Thursday, 31 January 2019

Football Connections are crucial in Keynsham

David Hall’s Daughter developed a love of football at a very early age and played for a boys team in Bradford-on-Avon until she was 10 years old. She was a skilled two footed player who could read the game and became an outstanding tough tackling defender. When she finished year 5 at the Junior School she was banned from playing in a mixed team and after her final game in the boys team it was the boys who were crying because they knew they had lost their best player.
In today’s world a 10 year old girl would have no problem joining an Under 11 Ladies Football Club and most villages have a flourishing female football forum. However, back in the early 1990’s there were only a limited number of female football teams in Britain and David struggled to find a team locally for his Daughter to play competitive football games.
Luckily David heard about Keynsham Super Strikers, based 22 miles from Bradford-on-Avon at the grounds of Keynsham Town Football Club. There was a long journey to get to the training sessions each Saturday morning, taking the ‘southern ring road’ around Bath. Every time David and his Daughter passed Hilliers Garden Centre David used to say, ‘if we had a £10 note for every time we passed here,’ and his Daughter would reply, ‘we would be millionaires Dad’.
As there were only a limited number of female teams in the South West, Keynsham Super Strikers had to go on long distance journeys for competitive fixtures in towns as far afield as Totnes, Barnstable and South Moulton. In the early 1990’s a lot of David’s weekend activities were involved with football and Keynsham seemed to be at the centre of his world.
During the early 2000’s David and two of his mates, Ian Greatbanks and Kevin Beilby, ran Bristol Rovers Women’s A Team and this management team achieved an unprecedented 19 game unbeaten run, which has never been repeated. The skill sets of the three individuals complemented each other:-
  • Ian used his management skills to get the best out of the players.
  • Kevin, a technically gifted former Footballer, used to create interesting training routines.
  • David’s main role was to provide 5 minutes entertainment, helping the girls to relax before the game.

During the 2010’s David, Ian and Kevin gave up their football involvement but each December they meet up in The Ship Inn at Keynsham for an evening to reflect on the past and to update each other on developments in the past 12 months. Ian and Kevin often recount David’s best 5 minutes which was judged as being in Swindon when David gave a rendition of The Rolling Stones ‘Not Fade Away’ changing the lyrics to fit Rovers A team beating Swindon Spitfires. Ian and Kevin argue about what was best, David’s harmonica playing or the words he had constructed!

The ladies were often transfixed by some of David’s thoughts as being a distant relative of Bob Paisley, the former Liverpool FC Manager, he could pass on some gems from the great man:-
  • Retain possession, if we have the ball they can’t score.
  • Long ball, short ball, it doesn’t matter as long as it is a good ball.
  • You have never won the League until the medal is in your hand.

Every Christmas on his journey to The Ship Inn David passes Funeralcare in Keynsham and seeing the vintage hand bier in the window he often said to himself, ‘One day I’ll get a job with my lorry from that branch.’ Each year David sends a Christmas Card to Sue Hole and Sue Beint and the two Sues welcome David’s call each November to check that everything is the same or if anyone has changed their surname since last Christmas.
Fast forward to 2018, Sue Hole rang David regarding a funeral from Keynsham to Haycombe Crematorium. David did his normal due diligence in checking out the loading facilities using Google Street View and saw that a common entrance seemed to exist between Funeralcare and the Kingdom Hall of the Jehovah Witnesses. David was concerned about the road being blocked by people badly parking cars. David spoke to Sue Hole and she explained that building work was taking place around the entrance and that it was best for him to come and judge the facilities for himself.
David decided to take his wife with him to give her a trip out which would include a cup of coffee in Keynsham. David knew that a large Tesco store was behind Funeralcare and he planned to park in the car park and get some groceries from the Tesco store. The first thing that David found was that he couldn’t turn right towards Tesco due to the road layout being changed and he had to go into the Kwik Fit car park, turn around, go back to the roundabout and then left towards Tesco. As David drove towards Tesco he couldn’t believe what he was seeing because the Kingdom Hall had gone, the place was a huge building site with equipment blocking the entrance into the Funeralcare yard. David then tried to park his car in the car park but initially couldn’t because it was gridlocked by people reversing out of a space but the people on the road having no space to let them out. David wife said, ‘You always say that you should reverse into a space but drive out!’ As David and his wife approached the Funeralcare entrance he could see that the builders had erected steel wired fencing which was restricting the width of the Funeralcare drive. David said to his wife, ‘I’m in for a Missouri Boat Ride when I come here next Wednesday.’ His wife asked, ‘Are you going to get Funeralcare to sort out the problem?’ David replied, ‘No I’m going to speak with the bloke over there with the hi-vis jacket as he seems to be the Site Forman.’
David introduced himself, handed over a business card and explained how he needed to get his lorry into Funeralcare’s yard the following Wednesday. The Site Forman explained that he was contracted to do the groundwork for a block of flats and although he was polite he was obviously distracted by calls on his mobile that related to his project. From the limited words which the Site Forman spoke, David detected a slight scouse accent.
David asked the Site Forman, ‘Which part of the Pool do you come from?’
When the Site Forman said ‘Anfield’, David could see a way to gain his help.
David shook his hand and said, ‘You don’t know me, but you will know a distant relative of mine, Bob Paisley.’ The Site Forman’s face lit up.
The Site Forman introduced himself as David Mullen, provided his landline and mobile numbers, and asked what help David required. David Mullen then offered to:-
  • Stop all work on the site when David arrived with the Leyland Beaver.
  • Use his men to stop the traffic entering or leaving Tesco.
  • He would guide the Leyland Beaver back into the Funeralcare yard.

David Hall phoned David Mullen the day before the funeral and David Mullen explained that the project had moved on and concrete was being poured on the Wednesday, however, he would ask the driver to make an early start so that the vintage lorry would get into Funeralcare. He told David Hall not to worry as he would help him.
Now that Double Yellow Lines had been introduced in David’s street, for the first time in 16 years David could have a lie in, have his breakfast and leave for the funeral at 0900 hours after the school rush had subsided. Previously David always had to get his lorry out of the street prior to 0700 hours in case of obstructive parking preventing the vintage lorry getting onto the main road, which meant that he went to bed early the night before a funeral. Many a night he would watch the first half of a football match on the TV before getting into the bath, however, for this Keynsham funeral he watched the whole game in which Swansea beat Notts County 8-1 in an FA Cup game and Nathan Dyer, who went to the same school as David’s Daughter, scored twice.
David was out of his comfort zone leaving at 0900 hours, however, he found the motorists on the A36 quite happy to sit behind the Leyland Beaver trundling along at 32 miles per hour. David got through Bath in 10 minutes and pulled into Keynsham slightly earlier than he had previously indicated. David approached Tesco Car Park from the Bristol Road entrance and as he turned the corner he was horrified to see that the cement mixer was still there and was occupying the space that David needed to turn right into the Tesco Car Park before reversing back into the Funeralcare yard. David spoke to David Mullen who asked if David could still get into the Tesco Car Park even though the cement mixer was in his way. David said that the lorry had an amazing lock and he would make an attempt. David Mullen got two men to stop the traffic and he wished David all the best.

When the men told him that the coast was clear, David put the vintage lorry in the lowest gear and as he pulled along side the cement mixer he assessed the task. He had to turn the old girl through 90 degrees in a distance of less than 20 feet and he had to watch that he didn’t hit the cement mixer, sign post or any car. As the Leyland Beaver edged forward on tick-over David applied full right lock as quickly as possible and then it was like watching everything in slow motion with the Beaver spinning on a sixpence and the sign post was near the corner of the cab and the rear off-side tyre was dangerously close to the corner of a car. Miraculously David got the lorry around into Tesco Car Park without hitting anything or anyone, as pedestrians were taking no notice of the Builders who were controlling the traffic.
Reversing back into the Funeralcare yard wasn’t a walk in the park because the builders had put a kink in the steel wired fence which introduced a pinch point of less than 8ft wide. David had to put in a shunt and the fence was extremely close as the Leyland Beaver, which is 7 ft 6 inches wide, went through the gap.
Sue Hole and Steve Coke were delighted that David had got into their yard. David said, ‘Normally when I get into a Funeral Director’s yard I’m then relaxed because I know that I will be able to get out, however, that may not apply today.’ David asked Steve Coke to allow 10 minutes to leave the site in case equipment had to be moved. David said, ‘Steve it will either take 10 minutes or two minutes.’ Sue Hole said, ‘Dave it will only take you two minutes because you are an excellent driver.’
David spoke to a number of the Builders and arranged for the fence to be straightened and although there was much activity whilst David was loading the flowers and soon as 1145 hours came the place was like the deck of the Mary Celeste. David got out of the yard without a problem and Steve was impressed with the performance of the Leyland Beaver on the big hills leading to Haycombe Crematorium, in fact the cortege arrived 15 minutes early.
The route from the house to the crematorium had involved going past The Ship Inn and David recounted that his football connections had been invaluable on this funeral.

Monday, 31 December 2018

Leyland Beaver used for Farmer’s Funeral

The best New Year’s gift for a Self Employed man is a phone call about a job early in the New Year and David was pleased to get a call on January 3rd from Emma Clay Funeral Arranger at John Stuart Funeral Directors in Melksham, Wiltshire. Melksham has proved to be a good location for Vintage Lorry Funerals. The Leyland Beaver has previously worked in the town for Bewley & Merrett and 5 times for D.J. Bewley whose premises are on Bank Street, on the opposite side of the road to John Stuart Funeral Directors.
The opportunity arose because a Farmer’s Family had asked Emma Clay if she could find a Farm Tractor to pull a trailer to carry their Dad’s coffin and some hay bales, however, the Tractor which John Stuart had previously used for a Farmer’s Funeral was deemed to be too modern. As the Family were looking at the photograph of the ‘modern’ Tractor the Son of the Deceased happened to notice a framed picture of the 1950 Leyland Beaver and said, ‘That wagon is of the right age’, and it is the first time that David has been given a job solely because of the lorry’s age of 69 years.
Emma phoned David, explained that the Family would like hay bales to be carried on the lorry, then she sent a copy of a picture of the Farm tractor pulling a trailer with a coffin and hay bales. Emma said that the hay bales were important and the Family could provide them if David couldn’t find any himself. The Family didn’t want the modern round shaped bales but the old fashioned rectangular bale shape which was initiated in 1936. The traditional way that Farmer’s funerals are undertaken is for hay bales to be loaded onto the deck of the trailer, single stacked, forming a C shape and thereby enveloping the front part of the coffin, which in David’s opinion looked wrong. His idea was to stack the bales in front of the coffin to create a display with significant height, which everyone would see, and have the coffin distanced from the hay bales so that it could also be clearly seen. David then designed a Hay Rig Theme using 5 bales stacked in three levels, depicting hay bales being collected off the field and taken to the farm.
For those of you who have never worked on a farm then you should know that handling rectangular hay bales is a nightmare because parts of the hay become untangled from the bale and leave pieces of hay everywhere. David envisaged that if the Family had provided the hay bales that there would be horrendous implications for John Stuart Funeral Directors, carrying hay in their vehicles and for West Wiltshire Crematorium, as the hay bales would have been deposited in the flower area for someone else to collect.
The solution was for David to supply the hay bales, fix them in place in his Garage at Bradford-on-Avon and keep them on the lorry during and after the funeral. David also knew a man who could help him, Jim Pethers, one of Vintage Lorry Funerals Support Team, who has a Landscape Gardening business and he also has a small holding with cattle. Jim has been an amazing help to David over the years providing a number of items, notably a Victorian Rail Porter’s Sack Barrow, a 1950’s Milk Churn and a series of antique gardening tools. Jim arrived on a Saturday afternoon with 4 hay bales and one bale of straw and David showed Jim a sketch of how the Hay Rig Theme would look, with vertical poles at the rear to stop the bales slipping backwards.

The key flower tray which would support the hay bales has been used many times before. It supported a Sack Truck in Highworth earlier in 2017/2018 and has been part of some of David’s memorable Themes, including ‘A Dolls House’, ‘Del Boy falling through the Bar’ and a ‘Tanker Refuelling a Plane’.
The vertical poles had also previously been used during a Frome funeral, in a horizontal way as part of a ‘Horse Jump Theme’ for someone who loved horses, but unfortunately the crematorium was too far away for a Horse & Carriage to travel.
As the hay bales were being stacked onto the support structure David’s wife became aware of all the pieces of hay that were falling off the bales and she informed David that he should allow extra time after the funeral so that she might hoover the deck telling him, ‘that hay will get everywhere, we will still be finding strands of it for months.’
So a plan was in place for David to use the bales during the funeral and afterwards he would take them back to the farm in Southwick, offload them and then help feed the cattle.
Emma when providing information on the coffin, made David aware that it was made of plywood which would be strong enough and exposure to rain wouldn’t matter for the short journey down the A350 road to West Wiltshire Crematorium at Semington. However, the weather forecast didn’t look great for January 23rd so David decided to use his see-through sheet which can keep a coffin dry no matter how heavy the rain is.

 It is David’s opinion that some Funeral Directors may try to highlight a perceived wet weather weakness for Vintage Lorry Funerals in an attempt to dissuade a family from using the lorry. The truth of the matter is that David has carried the see-through sheet in a cover beneath the deck of the lorry since he started undertaking funerals in 2002. It has been rarely used, only twice previously for the funeral of a man in Nunney whose Family wanted him sheeted like a load, despite there being no rain and a Cardboard Coffin in Snodland for which the sheet was used solely to secure the coffin on a sunny day. David normally finds that although it can rain whilst he is loading the flowers, invariably the rain stops when the coffin is presented to the side roller on the deck. The only issue Vintage Lorry Funerals has regarding bad weather is that David Hall hasn’t marketed the use of his sheet well enough to confirm that his lorry is one for all seasons.

So David and his wife put the sheet in place in their garage the day before the funeral and David slept well cognisant that he had in place the right facilities for a plywood coffin. When David got up at 0600 hours there was torrential rain and as he ate his breakfast he knew that he had made the right decision with the sheet. However, as David was putting on his boots he noticed that the rain had stopped and it never came back during the funeral.
The back roads in Wiltshire were covered in water spilling off the fields, however, the 1950 Leyland Beaver was in place in the car park behind John Stuart Funeral Directors for 0745 hours. Emma arrived at 0815 hours and gave David a Car Park Permit. The coffin arrived from Devizes in a hearse and the team helped David put the sheet in place once the coffin was loaded. Everyone was amazed how quickly the sheet was secured and how it protected the coffin. One of the Bearers, who had an old Fire Engine, was very interested in the quality of the paintwork on the Leyland Beaver and he found it hard to believe that most of the paintwork was untouched since 1996, with David’s wife providing regular protective coats of polish.

This funeral provided many good things:-

  • The Farmer’s Family were delighted with everything David had done.
  • The Short Horn Beasts were happy with their hay.
  • West Wiltshire Crematorium staff members were pleased that no hay was left at the Semington site and quickly agreed to an article for ICCM, which goes to all crematoria sites, highlighting the steps that David took to help them. 
  • Atech Coachbuilders are likely to restore a Fire Engine
  • Pictures from the funeral will appear in a number of magazines and hopefully take the awareness of Vintage Lorry Funerals to a new level with the use of the see-through sheet dispelling any wet weather concerns. A man once told David that you should never complain about the rain, just wear a better coat.   

Friday, 30 November 2018

How David became interested in lorries.

For those of you who regularly read this blog, it may have occurred to you, how did David Hall become interested in lorries? An interest that led to Vintage Lorry Funerals being established in 2002 started when David was an infant.
David came from a humble background in County Durham, an area dominated by Coal Mines in the 1950’s. He lived in a two bedroomed house, commonly called a two up, two down, however the front room downstairs was never used. It was reserved for Christmas Day, any Wedding or a funeral, where the Deceased would lie in their coffin and the room essentially became a Chapel of Rest. The rear ground floor room was the hub of the home with a settee and a dinning table with the centrepiece being a coal fire, which in addition to housing an oven, it was the only source of heat. Vegetables were cooked in water and a kettle boiled on swing-out rings that were suspended above the fire. The fire was also the place where David was bathed in a tin bath that hung on the outside wall when not in use. Water from the kettle was used to heat up cold water in the bottom of the bath. A clothes-horse draped with towels became a modesty screen, David at the time thought that this was the clothes-horse’s prime function!
The toilet was at the end of the yard and it was cold and dark on a winter’s night, although a skylight sometimes let in the moonlight. David slept head-to-toe with his baby sister and he often remembers the ice patterns that would grow on the inside of the window during the winter.
1, Smiths Terrace, Easington Lane had no front garden and the front door opened out onto the A182, a busy trunk road that linked Newcastle to Hartlepool. Opposite the house there was the main manhole for the street, with a top which didn’t fit properly and rattled every time a lorry went over it. So David’s earliest interest with lorries occurred during the night when he was woken with the jangling of the manhole cover. He became skilled in determining whether the lorry was a 4 wheeled rigid, a 6 wheeled rigid or an 8 wheeled rigid, based on their distinctive sound patterns.
Also to keep young David entertained, his Mum used to lift him on top of the radiogram (there was no TV in the house) so that David could wave at the Milk Tanker Driver who was collecting from a nearby farm.
However, the main reason for David’s interest in lorries stems from when their family van broke down on its way to Cumberland. David’s Dad was a Clerk at the Colliery and earned just enough to feed his family, however, there was nothing spare for luxuries, including holidays. There were no family holidays in the 1950’s, David’s family used to visit a farm in Cumberland, as it was known in the day, where David’s Mum had been evacuated during WWII. When a bomb from a Heinkel He 111 hit the side of the rail bridge in South Hetton and exploded in midair, glass from windows was shattered at a radius of 100 yards. This encouraged the owners of the Fish & Chip shop in South Hetton to send their young child over the Pennines in the knowledge that if the bomb hadn’t had a glancing blow on the bridge and had hit the ground, then none of David’s Mum’s family would have survived.
So in August 1957 David’s Mum & Dad, David and his sister Susan in her carrycot were on their way to Unthank in a second hand Austin A40 Van. Initially the journey went well along the A690, apart from David being car sick in Crook, however, as the van was climbing the steep gradient towards the summit of Hartside there was a horrendous bang and the van came to a sudden stop. David’s Dad knew that it was serious and he obviously needed some assistance. In the 1950’s there weren’t many cars on the road and David vividly remembers the silence with only sheep bleating in the distance. After some time a motorbike approached and David’s Dad waved the rider down and he gave David’s Dad a lift to the Helm Wind Café, now called the Hartside Café, which sits on the summit, with stupendous views to the west to Lakeland and beyond. David’s Dad used his AA Key to unlock the AA Box and phoned the Farmer with whom they were intending to stay. The motorbike rider then took David’s Dad back to the stricken A40 van. It now seems incredulous the some unknown stranger should be so kind, however, in the 1950’s random acts of kindness were common place. With not many vehicles about it was the unwritten law of the road that you never ever passed a broken down vehicle without offering some assistance.
It seemed a long time before the Farmer arrived in his Morris Minor Shooting Brake with a tow rope. The Farmer towed the A40 van to the top of Cross Fell and then let David’s Dad, on his own, coast some 6 miles downhill to the farm in Unthank, near Gamblesby. David’s Dad’s first concern was finding the money to pay for repairing the van and he decided that he should go straight home and get back to work. The Farmer took David’s Dad, David’s Mum and David’s baby Sister in her carrycot back to Easington Lane but there was no room in the car for David.
So in August 1957, David aged 4 years and 4 months was left with the Farmer’s Daughter-in-Law, Alice Threlkeld. It was a strange situation for David because he had never been away from home before and he had never slept on his own before. It was also strange situation for Alice Threlkeld who was a young Farmer’s Wife who at the time had no children of her own. However, she was experienced with young children being a Sunday School Teacher at Gamblesby Methodist Church. Alice need not have been worried about looking after David because she had an ace card up her sleeve, her Dad was Albert Kelso who owned Fellside Transport and operated nine lorries mainly on livestock movements.

Albert and his wife, who everyone called Ma, visited Alice on the Sunday and there was an immediate chemistry established between David and Albert who christened him ‘Mr. Crockett’, after the western character Davy Crockett. Albert and Ma took David back to Lazonby in their Standard Vanguard and he spent the next two weeks there whilst the Crankshaft of the A40 van was replaced. The Austin van was repaired by Lace Brothers Garage in Lazonby who were great friends with Albert Kelso and it is understood that Albert encouraged Howard Lace to give the A40 priority and also to sharpen his pencil when it came to their costings.
Ma Kelso always called David M’Lad and held his hand as they went up the stone staircase of Croft House, leading David to an enormous bedroom. That night David slept right through with no lorries going over manhole covers to keep him awake, only the sound of sheep bleating in the fields.

David spent the next two weeks in the cabs of livestock collection lorries taking sheep, cattle and pigs from farms into the Auction Mart at Penrith, which was then in the middle of the town but now is a Morrisons Supermarket. David was normally a bad traveller on car journeys, however, he never felt sick in a lorry which was much higher and he could see animals in the fields over the top of hedgerows.
 Albert Kelso had built up a very successful business buying second hand Leyland Beaver chassis from BP and other oil companies who had discarded their vehicles after 5 years, in line with their large company depreciation policies. These chassis cabs were painted grey with red mudguards, and a wooden deck, with a lift-off livestock container which was created by the team at Fellside Transport.
Albert was a great admirer of Leyland Beavers as the vehicle was robustly built, a 120 b.h.p. engine that would go up Shap Fell on the A6 in top gear and had an amazing lock which meant that a Leyland Beaver could get into a tight farmyard entrance that other lorries couldn’t access.
In 1957 Albert gave David a Leyland Cap Badge which David still uses today on his Beret as he drives his Leyland Beaver in funerals. John Kelso took over the business when Albert passed away in 1971 and in 2004 David received a package in the post from John and Ma Kelso. It was an AA Badge that had been on one of the lorries. The picture below shows David in Cwmbran with his Drivers Qualification Card, which all Lorry Drivers must now possess.

In 2018 sadly only Alice Threlkeld and Alan Kelso, Albert’s Grandson are still around. David regularly writes to Alice updating her of developments and he often recalls that during the 1950’s she was the only person in Unthank who had a telephone, everyone else gave the number of the call box in the centre of the village as their ‘personal’ phone number. When the phone rang any passerby would answer it, ask who was speaking and who they wanted to contact, before running to tell Eric Mason that a relation was on the phone. The ladies of the village used to take turns in cleaning the Telephone Call Box.

Alan Kelso is probably the youngest person to obtain a Driving Licence, passing his test at 0930 hours on his 17th Birthday driving a 3 Ton Commer Lorry from Fellside Transport. He is still involved in livestock movements, managing this part of the Armstrong of Longton business. He works exceptionally long hours, however, he is always available to discuss any points David needs advice on regarding the 1950 Leyland Beaver. 

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Influences early in David’s life that shaped his future

Those of you who find these blog articles interesting to read may find it hard to believe that as a 7 year old David was struggling to read and write. Having recently changed from a Primary School which concentrated on numbers, David was top of the class in maths but bottom in English at Easington Colliery Junior School. Easington was the location for the Billy Elliot film, however, there were no Ballet Dancers there in the 1960’s.
David’s Teacher saw something in him that he couldn’t see in himself, but the Teacher put a lack of progress in English down to a lack of application rather than dyslexia that wasn’t known about in schools in the 1960’s. So frustrated was the Teacher with David’s lack of progress in reading that he contacted David’s Dad at work, who had to miss part of his shift at Easington Pit and come to school. In hindsight it is evident that the Teacher had David’s best interests at heart, however, he had a strange way of showing it.
With David’s Dad standing alongside David in front of the whole class the Teacher said, ‘Unless this boy learns to read and write he’ll only be fit to sweep the streets of Easington Colliery.’ David was shocked and he didn’t know who was more embarrassed, him or his Dad.
Coming from a very humble background there was no books in the house and when the Teacher asked what David was interested in, his Dad said ‘Football’. The Teacher replied, ‘Get him some books on Football!’
Football was important to David’s family because his Dad’s cousin had married the Brother of Bob Paisley, who was then the Trainer and subsequently the Manager of Liverpool F.C., winning 3 European Cups. The relationship may appear to be distant, however, it was close enough for David to be invited to watch Liverpool play in the North East as Bob Paisley’s niece wanted some company of her own age. David once asked Bob Paisley for some tips about how to improve his game. Bob said, ‘Davey when you are on that field always believe that you are going to get hurt and it will be the last game you will ever play. Be first for every ball, don’t let the ball bounce, win every tackle, use the ball well, be determined to win. Never come off that field feeling that you could have done any more.’

50 years on, some of David’s compatriots in Alternative Funerals find it strange that he spends many hours building flower displays and Themes. Some think that David is daft and that he should have no contact with a family, turn up two hours before the funeral put on the coffin and flowers, get his cheque and leave the crematorium as soon as the coffin and flowers are off the lorry. David reminds these people that although some people get a number of chances at a marriage they get only one chance at a funeral and David always follows the philosophy of Bob Paisley and does his level best in everything that he attempts. David adopts the same approach whether he is creating a display of Floral Tributes on his lorry or arranging vegetables in an attractive pattern as he serves the Sunday lunch.

Another important influence on David, when he was 7 year old, was Dennis Donnini V.C. who was born on November 17th 1925. David was very small for his age and having changed school at 7 years old he was regularly picked upon by taller boys. David noted in The Victor Comic a story about the heroic actions taken on January 18th 1945 by Dennis Donnini who won the Victoria Cross fighting German Troops in Holland towards the end of WWII. David may have had trouble reading out loud from a book, however, he was very sharp mentally and he noticed that the Ice Cream Shop in Easington Colliery was run by an Italian family called Donnini, could this be the same Donnini? On a Monday dinnertime David left the school walked down Seaside Lane and entered the shop which was deserted. David looked around and saw that a medal was in a case on the third shelf, he couldn’t see the medal but noticed the purple ribbon. A lady then came through the curtain and asked if she could help David. David pointed to the medal in the glass case and asked if that was the Victoria Cross won by Dennis Donnini.

The lady then stood on a stool, took the glass case from the shelf, opened it and put the Victoria Cross in David’s hands. She then went on to explain that her Brother was 19 years old and was in a troop tasked to take positions fortified by the Germans. With heavy rain limiting the use of tanks the infantry was asked to attack initially two machine-gun positions. Dennis Donnini volunteered to lead the charge and took out one machine-gun with a grenade thrown from close range. During this action Dennis was shot in the head and he fell on the ground. He came to and crawled into a barn dodging the enemy bullets.
After a short time he heard one his comrades crying for help in no man’s land. Donnini then put down his rifle, ran into no man’s land, under a hail of bullets, however, as soon as he started to lift the wounded soldier Dennis heard, ‘Nicht Schiessen’, the shooting stopped and Dennis dragged his comrade to safety.
At this point Dennis was bleeding profusely from his head and it is thought that he knew he had been fatally wounded. He took a bag with grenades ran down the street throwing grenades into three houses before he was killed when a bullet hit the bag with the grenades which exploded.
Any of the three events would have merited a Victoria Cross, however, perhaps, strategically the most import thing Dennis did was draw enemy fire and divert it from his comrades who attacked on the flanks and captured 30 Germans, including an Officer.
It is understood that the Wehrmacht Officer who witnessed Donnini’s actions recommended that he should by awarded the Victoria Cross and the citation bizarrely only mentioned two of  the four acts of a valour and even left out perhaps Dennis’ bravest feat which was rescuing a comrade from no man’s land.
Dennis’s Sister explained that both her Mum and Dad were detained in UK camps during WWII and there was a problem in the presentation of the medal because his parents were interned and even if they hadn’t been, no Italian was welcome inside Buckingham Palace. Dennis’ Sister showed David clippings from the local papers which told how King George met with Dennis’ parents in a pub to hand over the Victoria Cross and the King made arrangements for his parents to be released and to re-open the Ice cream shop in Easington Colliery.
David saw from the pictures that Dennis was very small, only 4ft 10 inches and David suddenly thought that being small never stopped Dennis Donnini so David vowed that he would stand up for himself and use his brains to outwit people rather than no mans land his fists.
1964 was the first year not to have 11 plus exams and pupils were sent to Grammar School solely on the recommendation of a Teacher. The seating plan in the class was for the brightest pupils to sit in order and David was number 22 in the class, however, his name was included in the list for Grammar School even though all the boys sitting near him weren’t. David was summoned to the Headmaster’s Office and he was worried as corporal punishment was the central dogma on which the discipline system was based. Canings on pupils hands were common place in front of the class and the Headmaster dealt with repeated offenders by a very severe beating across the buttocks. With fear and trepidation David knocked on the door and he was told to come in. The Headmaster leaned towards David and using his index finger prodded David in the ribs in the same place with one prod between each of the following words, ‘Now  then  young  Hall  you  have  got  to  Grammar  School  by  the  skin  of  your  teeth  do  not  let  me  down.’
By this time David knew that he had difficulty reading out loud, not being available to pick out the next sentence in the text. He worked very hard often spending all the evening doing his homework. He did quite well at Senior School but was never able to read out loud from a book. When David in later life was asked to speak at functions he would learn the speech off by heart, practicing many times and often at conferences David was voted best speaker with comments like, ‘This bloke never looked at his notes once!’
At the age of 15 Football nearly changed the direction of David’s life when a scout from Huddersfield Town showed interest having watched David play for his school team. David’s Dad said that his son didn’t have enough skill to be a footballer and apparently the Scout agreed that David’s skills set could be improved by the club. However, it was the young lad’s leadership skills, will to win and determination that had caught the Scout’s eye. David’s Dad & Mum bought him a desk and encouraged him to stick in at school and become the first member of the Hall family to go to University.
David will never forget the influence of holding Dennis Donnini’s Victoria Cross had on his life
and it always made David sad that there was no lasting memory of Dennis in his village. David felt that if Dennis had lived in Esher and not Easington Colliery there would have been a blue plaque on the wall. When David was 20 years old, his Dad found out that a picture of Dennis Donnini was on the wall at the local Miners Welfare Hall and David and his Dad went to investigate. They found a picture of Dennis and a copy of the Citation on the wall behind some men playing dominoes. David asked one of the men if he could move along the bench seat so that he could read the Citation. The man was reluctant to stop the domino game and David explained that Dennis Donnini was one of the youngest recipients of the Victoria Cross and possibly the smallest and definitely the only Italian. The domino player shrugged his shoulders and said, ‘Never heard of him.’ 

Fast forward now 45 years, David was pleasantly surprised to find that a Mural had been painted to commemorate Dennis Donnini, bravest of the brave, and a Memorial Garden had been planted just up the road from the former Colliery site. David was also relieved that in this area that was devastated when the pit closed, no one had attempted to deface the mural.

Sunday, 30 September 2018

Interesting people in the Cab

David Hall has had some interesting people in the cab of his Leyland Beaver during and after a funeral, and three examples are described below.
David was involved in perhaps his saddest funeral in Easthampstead Cemetery for a 32 year old, Jamie Madden, who had lost his life, whilst working under his car. The Deceased left a young wife and two children, a son aged almost 3 years and a daughter aged 11 months. David felt the family’s loss more than any other funeral because Jamie was the same age as David’s own son and Jamie’s son was the same age as David’s Grandson would have been had he not tragically passed away in June 2014, after only 15 months on this earth. Loosing his Grandson Freddie affected David deeply, he carries his picture above the windscreen in the cab and he often looks at the empty space above the seat that David had created next to the engine for Freddie, which he never saw. 

It was unbelievable that on the anniversary of Jamie’s death that David should be back in Easthampstead and some amazing things happened. Two young boys were attending their Granddad’s funeral and the older one Austin Stratford, aged 5 at the time, came over and asked David if he could have a ride in the Leyland Beaver. David then spoke with Austin’s parents who agreed that he could take Austin and his brother Dawson, aged 3 at the time, from the Flower Area at the crematorium to the cemetery.
The two young lads were lifted into the passenger side of the cab, Austin sat on the passenger seat and Dawson immediately sat on the seat that David had built for his own Grandson Freddie. Dawson smiled at David in the same way that Freddie had whenever he saw David. Fearing that the noise from the Leyland 600 engine may upset Dawson David took his Ear Defenders and put them on the 3 year old’s head. However, Dawson took off the Ear Defenders and said, ‘Don’t worry, I’m not frightened.’
During a funeral from Calne to Semington Crematorium David was under the impression that the Deceased’s son Stuart Smith would be travelling in the cab with him. However, when David arrived at the house there was a change of plan and the Deceased’s Granddaughter Sara Jane Smith would accompany David. Sara wore trousers and climbed into the cab without a problem.

Sara works in the motor industry and knows her way around a modern day lorry and she made some comparisons between the 1950 Leyland Beaver and those she normally sees. She said, ‘So no heater, no power steering, no synchromesh gearbox.’ As she was counting out the differences on her fingers she looked around the cab and asked, ‘and where does the driver sleep?’ Driver replied, ‘Back in the 1950’s Sara a driver never slept!’ David later explained in an email to Sara that large companies such as B.R.S. used to Double Shift a vehicle with a day man unloading and then reloading the lorry before handing over to a night man. He drove to another depot through the night and then slept in digs whilst his lorry was unloaded and reloaded. So the lorry was never still and nobody slept in the cab. There were, however, smaller operators who used drivers that were less likely to obey the rules which limited a working shift to 11 hours. It is said that those drivers hardly ever slept in their cabs and when they did it was on a wooden board laid across the engine, or on the sheet rack on top of the cab or in amongst the load if the vehicle was a box van.
For a funeral in Hollywell, North Wales, Shaun Parry, Grandson of the Deceased, paid for the funeral and asked to travel with David Hall in the cab because Shaun had his own haulage business. On the road to Pentrebychan Crematorium David asked Shaun if he had inherited the business from his Granddad and Dad. Shaun laughed saying, ‘I started the business myself and I employ my Dad who drives for me.’ Shaun went on to explain that after leaving school he became a trained Diesel Mechanic with Scania Trucks and then joined a local coachworks that built tipper bodies. During the evenings Shaun was engaged by a friend, who owned 8 Volvo Tippers, to service the fleet, which involved undertaking monthly inspections and rectifying any defects that had to be sorted that night.
So whilst his colleagues at the coachworks were spending their evenings in the pub, Shaun would be in his boiler suit, hammer in his hand checking wheel-nuts. Shaun banked all the money he earned and enjoyed watching it grow. Then Shaun had an opportunity to buy two Foden Tippers second hand, having secured regular work 5 days per week from a local quarry. The Drivers took their instructions from the quarry staff, enabling Shaun not to be distracted whilst he was fitting tipping equipment at the coachworks.
David was also very grateful that Shaun let him park the Leyland Beaver in his garage the night before his Granddad’s funeral and for providing transport to and from the B&B.

David told Shaun that it was an honour to meet a young man who had made a good living for himself and his family by hard graft. In these days, in David’s opinion, too many young people don’t know what they want to do, drift into university rack up huge debts and come out of the process with no career prospects. Too many opt for an easy life and would rather sit at home playing computer games and the thought of doing an 8 hour shift followed by a 4 to 8 hour period of work which requires intense concentration, would be beyond their comprehension.

Saturday, 1 September 2018

Leyland Beaver back in Slough again

Following Max Van der Sloot’s funeral from E. Sargeant & Sons Slough in June 2017, David Hall wrote obituary articles for Heritage Commercials and Canal Boat which subsequently appeared on the shelves of W.H. Smiths in September. David’s first contact is with the Family to whom the sight of their Loved One appearing in a prestigious magazine means a lot and helps them with the grieving process. However, David also contacts the Funeral Director as a matter of courtesy. Most Funeral Directors never even acknowledge the email, however, Peter Wicks of E. Sargeant & Sons not only acknowledged the email he went out and bought copies.
Whilst David was working in his garage, dismantling the display from a Denmead funeral, Peter left a message on David’s answer phone. Peter said that he was most impressed with the magazine articles, however, another opportunity may exist for the 1950 Leyland Beaver as a ‘Scrap Man’ had passed away in Maidenhead.
When the Deceased’s Daughter, Nicola walked into the E. Sargeant & Sons office she was thinking about booking a Horse Drawn Carriage for her Dad’s final journey because he had loved betting on horses and attending Race Meetings at Ascot. As Nicola was looking through the options in the Funeral Brochure, Peter Wicks drew her attention to the 1950 Leyland Beaver and provided positive comments about David Hall’s commitment to achieve high standards and his attention to detail. Nicola thought that the price for the lorry was quite reasonable and booked the Leyland Beaver for her Dad’s final journey, but not for the reason that Peter Wicks had suggested. The Deceased had never owned a lorry and had never held a Driving Licence. He had used friends and family to collect scrap and when no one could help him he used his Wheel Barrow. He collected metal, mainly copper, from households, consolidate items into loads in his garden and then use his Chillington black Wheel Barrow with a red wheel to transfer the loads of scrap to W N Thomas & Sons in Stoke Gardens, Slough.
When Nicola saw the picture of the Leyland Beaver she immediately envisaged a Wheel Barrow on the deck somehow fitting into the display of flowers. She thought that her choice would be most appropriate as her Dad’s business would had flourished if he had owned a lorry, however, for his funeral he would have something that he had always wanted but could never have.
David contacted Nicola to get details of the Florist who would create the Floral Tributes and she told him that it was likely that ‘DAD’, ‘GRANDAD’ and a 5 ft Coffin Spray would be ordered. David shared with Nicola his initial ideas on potential layout options, however, Nicola’s first thoughts were confined to what she had seen in a hearse with ‘Name’ Floral Tributes positioned either side of the coffin. David said, ‘What I drive is not a hearse it’s a lorry with a 21 foot deck and my plan would be to position the Floral Tributes so that everyone can see them. Have you got any special requests you want me to include?’ Nicola then told David about her Dad using a Wheel Barrow and asked if David could provide one for the funeral. Fortunately Nicola had looked at the Vintage Lorry Funerals website, saw how David had secured Wheel Barrows in previous funerals (Portchester & Guildford) and could visualise what David was suggesting when he asked for a head & shoulders picture of the Deceased. David’s plan was to secure a Wheel Barrow, exactly like the Deceased’s, against the headboard and then position an enlarged laminated picture of the Deceased between the handles, so that it would seem like that the Deceased was holding his own Wheel Barrow. 

David spoke with Tracy of Hearts & Flowers in Datchet who confirmed what Nicola had ordered, however, there was also a 19 inch Horse Shoe Floral Tribute. David sent Tracy an email of a sketch of a Horse Shoe and asked her to provide a number of measurements so that he could make a wooden stand which would mirror the shape of the Horse Shoe. In this way the ‘Horse Shoe’ Floral Tribute would appear to be floating unsupported, as David had previously done for funerals in Orpington, Cardiff, Merthyr Tydfil and Ely.

Given that the main Floral Tribute was the ‘DAD’ David was determined to keep the Support Structure in front of the coffin no wider than the ‘DAD’ and this meant finding a way to secure the Wheel Barrow with minimal support beneath it. David’s wife was able to edit the image that Nicola had sent to the size David required for the display and then Vintage Lorry Funerals’ Support Partner, Tech Office, in Trowbridge, laminated the picture. It was also fortuitous that David was able to find a Chillington Wheel Barrow exactly like the one used by the Deceased and the person who owned it was very pleased to help David and loaned it to him for the funeral.
David had all that he needed, apart from measurements taken from the coffin. As he was planning to work on building the Support Structures on Saturday, he sent an email to Peter Wicks. Normally Funeral Directors close for business on Friday afternoon at 1630 hours and don’t open again until 0830 hours on the Monday morning, so David didn’t expect a reply to his email before Monday noon. However, when David put on the computer on Sunday morning he was shocked to see an email from Peter Wicks which provided the measurements David required and it was certainly a first for a Funeral Director responding over a weekend.
Normally Funerals are in the late morning or early afternoon and David makes an early start, arrives at the Funeral Directors before the morning rush hour has started and often returns to Bradford-on-Avon before the evening rush hour starts. However, with the Slough funeral being in the late afternoon it was evident that the Leyland Beaver would hit the evening rush hour on the journey home and the plan was to fix the start time to miss the morning rush hour. So David left home at 0600 hours and encountered more traffic on the A342 than he normally does when he leaves an hour earlier. When it proved difficult to get vehicles past David looked for a lay bye, a bus stop or the wide entrance to an industrial estate to pull off the road for a minute and let a stream of cars get on their way. The Leyland Beaver pulled into Basingstoke to catch the last remnants of the morning rush hour and there was minimal traffic on the A30, A322, A332 enabling the lorry to arrive in E. Sargeant & Sons yard by 1015 hours.
The staff members at E. Sargeant & Sons were pleased to see David and Peter Wicks showed David the location of the hot tap and he spent the next 90 minutes washing the vintage lorry which had got dirty during the journey. Just about that time the Heart & Flowers van pulled into the yard with every Floral Tribute apart from the ‘GRANDAD’. Amanda asked where should she put the flowers and David suggested that they went straight onto the deck and into their Support Structures. David said, ‘It is always best to handle the flowers as little as possible’ as he placed the ‘Horse Shoe’ on its stand. Amanda was amazed how David had made the wooden structure so it was hidden by the flowers. As David was lowering the ‘DAD’ onto its stand Jose, the Limousine Driver, said ‘I know that it will fit first time, this man is very organised.’ Jose then made David a cup of tea, however, his key role was to help assemble the ‘GRANDAD’ which arrived as 4 and 3 lettered words. Amanda then did something amazing, she gave David two chrysanthemum flowers to take with him in case any flowers should pop out of the oasis bases during transit and it was the first time a Florist had ever shown so much care. 

Tony the Hearse Driver asked David if he knew the best way to get to the house in Maidenhead and used his local knowledge to improve David’s suggestion, eliminating Dual Carriageways by going through Eton. Unbeknown to David the route involved a sharp right which took the cortege past Eton School and David smiled as he saw young gentlemen in their gowns. Coming from a very humble background in Easington Colliery it is the nearest that he would ever get to Eton. A number of the young gentlemen were gathered on a zebra crossing and looked expectantly that the cortege would stop to let them across but it didn’t. As David cruised past he said, ‘Sorry to disappoint you boys, this is a funeral and we don’t stop for anyone!’
The cortege went over a cattle grid and the road went over a grass common area. A cyclist was wobbling on the road ahead, Tony in the Hearse just missed the cyclist and it was evident to David that there wouldn’t be enough space for the Leyland Beaver and the cycle between the kerb and a road island. With no oncoming traffic David elected to go the wrong way around the road island and his actions ensured that the cyclist was safe.
The Family were delighted to see the Leyland Beaver and the layout of the deck that David had created. A young Great Grandson showed interest in the lorry and David, after gaining the boy’s Dad’s permission, lifted the 8 year old into the cab and sat him behind the giant steering wheel for a short while.
As David approached the church he was most concerned that someone had parked two cars exactly where he and Tony needed to park to off-load the coffin. However, David needn’t have been worried because quickly Brian and his colleague, both E. Sargeant & Sons employees, jumped into the cars, which had been positioned to protect the space, and drove them into the side road. David quoted Hannibal Smith of the A Team and said, ‘I really love it when a plan comes together.’
There was a delay in off-loading the coffin as the cortege had arrived early. The Second Limousine Driver Lee said, ‘I wish it would rain then the Vicar will start the service early,’ and he got his wish. Hearing these words David thought of the Temptation’s song ‘I wish it would rain’. Rain started to fall as the coffin was off-loaded and the intensity grew during the service, however, it seemed to ease as the coffin was positioned back on the deck for the interment in Oakley Green Cemetery.
David left the cemetery at 1615 hours as the traffic was building and he hit the main rush hour traffic on the A322. As David was sitting in stationary traffic he had his second sandwich of the day and whilst he sat on the A30 at Camberley he had some coffee from his flask. The weather improved at Basingstoke and the deck was almost dry when he got home. Coming up the street behind David was a car with it’s headlights on and David was temporarily blinded as the light dazzled in his wing mirror. David stopped the Leyland Beaver and was just about to give the driver a stern talking to, when David’s wife who was waiting at the entrance to their drive, intervened to ask the man to use his side lights only. This was the best solution as David had been on the road for almost 15 hours and his tolerance was low.
Once the Leyland Beaver was safely into its garage David inspected the condition of the deck for dryness and found the two Chrysanthemum flowers still positioned loosely in their flower tray. David gave these to his wife and said they were a present from Hearts & Flowers as they were never needed as replacements in the cemetery.
As David had a bowl of soup at 2100 hours he told his wife how nice the Family and Funeral Director’s Staff had been with him.

The following morning David and his wife washed the lorry, however, as they were having a cup of coffee a sudden storm started and David ran, jumped into the Leyland Beaver and reversed quickly into the garage. David’s wife doesn’t reckon she has seen David move so swiftly saying, ‘That was like the start of the old 24 hour Le Mans car race!’            

Wednesday, 1 August 2018

A Funeral in Denmead

Most of Vintage Lorry Funerals trips involve an early start with the Leyland Beaver rolling out of Bradford-on-Avon in the dark. The journey to Denmead was no exception departing at 0500 hours on an August day when dawn was just about to break.
David enjoys the early starts as he witnesses sights that most people don’t see. It is magnificent when the top of the sun peeks above the horizon and then slowly emerges into an orange football. David has 1950 styled sun-shades that clip onto his spectacles that can be flipped up during normal conditions, but flipped down in bright sunlight. Often in the early morning David sees animals and on this trip he had a rabbit trying to outrun the Leyland Beaver in Holt. However, the most surprising sight was a herd of White Belted Galloway cows near junction 9 of the M3, some 500 miles from home.
The other amazing thing about early morning starts is that in David’s experience people are more courteous. At fuel stations where David stops to buy a paper he can find Scaffolders who will hold the door back for you and White Van men who will say ‘after you’ as you both approach the newspaper rack.
The funeral in Denmead was Vintage Lorry Funerals first for South Downs Funeral Services, a company started by Paul Lee-Bapty in 2011 and he has built up a successful business in both Denmead and Wickham by operating services at the highest quality. In David’s experience there is a huge difference between someone who conducts a funeral for a large organisation as opposed to the man who owns the company.
Initially David was worried how well he and Paul would get along, however, his concerns were unwarranted.  On the day of the funeral David saw that Paul’s determination to achieve the highest service levels were no different to his own.

Paul wanted David to reverse the Leyland Beaver into his driveway, however, David decided to leave the lorry on the street, a decision that would later prove beneficial. As David was preparing the lorry deck to receive the flowers and coffin a number of passersby expressed interest and took a Vintage Lorry Funerals Business Card. These individuals included:-
  • A man was returning from the Newsagents, who used to work for Calor Gas, a company which used Leyland Beavers for deliveries.
  • A man asked to shake David’s hand, having seen and read articles about funerals in many magazines.
  • A Scotsman in a car stopped and commented how well the lorry looked. He had maintained Leyland 600 engines in the 1950’s.
  • A car driver stopped twice, once to take a Business Card and the second time to say how wonderful the lorry looked with the coffin loaded and flowers either side.
  • A young mum struggling with a pushchair and an energetic youngster was given a card after her son was transfixed by the lorry.
   David found it interesting that the South Downs email address doesn’t start with info@ or mail@ but care@ and David saw a high level of care demonstrated when Paul started to page the lorry from his premises.
In a display that in David’s opinion had a strong military feel and perhaps a small piece of Michael Jackson’s Thriller video, Paul commenced the paging process by bowing towards the radiator of the Leyland Beaver. Instead of turning and walking forwards like everyone else in the funeral world, Paul stepped backwards and used the fingers on his outstretched arms to entice the Leyland Beaver out of the side road like a Lion Tamer controlling a Lion, but having no whip. Paul continued to walk backwards still beckoning the Leyland Beaver until he reached the white line in the middle of the road. With the Leyland Beaver positioned halfway out of the side road, the traffic moving toward Portsmouth was brought to a standstill on the B2150. Paul seemed unconcerned about the traffic travelling from Portsmouth which was speeding past his back, only inches away.
Paul then enacted a military turn, faced the oncoming traffic, stopped it and then continued to page in the traditional way. The military feel was also exhibited at the crematorium. When the coffin was about to be off-loaded two South Down’s men were next to the lorry, and another two were standing next to their vehicles. Paul then called out the name of one of his men standing next to his vehicle and the man then quickly walked to the lorry. Paul then called out the name of the remaining South Downs man still with his vehicle and he then also walked quickly towards the lorry.
The four South Downs men then positioned themselves into two rows of two, facing each other either side of the coffin. Paul then joined them, he faced the head of the coffin and bowed. Paul and the two men either side of the coffin then took one step away from the edge of the lorry in a synchronised way taking the coffin with them. On Paul’s command he and the two men took a further step away from the edge of the lorry, whilst the two remaining men took one step forward and touched the coffin. At this point the coffin was about 4 feet beyond the roller and with Paul’s next command everyone took a further step away from the lorry edge and the coffin was now in their hands and was held at the same height as it had been on the lorry. None of Paul’s staff spoke at any stage and you could have heard a pin drop before Paul’s command and the coffin was then lifted to shoulder height.

It was a fantastic spectacle, however, some people in the funeral world have no doubt been disrespectful about Paul’s paging and conducting style. David was impressed with the level of theatre that Paul had created and he reflected that Paul and David were not that far apart in their aims to do their absolute best for a family. In the past David has been asked to dress like Fred Dibnah, to talk like Fred Dibnah and at a funeral in Guildford David was asked to be Fred Dibnah!
On the way home David encountered queuing traffic on the M3 between junction 11 and 9 with a high volume of vehicles wanting to be on the A34 on this Friday afternoon. On the A342 David tried to get cars past whenever possible but once a queue of at least 10 cars were trapped behind the lorry at 30 m.p.h. David looked for a lay-bye. This is something that modern Lorry Drivers won’t do and some people think that David is a Knight of the Road, but David dismisses this concept saying it is only commonsense. In David’s experience he can upset some of the people some of the time but it is best not to upset all of the drivers all of the time, because frustrated drivers can attempt dangerous things. Once David pulled into the lay-bye 10 cars sped past, two or three gave a friendly toot of their horn as a ‘thank you’ but there is always one who will put his or her hand out of the window and make an offensive gesture.
The traffic was gridlocked on the Melksham bypass due to rush hour traffic and David got home at 1730 hours but the drama didn’t end there. David’s wife always walks down the street to guide David as he tries to manoeuvre around obstructively parked cars. However, on this occasion David’s wife noticed that a young toddler had escaped from a garden in Highfield and had wandered out onto Woolley Street where cars speed up the hill in a rat run to get out onto the Bath road. Luckily David’s wife acted swiftly and plucked the young child out of harms way just in time as a car raced by. David arrived two minutes later and was oblivious to what had just happened. In the garage after his wife had checked that the brake lights were working she told David what had nearly happened. David then thought what was worse, a child nearly killed by a car or parents who didn’t seem to comprehend the danger that their bundle of joy could have been in.