It must have been a long time since it seemed like a good idea to go to England just after Christmas to go to Birmingham Triumph to score parts. By - I remember - Mick Woolworth. It was back in the days when staying warm and dry on a motorcycle was only in your dreams. And over your freshly greased Belstaff fat jacket you put on the largest size yellow PVC sailing jumper. Under it were all the layers of shirts, sweaters and things you could get underneath.
It was already such a layered drama under the belt. There was no thermal underwear yet, but long woolen underpants did exist. And they worked nicely as long as they stayed dry. To keep that dry you tried to take care of it with the PVC pants that were optional with the sailboat.
Between the shoulders and the edges of the jet helmets came a woolen tie that was as long as possible and folded as often as possible. A few years earlier, the local dump store offered canvas 'hippo hands'. They proudly stuck around the handlebars. But first, of course, wool gloves went into the mittens that were once sold as waterproof.
It rained to Hoek van Holland. But before we got there, we were already soaked and cold. It stormed on the Channel. It just didn't snow in England. We reached Birmingham and went looking for a B&B address. Back then B&B was something that brought you into the nursery of a family, while the child was allowed to sleep with Mum and Dad that night.
But previous positive individual summer experiences did not guarantee B&B accommodation for three soaked motorcyclists between the holidays. The idea was to take a hotel room and secretly share it with the three of them. After all, when we were in our early twenties, we had only provided money for petrol and parts. In various echoingly empty hotels we were respectively told that the entire shop was unfortunately fully booked. We thought that Joseph and Mary had had the same problems. But they must have had better weather
Soaked, angry and meanwhile quite desperate, we anchored at a fish and chip place, where it was hot and dry. Puddles of dripping water formed on our tiles on our feet. The kitchen grandmaster served us himself and listened to our argument shaking his head; “No fokkin's chance that you guys find a place o crash tonight. I'll call a someone. "
He called in an almost unintelligible dialect while we ate and turned to us satisfied. "Done!" A bottle of gin came from under the counter and our savior poured four Coke glasses of life-saving drink. On the just consumed fat fried fish 'n chips, a Colaglas gin could do little harm.
We relaxed, became slightly warmer and now dripped considerably happier. The frying genius drew where we had to report. We thanked him warmly and went outside. There three British headlights stood blaming us. We started the engines and five minutes later we were standing in front of a detached house that had known better times. It was not as scary as the home of the Addams family. But the fence cracked. Light came on above the front door. The front door opened. A slender figure awarded us. The worker turned out to be an older, clearly tipsy lady with glasses repaired with a lot of tape.
She was 'delighted' about our visit. And we had to put the engines directly in the garage. There was a dusty Austin Westminster and a partially dismantled Morgan tricycle. It was very hot there. Inside it was already so hot. The lady who had introduced herself as 'Agnes' was a bit tipsy, but very resolute. “Get out of those wet clothes and get dry clothes. My beloved husband does not need them anymore. ”We came dry and bizarre dressed again to our hostess who poured herself a glass of port and served us generously of very beautiful whiskey. “Don't be shy. My beloved husband doesn't drink it anymore. ”It was a somewhat hazy, but very pleasant evening. Fortunately we were not invited to the bed that her husband no longer used. The upstairs rooms were also very hot. We slept with the windows open.
The following day, after a full English breakfast, we went looking for our dream motorcycle shop.
We found that.
He was closed between the holidays.
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