Over the years David Hall has had some interesting people travelling with him in the cab, or riding shot-gun to use a transport vernacular phrase.
During a funeral in
Birkenhead, Merseyside, David Hall
witnessed both the good and bad sides of the ‘scouse’ culture. Travelling
through one of the less affluent parts of Birkenhead
at night David saw a group of people gathered on a street corner after a fight
had developed. David was flabbergasted when he realised it was two women
trading punches and what is more, men, not intervening, but egging them on and
holding their handbags.
Sadly swearing is commonplace in modern day culture where in some circles it can be called Industrial Language to give it some form of respectability. Most people realise that decorum necessitates no swearing at funerals, however, on this day in
Birkenhead decorum disappeared with
expletives being every other word emitting from most people’s mouths. When
David was asked to take the Deceased’s Grandson with him in the cab David
dreaded the worst.
From the outset the young man, probably in his late teens, spoke quietly and never swore. To break the silence David asked him, ‘What do you do for a living?’ The young man replied ‘I’m just getting re-established. I have just got out of prison.’ David replied ‘Oh,’ and said nothing further on the subject and encouraged the youth to watch him double-de-clutch when changing gear just as his Grandad had done in the 1950s. As time went on David wondered why such a mild mannered young man should ever have ended up in prison. However, just before the Church the Leyland Beaver’s progress was halted by a Refuse Collection vehicle whose staff, collecting the bins, were slow in alerting the driver to the problem. The young man became visibly upset and the veins on his temple were protruding and throbbing. He shouted obscenities at the men and started to climb out of the cab to resolve the situation with violence. David grabbed him and begged him to remain in the cab and let David sort the situation by persuasion. By this time the Refuse Collection vehicle had pulled to one side and David put the Beaver into 3rd gear and gently overtook. The volatile situation with the young man quickly evaporated much faster than it had emerged.
As the cortege passed a Police Station David said, ‘Keep your head down,’ and the young man smiled. When the Leyland Beaver came to a halt at the graveside, the young man said, ‘Mr. Hall it has been a privilege to travel with you today and I would like to thank you on behalf of our family for everything you have done to make this day so special’ He then asked David if he would not mind him taking a photograph of David wearing his beret and requested that he could use this picture on social media. Before he left the cab he put his right hand forward to shake David’s hand. There were no high fives, no man hugs just a simple hand shake 1950’s style. David thought that The Animals ‘Don’t let me be misunderstood’ was appropriate for this young man.
When booking the Leyland Beaver for a funeral in Pencoed,
Wales, the Funeral Director asked
if the Deceased’s eldest Daughter could travel in the cab with David. Getting
into the 1950 lorry is not easy. Modern lorries have three short steps, however,
getting into the Leyland Beaver involves a short stretch onto the axle hub and
then a giant leap onto the step above the wing. David explained to the Funeral
Director that it was like Armstrong landing on the moon. To protect a lady’s
dignity David normally suggests trousers, however, some ladies are rather petit
and don’t have enough strength in their arms to pull themselves into the cab.
For these situations David has modified the pull out ladder, which he uses to
get up onto the deck, so that it can have a second use facilitating females to
get into the cab.
When David arrived at the house he was introduced to Linda Mckay a spritely 62 year old who had no problem getting into the cab without the help of the ladder. When the Leyland Beaver engine fired up Linda started to smile and said that the sounds and smells of the 1950 lorry brought back memories of her childhood. She particularly remembered the loud sound of the engine and hiding beneath ropes in the foot-well, out of sight, when her Dad was loading at The Abbey Steelworks in
Port Talbot. David told Linda
about his first ride in a 1950 Leyland Beaver in August 1958 when on a trip to
Hawick with a Livestock Driver he could only speak to the Driver when the lorry
was going down hill and the roar of the engine had subsided. As a young 5 year
old David thought on the journey to Hawick that the soft material beneath his
feet was a carpet, however, it turned out to be the Driver’s sheep dog
snuggling in the foot-well, warmed by the heat from the engine.
In the cemetery Linda was keen to give David her email address, however, as she was leaning on the boot of the Funeral Director’s limousine, the car took off leaving Linda stranded in the cemetery. However, she wasn’t worried as someone would turn up for her and sure enough someone did. Before she got into the car she complimented David on getting his lorry into some tight gateways at the Church and Cemetery and whilst people watching on the ground didn’t think he would make the manoeuvre, she was confident in the amazing lock of the Leyland Beaver and David’s ability to move the steering wheel quickly through his hands.
David’s Wife never normally accompanies him on funerals as her main role is acting as Mission Control. This involves undertaking detailed research to identify potential traffic problems and the most appropriate place to refuel as derv prices vary dramatically from garage to garage with no apparent logic. David’s Daughter lives in
Cardiff so when an early
morning funeral in Cardiff
necessitated travelling the day before, his wife decided to come with him.
David’s Wife was amazed at being able to look over hedgerows and seeing wildlife in the fields, however, the bumpy ride necessitated a comfort stop at Aust Services. On the
there was only one lane open and the cars in front of the Leyland Beaver
quickly disappeared from view and the road ahead was clear for as far as your
eye could see. David’s Wife asked, ‘Where have all the cars gone?’ David
replied, ‘Look in your wing mirror, they are all trapped behind us.’ When the
lane restriction ended David steered the vintage lorry into the first lane and
cars sped past, like a squadron of Messerschmitt 109’s attacking a lumbering
Lancaster Bomber. Old Severn Bridge