When I started back to work, a large number of the people I had worked with, were no longer there. While I had been off, about a dozen workers had been sacked for stealing. I had only been back a short time when the police returned the stolen property to Graham Reeves. We had to unload the goods to put them back into stock. I was amazed by the amount of stuff being returned. It came in about three lorry loads, all this having been stolen over a short period of time and had probably gone on for years previously.
During my second week back, I climbed up a stack of stillages and looked into one to see if it contained what I was looking for. It didn't so I jumped down, but as I jumped, the ring on the third finger of my left hand, caught on a spike on top of the stillage so instead of hitting the ground I was suspended a few feet up, hanging by the ring on my finger. I reached up and grabbed the top of the stillage and pulled myself up so I could get a foot back on the top of the one below to enable me to release my finger. I jumped down, this time without incident. I looked at the finger which was already beginning to swell. It looked bad, it was cut almost all the way round and was swelling so fast that I could hardly see the ring. I thought, January isn't being a very good month for me lately. I almost killed myself last year, now I've almost cut my finger off. I'm an Aquarian, this isn't supposed to be happening, This is the dawning of the age of Aquarius.
I was taken to the hospital where they cut the ring off , stitched the finger up and told me to take a couple of weeks off work. There was no chance of me doing that. They did a good job with the finger but I wasn't going to take their advice and take time off work. I had to make some money.
Cath and I were in bed one freezing cold night during that winter, when we both heard a noise outside. Our two dogs, Tina and Wimpy, started to bark furiously, running around the house barking towards where the noise had come from. There were some blackberry bushes at one side of the house and we were used to them scraping the wall during bad weather, but this was different. There was a ripping sound as if someone had caught their clothes on the thorns, then a voice cursing as he tried to free himself. The dogs were beside themselves, I had never seen them so agitated. I leapt out of bed and opened the front door, letting the dogs out. One went one way and one went the other, barking like mad. I put some clothes on and followed them out. They were still running to and fro, searching but finding nothing. There had been a fresh fall of snow that evening and though I looked all around the house, there was no evidence of anyone ever being there. The only prints in the snow belonged to Tina, Wimpy and me. It was a very strange experience that we still talk about.
I still had the same black and white television that dad had rented from Atkinson's in Whitfield Street. It had a slot meter on the back that took two shilling pieces. When the agent came to empty the meter, he took the rental and gave me back the excess, so there was a little money to spare. That television often went wrong as they tended to do in those days. One day it did so I reported the fault and waited for an engineer to call. We had no telephone then, so I had to use the phone box in Sixth Avenue. After a couple of days I walked to the phone box and called again, but still no engineer came. I got on the Bike and rode to Atkinson's shop to tell them that I wasn't very happy. They apologised and promised to send someone as soon as possible. I could do no more so I left the shop. As I was riding down Stroud Road, I passed an Atkinson's service van going in the opposite direction. I braked hard and did a quick turn, speeding after him. Before he got to St Barnabas roundabout, I had overtaken him and flagged him down. I told him the story and that I wanted him to follow me to my house. He wasn't very keen, but I insisted. When we got to the house, he went behind the television and started work on it. He took the back off and was delving around inside it, when there was a terrific bang and a blue flash. I looked at him and he was standing in the corner, trembling, with his hair standing on end. He had obviously had a fair old electric shock because he couldn't even speak properly, he sounded very strange indeed, his voice was all quivery. He did manage to say that he wouldn't be able to fix it and that he had to go. I tried to get him to take the set with him but he was too far gone to get any sense out of him, so I had to let him go. I thought, well that plan didn't work, I'll have to go to plan B. I carried this huge television outside and bungeed it to the back seat of the bike. It was so big I could hardly get on the bike myself, I was going to have great difficulty riding with this huge lump pushing me in the back. I was almost sitting on the tank, but I made it back to the shop. They looked out in astonishment as I pulled up at the door with their television on my back seat. I told them to fix it while I waited or give me another set. They said they couldn't let me take a set on the back of the bike. I said, that's okay, you can deliver it, I'll stay here, in the shop until a van comes in and I'll lead him to my house. They tried to get rid of me but I wouldn't go. I told them that I hoped a van came in before closing time or they would have to lock me in. They got the message and organised a replacement to be delivered immediately. I never did get that old set back.
One evening, Cath and I were sitting watching the television, when we heard a commotion at the back door. Diana MacPherson came rushing in, obviously very distressed. Things had not been going well between her and Hughie and they were on the verge of divorce. This was a cause of great concern for me as they were two of my very best friends and I wished the best for both of them. When Diana calmed down enough to speak, she told me that they had had a row and Hughie was after her with an axe. I couldn't believe it, Hughie was a lot of things but he wasn't violent. I said that I would walk down to her house to see Hughie and find out what was going on. Diana begged me not to go, in case he had gone mad and wouldn't listen to reason. I still couldn't believe it and told her not to worry. When I got to the house, I went round the back and found the door open. I went in and called to Hughie. He answered, come on in, I'm in the hall. I went through the living room, into the hall and found him on his knees hitting some nails into the toilet doorframe with the back of an axe. One of the things Hughie wasn't, was a DIY man with a box full of tools. He didn't even have a hammer.
I said, 'hello mate, what's up then?'
He said rather dejectedly, 'look what I've done to this door, I was having a row with Diana and she locked herself in the toilet and wouldn't come out. I lost my temper and put my shoulder behind the door and broke the frame. When I got in there, she had climbed out of the window and disappeared.'
I told him that Diana was at my house, convinced that he was trying to get her with the axe.
He said, 'I wondered what was wrong with her when she ran off up the street. I came out of the house to go into the shed to get something to mend the door. As I came out of the shed, Diana was coming from round the back. I thought she was coming back into the house, but when she saw me she shrieked, turned and ran off, so I just came in to get on with the job, figuring that she would come back when she calmed down.'
We had a laugh over it but wasn't very funny for Diana.
Jerry Lee Lewis, one of my all time favourite rock and roll idols, came to the Regal in April. We had tickets for the second performance and the buzz of anticipation was high. There were small gatherings of Teddy boys all around St Aldate Street. It was like a scene direct from the 1950's. It was a bit worrying though, the word going round was that the early performance had been crap. People were saying that Jerry Lee was going through a country music phase and wouldn't play rock and roll. We heard that he had played in Southampton prior to coming to Gloucester and had disappointed his fans there.
The show started with a pretty weak band called Country Fever and we hoped that this wasn't an omen about what was to follow. Then came Liz Christian, another country singer. Again it was a pretty uninspired performance, we wanted rock and roll. More precisely, we wanted Jerry Lee Lewis hammering out his particular brand of rock and roll. Next came someone called James Royal. Unfortunately for him, we had had enough by now and wanted 'The Killer' himself. The audience soon started chanting 'off, off, off.' The poor man never stood a chance.
Then, on sauntered a bearded, cigar smoking, very relaxed looking Jerry Lee Lewis. He walked up to the piano and opened with a pounding 'Mean Woman Blues.' The audience erupted with appreciation, but our delight was short lived, Jerry continued the set with what seemed like an endless collection of country and western songs that nobody wanted to hear. We started shouting at him to play 'rock and roll', more and more people started shouting, louder and louder, until suddenly he seemed to realise that he had got it seriously wrong. He asked us what we wanted to hear, so we started shouting out our favourite songs. He blasted straight into 'Great Balls Of Fire' then continued to hammer out all the classics like 'High School Confidential', 'Chantilly Lace' and 'Whole Lotta Shakin Goin On.' The show was really rocking now and when Jerry threw his stool out of the way, I couldn't stop myself. I jumped up and ran to the stage, leaped up onto it and grabbed Jerry by the hand. He looked a bit startled just for a second, but I said to him, 'I'm one of your greatest fans, keep on rocking.' He smiled and thanked me, looking instantly relaxed again. A lot more Ted's had by now got onto the stage and we helped Jerry up on to the piano where he continued to give a brilliant performance. The whole house was rocking and dancing in the aisles, Jerry Lee responded to the attention, like the great showman that he is and gave us a show that no one who was there would ever forget. We went home that night knowing we had seen a rock and roll legend at his best. The tickets had cost £1-75 each, that's what I call good value.
We had been talking with my cousin Hugh about a holiday he was planning. He wanted to hire a cruiser on the Norfolk Broads. He was a nautical type and loved the life on the water. It was a perfect holiday for him. He asked Cath and I, if we would like to go with him and his girlfriend Lynn Gribble. We didn't think we would be able to afford it but Aunty Ina told us that if we saved a little, every week from now to the time of the holiday, which gave us a few months, we would be able to do it. It wasn't an unreasonable amount so we decided to go for it. Every week we gave the money to Aunty Ina for safe keeping so that we couldn't be tempted by it and soon Cath and I had enough to pay for our first holiday together and have a little spending money. It was the first holiday I had ever had that wasn't spent visiting relatives.
We set off for Norfolk in Hugh's Austin 7, loaded with the four of us and our luggage. We were in high spirits in anticipation of our adventure. The old Austin had trouble making the hills and when we got to the hill from Andoversford, out on the Stow road, it became obvious that it wasn't going to make it. Hugh turned the car around and headed back for home. Lynn had a Ford Popular which stood a much better chance of getting us there, so we transferred our luggage and set off for a second time. This time, slowly but surely we got there. A few hours later we arrived at the boatyard to pick up the Chelsea Bridge, a traditional thirty foot, four berth cruiser. After a short introduction to the boat we were on our way into the broads for what turned out to be one of the most memorable holidays we have ever had. The days were warm and long, it was so relaxing, so far away from our normal lives at home. It was just what we needed.
Soon after returning from this holiday, I got a new job at Mead and Tomkinson's motorcycle shop in Westgate Street. I was working in the stores and serving on the parts counter. Working with motorcycles was a dream job for me but as usual, the reality doesn't live up to the dream. I enjoyed working there but it had it's drawbacks as any job has. I didn't like working Saturdays and dealing with the public in a retail situation wasn't my cup of tea. Mr Mead had dozens of valuable vintage and classic bikes, hidden away from general view. Every chance I got I would go up onto the balcony where they were kept and walk around looking at them. That building in Westgate Street was huge and the amount of old bikes and spares hidden away was phenomenal.
One night I was with the Scorpions in the cellar bar at the back of the Dirty Duck, in Ladybellegate Street. We were having a good night out, but it was a bit rowdy in there and for a change, it wasn't us making the noise. There were some lads in there I didn't know who were making a general nuisance of themselves, but making sure they kept away from us. Suddenly one of them started a fight, he was punching some unfortunate lad who was being driven backwards by the force of the attack. They came past me in a flurry of punches swinging from all angles and ended up with the lad who was being attacked falling backwards onto a bench with his assailant on top of him, punching him in the face. We had all moved out of the way as they had come barging through, but I was closest to the action and had been knocked aside. I turned and grabbed the assailant by the collar dragging him off his victim, saying as I did so, 'that's enough mate, give it a rest.' He jumped to his feet and as he turned, he swung a vicious punch at my face which I only just managed to avoid. As the punch came in, I just managed to lean backwards enough to make it miss, but it caught the corner of my glasses and whipped them clean off my face. The lads must have been ready for something to happen because the response was so fast that even though I had been standing directly in front of my attacker, there were so many Scorpions laying into him that I couldn't get through the crush to get at him. In a few seconds it was all over, someone came up to me and handed me my glasses, thankfully undamaged. I looked down at this pathetic, beaten body lying on the floor, none of his mates had come to his aid, they had realised that discretion was the better part of valour. We were in a pretty buoyant mood but that didn't mean we were any the less dangerous when necessary. One of the bouncers came through the crowd to see what had been going on. He also lived by that same motto about discretion, he wasn't going to upset us, even if it had been our fault, which this time it wasn't. Anyway, it was much easier to throw out the weaker strangers and leave us alone. The bouncer helped him up and as they started to move past us, I said to the lad, 'that was the biggest mistake you've ever made, wasn't it'? He didn't answer, I don't think he could, he was so battered.
We came out of The Dirty Duck and made our way down Eastgate Street to the Sun Wah Chinese restaurant. The first few of us went in but Pete, the owner, didn't want the whole gang in so as soon as we sat down he went to the door and locked it, then drew the curtains so no one could see in. When the rest of the lads arrived, Pete stood behind the locked door, shouting 'we are closed.' Try as they might he wouldn't let them in. We were in though so Pete came to our table and told us he wouldn't serve us until we paid what we owed him from last time when we had done a runner. We pleaded with him to serve us, so he asked to see the money first. He took what he estimated we owed him from last time then took some more and said he would bring us food to the value of what he had taken. He brought out a good meal and we all enjoyed it immensely. We often did a runner, but we never gave Pete any trouble and we always paid in the end. He never called the police to us even though we were pretty rowdy at times. Sitting opposite us, was Chummy and a man he had picked up in the pub across the road. We were all a bit worse for drink and started to give them a hard time. Chummy kept telling us to shut up or we would spoil it. We couldn't believe that the stranger hadn't realised that Chummy was a man, but he hadn't. As we kept making these loud comments it dawned on him. I've never seen anybody look more embarrassed.
I had the Lightning back on the road now and I had also picked up an old Triumph Tiger Cub that I was using to have some fun on. I sprayed it with fluorescent pink paint that glowed in the dark. I could abuse it without having to worry about damaging it. I rode it around for a while until Brian Jones, a friend of mine said he had a 1953 Triumph Thunderbird in his garage and he would like to do a deal with me for the Cub. The Thunderbird wasn't running but I was still interested so I went to his house to see it. When he opened the garage I saw this nice looking bike and couldn't believe that he wanted to get rid of it. It had a sidecar on it but I could soon get that off. He said he had never been able to get it going properly and was fed up with it. I had a look at it and immediately realised that the valve timing wasn't set correctly, I reset it and had the bike running like a dream within half an hour. The deal was done, I handed over twenty quid and the Cub and prepared to ride home on the Thunderbird. Brian was going to follow me home in his car, to get the logbook for the Cub. It was a good job he did because I had never ridden a bike with a sidecar, especially one so badly set up as this. A mile or so up the road I stopped and said to Brian, 'I can't ride this, it's horrendous.' Brian said, I'll ride it home for you, you take my car. I didn't have a licence to drive a car, but I could drive better than I could ride that bike. As soon as I got it home, I took the sidecar off and tried it again. It rode beautifully, it wasn't fast but it was very smooth, I enjoyed riding it no end. I started riding it to work in preference to the Lightning, although I still rode the Lightning for fun, there was no comparison in performance.
I left Mead and Tomkinson's after only a few months and started a new job at Dowty Hydraulic Units at Arle Court in Cheltenham. I worked for a short time in the general stores, then I was put in charge of a bonded store specifically for a product for the Eaton Yale Corporation of America. The store was kept locked at all times except when taking things in and out, I locked myself in while I was working and answered a doorbell when anyone wanted me. I worked closely in association with Ray Lock, the planner and Dave Toomey, the progress chaser on the project and soon got to know a great deal about it. One day Dave rang the bell to come in, he had one of the trolleys we used, to make up the kits of parts needed to assemble the finished product. These trolleys had two wheels at one end and a ball hitch on the other end which could be connected to a handle with two small wheels on it, allowing the work movers to wheel them around the factory. They would leave the trolleys where they were needed and take the handles away with them, like small articulated vehicles. It was unusual to see Dave with one of these trolleys as it wasn't part of his job. I opened the doors for him to wheel the trolley through and went back to my desk. I could see him pushing the trolley backwards through the door when all of a sudden I heard a bang. The trolley came flying through the doorway followed by Dave falling flat on his face. Just as he looked up, the handle of the trolley came loose and hit Dave square on the forehead almost knocking him out. It was like something out of a comedy sketch and I couldn't help laughing even as I was trying to help him. He had pushed up against a large platform that had been stood on its edge up against the wall opposite the doorway, which had slowly fallen over hitting him on the back of legs, throwing him forward and trapping his legs under it. I don't know how, but I managed to lift the platform off his legs to give him some relief, then went to raise the alarm. He was taken to the company sick bay and then to the hospital where he was found to have a slight fracture in one of his bones. It was clear he was going to be off work for some time.
I told them that if they put another storeman in to cover my job, I would do the progress chasing job until Dave came back. They took me up on the offer and immediately increased my wages to the correct rate for the job. I took to it like a duck to water and enjoyed it more than any other job I had done before. Some weeks later I was told that Dave had decided not to return and the job was mine if I wanted it.
Things were starting to look up, I was feeling pretty good about life. After a shaky start, this hadn't been such a bad year. Cath and I were getting on really well, I think we were made for each other. I asked her to marry me and she said yes. We were going to a Christmas party with some friends and family at the Rorty Crankle Club at the Tudor Arms in Slimbridge, so we chose a ring for Cath and decided to announce our engagement at the club. It was a lovely evening, one I will always remember.
1973 dawned and things were still going well, except for the continual harassment from the council to get me out of the prefab. It had been like a nagging pain for more than a year, but I hadn't done anything wrong so they were having difficulty making me do something I didn't want to do. They told us we would have to move into a one bedroom flat, but I just kept telling them to bugger off. They threatened us with eviction but they couldn't frighten me, I just told them to bugger off some more, but louder.
Talking to Wanger Wainwright one day, he told me that his new band '9.30 FLY' were playing in Hay on Wye and asked me to come along. He said it would be a good gig. I hadn't seen them for a while so decided to make the trip. Cath, myself and Wendy Pyart went, in Wendy's Mini. The weather was abominable, the rain was so bad, we were starting to worry whether we would make it or not, but make it we did. When we got there, we told the doorman we were with the band and were shown into the dressing room. Wanger, his wife Barbara, Lyn Oakey, Gary Charman and Mickey Clark, they were all there, larger than life. It was the Glam rock era and they certainly looked the part, all made up and wearing shiny clothes. We had a good laugh and soon it was time for the performance. We went out front and waited for the band to come on. Dramatically, all the lights went out, the curtains opened to a totally dark stage, then suddenly the lights came on and the band made a powerful start. Even at the volume they were playing, they were all but drowned out by screaming teenagers, I could hardly believe the reception they got, it was like the Beatles had come on. They played a brilliant set and I could see why they were so popular. I thought maybe they would go all the way to the top but it wasn't to be. They certainly had the talent. They made an album which is now a very valuable collectors item. It is one of my regrets that I didn't get one. I went into HMV to buy one but they had sold out, I tried to order one but it never came. I now have it on CD but it's not like having the original.
Phil Large and his girlfriend Ruth, decided to do some travelling. They asked if we would look after some of their belongings while they were gone. It was no problem to us so we told them to leave anything they wanted. Phil turned up with his old van filled with the disco gear and a few household bits and pieces. He told us to use anything we wanted, while they were away. He set up the disco gear in the front room so we could keep it warm. It had two huge speaker cabinets, a two hundred watt amplifier and twin decks. The power was phenomenal, the neighbours were going to suffer now. When I turned up the volume, the ornaments vibrated off the sideboard. They left a lampshade, a big faceted globe, which I fell in love with, but best of all, Phil left one of his paintings which I thought was the most interesting painting I had ever seen. When they returned for their stuff, that was the thing I missed the most.
I was still working at Dowty's and getting on well. The job was challenging but very enjoyable. I was on the canteen complaints committee, representing my fellow workers and had got to know many senior employees with whom Cath and I started to meet socially. A long way from the Biker image in a very short space of time. I decided that it was about time I took my driving test in a car.
Things were going well, but I was about to press the self destruct button. I had never committed to anything in my life and I was being torn apart by the thought of getting married. There was a tug of war going on in my head and I didn't know which side was going to win. Eventually, I told Cath that we had to split. She couldn't understand what had gone wrong and was really upset. I couldn't understand what had gone wrong either, but I couldn't help myself. I felt trapped and I had to be alone again. Our friend, Roy Mayo had a car and was kind enough to help Cath with her belongings and take her home to her parents.
A few weeks after we had split up, I put in for my driving test. I went to a driving school for a trial lesson and the instructor said, 'I'm not going to get rich out of you am I'? He advised me to apply for my test immediately. I told him I'd already applied and that the test was scheduled for two weeks later. I had two more lessons, then had the car for my test which I passed without incident. I had arranged to buy a Ford Thames van from Cath's dad, so I went to the house and did the deal for £40. I drove away in my first legal car, or more accurately van. That little Thames van had a three speed gearbox with a column change and windscreen wipers that went slower as the van went faster, they ran off the vacuum of the engine. Who designs features like that? Anyway I drove the van to work during the day and still rode bikes at night.
I swapped the old Thunderbird for a BSA A10 Chopper, with my friend Zip Jordan. I felt real cool riding it and knew that this was the way the Lightning would ultimately go. I had seen Easy Rider and was trying to get closer to the ideal, which was a Harley Davidson, but that was to be a long time coming.
I went out with the lads one night and got pissed up. On the way home
I went to the Chinese takeaway in High Street, got myself a curry and stuck it inside my coat. As I rode along Finlay Road, I heard a siren, looked behind and saw the blue light flashing. I thought, Oh bollocks! I took off as fast as the A10 would go, but this was no Lightning, I went round the roundabout at St Barnabas and opened up along Southern Avenue, with the police car right up close behind me. It was obvious I wasn't going to outrun him on this old tub, so when I got to Firwood Drive, I braked as hard as I could and swerved to the left into it. The police car did the same and within a few yards, he swerved in front of me like the Highway Patrol in the American movies. The copper jumped out of the car with a look of fury on his face. I knew I was in the shit this time but I wasn't going to let them see that I was worried. He started the usual crap about, do you know what speed you were doing? I didn't care about the speeding ticket, it was the fact that I was over the drink drive limit that was worrying me.
I decided to go on the offensive and said, 'yeah I know how fast I was going, I've got a curry under my coat and I'm trying to get home before it gets cold, so cut the speeches, give me the ticket and fuck off.'
The copper seemed to go into shock and couldn't write the ticket out fast enough. He ripped it off the pad and gave it to me. I took it, stuffed it in my coat pocket and started the bike up. He fired a parting shot, telling me to be more careful in future.
I said, 'yeah, cheers mate' and roared off into the night. I was sweating with relief as I rode the last mile home, I had got away without having to take a breathalyser. I knew how lucky I had been and never again drove after I had been drinking.
As the year wore on, I started to make more use of the little van, one weekend I took Angel (Christine) and her brother to a motorcycle scramble at Fostons Ash. To get to the event we had to bump our way down a long track, through a field. The track was bumpy in the extreme, with a big hump in the middle which kept scraping the underside of the van. On the way home, we went down Birdlip Hill. As we picked up speed, I pressed the brake pedal and realised all was not as it should be. The pedal was decidedly spongy and the more I pressed it, the worse it got. Soon there was no braking effect at all and we were gathering speed at an alarming rate. I started to haul on the handbrake but that had never been very effective and made no difference at all. I tried to change gear but with only a three speed gearbox, the ratios were so wide, I couldn't change down at the speed we had already reached. All I got was a lot of crunching and grating noises. We just kept going faster and faster. Faster I think, than that little van had ever been before. Fortunately, nothing came in the opposite direction, because I was using all of the road, trying to get round the bends, travelling at tremendous velocity. When we reached the main road, at the Twelve Bells, I was praying that nothing would be coming past the junction at the same time as we were going to shoot out of the side road. Again we were lucky, I looked to my right and saw a car coming, but it was far enough away that we could get out in front of it easily. From there, going up the hill towards the Cross Hands, we managed to slow down and drive gently, using the gears and the handbrake, making it the rest of the way home. Angel and I had known each other for years, she was good fun to be with and we went out together a few times.
I met with the Scorpions, in the Dirty Duck, to find them engaged in a council of war. One of us had been to a gig in Cheltenham and had been threatened with a knife and made to leave, by some of the 'Wolves', an outlaw gang. It was decided that this could not go unchallenged. About twenty of us made our way to Cheltenham to find the ones responsible. We went to a few of their known haunts, without success, but eventually we heard that they were at a dance at the Tithe barn in Bishops Cleeve. We made our way there looking for a showdown, but unknown to us, word had reached the Wolves that we were coming. I was driving my van and had a few of the lad's with me. There was a small convoy of cars and vans, no bikes on this raid. I drove into the front entrance of the Tithe Barn and instantly realised that if I got caught in here, I wouldn't be able to get out, so I kept right on going, back out of the drive, onto the road, where I parked a little way away. I saw the other vehicles parking all around. We got out of the van and started to walk towards the entrance. As we reached it, I saw that the fighting had already started. Johnny Myatt was laying into some big hairy assed biker, but what was worrying was the amount of the enemy, pouring out of the door of the Tithe Barn. There were only about twenty of us and I think we must have been outnumbered by at least five to one, but the Wolves were about to learn what a mean fighting machine, the Scorpions were. We stood together, not getting split up and moved through the opposition, knocking down anyone in the way. We weren't having it easy though and it soon became obvious that weight of numbers was going to wear us down before long. Suddenly we came across a big man, wielding a crash helmet, to great effect. As anybody went for him he lashed out with the helmet, knocking a couple of our number down. I went to jump him from the side, but as I moved, he saw me and went to go for me. I backed off as fast as I could, without taking my eyes off him. One of the others went for him and took his attention just long enough for me to jump him and get my arms round him, preventing him from swinging the helmet. That was all the rest of the gang needed, he was knocked down and stomped into the ground. Then we moved on. By this time, the police had arrived. At one point, they came into the grounds of the Tithe barn and tried to mediate, but that didn't last long. The fighting started again, right in front of them, with such ferocity that they withdrew, deciding to wait at a safe distance until it blew itself out. We were getting the upper hand, despite the odds, because we had stuck together, but as the fight started to spread out and some of the Scorpions started pursue some of the runners, it started to get more dangerous. A few of us went back to my van and piled in. We drove a short way down the road and waited for the rest to arrive. When some of them didn't come, I decided to go back to see what had happened. As I drove past the Tithe Barn, the police tried to stop me, but I kept going as far as the memorial, passing casualties all along the road. We passed the missing van and saw that it was surrounded by a large number of Wolves. I turned the van round, to go back the way we had come, intending to launch an attack on the men surrounding our friends. As I stopped, we were immediately surrounded by a large baying mob. They started throwing bricks which were bouncing off the van, including the windscreen, which mercifully didn't break. I knew we couldn't do any more so I sped off, with a Wolf hanging on to one of my wing mirrors. He soon dropped off as I built up speed. We had done well, but had had to withdraw due to weight of numbers and we had lost some of our men. It wouldn't go down as one of our best victories. The boys left behind hadn't given up though, things were getting bad so one of them opened a door and fired off a shotgun, scattering the mob. At this, the police moved rapidly in and arrested all the occupants of the van.
That was the last battle I ever fought alongside the Scorpions. It was part of an age of badass bikers that was coming to an end. The Wolves went on for a few years, eventually giving way to other outlaw clubs. The Scorpions just faded away. Thankfully, even the outlaw clubs have a much more respectable outlook these days. Bikers tend to come in all ages and from all walks of life now and the influence of the more mature men probably leads to a better attitude, whereas all bikers tended to be young men when I rode with the Scorpions in the late sixties, early seventies.
Copyright © 1999 Cliff Ballinger. All rights reserved.