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The First Seventy Years: Chapter 61 - A Holiday To Forget

...Mary had to drive back to Huddersfield with me lying on the back seat. Whenever she made a stop I put my legs out of the nearside window in an attempt to ease the pain...

Eric Biddulph recalls a painful time in Wales.

During the late 70s Mary tripped on a wire basket negligently left by a member of staff in one of the aisles in Boots in Huddersfield. The consequences of the accident were far reaching. She ultimately had an operation in Leeds General |Infirmary after wearing a plaster caste for a considerable period of time to no avail. Boots ultimately paid her compensation.

Owing to Mary's problem prior to the operation we had to abandon our usual camping holiday and booked into farmhouse accommodation close to the Centre for Alternative Technology in Wales. Not satisfied with one back sufferer in the family I also developed problems of my own whilst on the holiday. I finished up having to lie on the floor of the guestroom, being unable to sit on a chair.

Mary had to drive back to Huddersfield with me lying on the back seat. Whenever she made a stop I put my legs out of the nearside window in an attempt to ease the pain. I had suffered from backache on and off for many years whilst cycling and in the light of events which occurred in late 2000 and the operation I had in early 2001 have pondered on the possible connections with the 1960s and 70s despite the intervening period of time.

Paul joined Huddersfield Youth Marching Band as a drummer in the late 70s giving him a major social outlet which lasted for several years. In October 1980 a demonstration of playing and marching was planned for parents and friends in a church hall prior to entering the Band's first competition. My father collapsed and died whilst on holiday in Weymouth just a few days before the demonstration. Paul was distraught and unable to perform. He soon recovered however and for the next eighteen months we became avid supporters in his many appearances at fetes and competitions around the country. One of the most memorable was the Band's participation in a torchlight procession through Kendal.

Back in the late 1950s whilst working in the City Treasurer's Department in Nottingham I learned of a former employee who habitually cycled huge distances. His name was Doug Griffiths. As mentioned in an earlier chapter I sought his advice in 1965 over my job application with the Bank of West Africa in Nigeria where he lived at that time. I maintained contact with him whilst in Malawi.

In 1980 embarked upon a family holiday in Kent with the intention of crossing the Channel and spending a few days in France. The holiday was a disaster from beginning to end. This was wholly attributable to the Lada estate car I had purchased a few months earlier. The engine overheated on the North Circular Road in London resulting in us having to sleep overnight in a portacabin owned by the garage repairing the car. Eventually reaching Margate I encountered the same problem and again had to call on the services of a local garage. Plans to go to France were abandoned. Only short journeys were undertaken until the time arrived to make our way back to Yorkshire.

Having arranged to call on Doug, now living in Northants, overheating afflicted us yet again during the drive to his house. Mary and myself decided we would take the radiator out ourselves, drain it and get it thoroughly flushed out. Doug drove us into Northampton to get the job done. We refitted the radiator. Meanwhile Doug's wife had driven to work. Everything was hunky-dory with the radiator. I filled it up with water.

"Pass me the radiator cap" I called to Mary. "You must have it" she replied. It was still on the floor of Doug's car. His wife worked on the other side of Northampton. Borrowing a bike I rode over to pick it up. On the return journey I punctured. Having no means of making a repair I walked the three miles back to Doug's house. A holiday to forget. Needless to say, I sold the car.


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