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"tales from the crypt".

The "lads" have decided to go on a run down the coast to camp at Anstey's Cove,

NR Torquay, but its pouring with rain. No matter, we all thought we were hard men.

Half an hour later, eight stupid boys were forced to camp at the roadside, soaking wet, half way to our destination. Everyone has brought an item of equipment for the camping weekend. We have tea, milk, sugar, mugs, cooker but no one has brought a kettle! A wet miserable night follows. I lay under my triumph 650 tiger with a groundsheet tied to the seat and tank, making a makeshift roof.

Every time I moved I got a poke in the ear from my left foot peg -the dribble of cold oil down my neck added to the discomfort.

In the morning, the rain eases and we go on to the coast in search of breakfast.

My fellow campers were all guys who I shared a tumbledown cottage with.

We each had a room and shared the kitchen. The outside toilet was a bucket which was emptied "down the garden" and we drew lots for the odious task daily.

If you needed a bath you heated about 20 kettles of water. The kitchen was bedlam in the mornings as we all brewed up tea or cooked before going off to work on the building sites.

The "Old Man" (he was about thirty years old) was Dave the cottage owner and BSA addict. Dave built an extension to his cottage by pinching three house bricks a day and bringing them home in his top box over a two year period.

This guy was patient!

Rays nickname was bungalow… cos there was nothing upstairs. Though Ray could not read or write, he was handy in a flight and laid out three squaddies in the local cinema who wouldn't keep quiet during a bugs bunny cartoon, but otherwise he was quiet and only swore when his triton combo wouldn't start ….. Which was often.

There were others, Jamie, Phil and Alan but by the time I arrived the only room left was the coal shed. Dave cleared out the coal, whitewashed the walls and I moved in on an army camp bed. The rent was two pounds a week, but that included free tea. My landlord kindly built a fireplace in one corner, but there wasn't a chimney, so you could only light a fire if the door was open to let the smoke out.

These were the guys I used to ride with, live with laugh with and get into interesting situations with, on our bikes. "Back to the story Bruce"

Nothings worse than being hungry, except maybe finding out your best friend has slept with your granny. So food is on everyone's mind.

We have three cans of beans so a fire is lit on the beach, natch, no one has thought to bring a can opener, so attempts are made to chisel our way into said bean cans, the most successful attempt proves to be a penknife hammered with a large adjustable spanner. Two of the three cans hoiked onto the fire with no thought of how the red hot cans are going to be retrieved!

One falls over in the ashes, both are greedily consumed despite the wood ash which give it a unique barbeque flavour.

I remember 'cause I was ill the following day.

The third and last can had been put down beside the fire, it was too hot to hold whilst opening, so was left for the minute, as we all laughed at ray staggering up the beach with dry driftwood. This fuel was then unceremoniously dumped on top of our small fire which immediately flared up and warmed our chilled bones. Our leather jackets held into flames and steaming from the previous night's rain. Like big kids , which is what we were, we basked in the warmth and discussed where the best place to pitch our tents should be. Dave had picked a grassy ledge at the base of the cliff. Ray had found a flat sandy stretch nearby. We said nothing.

Suddenly a large tin of Heinz baked beans exploded showering the fire  worshippers in burning debris and … baked beans. Ray got the blame cos he dumped the dry wood over the 'bean bomb' which heated the contents to such a degree that the can burst. The day progressed, we mooched along the foreshore, drunk ale, like you do, fell over and kept the fire going. Ray had got his tent up, a rotten ridge tent which he had packed away wet some months before. Great rips appeared in the mouldy

canvas as he tightened the guy ropes. He was oblivious to the new ventilation.

The rest of us watched with interest as Raymond finished off the bottle of whisky and crawled into the smelly canvas tent. I was determined to make my own shelter rather than break into a row of adjacent beach huts. My gaze fell upon a large stack of deckchairs which I then proceeded to build a shelter with. After an hour or two I realised a deckchair is only useful for one thing… sitting in! no matter how one

arranged them, any form of shelter I made looked like a pile of deckchairs and gave no protection from the elements.

Well I was only seventeen…

Meanwhile Ray's tent looked like it had moved.

No folks, that was the tide coming in, and shortly afterwards we were treated to the sight of a drunk suddenly awakened from a wet dream. In his panic-stricken stupor, the tent was totally trashed as he came through the side of it.

He was not amused - and bearing in the mind the cinema incident we all stopped laughing instantly. I kipped around the fire that night with Ray, but I didn't get that much sleep 'cos if you faced the fire you were hot and your back was cold and vice versa. You all know that 'cos a lot of you have been there yourselves…..

Sunday morning and we were back on the road home, knackered but we have had some laughs. All the bikes behaved and we make it back home with no breakdowns. So my triumph goes up in the shed to see what's wrong with it! Its cramped in our workshop, in fact it's 2 large sheds and an old hen house joined together, the

contents include two Identical super rockets with the same number plate…

to save on road tax, a half built Bonneville café racer pre-unit and Phil's Norton dominator vying for space with my tiger and a B31 trials bike. The shed would never rot, it was saturated in engine oil. I still take my bike to bits to see if I can find anything wrong with it, hey, maybe that's why I am off the road, but old habits die hard, and I have had so much fun spannering, even if its cost me riding time. Isn't that a basic part of the motorcycle deal? I like to think so, because any bike is more than the sum of it's parts, when you lean into a bend you become a part of the bike. If I had to explain … etc and you wouldn't be reading this.

I hope my series of tales from the crypt has made a few of you smile. Ride !

Written by 

      Bruce Dougan

             With permission from the Harleyquin Mag.

"PAGE 2 of tales from the crypt".


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