True stories from ‘Norky’ who comes from Scapegoat Hill, a small, isolated farming village, high on the Pennines in West Yorkshire. You can catch up on his ramblings so far via his author page. This article is the final part of his series on the theme of male immaturity based on Norky’s childhood.
Do men every really grow up? It seems that the year of 1972 was, for me, further proof that they don’t, and an example of the lack of male maturity of me and my friends. It involves both the previously mentioned Allen Jenkinson (Jinx) and Dave Hill (Pill). Pill was visiting England, carrying out his customary showing off, and hired an MG sports car, this time an MG B GT.
Pill had arranged that the old gang get together for a few beers, this time at the Junction Pub in Golcar. Beer was flowing and Pill suggested to Jinx, an amateur bike combination racer, that it would be a right good laugh if he took me for a spin in the MG.
Unbeknownst to me, the detailed instruction was to see if Jinx could frighten me. I never really discovered why. I’d shared a flat with Pill and had been on many spins around the block with him. As I was still ‘immortal’, he perhaps thought he would test my nerve.
Norky’s attempt at power slides
The scene was set. I was in the left-hand passenger seat while Jinx was indeed trying his very best to scare me, squealing it around every bend. I was immaturely admiring his sliding technique, and after an appropriate period of time I asked if I could have a go. I was driving an Austin A40 Farina at the time. A very adequate small family car, but definitely not one to practice, or even attempt, sliding and squealing around bends. Happy just to get round the bend really.
We set off reasonably well. I was initially sensible enough to ask Jinx to instruct on the proper sliding technique. As we drove along Market Street, Milnsbridge, we then had to turn right up Scar Lane and back to the pub. Jinx described this as “an ideal opportunity”, promptly telling me, “second gear, floor it”; I thought I did as instructed but all the car seemed to do was silently drift sideways.
Back then, at the bottom of Scar Lane was a five story Victorian, stone, woollen mill. Only the pavement stood between the road and one of the very large stone windowsills, just right for sitting on before walking up the long, steep hill of Scar Lane, but not good for an MG set on a sideward trajectory. I mounted the curb and bounced onto the sill.
I had the sense to keep going before my mates in the local constabulary heard the clatter and came nosing around. There were police stations in every village at that time, with the bobbies walking their regular beat. They were always turning up when least wanted in my world; strangely enough, I miss them now.
The only squealing now was the rear wheel arch pressed hard against the tyre. I lived just up the road at that time and called in to use my crow bar to lever the arch away from the wheel. Having done so we nonchalantly re-entered the pub.
Pill was fully expecting me to be shaking with fear, but Jinx was the most concerned, it was he who had narrowly avoided head-butting the stone windowsill. Jinx has recently said that he had experienced post traumatic stress for quite some time afterwards, my suggesting that he made an excellent air-bag for me didn’t seem to make the memory any more enjoyable.
Returning the damaged car to the hire company
We told Pill that he may need a bit of filler before he returned it to the hire company, he didn’t believe us of course, and the drinking continued. Pill kept asking, hoping we would soon give up trying to wind him up, but eventually he and some others went out to examine the damage. Every panel along the left hand side had damage, starting at the headlight and gradually becoming more severe towards the rear. The boot lid was buckled also.
I volunteered full responsibility, but as there had been an earlier conspiracy, both Pill and Jinx admitted most of the liability and I was let off the hook. Pill later said that he had paid an extra hire fee to cover damage. I was never sure if this was true, but luckily I had nothing to pay. I was very glad of that at the time as I had a young family and a mortgage.
Pill, pennies, and Korean Won
This visit by Dave Hill, and also his previous visit, resulted in two badly damaged MG sports cars. Other visits resulted in varying amounts of excitement, often involving the police trying to find him for some dodgy dealing. He disappeared at least twice from the Canadian authorities, and another time he ran away to the Cayman Islands but they caught up with him and he spent a couple of years in gaol. He also hid in Huddersfield for a period, having bought a hotel in the Midlands that mysteriously burnt down soon afterwards. The insurance didn’t pay out for that one.
Pill was an intelligent and very interesting character, but he had a serious flaw in his makeup whereby he would rather earn a shifty, dishonest penny than an honest pound. It worked for him sometimes; he earned and lost at least two fortunes.
Money would often colour Pill’s judgment. This is him in 1968, standing in front of a wall he had papered with Korean Won. He had previously sent me 1,000 Korean Won and suggested that I take the lads out for a meal.
Knowing that he could be very generous when he felt flush, I assumed that 1,000 Korean Won was enough to buy several meals. I visited the bank in Huddersfield to change them into British cash, and the teller returned to tell me that they were worth approximately 2s/6d – about 25p.
Scamming Pill with Korean Won
I then saw an opportunity to get my revenge on Pill, never imagining that he would fall for it. I sent him a letter saying, “some meal for the lads, I only got £3/10s for the Won”. A telegram soon followed from Pill saying that he would be arriving in Huddersfield with a suitcase full of Won, and I was asked to price up different bank exchange rates.
He hadn’t fallen for it, had he? Surely he was just trying to prolong the joke wasn’t he?
A few days later I softened and sent him a telegram saying that I was trying to outdo his sucker joke with a counter-sucker of my own. I later discovered from an independent source, much to my astonishment, that he had actually fallen for it. Greed and easy money had indeed clouded his judgment, and the above photo is part of the result.
He seems to have seen the funny side of it.