January 1970 was cold and depressing. Not much was happening, it was too cold to work up much enthusiasm for anything. January gave way to February and the cold got even worse. One cold dark evening, I was in the Market bar with Phil Large, sitting at a table just passing the time. We were idly talking of what we wished we were doing and where we wished we were going, to get away from the winter. Phil said, why don't we go somewhere. I said, 'okay, lets pack some things and go to try to find the sun.' I had never been abroad and had no conception of what it would be like or where the sun would be, but I had been told that the South of France would be warm and sunny. I thought, how far can it be. France is only just across the channel. We went into Gloucester, bought some lightweight sleeping bags from Millets, packed our things into a rucksack, strapped it and Phil's guitar onto the rack on the back of the bike and we were ready for our adventure.
Late one night we set off for Dover, to catch the ferry to Boulogne first thing in the morning. The cold was intense, so I was wearing as many clothes as I could get on, under my Parka jacket. I was wearing my old Union Jack crash helmet, which I only wore when the weather was bad. I have always hated wearing a crash helmet, but when it was cold, it kept my head warm. Phil was similarly attired, but nothing was going to keep out this kind of cold. We travelled up the A40 towards London, through Oxford. When we got to High Wycombe, I was so cold I couldn't feel anything, I was going to have to stop. I saw a parade of shops on my left and decided to pull off the road. I couldn't move my legs to put them down to hold us up, so I very gently stopped next to a wall, so that we could fall against it without having to move. Phil got off, then I slowly got my legs to move off the footrests and managed to get off. We crouched down next to the engine, trying to warm ourselves by the heat of the engine. After about ten minutes, it cooled so we got going again. We made it to London and took the South Circular Road, where we found an all night café. We stopped for a welcome cup of tea, which warmed us up no end. Despite the cold, I was excited at the prospect of the forthcoming journey into the unknown.
We arrived at Dover in the morning, in plenty of time to catch the ferry, but first we had to go to the RAC office to get an international driving license. I had to go into a photo booth to get a passport size photo, to stick on the license. I had been riding all night and didn't look too clean, together with long hair and a beard, that photo made me look like a Bahder Mienhoff terrorist on a bad day. It didn't matter though, it was good enough. We were soon on the ferry and into uncharted territory. It was a cold but bright sunny day and the trip was pretty good apart from the pangs of seasickness. On the boat we met some French motorcyclists who were on their way home after a rally in England, we told them we were going in search of the sun and they wished us luck.
The ferry docked in Boulogne, we rode down the gangway into the cobbled street, looking for the road to Paris. We took what we thought was the right road, but after a few miles I was having doubts. The road looked a bit small and quiet for the main road to Paris. Up ahead I saw a small moped going in the same direction as us so I pulled alongside it and shouted across to the middle aged, lady rider, 'Ou est le route de Paris', my French was pretty crap, but she understood. She shook her head and shouted, 'Non, le route de Paris' and turned and started pointing back the way we had come. The problem was, she was pointing backwards so intently that she wasn't looking where she was going. She went off the road and down a ditch at the side of the road. I stopped the bike, turned around and went back to see if she was all right. As we got to where she had fallen, her head appeared out of the ditch with bits of grass and debris sticking out of her hair. It looked so funny, but we couldn't laugh. We helped her and her moped out of the ditch, apologising profusely for distracting her, but she assured us that she was all right and that it was her own fault. I felt so bad about it, but as soon as we were out of her sight, we couldn't help laughing, until tears were rolling down our cheeks.
We retraced our route, back into Boulogne. As soon as we got to the main road, I saw where we had gone wrong, I followed the sign and we were on our way to Paris. It was a fine bright day and our spirits were high. We had only been travelling for a few minutes, when the two French lads we had met on the ferry came past. They flagged us down and said, 'if we were going to Paris, we could follow them. They were riding an old 1950's BMW which to my amazement, kept up a terrific speed on the autoroute. They had to stop once or twice, to top up with oil, because the engine was worn out, but it still went like the clappers.
Soon we were riding through Paris, following Marc through the rush hour traffic. He was a Parisian and knew his way around very well. It was quite something to be travelling through Paris so surely and swiftly. Marc told us to follow him to his home in Chantilly, where we could stop for a rest. When we arrived at Marc's home, we found it to be his family's home. We went in and were introduced to Marc's mother and father, his brother and sister and his grandfather. They all lived together in a huge grey stone house with beautiful wrought iron balconies and railings. We were made welcome and invited to stay for dinner, which we gratefully accepted. We all sat around a large table and ate a terrific French meal of things I had never had before, there was crab in scallop shells, a superb soup, lots of bread and absolutely gorgeous coffee. I had never had real French bread or French coffee before and I found in it, something I would always love.
As we sat around the table, talking about our intended trip to the sun, Marc told us that he didn't live in this house at the moment. He was living in a flat in Clermont Ferrand, in the Massif Central. He was an engineer and had been able to defer his National service with the army, by moving to Clermont, to work in a factory which made military aircraft. He had to be back in Clermont by the next morning, for work and we were welcome to follow him and stay in his flat until we went on with our trip. It would take around four hours in the saddle to reach Clermont, so at about ten o clock we got ready to leave. When we went to the bikes, to my horror I saw that the Lightning had sustained a puncture. The back tire was as flat as a pancake. Marc made his apologies but said he had to leave, to make sure he got back in time, but he gave us his address and a map to help us find him and told us to be sure to stop when we got there.
Marc's brother volunteered to take me to an all night garage, where he said I would be able to get my puncture repaired. I got the back wheel out and put in his car. It was an old Citroen 2CV which he started and had to wait a few minutes for it to warm up before it had enough power to pull away. Once we got going, we were soon rattling along the old cobbled streets at what seemed a breakneck speed, cornering at crazy angles, but he seemed quite casual about it so I didn't worry.
We arrived at a small backstreet garage, with just one old man working there. He seemed glad that we had turned up, for the company as much as for the business. Marc's brother explained that we needed the puncture repaired and the old man said it would not be a problem, he would get on with it immediately. But first we must have a Cognac with him. We sat in his office, where he produced a small glass for each of us and a large bottle of Cognac. He poured us a tot each and said 'salut,' downing the Cognac in one swallow. He went into the workshop to start on the puncture, telling us to stay in the office, in the warm. A short time later he reappeared and said he had found the puncture by immersing the tube in water, but would have to let it dry before he could put the glue on, so we had better have another glass of Cognac while we waited. So he poured us another one and went through the same ritual as the last time, then went back into the workshop. A few minutes later he was back again. He said he had put the glue on, but had to wait a few minutes for it to become tacky so we might as well have another drink. By this time I was starting to feel the effects of the Cognac, I wasn't used to it. He went back into the workshop to stick the patch on the tube, then came back again, saying he had to wait for it to stick before he put it back on the wheel, so we better have another drink. I was as pissed as a fart by now and was giggling about the whole situation. Finally he went back into the workshop and a short time later, reappeared with my wheel, duly repaired. He said, we couldn't leave just yet, we'd better have a coffee to sober us up a bit. He got his coffee machine going and made each of us a superb cup of espresso, which we sat and drank with him. When I asked him the cost of the repair, I almost burst out laughing when he charged the equivalent of about five shillings. We had been there about two hours and drunk more Cognac than you could buy for five shillings.
We got back into the car and made the return journey to Chantilly. It was even more hair raising than the first journey, obviously I wasn't the only one feeling the effect of the Cognac.
When we got there, it had been decided that seeing as it was so late, we would stay the night and move on, the next morning. Early next morning, I was woken by Marc's sister wanting to say goodbye. She was leaving for work and wanted to give us a kiss and wish us well, it was a lovely moment. We got out of bed and made ready to leave. Marc's mum made us a huge bowl of café au lait and gave us some bread to dip into it. She said that this was a traditional breakfast in France. After we had eaten, we loaded our things onto the bike and after giving them our heartfelt thanks, we were on the road again.
We followed Marc's instructions and took a leisurely run south. The weather was still pretty good, cold but clear and blue. After about three hours, we stopped to get something out of our rucksack. When we opened it, on the top we found a tin of fruit, with a ten franc note attached to it with an elastic band. What a wonderful family and what a welcome to France.
We arrived in Clermont Ferrand during late afternoon and followed Marc's instructions, going through to the south side of Clermont, to the small suburb called Royat. As we came to the main road through Royat, we heard cheering and saw Marc and some friends leaning over a balcony. They had been keeping an eye out for us. They ran down to greet us and showed me where to park the bike round the back of the large apartment building. It was only a small one bedroom flat, but it had a small kitchen and a toilet, so it was quite a nice little place. Marc invited us to stay as long as we liked. I was overwhelmed by his generosity.
That night Marc suggested that we go out for a meal in a cheap self service restaurant he knew. We got on the bikes and went to the restaurant, it was unlike anything I have ever encountered, before or since. It was a bit like a factory canteen. We went along the counter, picking what we fancied. Phil saw a steak and couldn't believe how cheap it was,
'that's for me', he said.
It was uncooked, so the chef picked it up and dropped it into boiling fat. To my astonishment, it was no sooner in the fat than it was out again. It was still raw as far as I was concerned, but Marc said that was how it was eaten. Phil didn't seem to mind either, he is much more of a carnivore than I am. I was glad I had stuck with egg and chips. Phil was tucking into it with gusto, he said it was different to the steak he had at home. Marc waited a few minutes then asked Phil if he knew what kind of steak it was.
Phil said, 'no, what is it? Sirloin? Rump? What are you all laughing at?' Marc said, 'I wasn't asking what cut it was, I was asking if you knew what animal it came from, it's not beef, it's horse steak.'
Phil started spluttering that he didn't believe it, but from his face, we all knew that he did. He just didn't want to.
After the meal we went back to the flat to get some sleep. We had to use our sleeping bags, on a blow up mattress on the floor. When Marc got up for work Phil and I jumped into the warm bed for a couple of hours. We got up about mid morning and went to explore Clermont. It was quite a place, at the base of a mountain. There was a famous Grand Prix motor racing circuit there and a large casino, high up on the lower slope of the mountain. It was very different to Gloucester.
Marc took us everywhere, he introduced us to a large circle of friends and over the next few weeks we became a part of their social scene. We had nothing but kindness from everyone we met, except one. A group of us went to a tenpin bowling alley for an evening out. As we stood at one end of the bar, which must have been twenty feet long, the owner stood at the other end and pointed at me and Phil, followed by a hand gesture which obviously meant, go away. He was saying something which I couldn't understand, so I asked Marc what the bar owner was saying. Marc told me that the man was just saying, he wouldn't serve us and that we should leave immediately. I pleaded with the man to allow us to stay, but he became very agitated and started shouting that he would call the police. I was getting pretty annoyed myself and started shouting that he was an asshole and if he wanted trouble he could have it. At that, he picked up the phone and started dialling the police. Instantly the place erupted in a flurry of activity, everybody was rushing for the door.
Marc grabbed my arm and said, 'let's go.'
I said, 'why? We haven't done anything.'
He replied that the police in France were not like the police in England. French police were paid for by local businesses and if we were there when they arrived we would be arrested on the bar owners word that we were troublemakers. Also they would be just a likely to wade in with batons and ask questions later, that's why the whole place was emptying. We were the last to leave, I looked around and in just a few minutes the place had emptied. I took some satisfaction from the fact that he would make no more profit tonight.
Phil and I were living mainly on bread and pate, with yoghurt for desert. Money was really tight. Phil played his guitar and sang sometimes, but we were getting nearer to destitution, every day. We were in the local café with our new friends one evening, when Marc picked up my helmet and said to them,
'Cliff and Phil will have to leave soon, because they are running out of money. If you would like them to stay, put some money into the helmet.' They all threw money in and despite our protests, they said they were glad to do it, we were their friends and they enjoyed having us around. They saw us as English hippies, we were outrageous in our looks and dress compared to them.
Marc gave us the collection and said, 'now you can stay.'
We saw a poster announcing that Mickey Baker, a legendary American bluesman would be appearing at the local casino. Phil and I wanted to go to see him, but Marc said it would be far too expensive for any of us to go there. The casino was only for well off people. Undeterred, we turned up at the door, carrying Phil's Guitar and told the doormen we were friends of Mickey's from America. They wouldn't let us in at first, but we managed to sweet talk them. They showed us backstage, where we literally bumped into Mickey, as he was coming down some steps at the back of the stage.
We said, 'Hi Mickey, how are you doing?'
He replied, 'Hi guys, hey you English?'
The doorman didn't speak English and it sure looked like we were friends, with all the smiling and handshaking going on, so, satisfied that we had been telling the truth, he turned and left.
We sat at a table with Mickey and his wife, chatting about what we were doing travelling in France and about Phil's prowess with the guitar. Mickey said, 'I'll get you a spot, if you want one. Would you like to play with the house band, with my band, or on your own?'
It turned out that the band that was backing Mickey was the same band that regularly backed Ray Charles, so Phil asked if he could play with them. And so it was arranged, in between the house band's and Mickey's spot, Phil would go on and do his stuff.
This casino was a new experience for us, the waiters were all dressed in dark suits and were carrying silver champagne buckets to and from the tables. The people seated around the tables were even more impressive, dressed up to the nines. There was some serious money sitting here. I wondered how they would react to Phil. It was likely that we were the first long haired hippies, they had ever seen in the flesh.
The house band came on and started their set. We couldn't stop ourselves laughing. It wasn't that their musicianship was in question, they actually played quite well. They were wearing black trousers and orange jackets that looked like they had been made out of a carpet. They had Beetle style haircuts, that had been the fashion in England eight or nine years previous. No one would be seen dead looking like that in 1969. The funniest thing though, was that they played all English songs and it soon became obvious to us that none of them actually spoke English. They must have learned the songs by listening to the records, because a lot of the words they used, only sounded like the real words. It was very odd, but not surprising as the whole world was listening to English records and taking note of what was happening in England throughout the whole of the 60's.
Then it was time for Phil to take the stage. He took centre stage, in front of the band and started to play. He played some Led Zeppelin numbers, finishing with The Lemon Song. He was playing a great set, singing
Squeeze me baby, till the juice runs down my leg,
Squeeze me baby, till the juice runs down my leg,
The way you squeeze my lemon,
I swear I'm gonna fall right out of bed.
Phil was brilliant, he went down a storm.
The audience started chanting, 'Vive l'anglais, Vive l'anglais', then they started throwing money onto the floor in front of the stage. I realised this was a good opportunity to raise some cash, so I took off the black sombrero I was wearing and went round the audience. We made a good sum that night, enough to keep us going a bit longer. It was a great night too, a really memorable experience. We stayed on to watch Mickey play his set, he was very impressive. I now have a couple of his albums in my collection. He was a great blues guitarist and a very nice man.
There had been a local radio presenter in the audience and he came up to us and introduced himself. He invited us back to his apartment for a drink. What he really wanted though, was to talk to us about the British music scene. He wanted to know first hand, what was happening in England. He also had a Pink Floyd album, which had some lyrics that he couldn't decipher and he wanted us to explain them to him. His English was very good, but some of the words he asked about, even we couldn't catch, so he had no chance. His English was much better than our French that's for sure. Phil's philosophy was to speak English, very slowly, hoping they would understand. If they didn't understand, Phil increased the volume and decreased the speed of his speech. He did this two or three times, then if they still didn't understand, he gave up. We didn't have any such problems with this radio presenter, he said he had been very impressed with Phil and spoke about trying to get him onto the radio. Phil said maybe, but we didn't know how much longer we would be here.
We were sitting in a large café with Marc and some friends, when a family came in and sat down a few tables away from us. As soon as they sat down, I noticed people starting to move away. Marc said come on, we must move, so we got up and moved to the other end of the café. It was very strange, the family were at one end of the café and everyone else had moved to the other end. I asked Marc what was going on. He just said, Germans, as if that would be explanation enough.
I said, 'what about it?'
Marc explained that people in this region would have nothing to do with Germans because of things that had happened during the German occupation in the Second World War. The atmosphere could be cut with a knife, but the Germans didn't take any notice, they had their drinks without hurrying and then left. When they had gone, things returned to normal, people started talking again and spread out around the whole café.
The weather in Clermont was growing worse. A huge quantity of snow fell one evening and I was worried that we would be stuck there. When we got up, around lunch time the next day, all the roads had been cleared and traffic was moving normally. We kept checking the weather forecasts and were disappointed to hear that we were in the grip of one of the worst winters for years. When I heard that it was snowing in Rome, I said to Phil, 'I've had enough of this, I'm going to make a dash for home.' Phil wanted to keep going south, but we were desperately short of money and common sense said we should get back to where we once belonged.
We took a ride high up into the mountains, above the snow line. It was so beautiful up there, but the decision had been made, we would leave the next day. We told Marc that we were leaving and again he tried to persuade us to stay. His hospitality knew no bounds and we were very grateful to him, but we told him we had to go.
Next morning, the weather had turned really nasty, but we loaded the bike and got ready to leave. As I kicked the bike over, the sole fell right off my shoe, it had rotted away. I knew my shoes were rough, but didn't expect them to give up quite so badly. I went back to the flat and found an old pair of gym shoes, that belonged to Marc. I left him a note explaining what had happened, then we were on the road again. It was raining steadily, a cold rain that soaked through every layer of clothing, right through to the skin. We rode for a couple of hours, in the pouring rain, before we came upon a small village café. We stopped and went in, hoping to be able to get a warm. Sure enough, there was a roaring coal fire. The lady who owned the cafe, fussed around us like we were her long lost sons. She made us take off our wet clothes and put them on chair backs in front of the fire. As we sat and drank our coffee, I started looking at the photographs hanging all around the walls. The pictures were all of rugby teams and suddenly I spotted a picture of the Cherry and Whites. I asked the old lady about the picture and she told us that her son played rugby for a top French team and had played at Kingsholm. These pictures were all of the places he had played. We stayed for about an hour, chatting with this lovely lady, before deciding to head off for Paris. She kissed us on both cheeks and bade us au revoir, then stood in the doorway and waved us off, as we rode away.
Night fell and I was picking up speed, going through the quiet little villages at seventy or eighty miles an hour. The rain had stopped and I wanted to get to Paris before we stopped again. I was thundering through a small village, when I saw a policeman standing in the middle of the road, waving his torch. He obviously wanted to me to stop, but at this speed I had no chance.
I sped past him, shouting back to Phil, 'shall I keep going or what Phil?' Phil shouted back, 'Stop! French police have got guns and I'm on the back,' so I heaved on the brakes and stopped a long way from the policeman. I had to turn round and go back slowly towards him. When we stopped, the policeman asked if I knew what the speed limit was. I acted completely ignorant, saying I understood no French at all.
Then in perfect English, the policeman said, 'are on holiday?'
I replied, 'yes, we are on our way home, we have had a wonderful time in France.'
He said, 'okay but keep your speed down through the villages.'
He pointed to thirty miles an hour on my speedometer and said, 'keep to that speed and you will be all right. Have a good journey.' I thanked him and set off again for Paris. I'd, had to come to France to find a decsent copper.
Late that night we arrived back in Paris. It was late enough for the traffic to be light, making it easy to find our way through. We wouldn't be able to get a ferry from Boulogne, until next morning, so we were in no hurry to get there. We trundled along, looking for a café, to have a rest, waste a little time and of course, get a drink. Travelling along a wide boulevard, we spotted two café's on opposite corners. As I turned the corner, we saw that there was a riot going on in one of the café's, so I crossed the road and stopped outside the other one. We went in and ordered two coffees, then sat looking out of the window at what was happening across the road. The fight was getting worse, we could see people getting hit with chairs, bottles and anything else that came to hand. Then we heard the police sirens. Two corrugated tin Black Maria's, screeched to a halt outside the café and disgorged it's contents of long baton wielding Gendarmerie. I soon realised why Marc had been so keen to get out of the bowling alley, back in Clermont. These police didn't ask questions, they waded straight in, beating everyone within striking range. They were felling people with well practised professionalism and dragging them into the street, throwing them into the Black Maria. In just a few minutes, the riot was over, the police had cleared the café and when they drove off, there was no sign of anyone left on that side of the street.
With the entertainment over, we got up to leave, going to the bar to pay the bill. The barman told us that the bill had been taken care of. I asked who had paid it and the barman pointed to a young man sitting at a table in the corner of the café. When we went over to thank him for his generosity, he asked us if we needed somewhere to stay for the night. I told him, we were heading for Boulogne, but were in no hurry and would be glad to take him up on his offer.
He told us that he lived nearby and we could follow him to his apartment. Only a few hundred yards from the café, he turned through some gigantic iron gates, into a large courtyard with high buildings on all four sides. It was pitch dark and for the first time on our journey, a feeling of apprehension swept over us. The place had an air of menace about it. Phil looked up and saw what he thought was someone watching us from high up on one of the buildings.
I was unpacking the rucksack from the bike, when Phil whispered to me, 'I don't like it, there's something wrong here, let's get out of it.'
I said, 'no, it's all right, it's just the darkness making it frightening.'
Phil was adamant that he was going to leave, but in the end I managed to persuade him to come up to the apartment. I had a huge hunting knife in the rucksack and for the first time, I got it out and stuck it inside my coat. I said to Phil, 'be on your guard as we go up the stairs and into the apartment, any trouble and we'll cut and run.'
When we got into the apartment, we sat around a table chatting with the young man, but could not shift the feeling of unease we both felt. He showed us into a bedroom, where we settled down for the night. Phil wanted the knife, so that he could keep it close to him while he slept, but I wouldn't give it to him. It was so dark in the room that I couldn't see my watch, even though it had a luminous face. I lay there for hours without getting a wink of sleep. Phil was the same, we would have been better staying on the road, we were paranoid about this place. Suddenly a scraping sound started outside. We couldn't make out what it was, but it increased the fear factor considerably. We lay there for hour after hour, with more and more dire thoughts going through our heads.
Eventually I said, 'I can't stay here any more, I don't care what time it is, I'm getting out of here.'
We got up and opened the curtains. To our astonishment, it was broad daylight, these were the most efficient blackout curtains I had ever come across. We looked down into the courtyard and immediately realised what the scraping noises had been. The refuse collectors had been to empty the large number of bins kept in the middle of the courtyard. We looked around and realised that the menacing face we had seen looking at us from high up on the building had been nothing more than a chimney pot with two holes in it, looking like eyes. Where the light that had shone through the holes had come from I have no idea, but it had certainly scared us. In the daylight, this place made me think of the Bastille, in darkness in had scared us half to death. Even now we knew that our fears had been unfounded, we still couldn't get out of there fast enough. We loaded the bike and left, breathing a sigh of relief and laughing as we rode down the road, relieved that we had survived the night.
A couple of hours later we arrived in Boulogne with a little time to spare before we caught the ferry. We were so short of money that we went into a boulangerie and asked them to sell us half a loaf of bread. We didn't have enough francs for a whole loaf. They were reluctant at first, but then had pity on us and gave us the bread. I had kept a few pounds, so that when we got to England, I would have enough money for petrol to get us home and to buy some good old English food.
We disembarked in Dover and was very surprised that the customs waved us right on through without having to stop. I think if I had been a customs officer I would have stopped us. Not that we had any money to buy anything worth smuggling. I went straight to a garage and filled the tank, then found a café and settled down to a good meal of egg, chips and beans, bread and butter and a cup of tea. Heaven! The best meal I'd had for ages. Then it was time for the long ride home. A ride that was largely uneventful, except that at Oxford, Phil shouted to me that one of his footrests had fallen off. I shouted back that we wouldn't be able to find it in the dark, so he would have to wedge his foot on top of the silencer. He had to keep moving his foot around because the sole of his shoe kept starting to melt, but never mind, we would be home soon.
It was about two o clock in the morning as I turned onto the Barnwood bypass, I saw a police car coming round the roundabout. I saw him look at us and turn to follow us. My Lightning, EFH 618C was a local registration so the police knew we would be from Gloucester.
I said to Phil, 'here we go, now I know were home.'
The patrol car followed us along Eastern Avenue, when finally he decided to stop us. We got off the bike, taking the opportunity to stand up and loosen up a bit. Two policemen got out of the car and approached us.
I said, 'what's the problem?'
One of the policemen said, 'I've stopped you because you're dangerous.'
I said, 'what are you on about?'
He continued, 'you're dangerous because you can't possibly control that bike properly with all that luggage strapped to the back.'
I smiled and said, 'that's what you think is it? How do you think we've managed to stay on it for the last two thousand miles then?'
He said, 'oh yeah, where have you been to do two thousand miles?'
I reached into the top pocket of my Parka and took out my documents. Passport, international driving license, green card insurance, test certificate and log book. I had taken everything with me, in case of unforeseen problems.
I held them up and said, 'look at this lot. We've been touring Europe, more than two thousand miles, then you stop me two miles from home and tell me I can't control the bike. You tosser! Why don't you piss off and harass somebody else?'
As the conversation unfolded, the other copper could obviously see the funny side of it and kept urging his colleague to get back in the car and leave it. When I called the first copper a tosser, the other one burst out laughing and said, 'come on let's go, before it gets even sillier.'
The first copper was a right asshole, but even he could see he was on a loser, so they got back into the car and cleared off.
As I was getting back on the bike, I looked down at the rear footrest that Phil thought had fallen off. It was still there, it had just come loose and folded down. Phil had just ridden fifty miles with his foot balanced on top of the exhaust, when in two minutes, I could have put the footrest right. I did it now anyway and Phil had a comfortable last mile home. I dropped him off in Beaufort Road then went home.
I went into the house which was in darkness, I don't know if anyone was home. I just went straight to bed. Next day I saw dad sitting in the living room, we grunted at each other as I went through the room and out of the door. I don't think he even knew I had been away.
The adventure was over, but it had been fun.
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Copyright © 1999 Cliff Ballinger. All rights reserved.