbox input shaft, so no gears!

Ernie the chief mechanic, had this habit when he was stressed of running his grubby hand, over his stubbly chin and mouth, and instantly declared we were in trouble as he didn’t have a spare!

Guess what, it was exactly the same problem I’d had at Silverstone, unbelievably he had left the angle joint loose again, the prat’s, Ernie and Benny were looking pretty dejected, well they would, they just drove hundreds of miles, and so had we too, and to be truthful, I should have just gone home, what such a simple thing falling off, so what’s gonna fall off next, I’m the one doing 140mph!

Look Ernie, ‘it’s a bleeding German ZF gearbox, and where are we Ernie, in bleeding Germany, there must be half a dozen ZF angle joints in this paddock that will fit, so let’s all go on the hunt for a spare, yes sensible!

So the four of us went to find just one of the hundreds of the ZF gear-box angle joints that must be in that paddock, after all, there were over 66 cars taking part, and at least 30 were German cars that had ZF gearbox’s, so no problem, it was just a case of finding one of these internal splined things in some Krauts toolbox, fitting it, and doing the last practice session for a grid position, hey any fool could figure that out, see I told you it was simple.

Now at this point, I should tell you that my pal Michael wasn’t a lot of good to us, as not only was his trap filled with the most savage of ulcers, he was also three parts blind, but bless him, at least he’d had a go at finding that splined joint, well actually, truth is, he got lost in the paddock for an hour, but I didn’t tell Ernie!

So it was a no brainer, once we’d found a replacement, when we’d fitted the splined thing, and I’d practiced in the second session, we’d prepare the car and see how well it went in the race, yes you got it, after 2 hours searching every team in the paddock, a big fat nothing, and as all workshops in town were now closed, it looked like we were indeed heading home, as all the pee taking Brit’s in the paddock had predicted, but hey you should remember that I was a Harrow boy, and did Harrow boys give up easy, well did we fuck, I’d have to think of a plan?

I looked at the problem all ways, but there’s no fudging a gearbox right angle linkage joint, we considered everything, nothing! Second practice came and went, it was very depressing being all this way from home, and going back empty handed, with the English guys laughing behind our backs, just because of a missing ten quid gearbox link joint, that had not been tightened up correctly for the second time in 24 hours, yeah very depressing, the simple answer was to kill the two of them, and bury them in the woods, never to be seen again, but what’s this, a DB plan was forming!

Yes at this point, late in the afternoon, I had the extremely bright idea of actually going out onto the track and looking for the thing, before it got dark, Ernie and Bennie’s sideways nodding heads shocked me when Ernie said, without feeling.

‘Are you fucking crazy David’, rubbing his chin stubble furiously.

‘Look David, how fast were you going when it happened140mph, yeah well the bleeding joint was doing 140mph too when it fell off, wasn’t it, so it could have bounced it’s way to fucking Berlin, or be in low earth orbit, one thing’s for sure, it’s not sitting by the fucking trackside waiting for us to pick it up, is it’.

Well frankly he had a point, there was more chance of finding ‘Herr Hitler’, picking daisies to put on Jim Clarks memorial stone, that a 4 inch inner splined joint that feel off at 140mph!

Hearing this outburst I was cut to the quick, and I wasn’t having that, saying.

‘Look Ernie that hurt, I’m not made of stone you know, I have feelings just like anybody else’, I said winking at my pal Mike, which was not a lot of good really with his eyesight, but I was keeping Mikes little problem from Ernie and Benny quite, figuring that they had enough to worry about.

‘Ah sorry Brode’, Ernie replied. ‘Well that’s better Ernie, now this is what we will do, I will ask the organizers if we can go out on track and look for it, and we will all look until it’s dark, or until we find the thing’

‘David you’re not fucking serious are you’

At this point, both Mike and I remarked, that Ernie’s language was, well to be quite frank, appalling, and quite took our breath away, and the worst thing was we were all guests in this country, and as English gentlemen, we really should behave appropriately, hey you want to risk, upsetting the Hun, we all know what they do to people they don’t like, don’t we! So I told Ernie straight, ‘are you kidding, not serious, Ernie were 500 miles from home, you got a better idea, no, then were going out on track looking for the thing!

So of I went to race control, and came back with permission to go out on track and look for the errant joint. I know I keep saying it, but remember we were Harrow boys, and us Harrow boys don’t just give up you know, but I have to say again, the language from the two Lotus 62 mechanics, was getting very blue, even for Harrow boys, and remember back then they didn’t have those tiny orange ear plugs either!

When I got back, the Lotus was on the trailer, with everything packed up and ready to go back to England. Ernie and his pal Bennie were sitting in the yank tank ready to go, go home that is, well they of little faith!

‘Right Ernie we have permission, so let’s all go out and find the bleeding thing while there’s still light, no good sitting here looking at ourselves and doing nothing!’

So Ernie and Bennie resigned themselves to looking for a five inch long narrow steel internally splined joint out on the track that had been doing 140 mph when it fell of the Lotus, and until it was dark, or we got lucky and found it.

Mike and I got in the back of the yank tank, which was in an incredible mess, with junk six inches deep on the rear floor boards. We drove out on track and down the long first straight, which took forever to the spot where I’d parked the 62’ with the box full of neutrals at the Jim Clark chicane.

The four of us got out and looked in despair at each other, as the enormity of the task ahead dawned on us, or me actually to be precise, the other two had already given up, looking around it was indeed a formidable task, but I wasn’t giving up, and nor was Mike, even if he couldn’t see diddly squat, but those two didn’t know that, did they! I’d only been out of the car for 10 seconds, and the first thing I did was look back up the track which was like looking up a railway line, with the track disappearing into into the distance, saying to Ernie and number two Bennie.

‘Hey you two, look up there, what is that thing on the side of the track way, way back up there on the right’

‘Where’, they both said impatiently, they never noticed that Mike was not joining them, as they hadn’t yet figured that he was three parts blind, I was still keeping quite about that, ‘look’, I said again, ‘by the side of the track, way up there on the right’

‘For fucks sake David, it’s probably a stone, it can’t be way up there, and if it was the marshals would have spotted it long ago, if it’s anywhere it’s in the fucking grass around here, you got us out here, so let’s all get looking’, yeah very positive!

So undaunted while I strolled up the track heading for the object, the three of them started looking in the grass, it was a pity that Mike was not of much use to them, but they still didn’t know that, did they, and the dear boy was just trying to be helpful, but when he kept bumping into them, I think they knew Mike was not playing with a full tool box, or they may just have thought he was pissed, as he had been knocking back Kraut iced Lagers all day!

Me, I wondered way, way back up the track for 400 yards, getting ever closer towards the thing that I’d seen in the distance, as I got nearer, the blob started to resemble something like an object, when I got to it, I stood over it and marvelled, there by my feet was our lost gear linkage joint, that had been sitting there all by itself since mid morning, incredible, second practice had been and gone, with well over 66 cars circulating the track, marshal’s car’s and breakdown trucks had driven past it a hundred times and not disturbed it, and so had we when we drove out to the first chicane, but there it was right by my foot, all on it’s lonesome, waiting to go home to the Lotus 62, I was dumfounded, and had trouble believing my eyes, but what did I expect, I was after all from Harrow!

I looked way back down the track to the three miniature guys, who all had their eyes peering down at the grass, so I put the joint in my pocket and wondered back to them, and do you know something 15 minutes later not one of the pricks, even asked what it was back up the track that I had spotted, and I’d as good as said that it may just be on the track, well did I have a crystal ball, so bollocks to them I thought, this was wind up time, big time, so head down I joined the three of them searching, and started to look for our errant missing ZF gear linkage joint, that was tucked up snug in my Jeans, yeah you got it, this was tuck up time, big time, I’d give the dopes what for!

‘Look you lot, this is madness’, I said.

‘We have to get organized if we’re going to find the thing, no good us all milling around all over the place, let’s all line up in a spaced out line and do a systematic sweep up and down the grass, it’s no good just all aiming around in synchronized ever increasing circle’s is it?’

So in line abreast and heads down, we went up 200 yards, and back 200 yards, up and down the grass in formation, looking for our missing gearbox joint with great diligence, and on a number of occasions I asked Ernie to look under leaves, weeds and stones by the tree line, ‘as it just might have snuck under there Ernie’, and boy oh boy, was he getting pee’d off with me!

‘Fucking Hell Brodie’, he shouted out a number of times, so what happened to Brode or David, and that terrible language, and where were we, yeah Germany!

‘Don’t be stupid, how can it get under a fucking leaf or stone, it’s a lump of fucking metal were looking for’

’Ernie, I’m just trying to be helpful here, no need to get so upset’

Well I had the three looking until it was dusk, and then some until it was so dark we were all bumping into each other and nerves were getting a little frayed, well except for mine that was, as I had the cure in my pocket, didn’t I, the final straw may have been when I suggested we all get in a line on our hands and knees and sweep the grass with our hands ‘Hoover’ fashion as it was now quite dark!

‘Mike can be a real help here’, I told Ernie and Bennie, ‘We sweep the place 50 yards at a time using the palms of our hands until it’s midnight, or of course we find the sodding thing, what do you think’

‘Brodie I’ll tell you what I think, you’re fucking mental get on our hands and knees we’ve done our best, the thing is nowhere to be seen so were going home, Bennie were finished, let’s go’

‘Oh come on Ernie there must be something else we can do’

‘Yeah your right there is something else we can do, were fucking off home’

‘So we’re just going to give up are we, Mike can you believe that, we’re 500 miles from home, and were just giving up’…….. No reply where was Mike?

I looked around, we had only lost him too, Mike I shouted, where are you, ‘Brode I’m up the track somewhere, can you find me please’

‘Yes Mike just keep whistling will you’

‘Whistling, What the fucks up with him, why’s he got to whistle?’ asked Ernie.

So realising I needed to be a little sensitive about Mike’s disability, I half whispered to Ernie in my best sympathetic tone.

‘Well Ernie I didn’t like to tell you, but he can’t see too well, that’s what’s up with him, he’s three parts blind’

‘What do you mean, can’t see too well, blind, he’s been looking for the gearbox joint with us for the last two hours’

‘Well Ernie he was just trying to be helpful, but sadly Mike has lost around 80% of his vision’

‘Helpful, helpful he kept walking into us the prat, are you telling me he can’t fucking see’

‘Well yeah I’m afraid so Ernie, and especially when it’s dark, I just told you he’s about 80% blind, real sad isn’t it’

Ernie, who was by now well and truly wound up, then went off on a big one!

‘Sad, fucking sad, fucking sad you say, well I’ve bleeding heard everything now’, he said.

‘Bennie did you hear that, we’ve had a fucking blind man looking for that fucking missing joint with us for the last two hours, the piss taking prick, RIGHT, were out of here, Bennie back to the car, and Brodie don’t you say another fucking thing, or you and your fucking mate can walk back to the pits’

‘Mike’, I shouted, ‘Just keep whistling will you’

I found Mike, and we all jumped in silence back into Ernie’s yank tank, and headed off for the long ride back around the track in the now pitch dark to the floodlit paddock, to drop the two of us off at Mike’s Lotus Élan, then the plan was to all go back via our hotel, pay up, collect our things, and then the long gruelling haul through the night, get to the dock, sleep some in the cars and catch the early Ferry back to England, and presumably say goodbye, but of course I knew better, didn’t I.

What a smarty pants ass~hole I’d been, come on you would hate me too by now wouldn’t you, but I tell you what, if there had been a prize for silent laughing, I’d have it, what two hours up to dark with a half way blind man, form their point of view they had a point!

Mike and I were in the back as we slowly drove around the rest of the seven mile track heading for the paddock with headlights on full beam, complete with the Lotus 62 and spares on the trailer behind us, but with the now not so errant joint in my little ol’ pocket, but I was still the only one that knew that, wasn’t I.

All the way back there was silence in the car, except that I kept picking up bit’s of crap, brackets and things from the floor boards and asking Ernie what this bracket, or this lump of metal was for, and did he think we could make a gearbox joint out of it. Well if he was annoyed at me way out by the trackside, he was now very definitely smouldering with anger, and getting himself into a terrible frenzy, saying out loud, and that’s very out loud indeed.

‘David will you stop fucking around and leave things alone back there’

I said to Mike sitting beside me.

‘Have you ever seen such a bleeding mess in the back of a car Mike?’

‘Well no Brode I haven’t, your right it is a mess down there, there’s nowhere to put your feet’

Well Ernie was now flying around the interior lamp, you could see the rage in his eyes in the rear view mirror, and he’s continually rubbing his chin and mouth with his right hand, yeah wonderful to see and all that I could do to stop dissolving into laughter, another minute of this, and I too, would be on the floor boards in all that crap in convulsions, it was great having the upper hand and milking it.

Ernie was wound up like a hair spring trigger, waiting to go off, and Bennie wasn’t too far behind him, as we arrived back by our car in the paddock it would be true to say that I had wound the two of them up so bad, that violence was imminent!

Mike had not been too much help either, he’d spent most of the time bumping into them both out there by the trackside as it got darker, so they were now just as fed up with him, as they were with me, Mike lent over and whispered to me.

‘Brode, I have the feeling these two will be glad to see the back of you and me, well we did our best, but how can anyone find a small lump of metal that flew off a race car at 140mph, but Brode at least we can say we tried, can’t we’

‘Yeah your right Mike, and I guess that we just wasted all afternoon and evening on a fool’s errand, we could have all been half way back to Calais by now’

‘Well Brode, there’s no doubting that, is there’, said Mike.

Look at it this way, Ernie arrives late at Silverstone on Thursday with the Lotus, I go out on track but only make just a few yards. He loads up and drives straight to the Dover ferry sleeping in a hard chair over the channel to Calais, then they have a kip in the big Yank tank, setting off for Hockenheim at dawn, and all the time he doesn’t even know if he can repair the gearbox when he eventually gets to the German track.

Ernie then has to drive about 500 miles at an average of 50mph tops all the way to bleeding Hockenheim in South East Germany, where he amazingly he only repairs the gearbox, but stupidly leaves the now, ‘long gone’, gearbox right angle joint loose, yet again and predictably the sucker falls off yet again, sole destroying or what, but as I go out on track, ol’ Ernie must have thought all his problems were behind him and that after practice, he and Bennie back at the hotel would have a huge supper washed down with ice cold beers, stager into a nice warm Kraut bed putting up the Zzz’s, dreaming that next day Ernie would be masterminding the Lotus 62 in all it’s glory to success in a 500k race, yeah well in his dreams!

So I guess you can imagine how he was feeling when I only managed a few laps before the gear rod joint drops off yet again and is now ♪gone and lost forever♪ with the Lotus stranded out on track, but back in the pits Ernie frustratingly doesn’t know the problem does he, and then when the car’s dragged back to the pits, he discovers that he didn’t tighten the gearbox link up yet again, with only him self to blame, yeah you could say frustrating, and especially after driving 500 miles! Then wasting the rest of the day aiming around the paddock asking all 66 competitors plus some if they had a spare ZF gearbox joint to no avail, and missing the second and final practice session too, but not content with that, I then get us all out on circuit in the late afternoon and into the early evening, looking for a five inch joint in the trackside grass and shrubs until it was stone dark, a near impossibility task!

As Erni said, the joint was doing 140mph when it bounced off the race car, so what chance did we ever have of finding the thing after two hours searching into the night, and then to cap it all, he discovers that we had a three parts blind man helping us! Own up, that would make Mother Teresa, just a little grumpy, am I right, so you could say Ernie had the right to be pissed off, having that little lot forced on them!

Yeah no doubt about it, Ernie had a right to be a little fractious and sick of the sight of me and Mike, and after all he was not a young man, and now looking at the daunting prospect of turning around and heading home in the dark after wasting, what 10 hours at the track when he could have been aiming home in daylight, and on top of all that, the thought twirling around his head that he’d just had a costly and gruelling 1000 mile round trip, with out a proper nights sleep, for absolutely fuck all, yeah frustrating, and that’s a long way to go for a few slow laps with a driver who’d never driven the Lotus before, with it’s recent history where it had broken down every single time out, with Ernie on the spanners, no doubt about it, a foolhardy venture!

Let’s face it, talk about perseverance, Ernie Prior and Bennie should have gotten medals for optimism. You would be pee’d off big time too, especially with me winding them up for over two hours out there trackside into the dark, when all along I had the missing thing in my pocket, but then they didn’t know that did they, no they just thought that I was a total prick?, yeah I know, don’t delete the question mark.

Just as we arrived back at Mike’s Lotus Élan in the floodlit paddock and were about to stop, I stretch my arm between the two in the front with the real gearbox joint in the palm of my hand, saying.

‘Ah look, I found this on the floor Ernie, do you think we could make something out of this thing’, but Ernie wouldn’t look, and nor would Bennie, they’d had it with me!

‘Ah come on you two take a look at this’, I said again, and then added, ’Hey you two, you do realise that I have qualified for the race don’t you’, and do you know the two of them still wouldn’t look at what was in my hand between them.

Eventually Ernie said, with only a slightly raised voiced this time.

‘David, will you please stop this fucking around, we have a long way to’…..and then he stopped in mid sentence, as his pal Bennie screamed out loud.

‘Where the FUCK you get that from?’, Ernie jamming on the brakes in fright.

‘Oh it was on the back floor boards Bennie, why do you think we can get it to work on the Lotus gear linkage Ernie, it does kind of look like a gearbox right angle joint doesn’t it, I bet you could make it fit ‘ERNIE, COULDEN’T YOU’, I shouted.

Mike who had no idea that I had the joint in my pocket all the time, really thought that I’d just found it on the rear floor boards, said….

‘It’s a miracle Brode, you would have thought they would have looked there in the first place, wouldn’t you, and saved us all this time and trouble, Brode you could have done the last practice session’

I just looked at Mike, and so did Ernie and Bennie as they stretched their necks around to glare into the back of the car at Mike, which to be fair, he probably couldn’t see anyway, I mean it was dark in there, and three glaring faces don’t show up to well in the dark if your three parts non sighted do they?

They jumped out of the yank tank, and asked me, ‘where did you find it’, they both desperately wanted to know, I told them it was that blob that they had dismissed out of hand, that I’d seen two hours earlier by the side of the track, when we first arrived at the chicane.

Mike said incredulously. ‘Brode that’s amazing, so we now have two of the fuckers, that’s good, you can use one as a spare?’, we all looked at him again with evil glaring eyes, what can you do with a guy like that, gotta love him, thats what!

Ernie’s pal Bennie was silent now with wonderment, Ernie was strangely silent too, but you could almost feel his pulse returning back to normal as his cheeks flushed red again, we all stood there quietly contemplating the race to come.

‘Err Fellah’s, sorry to wake you up, but, shall we unload and fix the race car ERNiE’, to which the ungrateful man replied.

‘Brodie you Prick’, which I thought was a little uncharitable, and then after a pause, he said….

‘Brode you must have eyes like a ‘Shit house Rat’, fucking brilliant, do you mean to say, you’ve had it on you all the time we were out there?’


‘But we just wasted hours out on the circuit fucking about for nothing!’

‘Well’, as I looked Ernie dead straight in the eye. ‘It will teach you to have more faith in future’, and now really rubbing his chin stubble and mouth, he looked me straight back in the eye, and said.

‘Bennie, like Brode say’s were qualified, so let’s get this fucking car ready for tomorrow’s race’, and right there and then, Ernie turned from a grumpy old man, into a very good guy again, as it suddenly dawned on Ernie, that he would now be sleeping in a nice warm German bed tonight, after a good meal washed down with a good few cold German Lagers too, instead of hacking back to Calais at 50mph tops, with his eyes feeling like ‘pee holes’ in the snow, saying.

‘Brode, I been thinking, hey you never know the old girl might just do well’, yeah some hope I thought; well now it’s me of little faith!

You see, it’s the little things in life that people appreciate, and I’d done my best to make the two of them happy, and you would have to say, it was as near a perfect example of a good guy at work, that you would ever be likely to see, well in a German race paddock anyway, and I felt very proud that I’d had just a little hand in making Ernie and Bennie, happy chappies once again. Bennie fitted the gearbox joint, and I checked it was tight, then Ernie drove the Lotus around the floodlit paddock pronouncing that it, ‘changed gears pretty ok and were gonna check everything over in the morning, and it’s then up to you Brode my old mate to get the job done’. Yeah, it’s suddenly Brode, Dave, and now even my old Mate too, is back on the menu again, people you got to love’em, funny ol’ world isn’t it.

We all went off for a late supper, where Ernie, Bennie and Mike downed an astonishing amount of ice cold Lagers between the three of them, crawling back to their rooms, and we all had a good night’s sleep, but this is the best bit. It was all thanks to yours truly, turning a very lost cause, into a lost and found cause, that with a little luck, may just end up turning what was going to be a wretched wasted race weekend, into a brilliant race weekend, who knows, well we’d soon find out?

Ernie and Bennie next morning looked like they had won the Pools, I guess that’s the lottery now, and we hadn’t even started the race. Mikes ulcerated gums on a constant drip of iced Lagers were healing nicely, but he just couldn’t get it out of his head, that they hadn’t the sense to look in amongst all the junk on the cars floorboards a lot earlier, saving all that time out on track, what could I say!

All race morning I loaded up with water, and before the race I kept peeing, until the very last moment, we’d not figured a simple thing like on board drivers water, well why would you if the car had never finished a 20 lap race, let alone a three hour 500k race, but it dawned on me that if the Lotus was reliable I would not be having a pee for over 3 hours, unless it was in my pants, then I thought, nah don’t be daft, come on Brode were be on our way home probably by the second lap!

A couple of years earlier when the great Ken Tyrrell, before his glorious F1 days with Jackie Stewart, was at Spa in Belgium, running a team of old style Mini Coopers in the 24 hour race, when one of his drivers John Hanley, came into the Pits unexpectedly bursting for a pee! Uncle Ken went raving mad with this insane waste of lap time, and told him, ‘to stop wasting time, and fuck off back in to the race, and if you can’t hold it, piss in the car you fucking idiot’, well I didn’t want to go there, is that a pun? So every time I went round a corner I had another pee, and in the end I was counting the drips!

I had told my pal Mick, to be ready to go, as I didn’t expect to last more than a few laps, saying.

‘Mike if I don’t come round, you be ready to go by your Lotus in the paddock, and we will be out of here as quickly as we can ok’

‘Brode trust me I’ll be ready to go’, then in front of us all, Mike said.

‘Brode for fuck sake, you must take that spare ZF gearbox joint with you in the emergency tool kit, just in case the sucker works loose again, you can then fit the spare out on the track side’

WHAT, all three of us said out loud as we glared at him.

‘Well Brode it’s only a suggestion, I’m trying to help here, and hey don’t worry about me, I will be up in the stadium drinking iced Lagers with the Hun, and keeping tabs from the guy next to me, how your going Brode, and if you don’t come around, I’ll get back to my car quick’, he should have said, stagger back!

Mike could not believe his luck, when he found out that the Germans were actually selling iced Lagers up in the stadium, something you would never see in England, so while I got ready to roll, Mick disappeared groping his way in search of the Iced Lager man and a seat in the Stadium hopefully next to a Kraut that understood English, but could see too!

‘Take that spare ZF gearbox joint with you’, priceless, but what can you do?

I lined up somewhere in the middle of the grid, and I just couldn’t believe how many cars were in this race, it was an incredible sight seeing lines and lines of over 70 race cars, two abreast spread over half a mile of track, they’d let even more cars into the race and as we drove out on track to complete the warming up lap which took forever, as far back, and in front of me as I could see, were two by two race cars, it looked amazing, we entered the stadium and stopped on the grid, in front and back was a snake of two by two race cars. I was so far back on the grid, there was no way I could see the starting flag, it was only when I saw the exhaust and tyre smoke haze way up front, that I realized that the race was underway, and as I went over the start line for the first time, I thought excitedly, ‘Hey Brodie boy, you’re about to start your first ever three hour 500 kilometre race’, and then as I was going up the gears, and weaving around trying to miss the dicks who were already looking for the accident, I’m thinking, well that’s if this sucker lasts that is!

Previously the longest race I’d driven was 20 laps, and mostly 10 lap races, wow three hours, this is gonna be fun. When those 8litre Can-Am cars came by with their massive air stream blowing me of the track, I was in trouble, the trick was to give them the clean line and keep well out of their way, and the other trick was not get involved with some josser’s accident, and there were plenty of them, and that’s exactly what I did, kept out of the way! You see I secretly really wanted to do well and finish for Chris Barber and the guys, it would be good to stick it up the poncy English drivers, who had given me no chance the twerps, and I figured that they knew that if I had been driving one of their lightweight modern sports super duper racing cars, I’d have nailed the lot of the pee taking boring dopes. You know it’s a pity there’s not always another time in motor racing, a race lost is a race gone!

Once underway I also had to learn how best to drive the Lotus, only covering two reasonably fast laps in total, and amazingly considering the circuit was seven miles long, there were very few corners per lap to learn how it handled, so I had no idea of the Lotus’s grip, and where it’s limit was, anyway I was on my way, and with that heavy steering, I had already determined that the best way was to drive like it was on rails, so I just got on with it, one lap turned into three and then ten, and what’s this, I’d overtaken an few cars, and there were plenty of wrecked cars around the track, then before I knew it I was in for fuel, hey this was not in the script.

The faster cars, and especially those massive Can-Am’s with those huge V8 engines, were something else going by, and I’m gonna tell you again, they still remain one of the most awesome sights in motor racing that I’ve ever seen at first hand, and sometimes i’ll be driving down a boring motorway day dreaming, and visualising of those gigantic Can-Am race cars coming by, whosh~whosh, fab!

Then before I knew it, I was back in yet again for fuel, so what’s happening, Ernie now had this huge smile on his mug every time I stopped for fuel and a drink, I just kept driving at a steady but quite fast pace that I thought I could run for the distance, and amazingly the car just went on and on and on, and amazingly I was now over taking cars every lap too, we’d been going for over two hours and when I stopped for fuel and new tyres, Ernie would shout, ‘fantastic Brode just keep it going’, it was at this point, I started to pay attention to my pit board, 380 Kilometres, then 400, then 430, it had to be impossible, would we really make 500 kilometres, the first car to do that won, I came in for fuel for the last time, Ernie screaming at me.

‘Brode take it easy, go for the finish’. Yeah he really was crazy, what the fuck did he think I’d been doing, I was very tired, and my arms felt like dead weights and about to fall off, but could a miracle be about to happen, were we really about to actually finish this race against all that lady luck had not thrown our way, hey that’s not fair, she showed me where that gear linkage was, didn’t she, then passing the pits I get the one lap to go sign, and as I passed the Jim Clark memorial bush I gave a thumbs up, and then through the stadium and the Chequered flag, we’d finished, and the old girl had overtaken quite a few cars as well, some driven by the piss taking English too, well how about that.

I drove the cooling down lap very slowly, and at the Jim Clark chicane gave Jim’s memory a wave and thumbs up again, then back into the paddock and parked next to Ernie, who was standing there looking like he’d just shagged Bridgett Bardot twice, with Bennie’s grinning from ear to ear, and Mike, well he was pissed out of his brains, and having trouble standing, fifteen odd iced Lagers sitting in the blazing sun for three hours will do that, I got out, stretched and we all had a good old boy hug, I downed a second milk bottle full of tap water and went for a shower, Ernie shouted. ‘Hey Brode don’t you want to know where you finished’

‘Ah, yes please Ernie’

‘You finished in fourteenth place, that’s fucking brilliant for this heavy old girl’

I’m back in ten minutes, Ernie pat’s the roof, we loaded up, and headed on out for the long journey home, stopping for a well deserved supper together, my treat.

Mike and I said our goodbye’s to Ernie and his pal Bennie, and that filthy yank tank, oh and that continuous appalling bad language too, quite disgusting really, up to 90mph, and headed the little 2×2 Lotus Élan out onto those narrow and long boring Kraut motorways back to Calais, over the channel, and eventually home.

I raced the Lotus 62 three more times, the next race at short Brands Hatch, where I won against some good sports cars, and then we went up to Scotland to a small and twisty little circuit that ran through a cattle market, called Ingleston, just north of Edinburgh. That day I was driving in three races in three different cars, it rained when we crossed the Scottish border, and it never stopped until we went back over the border back into England again, yeah the Scots do that on purpose as soon as they see the English, on goes the tap, it’s a liberty really, the ungrateful tartan skirted wankers!

We English get no credit from them, why if it wasn’t for us they would still be having hand to hand combat with clubs on those stone bridges along the borders, and pillaging and raping our fair haired and blue eyed English damsel roses. Well in all honesty you really can’t blame them for that can you, have you seen those revolting huge muscled leg’s attached to Scottish girls, it’s the hills that do it, no wonder they drag the old bags around by their hair, every day’s Halloween up there!

At Ingleston I win both the other two races, in my regular 2.1ltr Ford Escort, and a 2litre Lotus Élan, a brilliant looking car that I will tell you about later. The last race of the day was the Lotus 62’s turn, an all comers Libre race, so I was in with all the Scottish and Irish single-seater hot shots, like top Irishman Tommy Reid, and a Scottish hot shot, both in 2 litre Brabham’s, that true to form, would both sneak over the border and raid the northern English tracks when no one was looking, and fuck off with the trophies, well we would be seeing about that, wouldn’t we, there was an English across their borders this time! I got away in third place, and soon found the ‘62 was in it’s element in the wet, I chased down the two single-seater border raiders in front, make it to second place, and then got by Reid into the lead, so take that!

I’d driven really hard to get into the lead, and was on a lot of sideways lock up the straights, with the two Brabham’s chasing hard ducking around all over behind in my spray, but they were going to have to go around me on the outside if they wanted the lead back, when suddenly I was stuck in second gear, fortunately it was a very long second gear, and the straights were very short, I furiously yanked the gear leaver around trying to get another gear, but the leaver was clamped tight, so bollocks I hadn’t driven like this for the fun of it, and revved the engine to what ever it needed to get me to the end of the straight in front of those two Brabham’s, keeping me in the lead for the remaining few laps to the Chequered Flag, and that trophy!

Not a bad day, three races in three different race cars, and three wins with three fastest laps, and every lap in the pee’ing rain, yes as I said, the Scottish do that to the English on purpose, yeah and when you think of all we did for the ungrateful wankers over all those centuries, it really is a bleeding liberty, and why we never built a great high wall across their border to keep the fuckers out of England amazes me, it would have saved a huge amount of trouble and wasted aid money over the past centuries, and it would have been so simple too!

The thing is this, all we had to do was a higher extension to Hadrian’s Wall, oh and a few gun turrets as well I guess, hey easy, and peace in the north at last, and guess what, the ungrateful pricks now want independence from England, well tat-tar tossers, and fuck the wall, we dig a huge deep wide canyon, fill it with sea water, and bingo, over night their an Island, and no bridges either, now that’s what you call, tat-tar good bye, and another thing! I don’t know about you, but I’ve never trusted a man wearing a dress, opps, kilt, have you, well of course not, and it’s tat-tar good bye for the looney Welsh too, dig a huge ditch flood with sea water and say good bye!

Now I’ll tell you something amazing about the Welsh and that one bridge they have to get into the place, guess what, you get over the bridge no problem, but on the way back the liberty pee takers charge you to get out, what, I know, I know!

So next stop for the ’62 was a national race at Brands Hatch on the short track. I qualified on pole, and went on to win an uneven full race with fastest lap, suddenly were getting used to seeing the Lotus do well, and you know what over confidence can do, don’t you, yeah next and last stop for the ’62 was the fearful Nurburgring, crafted out of the Eiffel mountains and forest’s west of Koblenz, yep back in boring Germany again, ah well, but this time not so far in land, I figured we were really pushing our luck on a tree lined track with over 147 corners per lap with up and down curves and kinks, and virtually no trackside protection, where well over 125 drivers have been killed since the track opened, and countless injured, and yeah you guessed it, I had never driven there before either!

Hey I was always optimistic, but come on, over 14 miles a lap with 147 corners, and most blind, were we mad, yeah right, easy answer, mind you those two nuts, Ernie and Bennie after finishing 14 at Hockenheim, thought 14 was their lucky number and then winning the two English races, figured that 500k’s at the Nurburgring would be a doddle, the double dicks! So we turn up in the paddock and all the English Sports car drivers from Hockenheim that gave me no chance, were there with smirks all over their chops, but as I had beaten most of them, they were a little more polite this time, but then as I’ve said, had I been in one of their lightweight modern little sports cars, I would have had the supercilious pretentious bunch of tossers for breakfast, and do you know what, I think they knew it too, but this 14 mile Nurburgring was in a different league with the long main straight running alongside the main Coblence-Archen road, yeah I’d be needing a compass!

Out I go for first practice and phased by the track, I just didn’t know which way the corners went, it’s very frustrating slowing down when you your convinced the blind corner coming up was going to be slow, only to find it was flat out.

I came in saying to Ernie, I need to think while you check the car, so I sat down on some tyres and came to the conclusion that I would have to use drivers I could trust, to gauge how fast a corner was, so I used the German looking cars going by to give me an idea of the corner speeds, deliberately slowing so that I could follow cars in and out of the turns, and by the end of the first practice session, remarkably I had a fair idea of which way most of the track went, it’s amazing what concentration can do, if only my maths teacher, who told me with some venom, ‘Brodie your doomed, doomed, doomed to failure’, well if only she could seen me now!

In the next qualifying session I’d attempt to put some good laps together, and on my first flying lap I swept up and down a series of fast bends, that finished with a left on top of a hill, but aimed in way far too fast, and was very lucky to land, yes land in a gravel trap! German circuit’s had these gravel traps well before the English tracks, and I was amazed how quickly it stopped the car, I was doing 100mph when I hit the kerbing that launched my car about a metre high plonking down into the gravel, stopping almost dead, then instantly the marshals fixed a rope and towed me out, unhitched and spreading stones all over the shop I was on my way again, the whole exercise taking a minute tops, but with no laps left my next lap had to be my best, I whanged past the pits, and managed a 9 min 8 sec lap, not stunning, but in this heavy old girl, not so bad in ’72, for a ‘Ring’ rookie, after only seven laps! Pole was a minute quicker, so I’m about 60 seconds off pole, which sounds pathetic, but remember there were 147 corners over 14 miles, which equates to around 4 seconds a mile, so it wasn’t that bad, but I reckoned with a few more laps I could take a big lump out of that 9 minute 8 lap, this Lotus may be old heavy and tired, but I was convinced that it could break nine minutes, thinking an 8.45 secs was on!

Later I’m strolling across the paddock and bump into English sports car driver, the swanky and stylish John Lepp, driving one of the delightful little lightweight open top 2litre Chevron B16’s, John it turned out, well for me anyway, had a cruel and sarcastic sense of humour, instantly congratulating me and shaking my arm off, on my grid position, which I thought was nice of him, but a bit odd, well I had hardly set the place on fire, had I.

‘Well thank you John, that’s very nice of you to say that’

‘Well actually Brode I’ve made a tidy few bob out of you today’

‘You made a few bob out of me, what are you talking about John’

‘Well David, would you believe that I bet all the English drivers you wouldn’t break a nine minute lap in practice, and you didn’t, so thanks a bunch David, nice little earner’, and with a big smile and a tap on my shoulder, off he went. Fucking cheek I thought, and lucky Monty was not with me, why just a few years earlier, we would have both mugged him for the loot, and locked the prick up in some Kraut’s boot, heading for Siberia, or is that, ‘The Urals!’, we were already in the Eifel’s!

On reflection I thought, hey if he had made a turn on a bet that I would not crack a nine minute lap, then that must mean the other English drivers all thought that I would break nine minutes, hey not bad, respect at last, it’s amazing what finishing fourteenth at Hockenheim and two wins can do, that must have wiped the smiles of their insipid mugs, so I reasoned I’d better break 9 minutes in the race!

Ernie prepared the car, and we all went back to our Hotel for supper with Chris Barber, who’d come over especially to see his car race, so we really wanted a good race and finish for Chris, but I thought another 3 hour race was asking way too much, too much what am I saying, this was insane.

Over supper Chris asked me what my top speed was, ‘I don’t know Chris’, ‘Well Brode, tell me what revs are you pulling in top’, ‘8,400rpm’, and then he asked Ernie what the CWP gearing was, and then the rolling circumference of the rear tyre, which Ernie actually knew, right give me half a minute, I’ll work it out, then Chris gave me a number to remember, closed his eyes for ten seconds, asked me for the number, closed his eyes again, and proclaimed the top speed is 134mph.

‘Chris it feels a lot quicker than that I said’

‘No Brode, I’m not wrong that’s your top speed’, well who was I to argue, I had trouble remembering my age, address and phone number, but of course we found out later that the mechanicial rev counter drive gear box was wrong, and that the rev’s were reading 1000rpm too low, I’d thought I was going much faster than Chris’s calculation, and re-calculated with the correct info, the top speed was more like 150mph! Now a racing cars top speed is a very difficult sum to work out in your head, even today I use a formula and a calculator.

Chris told us that when he first started work before he went full time professional Jazz, that he worked for a big London City insurance company, and all day long he was bombarded with, ‘Chris what is this, minus that’, or ‘Chris how many times is this, and then that, divided by that’

For a while they checked his figures with the old and very slow calculator machines, and every time Chris was spot on right, so in the end they didn’t bother to check his calculations any more, taking them for granted, Chris’s powers of mental arithmetic were very impressive!

The following winter, my pal Chas Beattie, who helped back then on the Lotus 62, and sadly died in 2005, was a brilliant chassis engineer, called me asking, ‘David what revs were you pulling in the Lotus ’62’, I told him that it had a rev limit of 9000, but I kept it under 8800, except on one occasion up at Ingleston, when it jammed in gear, and I went over 9500. Then he told me, David as you know I’m rebuilding the 62 into a lighter chassis and open top for Chris, well I sent the mechanical rev counter, and it’s drive gearbox away for service, and they tell me it had the wrong gearbox, so you were 1000rpm out, so when you were pulling 9500 you were actually pulling 10500, staggering rpm back then for any engine, let alone this old Vauxhall based lump, that had been revving up to 10,000rpm for at least 40 hours!

I wish I had known that as the engine noise was deafening and ear piercing, but what a bullet proof little motor, I’d been pulling around 10,000rpm every time that I drove the Lotus, and it never blew or had a misfire in all the hours that I drove it, so that’s why it felt a lot quicker than Chris’s calculation, it had in fact a top speed of nearly 150mph on the long straights, mind you on those savage long Hockenheim straight’s, a London double Decker would eventually get up to 100mph!.

Guess how many cars were entered at this Nurburgring race, 96 yes 96, amazing, after practice I was astounded to be quite high up the two car grid. In front of me were some very fast drivers, like Brian Redman, Chris Craft the great saloon car driver I told you about, and Arturo Merzario, soon to drive F1 for Frank, and my pal John J Miles, son of the famous actor Bernard Miles, and soon to drive for Lotus F1 as team mate with the great Austrian Jochen Rindt, Peter Gethin was also there soon to drive for BRM F1, Peter still to this day holds the record for the fastest ever F1 race in the 70’s at the great old Monza track winning by just inches, from my great pal Ronnie Peterson in a Lotus!

I liked Peter Gethin very much, but in 2012, he winged his way to the great track in the sky, probably modelled for him on Monza, so sweet dreams ol’ pal.

The Nurburgring race was another 500k event, with the very best of our English and European Sports car drivers, not that I would be in amongst them, because as soon as the flag dropped, they would be long gone into the distance and sun set, while I dragged this heavy old Lotus around, with all the plonkers!

I knew it was going to be some savage race for me on this long twisty circuit for three hours, and with the Lotus’s heavy steering it would be a killer, but then I thought just relax Brode, there is no way this thing could possibly last the distance, no one get’s that lucky twice!

We lined up in the late morning sun for the 30 minute warm up lap, it was amazing being up front of a grid of over 96 race cars that stretched way, way back out of sight into the far distance. We trundled around the circuit for what seemed ages, and then suddenly came to a halt on a long bush lined straight, just two turns before the starting grid, very odd, and I’m thinking what the fuck are we stopping for! Three rows in front were two red works Alfa Romeo Arbath 2litre Sports cars, with two mean and aggressive looking Italian drivers, Arturo Merzario being one of them who went on to win, and as I said a few years later drive F1 for Frank O’ Williams.

We sat there stationary with the motors running, when suddenly two mechanics for each Arbath jump out of the bushes and pounced on their cars with fuel churns and proceeded to top them up, well against the rules! All the cars were stopped so these mechanics perfectly placed knew something, who had been paid off, hey they were Italian, all the other drivers were looking at each other with some giving it the long arm, big fist, I was not bothered, as this lot in front were going to fuck off anyway once the flag dropped, I was more worried about the tossers behind me, that might involve me their accident!

Tough English driver Chris Craft, just two rows in front of me, unbuckled his seat belts, stood up in his car to have a look at these cheeky Italians re-fuelling, then Chris jumps out, and unzipping his overalls strides up to the nearest Arbath looking for action, with all around cheering him on, he makes for the nearest Arbath mechanics, who seeing him striding towards them stopped re-fuelling, staring at Chris heading their way expecting the worst like a smack in the lug-hole, and ducked as Chris strode straight past them over to a hole in the bushes and had a long pee!

Hysterical, and we all gave Chris a round of applause as he strolled hips waggling back to his race car, waving back as he zipped himself up, then re-strapped himself into his Chevron race car, and then when he was ready to go he waved forward charge, and we all, that’s about 100 race cars, moved forward again up to the start line, just priceless!

We’d rolled forward just in time before engines overheated, and just two corners later, we were on to the grid and ready to go, this was really mental, here I was up in the front half of a massive field of modern and ageing race cars, with the very best European sports car drivers in the world in front of me, and a huge amount of, ‘good ol’ boy’ tossers behind me, no way too polite, make that wankers!

Hey I may have been a rookie at the Ring in ‘72, but I did do a nine minute eight second lap, all the 80 odd other drivers behind me were mostly amature ‘Sour-Kraut’s’ that knew the track like the back of their ass’s, and another thing, at best I only knew 75 percent of the track, so come on, it just had to be pat on the back time!

Interestingly, a nine minute lap is still today 40 years on the bench mark on the old Nurburgring for a modern road car, so back then that old Lotus 62, did well!

I’d decided that to stand any chance I’d follow the cars in front, and not do anything stupid, like attempt to go by at a corner that I was not sure of, but at least all the guys in front were regular Nurburgring runners and knew the track, and quite a few had lapped around my times, so as long as I played it cool I’d be fine. You really didn’t want to go off at this place with virtually no protection around the track, and very few marshals, tree trunks and mud banks don’t take too kindly to be driven into at speed, and if you went through one of the huge dense bushes that lined the track, and down into the woods below, no one was likely to find you, until they smelt you!

I knew if this Lotus 62 thing was reliable, I was in for the ride of my life, and a long lonely single handed haul, this insane warm up lap had taken well over 30 minutes, and already I could do with a drink, and the enormity of the next three and a half hours was just dawning on me, I felt very uncomfortable!

After what seemed ages we eventually came to a standstill on the grid opposite the pits, but I was still so far back I couldn’t see the starting flag, and then when I saw engine and tyre smoke engulfing the cars in front, I knew we were on your way, I went across the line and looking to the right I couldn’t see Ernie with the pit board, I’d told him to hold it up high over his head, but nothing, so it was vital next time round that I spotted him, I had to know my position and laps to go!

There were maybe 25 cars in front, so 75 behind, I was driving on the clean line as near to the edge of the track keeping out of the way, but in front and behind cars were darting all over the track jockeying for position, and a few went off with locked brakes into those earth banks with a thud, and we’d not made more than a couple of corners, madness, we zoomed up past the back of the pits and turned left, and headed off into the German rolling countryside and forests into the un-known for the next 14 miles, and I remember thinking, ‘Well here we go again Brode’. I finished the first lap and actually overtook some cars, and with the few that went off in front of me, figured I must be in the first 20, well that wasn’t going to last, was it!

As I start the second lap I pull over to the pits and saw Ernie holding out my pit board with 25 laps to go, no chance, it just was not possible, I was already feeling the pace, how could I do another 24-14 mile laps with countless uncertain corners in this heavy steering car, it just didn’t seem even a remote possibility!

I soon realised that at this track, the car was much more difficult to drive than at Hockenheim, or the two short UK tracks, you see at Hockenheim I had time to rest my arms on the three long straights, and the two in-between races only lasted for 20 laps, with one of them in the rain where there’s no strain on the arms. As I started the second lap it dawned on me just what an endurance test this was shaping up to be, but I was very fit, so thought, ‘Ah bollocks Brode just get on with it’

I was due in every sixth lap for fuel, so I figured if the car didn’t fail, it would be at one of these fuel stops that I would have to call it a day, but I kept saying to myself just keep going Brode, fucking show-em, and don’t do anything stupid, two laps turned into four, and then six the scheduled fuel stop and a desperate drink!

I told them it was hard work, but they said I was doing great, and to press on, I never throughout the race had any idea what position I was in, my pit board only gave laps to go, I looked across and saw number 19 on my board, who was he kidding! I slogged on until the next fuel stop and another good drink, I kept thinking how does this thing keep going, but as the pit board only gave me laps to go, 12, I still had no idea of the lap times, which was a bit daft really, you need your lap times to gauge your speed.

It’s an odd thing with lap times, you think that you’re going fast, but when you see your lap times, you sometimes get a shock that your going so slow, but once you see the slow lap times it’s a wakeup call, and mentally your mind moves up a gear, and up goes the pace, so it was daft not getting lap times, but then I never expected this ‘62 thing to last more than a few laps, and to be truthful nor did Ernie either, so I guess Ernie thought, ‘lap times’ why complicate things any more than necessary!

By third distance I was really starting to hurt, my hands had pins and needles through gripping the steering wheel so tight due to the stiff steering, I was soaked in sweat, and my neck was hurting bad, but the worst thing was the pain in my left ear, an ear plug had fell out and the engine noise at high revs was ripping my head apart, my head being about a foot from the engine inlet trumpets that were screaming at me, remember I had no idea that the engine was actually revving 1000rpm higher than the rev counter read. With the ear plug out, the pain in my left ear was savage, it was hurting so bad that it felt like I had a spear in my brain, then it happened.

I had been feeling sick for a while, which I put down to my ear hurting, when suddenly, wallop, I vomit into my face mask, not a lot came up, mostly thick acidy stuff, it was all over my lower face and neck, and stunk rotten!

I did another lap feeling sick with all this crud all over my face and neck, and then another vomit, and immediately I felt much better, I was stone knackered, but at least the sick feeling in my stomach had gone, but my face was itching something rotten, I came in for the last fuel stop, had another drink, which meant pulling my crash helmet down and aiming the water into my mouth, I let all the spare water spill out into my face, no point telling the guys about all this tacky sick stuff behind my face mask, as there was nothing they could do about it, but the flush of cold water was heaven, and helped with the itching!

I set off out of the pits, and knew this last six lap run would be my last drive to the flag, I was totally knackered, my arms were so weak that I just couldn’t hold the car at any speed in the banked left hand Carrousel corner, so I drove around the top on the dirty Tarmac, then on the straights I’d shake my arms low one at a time to get some blood and life back into them, every joint in my body hurt, and my shoulders and back were killing me and seizing up, I was stretching my left leg over into the passenger leg area, and when I tried to do the same with my right leg off the throttle, I nearly went off, so I just stretched out my left leg over as far as I could, and kind of stretched sideways in the driver’s seat to relive the pain in my right leg!

My mouth was so dry my tongue was like glue, so I had to keep wetting my mouth until it dried up, I passed our pit and they put out three laps to go, just impossible, I was finished and actually getting delirious, concentration on my driving was virtually impossible, and at times I was wandering all over the track, I just wanted to stop and go to sleep, but I made myself drive, I couldn’t stop out on the track, I had more pride that that, and in any case, what if my Harrow pals discovered out I’d stopped out on track, only one thing to do, emigrate, yeah probably Australia, and I coulden’t be having that, could I.

I knew I had to stop, or I would go off, another two laps was impossible, at times I was down to a crawl and wanted to vomit again, but resolved I must at least finish this lap, I would try and make it and then pull in, as I approched the long line of pits it was all I could do to drive in a straight line, but as I looked over ready to stop, the chequered flag was out, the race was over!

Ernie had got the laps wrong, I had been driving the most difficult car that I would ever drive, on the most demanding race circuit in the World for over 3 hours, as soon as I crossed the finishing line, I turned right at the end of the pits and drove up to the back to our pit, they were all there smiling from ear to ear, the door opened, they undid my seat belts, and I crawled out like a slug on all fours onto the tarmac, I tried but I just couldn’ stand, so sat propped up against the back of the pit wall, I was desperate for water and to get my stinking crash helmet off.

I leant forward on all fours, and slowly with the help of Bennie, got up on my two feet, took off my crash helmet and then pulled off my face mask, the mess and stink was incredible, they all stood back, I went into the pits where there was a tap and put my head under it, and rinsed off all the cruddy stuff all over my lower face and neck, the relief was fantastic, I then sat in the middle of a pile of tyres, and lent back against the wall, I had never been so totally knackered in my life, I just wanted to curl up in a cool bed, Ernie said ‘leave him alone, he’ll be fine in a while’, I didn’t move for nearly an hour, I just kept drinking water and eating biscuit’s, that was some fuck of a race, and probably the most difficult physical thing I ever did, and where did I end up, well whilst I sat on those tyres recovering, Ernie came up and said to me.

’David don’t you want to know where you finished’

I looked at him with raised eyes and replied in almost a whisper.

‘Ah not really Ernie’

‘Well David my old luv, you finished fourteenth overall again, just like at Hockenheim’

‘Oh thanks Ernie, that’s great’

‘That’s great, are you serious, it’s a fucking miracle that’s what it is David, a fucking miracle, well done lad, you drove like a hero’

I’ve never forgotten those few words from Ernie, no one had ever given me much credit for the way that I was able to drive, even though I had won a fantastic amount of races, and set lap records at every track I raced on, but those words from Ernie were like an adrenalin rush to me, and I started feeling better immediately, look I know he was a dick, but I loved that Ernie guy, and the great thing was, I knew that he meant what he’d said, yeah no doubt about it, a pat on the back’s, a good tonic!

My fastest lap was nine minutes and one second, so that smart ass toff of a Chevron driver John Lepp, probably cleaned up yet again, and made another ‘little earner’, I just needed two seconds, well fuck it.

So looking back at life in Chris Barber’s Lotus 62, I had just four races with this very difficult car, finishing in fourteenth place out of over 66 in Hockenheim, and another fourteenth place at the Nuremberg ring out of over 96 cars, and two race wins in between, at Brands Hatch and Ingleston, and the only thing that ever went wrong with the dear thing, was that lost gear box linkage joint that had been patiently waiting for me, way, way out on the track at Hockenheim, oh and also being stuck in second gear at Ingleston, where I still won in torrential rain, I got lucky really, I could never have pulled that win off in the dry stuck in second gear, so the Scots and their incessant on purpose rain, got it wrong that weekend.

That ’62 was virtually bullet proof, and to put that into perspective, I had driven a total of about ten hours practicing and racing in the Lotus, and that is a good season’s racing for the average club driver, and Ernie reckoned the engine had done about 40 hours without a re-build, impossible, so the old girl, sorry ol’ Boy’, was a credit, and now the Lotus ‘62 was being rebuilt for me, into a light weight open top car for the next season, which I was really looking forward too, but it never happened, and I never saw the ’62 ever again!

For a long time, I thought that the 62 had been striped, and eventually sold off as parts, but rumour has it, that it was re-built and is still around somewhere, and if it does exist as only two Lotus ‘62’s were ever built, it would be worth about 100 grand plus all day long now, can you imagine that?

I still see the great Chris Barber and his band, and will always have fond memories of those four races, especially finding that lost steering joint way out on the Hockenheim track where it had been sitting for hours to be found, and holding onto it for ages, winding the prat’s up and out of sight, and despite that savage Nurburgring drive, the Lotus 62 did very alright!

One last thing, that ‘62’s savage heavy steering, well on investigation the steering rack had a long narrow telescopic shock absorber fixed to it, to act as a steering damper, presumably to stop ‘kick back’, this meant as you steered from left and right, you had to open and close this shock absorber. So no wonder it had heavy steering and so difficult to drive, I did ask Ernie to take the stupid shock-absorber thing off, I could handle ‘kick back’.

‘Oh can’t do that Brode it’s there for a purpose’

Who was I to argue with Ernie, and the great race car engineer Colin Chapman of the Lotus Car Company, so it stayed on, but I can tell you this, the ’62 was designed by a young fellah that worked at Lotus called Martin Wade, and someday I would love to ask him why that savage steering shock-absorber was so important, as no one else can tell me, and I can’t believe that the steering ‘kick back’ could ever be that bad, and it would certainly have been interesting to drive the ’62 with it disconnected, because I reckoned that by bunging the car into the mid speed corners, and setting it up pre apex for early throttle out, the car would have turned in much faster laps, but, ah well, we will never know that will we!

Now while we are talking Lotus’s, I drove two delightful little racing Lotus Élans as well as the 62 in the early ‘70’s. The first was sponsored by east London’s ‘Gold Seal Car Co’, it was painted in my familiar black, with yellow pin striping around all the panels, just like my racing Ford Escort, and looked amazing, and fitted with one of my 2litre Lotus twin cam engines, it went very well, but was always a very nervous car in fast corners and difficult to drive on the limit, but I never found out why, the one thing that it had in it’s favour, was stunning brakes, and I could out brake anything it came up against, those ‘70’s racing Lotus Élans were very light and low to the ground, and quite precise to drive, so you could get the best out of them quite easily, even if this black one was a nervous bitch!

To win at Brands Hatch first time out in the Gold Seal Élan, I would have to beat the all conquering Jaguar E types, and some quick sports cars too, like Austin Healey 3000’s and big engined Morgan’s! So first time out, I just didn’t know how it would perform, and was astonished to find myself on pole. The race started and the little Élan was overwhelmed either side by E types going into Paddock Hill bend, after three laps, I had passed a bunch of E types into second place, then I came up alongside a red E type, going for the lead up the inside at Paddock bend.

I can tell you going up the inside to overtake a Jaguar E type, and especially into Brands paddock bend, was quite a daunting task in a little Lotus Élan, and not for the faint of heart, in fact it was frightening, as you never knew if the guy in the E type had seen you hidden away under his side window line, as I came up along the inside of this huge red monster with massive tyres, he saw me all right, and slammed over bashing into my left side on purpose, but as I could brake later and deeper into the corner, and although I was squirming around trying not to spin out, I was through and into the lead, with a huge red line of paint down my left side panels, I then drove off into the distance and set a lap record to win my first ever Élan race.

‘Gold Seal’ who sponsored the car, liked that and so did I, but I was warned that I had pissed off the E type drivers, and that they were out to get me next time out, well fuck them the big spoilt tarts, and I went on to win every race I finished in this amazing little car! At Thruxton near Andover, in practice and the race, the Élan set a new lap record, that on reflection was outstanding!

Thruxton is an odd circuit, with a very abrasive track surface, and the harder you drove the quicker the tyres fall apart and lose grip, so to get in a really quick lap time, you have to drive into the corners on unnatural lines at Thruxton, which most drivers just never figure out, even when they were behind me, and saw me going away from them taking these unconventional lines, and never figured out they were the way to go, odd that don’t you think?

Most of the race cars that I have driven around Thruxton, using my lines out back, I could go flat out on full throttle in top gear from the middle of the complex around the whole circuit, until the tight pit chicane with out touching the brakes, that meant I was doing about 75% of the track with my right foot buried in the floor boards on full throttle, braking twice a lap, well not too many drivers in none ‘down force’ race cars will ever be able to say they did that, Church corner flat at over 140mphin anything is not for the faint of heart.

What made it possible were the entry line in, the trick was to keep the front right tyre cool, once you over heated that tyre, there was no chance of doing the two very fast right hander’s out back flat on full throttle, it was frightening stuff as the speed is so high, but really just a state of mind you had to get yourself into, but impossible, no matter how brave you were if the near side front tyre over heated, tyre temperature maintenance was the trick at Thruxton.

Remember this was pre aerodynamic down force race cars, so going flat through these super fast turns at Thruxton like Church corner, was unnerving to say the least, and needed quite a lot of on full throttle steering to stay on the track, but as I had never been beaten at this track, and had lap records in all the cars that I had driven at Thruxton, my lines had to be right, and when other drivers questioned them, I thought, well here I am on pole by a country mile, and these plonkers, are questioning my lines, was there a law against copying, nope!

At Thruxton I figured that the E types with nearly 400bhp against my 220, would have way too much power to beat, especially with those long straights, but thought that with a bit of luck I may get in amongst the slower E Types, but an overall win, no chance, then after practice I was to say the least utterly astonished to see that I was on pole by a proper country mile, I had done a blistering near flat out lap of 1.27.4, and the next fastest E type had only done a 1.30.2, which meant that I was a staggering three seconds a lap faster, that really was something else, which meant that this delightful but nervous little Gold Seal Élan, had done something truly special at Thruxton that day, and I knew it, yes the Élan had set a stunning lap time for race converted road sports cars, that wasn’t bettered for a very long time! In the race I just managed to get to the first corner in front of the wheel spinning E types, and then drove off into the distance, setting a lap record in the mid 1min 27’s!

To put that 1971 lap of 1min 27.4 sec’s into perspective, some fourteen years later I was driving the works Mitsubishi Starion Turbo, with 300bhp and twice the torque of the Élan to pole with a lap of 1 25.2, against the cream of UK saloon car drivers, after practice I was bitching to the tyre guys about the Dunlop tyres, that the level of grip was poor, their man replied, sarcastically.

‘Brode for fucks sake, if you go any quicker you going to end up, up your own exhaust pipe’, and there was no answer to that, as the next quickest car was nearly two seconds slower, so how good was that Élan doing 1.27.4, some lap time back then, and especially as that particular Élan was so nervous in the fast turns, but the truth was, if a race car spends 75% of a lap on full throttle in top gear, then it’s entitled to turn in a quick lap time, mind you someone had to be brave enough to hold it on full throttle, and on that particular day, it was good ol’ me! The last that I heard of the ‘Gold Seal Élan’, was in the mid ‘80’s, when I had a call from an English mechanic working in Texas, telling me it’s new yank owner was rebuilding the car and engine, and wanted me to fly over and race the car, so I told him, just call me, and I’m on the next plane, right I will call you in a few months time to arrange things, well I’m still waiting for that call, so if your Texas way, look out for that amazing little black and yellow pinstriped Lotus Élan, it’s got my name on it.

In the meantime I will just have to content myself with the wins and fastest laps I had at Silverstone, Brands Hatch, Thruxton, Mallory Park, Ingleston in the wet, Castle Combe and London’s delightful Crystal Palace I had in that Élan, so hey that will do, fuck that Texan plonker, and I bet the yank fucked it up anyway!

The second Élan, had an 1800cc engine, and belonged to a cracking guy called Victor Raysbrook, who had a garage with car sales in Watford, Hertfordshire, Victor asked if I would drive his Élan for him, we negotiated a fee, a hard deal, nothing, and I looked forward to driving for Vic, who as it turned out was a very nervous, twitchy kid of guy, but I liked him instantly and the car looked brilliant painted in bright blue, white and red, and when I drove it, I was amazed, it was the total opposite of the black Gold Seal Élan and handled like a dream with no bad habit’s, but amazingly had virtually no brakes when you really wanted them, I won every race that I finished in this pretty little Élan too, but I kept on all the time to Victor about the lack of effective brakes on the limit, but he mostly took no notice!

Victor just couldn’t get it, David how can the brakes be so bad if you keep winning, and doing fastest laps, he would say, Vic I’d say back, ‘just because we’re doing the winning doesn’t mean it’s perfect, if it was down to late braking, at the last corner on the last lap, I would lose, so for fucks sake Victor, ask your mechanic to look at the master cylinder, the pedal is dead and far too hard’

Guys your gonna love this, do you know what he did to prove the brakes, he took the Élan to Silverstone to see for himself, well he wasn’t a bad driver, and it was his car, so I guess that’s not unreasonable, when he gets back, he tells me that he’s been out in the Élan on the Silverstone Club circuit, but can’t find anything wrong with the brakes, ‘Victor they are next to useless on the limit, what you talking about’

‘Well David when I was out on the track, I found them ok’, he said giving me a withering sarcastic look, as if I was the dope!

‘Vic, tell me, what lap times were you doing’

‘Ah 1 minute 9’s’

‘Vic that’s very good, but it won’t win you any races doing 1’ 9’s, try the brakes when you’re doing 1’ 4’s, believe me they don’t stop the car’

‘Christ, is that what you’re doing around there David’

‘Yes Victor, of course it is, 1minute 9 seconds won’t get you on the back row, in fact Vic, it won’t get you out of the bleeding paddock’

‘Oh, right, I didn’t know that, we’ll have a look at the brakes for you David’

The brakes never really improved too much, so I just put up with them, but I had two mild accidents with this car, unusual, as I never bent race cars, road cars, oh yes, I bent plenty of them, but race cars hardly ever! The first crunch in Vic’s Élan, was up at Oulton Park in Cheshire! The king of Élans drivers up there, I was to find out was a total psychotic called Jon Fletcher, who didn’t like the idea of me coming up to his manor from down south with another Élan to take away his well earned glory on the northern tracks where he was unbeatable, well I was about to bring that to an end wasn’t I, but like a prat I never sussed trouble, I just thought I’d have another easy win, not too smart as it turned out, lesson number one, never under estimate the ego of the driver next to you on the front row, and especially if he normally does all the winning, and your on his patch!

I lined my Élan up on pole, next to me was Fletcher in his Élan, that’s the local guy I told you about who did all the winning, the flag came down, and Fletcher got away first, no problem, so I tracked him for two laps, and on the third lap thought it was time to go by and to give him a bit of a driving lesson, so I chose the very fast left on the run down to Esso as my passing shot, well I got it a little wrong, no that’s not quite right, someone helped me get wrong, yep Fletcher!

You see he had other ideas for this upstart, me, that dared to run with him on his home track, so as I came up on the inside line for the left before Esso Island bend, on the right line, he moved over whacking into my Élan, and off I went broad-sliding on full lock along the grass for what seemed a lifetime, eventually coming to a standstill as he drove off into the sunset, I was fuming and thought, well fuck you, you’re not doing that to me ‘the great southern Élan Ace’, who’s up here to show you northern lot how to do it, not go bouncing across the grass auto crossing, looking like a dick.

So I drove back onto the track, and waited for him to come around on the next lap, then I tracked him for another lap, and thought right I’m going by you again at exactly the same spot to show you and the marshals out there just how it’s done, yeah, no fucking round, that’s exactly what a Harrow guy would do, look I couldn’t go back south with all the locals up here thinking I’m a tosser could I, no I couldn’t!         Now this particular spot, the run down to Esso that I wanted to go Fletcher, just happened to be about the fastest overtaking spot on that track, yes the perfect place show him, how it’s done, so I tracked Fletcher’s rear end, and at just the right time, out I went again to pass under the psychotic sucker, and whack, off I went again with another driving lesson, and white paint exchange service from the psychotic fucker, and again I half spun off onto the grass sliding sideways for what seemed ages, and just as I thought that I had the slide under control, I hit the end banking sideways, doing a kind of wall of death, and the Élans front right corner, a right dis-service!

I slunk back at a slow crawl to the pits, and Victor on seeing his precious Élan a little busted up was very nearly in tears and inconsolable, the big girls blouse!

Not so the race organizers at Oulton Park that day, who promptly awarded Jon Fletcher and his mighty Élan, their ‘Man of the fucking meeting’ award, can you believe that, the stewards that ran the meeting actually gave him a trophy for whacking into me on purpose, and it was probably the second time he whacked me off, after I’d waited for him, that earned him that trophy! Well I had to admit, it was a cool move, and I’d know better next time!

Well he never did it again, and I have to tell you that I did have a sneaking respect for him for not being intimidated, like plenty of others had, and it was a sobering lesson, that you don’t fuck with those hard nuts up north, and just to rub it in, I heard Fletcher put a steel tub along the front of his Élan, and wrote, ‘Brodie Bar’ on it, the pee taking sucker! On driving into the paddock, Victor was in a near state of collapse, seeing his slightly busted up Élan, so I said, ‘for fucks sake Vic pull yourself together man, it’s just a dent, not the end of the world’.

There was no consoling Victor, so to cheer him up I told him we have another race tomorrow at Mallory Park, so were going to patch the Élans front wing up with rivets and tape the best way we can, and I’ll see if I can win the race for you down there to make up for this lot, then I thought what the fuck you apologising for Brode, you weren’t to know that there was a manic on track at Oulton Park, were you!

Then I thought, if that smart ass Fletchers down there with his Élan at Mallory, I’ll shoot the fucker, or put him in the Lake during the race, but thank his god he wasn’t, cos I was never any good at getting out of sub-merging Élans, or swimming!

‘But David’ Victor said, ‘the car is a mess’

‘Victor will you stop acting like a big girls blouse, we’ll soon have it fixed up’

So we set about repairing the Élan, and when we were finished it looked fine!

I won the Mallory Park race for Vic next day, and thank fuck, Fletcher was not there, as one of us would have left the circuit on a stretcher, and winning the race made Victor feel a lot better! Victor Raysbrook, nice guy, but what a wimp, when I stopped driving his Élan, he found fame by becoming the Chairman of his local Watford branch of the, ‘Institute for the very Nervous’

Next season Victor had a few drivers attempt to race that Élan, but none had the success I had, but how about this, would you believe Victor had the rank impertinence to give that psychotic Fletcher a few of drives in the Élan, yeah what!

The second accident I had in Victor’s Élan, was at the lovely up and down Cadwell Park track, it happened in qualifying when I came over the mountain getting very airborne, the Élan landed on one front wheel at an odd angle, and slid out wide onto the grass, and just kept going until it clouted the earth banking around a huge Oak tree quite hard, bending the front right corner yet again, and the suspension this time too, poor Victor needed a by-pass and counselling he was in such a state, we couldn’t patch that mess up, so Victor and the bent Élan went home, but I did win later that day in my Escort, pity Victor wasn’t there, it might have cheered him up!

Victor Raysbrook saw his doctor, who advised him to take up chess, apparently, and you would have to say, unfortunately, Victor didn’t hear right, and thought the Doctor said, ‘take up stress’, which very nearly finished him off, and although I won all the other races for him, Vic never recovered, or forgave me for bending his precious Élan those two times, and where are all the trophies, yeah on his fucking shelf, not mine!

So taking all things into consideration, I won every race that I finished in those two amazing Élans, plus the two Lotus 62 wins and the two fourteenth places out of 66 and 96 at Hockenheim and the Nurburgring, which all things considered must make me just about the most successful Lotus race driver ever, you got anyone who did better in a Lotus, nope didn’t think so, even Jim Clark didn’t get 100%, and not a single pat on the back, from Gold Seal, Vic Raysbrook or Colin Chapman either, but then I never asked for one did I, no, so fuck em!

I never forgot the dis-service that prick Fletcher gave me and Victor’s Élan at Oulton Park, and after years of, ‘seething and loathing’, I eventually managed to get even with that redoubtable lunatic and psychotic, Jon Fletcher, this is how it went.

In 2001 I went north to the Scottish borders, to attend a delightful BRDC regional members supper, Jon Fletcher and his lovely wife Carol were attending!

I took one look at the two of them and felt here we go, ‘de ja vu’, wonder what the pricks got in store for me now, not good, and as soon as I saw him all dressed up in his, ‘dickey bow tie and tails’, my hairs stood on their ends, and I was wondering if I could get away with pushing the big fucker off the balcony, but on reflection, I thought that it was a bit extreme, and in any case judging by past events it would probably be me that went over, not big Jon, but I was on my guard, and if an opportunity should pop up, I was on the case!

Later the next day, whilst walking about the neat little Scottish border Village of Moffat, I spied a pottery shop across the road, oddly called ‘The Singing Potter’, yeah really. So we wondered in and looked around, and then made the very, very big mistake of asking the tall lanky 6 foot 6 owner, just why the shop was called the ‘singing potter’, look I know the answer is obvious now, but at that moment, it was intriguing, why would anyone call a pot shop, ‘The singing Potter?’

When I asked the question, suddenly this lanky guy springs to life, locked the shop door, and told us his name was Gerry Lions, strode across the shop, flipped the lid up on an upright piano, and launched into an out of tune classical vocal aria that had our ears ringing, we had to listen to this loud broadcast for ten minutes, he should have been born in Austria!

When he’d finished, he proceeded to give us a religious sermon at the top of his voice, it was fucking unbelievable and a right liberty, all we wanted to do was get out of the snow, and look quietly at some local borders crafts and pottery, and here we were being subjected to this loud out of tune song and sermon, it was downright embarrassing, and to cap it all, he had locked us in the shop too, eventually we managed to get out by buying one of his poxy cassette tapes, the guy should have been in an asylum!

We hurried over the road to a nice café tea shop to recover, but before venturing into the café and sitting down, I stopped the joint dead, and asked out loud if there was any chance that they had a singing potter in there, the local girls serving, just cracked up, ‘no, no’, one of them said, ‘you sure’, and in we went, ordering coffee’s laced with whisky, me, I had to be content with a hot chocolate, but if anything was ever likely to drive me to drink, that lunatic ‘singing potter’, would!

I casually looked over at the café entrance door, and who should wander in, Yes you got it, Jon Fletcher and wife Carol, this was too good to be true, guess what, after all these years, I was about to get even with Fletcher for slamming me and Victors Raysbrook’s beautiful Lotus Élan, not once, but twice, into that earth banking at Oulton Park, ♪All those years ago♪

‘Hi Jon how you doing old pal, good to see you both’, sickening I know, but it had to be done, yuck.

‘Oh not bad Brode, not much to do in this town is there’, they said, yeah right I thought, baiting their own trap, we’ll see about that, ol’ boy’

I didn’t even have to bait the trap, Jon had set it himself, don’t you just love it when you’re on a winner, well too right you do!

‘Look Jon, after you have finished your coffee and cake, wander across the road with Carol to that potters shop’, I pointed to over the road, ‘it’s really worth a good look over, there’s some very nice stuff in there, oh and Jon, ask the lanky guy, just why it’s called, ‘the singing potter’, it’s quite interesting, and with that, they both craned their necks round and looked out of the café window across the road to the Potters shop, the fix was in!

‘Look it’s worth a visit, I think that you will both be quite touched by the owner, he’s a very nice man’, which in all honesty I have to say he was, and with that, off we went back to our car that was still parked across the road outside the ‘singing potters’ shop, we jumped into the car, I told the people with me to relax as we were waiting for a couple to come out of the café, the trap was set!

Out came Jon and his wife from the café, and sure enough over the road in the wet slushy snow they trudged, going past us sitting low in the car with the windows steamed up, into the, ‘singing potters’ shop, bingo gotcha baby, I thought as they closed the door behind them, the bait taken!

I waited a minute and tiptoed over to the shop, and crouching down getting my knees wet looked in, Gerry was at it in full vocal flight, both Jon and Carol were just standing there jaw dropped mesmerized, me, I was splitting my sides, and I knew that they weren’t finished when the songs were over, as they had yet to get that evangelical sermon job, I later heard that it cost them not one, but two religious tapes to get out of the joint.

I smiled, and still crouching, now with very wet knees, went back to my car, grinning from ear to ear, and right there and then in 2001, on that cold snowy, slushy wet autumn morning in the village of Moffat, on the Scottish borders, the weight on my shoulders of the psychotic Jon Fletcher bashing me off track twice, ♪all those years ago♪, up at Oulton Park, in the pristine blue, red and white ‘Raysbrook Lotus Élan’, just gently faded away, like a flight of sparrows into the sunset, never to return, and a kind of calm came over me.

Hey it may have taken a while, like over 30 years, but perseverance had finally paid off, I had at last got even with Jon Fletcher Esq. but I have to say it was a pity that his wife Carol had to be dragged into it too, but then when I think about it, she did have a, look how good, ‘my man is’, smirk all over her chops up at Oulton Park, when they awarded her psychotic man, the, ‘Man of the bleeding meeting Trophy’, so bollocks, she deserved the singing potter too, so there!

When I next saw Jon and Carol a couple of years later, they immediately said raising their voice slightly, and with a withering look.

‘Hey thanks Brode for the singing potter, really, really good of you’, and I thought, yeah boom, boom, got you at long last, and a great pity the marshals down at Esso bend weren’t there to witness, such a masterful ‘get even’, stroke, but then over 30 years had gone by, but surely there not still be laughing, are they!

So if you ever want to hear him for yourself, and don’t have the time to visit Moffat on the Scottish borders, then you go to, ‘singing potter.co.uk’, but be warned, it’s not for kids.

By the way, Jon Fletcher was still racing that now ageing racing Lotus Élan that whacked me off twice, at Oulton Park ♪all those years ago♪, unbelievably right up until 2002, but be warned, ‘woo betide’, any young hopeful, and especially any smart ass, ‘wipper snapper’ southerners with attitude, like yours truly, that thought they will just nip under Fletcher, or his heirs, and into the lead. Well I can tell you from experience, if you do, you’re in for a very rough ride!

So I warned all my racing pals back then, that you didn’t fuck around with the redoubtable psychotic race driver Jon Fletcher esquire, up in his northern English Manor, Oulton Park, ♪All those years ago♪

Oh and another thing, be on the lookout, as that nutcase Fletcher, may just have a race driver son or nephew, with the same psychotic attitude, just to keep the family attitude going, so be warned, and remember this to, back then when Jon Fletcher had worked you over, and finished with you, you then had to put up with that wicked smirk on his wife’s Carol’s mooch as well for the rest of the day, which believe me was not for kid’s, or the faint of heart.

What do they say about, ‘revenge being best off a cold plate’, well how about off a slushy very cold snowy plate, hey worked for me!

Studebaker Skylarking

Studebaker Skylarking

I mentioned that I’d had previous experience of driving yank tanks when I was 14, well this is how it went, late one winters evening, a bunch of us 14~15 year olds noticed this American airman parking a huge car across the road from the park where we hung out, at Wealdstone, Middlesex, then a quite posh area, but sadly these days a stinking of curry, distant suburb of Bombay!

The car turned out to be a yank Studebaker that every evening with out fail, the airman fell out of the car drunk as a skunk, and sometimes it was all he could do to get into his house, a very comical sight. We would hide in bushes across the road, watch him park in his driveway, fall out stone drunk, get to his front door, and with luck open it and stagger into his hallway, slamming the door behind him. this would happen every evening we were around, and twice we dragged the silly fucker unconscious into his own house, leaving him on his hall floor, and then like the good lads that we were, we would gently close the front door behind us, and then one dark evening the penny finally dropped, hey we were not Harrow kids for the fun of it, no we were Harrow kids for the fun, if you get my drift!

You see he always left the car keys in the dash, just like most everyone did back then, as amazingly having a car nicked was virtually unheard of, but for this particular US airman, all that was about to change, and the great thing was for us, he was never going to know, no doubt about it, leaving the keys in his huge two-tone, black and yellow Studebaker, was not a very bright idea, as one of us had the very bright idea to take it out for a spin, and I was nominated to drive the thing.

Now lets clear something up, your thinking, nicking a car what outrageous behaviour and not the thing you’d expect from a Harrow boy, and yes your right, but back then things were different, well their’s a suprise! It’s true with keys left in the ignition the odd car did get nicked, but this is the difference with now! When a car went missing presumed nicked back then, it was called ‘Joy riding’, yeah really, cos it was only nicked for fun, not to rob banks, or tear about risking killing pedestrians, or just trashing the car for fun and then torching it. Virtually all my pals went ‘joy riding’, mainly in their Dads car in the dead of night, and I have to admit I did that more times than I could count, but we looked after the car, well your not about to trash you Dads car were you. So when we had the bright idea of nicking the Yanks Studebaker, it was for a ‘joy ride’, and when finished would be returned as found, in perfect nick, opp’s excuse the pun, not like today, trashed or burned out.

So one dark evening when the drunk airman was probably comatose slumped in a chair, all excited, six of us pushed the Studebaker out of his drive way, pointed it down hill, and all jumped in and let it freewheel down the road to the bottom, then with seat on max forward, I started it up with a good reving, we all fell about laughing, then it got serious as I pulled it into auto drive and off the brake we went around the block, at first on nil throttle very slowly in low gear, but I soon got used to the thing and opened it up on the straights where it would lunge forward going up through it’s auto box, the guys were screeming.

We were doing this sometimes twice a week, and if it had plenty of fuel, we went for drives around the back roads in our manor, getting more adventurous as the weeks went by, then one evening off we went to the ‘Busy Bee’, ‘fun café’, out on the Watford-by-pass, but we wern’t daft, it had to be very dark nights, figureing we looked a bit young to be in a huge Yank Tank, hey maybe we could swing it in a Morris Minor? When we returned, i’d stop at the top of his road, and one of the guys would run down to his house as a scout to make sure the coast was clear, smart eh!

Riding out in the Studebaker was the best fun ever and when we saw good lookers all dolled up out for a stroll, we’d stop, bunny them up, and most would jump in as they just couldn’t resist the chance of a ride in this huge classy car, and off we would all go to our, ‘fun café’ out on the by-pass with the wireless tuned to radio Luxembourg, or for real rock US forces radio blasting out early American rock and roll, fantastic. I was always the driver, but one time Eddie Chalkly tried to drive the thing, and if I hadn’t been in the front to stop the accident, we would have all ended up in a front garden, so I’m nominated chief driver from then on, but no matter what the guys were yelling out, I never raced it around, sensible, yeah me a Harrow guy!

We had a rule, yeah, we only went out when it was very dark, so summers evenings were going to be out, unless the cloud base was low and dark, and I made sure that we always looked after the car, so no feet up on the dash or seat backs, and we always left it spotless, and we never drove it in the wet, this was one great scam, and if we were sensible, we could be driving around in the thing for a long time, and it worked too, we must have been out in that yellow and black Studebaker Skylark that winter of ‘58, over 30 times, the airman never ever twigged it, and where were his car eys, always in the dash, just waiting for us.

Sometimes there would be eight to ten of us all crammed in, all singing at the top of our voices the latest Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly or Elvis number, it was just the greatest fun imaginable and I just loved the driving, our favourite Elvis number was, hey go on one’s looking, sing along!

♪I don’t care if the Sun don’t shine♪

♪I do my loving in the evening time♪

♪When I’m with my baby♪


♪Were gonna kiss and a kiss and a kiss and a kiss and were gonna kiss some more, but at a time like this, who kept score♪

Now go on own up, was that fun or what, well imagine what it was like when we were 14~15 rocking around in that Skylark, yeah you get the picture, we would sing out at full belt, we even had the girls that we pulled, who to be honest were few and far between, singing too, another favourite was the great Frankie Limon’s, ‘Little Darling’, the guys would harmonise with me doing lead vocals, if only we knew we could have been contenders signed by a label, possibly the first of a long line of lost opportunities?

So riding out in a classy American car, it shouldn’t have been too much of a surprise to them thar girls, when we expected them to get their bras off and knickers down, and attempt to get our legs over, or at least have a fiddle around, should it, yeah I’m right, but guess what, some got real indignant and that amazed us, why did they think we had them in the Skylark in the first place, if it wasn’t for Studebaker Skylarking around, we never figured it at the time, but we were slowly discovering that girls could be a trifle difficult at times, odd really, you ever noticed that?

Taking the Studebaker might happen if we got lucky sometimes three times a week on a good week, all that Yank tank needed was enough fuel, and we were away down those dark lanes to our ‘Fun Café’, we never went anywhere else, ordering ham egg and chips with endless mugs of tea and mountains of soft thick cut white bread with lashings of real butter. Sometimes we’d bunny up girls in the Café, who most times just couldn’t wait to get into the Skylark, for we assumed a bit of Skylarking about.

We would then drive just half a mile up from the cafe, and stop down a quite oak tree lined lane, and make an attempt at some Skylarking, it worked some times, and especially when we told them we were in a rock band on our way back to London from a gig in Birmingham, yes that was the clincher, we should be so lucky at such a tender age. Girls we found out, were just suckers, no pun intended, for a good line, tell me something, has that changed since ‘58, well too right it hasn’t, just make it a good line and there well and truly on the hook, again no pun intended.

At about midnight when we had finished ‘Skylarking’ about we’d drive back, free wheel with the engine running down from the other direction, and plonk the Studebaker ♪right back where it started from♪, switch off, put the seat back, get out leaving the keys in the dash where we’d found them, clean the interior, off home and creep up stairs to bed without waking anybody, you sleep good after a night like that!

Night after night, it was the same thing, he was always out of his brains, but never figuered what we were up to, we just couldn’t understand how he never crashed the thing, it just had to be dark, and we were ‘In like Flynn’, then one rare Saturday night, we were out Skylarking at the ‘Busy Bee’, unusual as most Saturday evenings the Skylark was no where to be seen, but this Saturday evening he was back at the usual time, out of his brains, so as soon as he was inside and his bedroom light went out, we waited 20 minutes and off we go Skylarking down to the ‘Busy Bee’, fun café, for some Saturday night action.

When we get there the joint was strangely almost empty, what the Busy Bee not busy, can’t be! The only crumpet in the place were two right odd looking dragons sitting by themselves in a corner, that even the group of bikers in the far corner were steering clear of, and some were Hells Angels! But Don who didn’t give too much of a fuck, literally, where he stuck his dick, went over to these two dragons and started chatting them up, now just in case your not getting it, were talking two horrid looking witches that the only thing they didn’t have was broom sticks!

Looking across at Don, I’m thinking, what was he playing at, were Harrow boys, we had standards. So ok we were 14 coming on 15, and maybe a bit early to have crumpet standards, but you know to have standards, you have to have examples to base standards on, well were theses two sub standard, and from that night on those two were my standard base line examples of crumpet!

Me I was horrified, and told the others that they weren’t getting a lift in the Skylark, then Don came over all excited, saying that as soon as we had finished our grub, the two dragons were up for a ride, literally, the thought made me feel quite ill, and I was already on the verge of vomit just looking across at them. Double egg and ham, with HP sauce and slices of buttered bread, washed down with two mugs of tea, don’t look to good when projectile vomited, yeah not a pretty sight, and if these two dragons got into the Skylark, there was a fair chance that the dash board and instruments, would be getting a re-furb in milky lumpy yellow bits, courtesy of me!

I was about to give it to Don big time, when the two dragons who were about our age turn up and sit down at our table, and I wasn’t risking a whack from them, they may be armed, so I kept quite, it’s called juvenile dumb struck!

Looking across at them, it took a while to take in just what level of dragons they were close up, they were both dressed in funeral black, so maybe they were expecting death! Both had on this odd sort of white makeup, with bright red lips, deep black shaded eyes with black streaks tapering back to above their ears, and this odd jet black hair sticking out all over the place like they’d been electrocuted, and yuck, yuck, they both had on fishnet tights, with a short black pleated pelmet skirt around their pussys, and to top it off, knee high black boots with heels, indeed a horrid sight and tragicially so young, but to me the mystery was this, how could they dress up like that, presumably at home, and then show up at the cafe where there were no bus’s stop’s, looking so grim, yeah that was a mystery, just how did they get to be all the way ‘out there’ at the Busy Bee cafe!

Later I realised the answer was simple, they coulden’t possibly be local chicks, or indeed English, I was kinda right, hey they had to be from ‘out there’, sent down here to scientificially test human levels of tolerance and endurance, well it was their bad luck Saturday night to encounter us five not to bright novice’s from Harrow, who were famous for not giving to much of a fuck who they fucked, being that desperate, well except for me that is, I was always choosey, and don’t snigger I was!

Over the years, there is something about girls that has always amazed me, and it’s this, how when they do the last mirror check, and I might add after what two hours decorating, do they come to the conclusion that they looked cool and ready to hit the town and kill’em, yeah that’s always beat me, and especially as they looked way better before they even started, yes truly astounding really, you noticed that!

These two sitting in front of me, looked a couple of Halloweens well past their prime, and they coulden’t be any older than 16, did they really have parents, well someone had dropped them off at the cafe, who coulden’t possibly be expecting them back! The smaller one just edged the other on looks, but even so she would have to blindfold the vibrator! The other was so grim, that the tide wouldn’t take her out, and both had ‘boat races’, that only a Mum could love, and there I was sitting on the same table with the two mistress’s grim in front of me whilst I’m trying to finish my ham and chips, yeah it was enough to make a ‘maggot gag’, but amazingly, the other guys didn’t seem to see it that way at all, and were actually nudging each other as to who was going to get the bigger one, as Don had already claimed the smaller one, and you didn’t mess with Don Cole, the best puller of birds I ever meet, well after all, Don had a head start, he was a ladies hairdresser, and his one ball never held him back, apparently he looked all over for it, but it never reapeared!

‘Hey you lot, you can leave me out’, I told them under my breath.

Were they all blind, or were they seeing something different to me, I couldn’t work it out, and the scent the two were reaking of smelt like the stuff you put down toilet’s! Don leant across to me and said.

‘Right Brode, you make the first move to go, and I’ll follow out with the birds’

‘Don you cant be serious, these are the fucking sisters grim’, he grins.

‘Brode I do hope so’ nudging me in the ribs, what could I do, I was out voted!

‘Brode, Brode what the fuck does it matter, they may look like dogs, but once were in the back of the car it’s going to be so dark who cares, we will just have to use our imaginations’

That was it, I told him straigh, ‘use our imaginations, are you serious’

My protestations were falling on deaf ears, it’s an amazing guy phenomena, that when the blood is rushing to your centre piece, nothing seems to get in the way, not even it seems these two grim looking examples of women~hood, and I can tell you if they were from ‘out there’, if that was the best they could come up with, frankly you can keep space travel. Women~hood, yeah that’s exactly what these two should be wearing, but you know, I thought about what Don had said, and he did have a point, as they used to say, ’you don’t look at the mantle when your poking the fire’, but I was fucked if I was jumping in the back, to jump those two end of lines!

We all leave the cafe, open the Skylark doors and no pushing or shoving the two Dragons can’t wait to jump in the back with Don and spotty Eddie Chalkly, who incidentaly professed to wank four times a day, yeah that is four times, and Christ knows where he did that, the mind boggles, and quite sickening really, just thought you ought to know that as background info, but at least it explained why he was first in line for the dragon shag!

The other two guys jumped in the front with me, I drive half a mile up to the usual dark lane turned left and parked. It was then I noticed the awful smell of that cheap perfume stinking out the Skylark, I think it was called ‘Charlie’ that all the dragon chicks wore back then ♪all those years ago♪, the stuff was reeking, and I’m thinking we would have to have all the windows open on the way home, or the airman would at last suss us out, but I did learn one thing that night, you had to be a ‘right charlie’, to take a bird out in public, who had ‘Charlie’ behind her ears!

As soon as I parked and switched off, I could tell by the grunting sounds that Don and Eddie were already at it in the back, you would not believe it, but both the  dragons were the noisy kind, whimpering and making squeaking sounds like they were actually enjoying themselves, which had to be, and excuse the pun, fucking impossible! So tell me this, what were the chances of this happening, getting two noisy at sex birds at the same time and at the same venue, it had to be impossible, but it was happening, it was like they were having a who’s the noisiest grunter compettion, and what with the two guys groaning too, frankly in front we I could do without the sound effects!

Anyway they sounded like they were enjoying themselves, which really did have to be impossible, as both Don and particularly Eddie were not exactly the best looking guys on the block, Eddie, was covered in red spots around his mouth and chin, and looked most times like he had been rimming a bee hive, and Don was not too far behind him in the looks dept, but hey guys, girls, what the fuck did I know, and all these years later, I’m still trying to work them out, how about you?

The odd time we got lucky, I usually parked between two huge oak trees, but this time I stopped right under one of these huge trees, the low branch canopy covereing the car like a cloak, so it was really dark inside, I did this on purpose, because I was fucked if I wanted to see the two moos mooches in the back, but it’s amazing how quickly your eyes adjust, and when I turned to look in the back, big, big mistake, it was like a scene from a horror sex movie, not that I’d ever seen one, but your magination’s a wonderfull thing!

The first thing that I saw through a shaft of moon light, was Dons birds two legs wide apart with her feet propped up on the back of the front seat, and in between them was Dons white bum going at it, like a fucking road drill ten to the dozen! Eddie seeing this, was taking Dons lead, and was attempting to do the same with the other bird, so within a few seconds there were two fish net stocking feet up on the front seat back, and two bare feet, as they’d pulled down there fish net tights on one leg to let the boys in, yeah, quite sickening really!

The four feet up on the front seat back, looked like ducks at a Fair ground, with Eddies even whiter bum, his second name was Chalkly, but that had to be a coincidence, going ten to the dozen as well, and with all this high pitched squeling and growling going on, I thought my ham egg and chips were going for a re-show any second, yuck, yuck, yuck!

Now call me a prude, call me a whimp, call me a let down, call me a Taxi if you like, but I was horrified, and the three of us in the front didn’t know where to put our faces, and me, I was really having trouble not vomiting, and especially when Don let out a muffled cry as he hit the agony stroke of ‘Geronimo’, look I know we all say the oddest things in the heat of the moment, but Don’s outcry, was a totaly unnessary insult to that once proud American Red Indian tribe!

Then I heard the words that I dreaded, as Don pulled out of dragon number one with a sick cheesy grin on his chops, as he opened the door to get out, saying,  ‘right guys whose next’, as he jumped out of the car into the cool night air, presumably to clean himself up, well yeah your right, yuck, yuck, double yuck, then quick as a flash a kid who’s name I just can’t remember, was over the front seat like a ships rat, with his trousers already around one ankle, and ‘In like Flynn’, yuck, was I the only one in that car with standards?

Both the two girls were making these awful squealing noises all the time, the other kid in the front, Norman Blake, you remember him in chapter 14, who along with Monty were once famous in our school days, as prolific ‘Soda Syphon’ nicker’s!           Well Norman was never too brave, and had very sensibly slid down onto the front floor boards, gesturing to me, that he was fucked if he was taking Eddies place, and I was not too far off following him down into the bowels of the Skylark’s dashboard assembley, and it crossed my mind, that if I threw up down there, they would no doubt have to scrap the Skylark, as pressurised projected vomit on electricials, well have you ever attempted to clean the stuff away with out a water jet, yeah double yuck, but at least my ol’ class mate Norman Blake had standards!

Yeah Norman was staying where he was, snuggled up under the dash not taking any chance’s, but you know looking back, I’d never seen Norman out with a bird ever, let alone chat one up, so perhaps he wasn’t so Nor~man after all, fuck what a thought, wow, and there he was out with us bird only guys Skylarking around. Yeah wow, if it was true and the Harrow guys found out we were out with a bender, Don, Eddie and me would have to emigrate to Aussie, so Normans preference if proven meant only one thing, his death, what, us three emigrate to Australia cos of him, are you kidding, you ever tried Kangaroo stew!

To this day those two white bums going ten to the dozen, accompanied by that grunting and squeaking from the two witches, and that growling sound like the two of them had been hit on the back of their heads with a snooker que, as the two guys finally fired off their blanks, still remains one of the sickest sights and sounds that I have ever heard or witnessed, yep no doubt about it, the stuff of nightmares, and belive me these two were mares, that even the night coulden’t hide!

Half way through this deviant and sickening performance, my eyes had so well adjusted to the darkness I could clearly make out the grim contortions on those two dragons faces, who were both flat out on their backs on the back seat, with their heads propped up by the rear seat back cushioning, with those stone white faces and huge mop’s of frizzy black hair sticking up like they were both connected to a power socket, a truly wicked and disturbing sight, which seen by anybody other than Harrow guys, would leave an ever lasting sick and demented fiendish scar in the minds eye, that could well have been responsible to a lesser person the emergence of a local serial sex killer, so thank the stars only Harrow guys were in the Skylark that dark disturbing and I might add, quite disgusting evening!

Hey wait a moo, come to think of it, we never did see too much again of that odd kid the ‘soda-syphon thief’ Norman Blake from my school days, that hid under the Skylark dash, who like me had an eyeful, but being smart, never ventured over that front seat into depravity, but would you believe a few weeks later there was this spate of unexplained attacks on ‘only’ ugly duck birds in Harrow!

‘Hevens~to~Murgatroid’, I’m wondering now after all these’s years, if I’ve figured it out, case solved. Nah, nah, nah coulden’t be, Norman Blake, no way too much of a whimp, mind you thinking about it, Norman always used a handkerchief, had spotless polished shoes, and no one ever saw him pick his nose, spit in the street or make vulgar rear enders, and big, big clue, he also wore very thin rim glasses too, and get this, he actually said that he didn’t like Bill Haley, Buddy Holly, Little Richard, Fats Domino, Chuck or Jerry Lee either, yeah right, something very wrong, Norman was obviously mighty disturbed!

Mind you, you had to be fair to the sisters grim, they both had two of the greatest pairs of tit’s that I had seen, wobbling around all over their chests like demented white jellies with big cherries on top, that I have to say did look inviting, but once you took a look at those two savage white mooches, you hit reverse pronto!

You know when your blood pressure is hitting a high note, and you have that tingleing feeling around your middle wicket, most guys will venture carefree into the unknown, but looking at these two, with their jet black hair sticking up in a frizzy mop like they were both in shock, was shocking to see, but to be fair to them, who wouldn’t be in shock with Don and Eddie pumping them up, but seeing those two laying there, with those two grunting away at it, well that was it, any rumble in your jungle was gone for good, and then it happened. I heard the sickly inviting words from the bigger dragon that I double didn’t want to hear, and dreaded!

‘What about David, are you coming into the back David’, I thought yeah right darling, with a bit of luck I may well be coming some time later that week, but it wouldn’t be in the back of the Skylark with those two savage looking things, that if you took for a walk with them would need a collar and lead, truth was they had more chance of waking up looking normal, than getting me into the back with them, look lets be clear on this, normally I was a brave little fucker, and up for anything, and no pun intended, but nothing was going to get me over that back seat into their clutches, or is that crutches that nite, so being a good Harrow boy with manners and standards, I casually replied, so as not to cause any offence!

‘Ah no thanks luv I’m just the boys driver’, thinking fuck that for a game of Monkeys.

The guys finished up, it was all over in what ten minutes, well ♪it’s not unusual♪ is it. Don jumped back in, and only started necking with the smaller one, sickening. I drove us all back to the ‘Busy Bee fun Cafe’, and hadn’t they just been three little ‘busy bees’, the two dragons disappeared into the loo, and we literally fucked off out of there pronto, leaving a cloud of dust behind us as the Skylark lurched out of the dirt car park, and we headed for home, or to be precise, the airmans gaff.

Don and the other two were like a couple of kids, and couldent stop laughing, hey what am I saying, we were all kids. They were calling Norman and me all sorts of cissie names, saying we were chicken and should have climbed over into the back and given the two a further good shagging, but the thought of putting my dick into any one of those two dragons after those three had finished, almost had me stopping the car and gagging over Englands fair and pleasent land, in fact I feel quite ill right now, just recalling that sickening night under that Oak tree near ‘The Busy Bee’

For months after, Don and Eddie never stopped talking about shagging those two sisters grim, oh and that third little unnamed kid, never showed up much again, then we heard that he’d joined St Albans church choir, never to be seen again, yeah third in line, yuck, and black fuzzy hair and eyes with fishnet tights around one leg would do that!

Me and Norman, well frankly later we put it down to personel taste, that Don and Eddie, oh and that nameless kid that went over the seat like a ships rat, had absolutely none! I mean for fucks sake, sticking my dick in where they had just been firing blanks, come on I had principles and in any case don’t you just hate being sick in a car, and especially as the owner had been kind enough to lend it to us. The Studebaker Skylark may have been for Skylarking, but there was a limit you know, and I had found mine, oh and apparently so had not so norma, Norman Blake too!

We drove back to the yanks house laughing our silly heads off, and do you know something really rotten, not one of us had the dencency to get those two demonic girls names or phone numbers, what a shame, and of course it was me that had to clean up the back of the car, and the only thing that I had was my Tee shirt, so off it came to clean up the car, mind you it didn’t go back on again, so I cycled home way gone midnight, topless, which caused a few looks and comments!

Then one evening, would you believe the Skylark didn’t show, we looked time and time again, but we never saw the Skylark or the drunk airman arrive home ever again. Sad as we were all getting quite fond of the ol’ boy, who did look good in his pale blue, body hugging button up US Airforce uniform, and shiney black shoes, even if most times he was bent double attempting to get through his front door!

We reckoned that he must have been posted back to the states, or some war zone, or had had the accident at long last, and for the last few months of that summer we kept a look out for him to return, but he never did, and try as we could by creeping around endless streets, checking cars, we never found another easy car nicking scam like that again! We thought we looked the bollocks in that two tone Studebaker ‘larking’ about, and quite a few chicks must still be wondering today, if we ever made it as a band?

The truth was the car was probably actually a Studebaker Hawk, I think, because Studebaker introduced the Skylark Lark in the US in 1959, but then we did do all this during 1958~59’, which might have fitted in with the introduction of the Studebaker Skylark, that looked and smelt brand new, and thinking about it, the yank tank we took out ‘joy riding’ that winter of 58~59’, was immaculate, so it may just have been a new Skylark, I just don’t know, but Studebaker Skylarking about, fitted the bill much better when we were ball~ache’ing about it, than Studebaker Hawk~ing, so as far as we were concerned, ‘Studebaker Skylarking’, it was, but in the need for accuracy, there was another Studebaker model introduced in 53, the stunning looking ‘Skyliner’, and after seeing both Skyliner and Lark models recently at a classic American auto show in the US of A, I am pretty much convinced that it was in fact the Skyliner model that we were Skylarking around in ♪All those years ago♪, down Harrow way!

You see the Skylark model was a compact and quite an ordinary looking car, quite unlike the big black and yellow number we were tooling around in!

Look I don’t want to be boring, but, in ‘59, Studebaker also introduced the equally stunning ‘Commodore’ model, what, yeah I know confusing! This could have  possibly also been the model we were nicking from the US Airman, but the thing is this, who the fuck cares, so I say it again, Skylark fit’s the bill just great, so bollocks to which ever Studebaker model it was!

Enough of this, let’s go for the Skylark model, as even I’m getting confused, and I don’t know about you, but I have more important things to do and worry about whether it was a Studebaker Skyliner, Lark, Hawk or Commodore, the thing is this, does it really matter, well of course not, I told you already that boring was a weapon of mass destruction, so let’s bring this to an end, but it is a very perplexing issue don’t you think Lark, Hawk, Skyliner or Commodore model, what you don’t care either, well why didn’t you say so earlier, but think about it, I just gave you a lesson on how to be boring, easy isn’t it, so be aware, ♪it could happen to you♪, oh I just thought, what about the sleek ‘Champion’ model, stop, stop enough is enough!

There was no doubt about it for me, it was a great way to learn to drive, and in all the times we went out in that huge Studebaker thing, we never as much as scratched it, mind you, I did give the rear seat a good going over, sacrificing my Tee shirt after that twin dragon shagging night, that was by far the most successful night we ever had in the Skylark, well crumpet wise that is, even though I acted like a poof.   I couldn’t help it, I just never got the inclination to jump over the back seat and pump up one of those two, ‘ugly duck’ birds, and it’s still one of the few things that to this day, I still don’t regret not doing, but who knows, give me another 10 years!

Now get this, we were all Harrow boys, so you wont be surprised that on putting the car back in the airmans drive way, we always left the Skylark cleaner inside than when we found it, we even put the front seat right back to the position we found it too, now wasn’t that nice of us, the only thing that the drunk airman lost was petrol, but then on the other hand, we did a couple of times carry his near lifeless drunk body to the safety of his hallway and closed his front door for him, so I guess the petrol we used, could be classed as a tip!

Today they nick a car, and do they clean the fucker on the way home, do they fuck, they torch the fucker on the way home!

Now I ask you, what sort of a way is that to behave, what happened to pride, very, very sad.

There was no doubt about it, if your car was going to get nicked back then, better hope it was by a Harrow boy!