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A Shout From The Attic: A Fool And His Motorcycle Are Soon Parted

"Buying a motorcycle seemed like a good idea, so I bought one. One of my comrades was being shipped abroad, and he had a motorcycle to dispose of. I took it for a test run on the roads round about our camp at Catterick, where we occupied Cambrai Lines,'' writes Ronnie Bray.

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"How foolish we are. We get up in the morning and pray that God will protect us during the day, and then go straightway and do things we know to be foolish and dangerous." - Heber J Grant

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Buying a motorcycle seemed like a good idea, so I bought one. One of my comrades was being shipped abroad, and he had a motorcycle to dispose of. I took it for a test run on the roads round about our camp at Catterick, where we occupied Cambrai Lines.

The test run almost ended in disaster. I was unused to motorcycle riding, although I did have a small BSA when I was sixteen, but that stopped going after I had driven it about three miles, and I didn't mount another one until I was in Cyprus.

During my time at the REME workshops at Dhekelia, someone was required to take a package to the bank in Larnaca. The question was asked, “Does anyone have a motor cycle licence?” I did have a motor cycle licence. I passed my driving test at Barton Stacey, and had to send my pass certificate to Hampshire County Council who issued a civilian licence. When it arrived, I noticed that among other strange machines, I was authorised to ride a motor cycle, notwithstanding that I had not been tested for one.

I raised my hand and was led to a dull khaki motor cycle, given a transport log and a leather bag to be deposited in the bank, and with a helmet, goggles and elbow gauntlets, I was on my way. I learned to ride it on the way to town.

A few months later, one of the civilian workers drove up on a gleaming black monster, and agreed that I could ride it around the outside of the barrack complex. It zoomed away with me and when I pulled the front brake, the front wheel locked and skidded on some gravel that was on the footpath, but I brought it to a safe, if breathless, rest.

So, some years later, at Catterick in the unqualified optimism of youth, I was about twenty-five and still in the long process of growing up, I figured that I could ride a motor cycle, but needed to test it before I agreed to buy it. The vendor agreed to the test, and so I set off in fine style.

I was great in the straight, changing gear with a certain amount of hesitant confidence, but I found the corners tricky!

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