Some Bicycle Incidents
We also used to go out cycling when we were at
home because - as I said before - I used to
spend quite a number of weekends up in the Fire Service. Because of
the fact we always seemed to find
somewhere to stop where there was a load of sheep, we called
ourselves the Baa Wheelers. And that's
where the story of Bert Impey's bike came into play!
It was the summer of 1942 and Bert Impey had
just bought a new bike, and had only used it
once. Dougie Crump was a year older than most of us and was an L.A.C.
in the RAF. He was on leave and decided he would like to come with us
on the Sunday, but he didn’t have a
bike. As Bert was not coming with us that weekend, we persuaded him
to lend his to Dougie.
So we set out in the morning and all went well
until late afternoon when we were in the Bishop's
Stortford area. Dougie suddenly realised what the time was and
exclaimed "Oh Christ, I've got to go back for me dad's band!"
- to explain, his Dad ran a small dance band and Doug was his best
We were on a main road and he saw a Green Line
bus stop, and as (bad) luck would have
it, a bus coming. This bus went to llford so was just right for him.
"Look after the bike!" he
shouted, and scooted off to the bus. This left us with a bike to get
back. We tried riding along with one
hand on our handlebars and trying to steer the other bike alongside
with the other, no go! So we had to take the bike to bits. Luckily we
had some spanners with us. So off we
went with bits of bike tied on our backs.
In the meantime, Bert had decided to go to the
cinema, so he got ready and started to walk
down his road. In the distance he spied a figure in shorts coming the
'That looks like Dougie" he thought, "but
it can't be, he's out with the lads." The figure disappeared
into a house before Bert reached him, so he thought no more about it.
He only started worrying when his bike
failed to reappear that evening. However, during the course of the
next week, lads kept calling at Bert's house whilst he was at work,
and saying to his Mum "here's
Bert's wheels/pedals/etc." Bert never lent his bike to anyone
again, in fact I'm not sure whether he ever put it together again!
There was another occasion when we were out by
Theydon Bois where there's a steep hill, called Owl Hill if I
remember rightly, with a T-junction at the bottom, so the idea was if
you went down you had to turn left or
right. But somebody didn't turn left or right, and went
straight on into the ditch!
Fortunately, the ditch was dry but we
discovered that the front wheel of the bike was slightly out of shape
- almost bent double in other words! We had a bit of a job on our
hands, with one person with only half a bike. We tried all sorts of
things and in the end we managed to get the front wheel out and
attach the forks to the axle of the back wheel of another
That was a bit dodgy for several reasons -
firstly, the axle had to be long enough for the nuts
to go on, and even then they didn't screw on very far. Secondly,
whoever was on the back bike had to
restrain themselves from pedalling; and thirdly when going round
corners, not being a tandem which is rigid, the back bit had the
habit of trying to go straight on! After
a lot of trial and error, we did manage to get back.
Whilst we were doing all the bicycle repairs,
there was some local lad sitting on a five-bar gate
and watching us, and he had (funny how I remember this!) a cigarette
case, and all he was doing was sitting there pointing at people, and
saying "bang!". It was really getting on
our nerves, so just before we were ready to move off, somebody went
over to him - as he went "bang!" he just gave him a gentle
push and he fell backwards off the gate - which we
thought was highly hilarious at the time!