Sunday, 19 April 2015

My mate Tim

During my time working at Old Park Farm the boss engaged an agricultural student from West Sussex, I think Chichester University, in any event Tim arrived with us as a part of his journey to become an agricultural engineer. We quickly became good mates, due in no small part, to the fact that Tim was able to maintain and keep on the road, the series of old bangers which I drove in those days. In fact he even welded a large metal plate into my Vauxhall Velox when the rear right spring came through the floor as a result of advanced rust. This enabled the beast to remain useable for some time. There was, of course, no MOT test at that time !

Tim’s capacity to keep cars going never ceased to amaze me. As one whom had no interest at all in anything mechanical, he was little short of a Godsend to me. On one notable evening when the exhaust system fell from the vehicle, right outside Alton police station, he managed to ram it back together and secure our onward journey before we attracted any unwelcome attention from the cops. On another occasion, by means of a pair of stockings, (tights were not the thing then !!), he kept us going when the fan belt broke. Yet again he saved the day when an electrical fault kept blowing the car’s main fuse, he simple rolled up a piece of silver foil from a cigarette packet, slotted it into the place where the fuse came from and off we went.

Tim was a great supporter of The Young Farmers Club of Alton and attended most of their meetings which caused him rather a lot of problems. I imagine Young Farmers clubs remain pretty much today as they always have, and are noted for their capacity to provide and consume large quantities of alcohol. Cider being provided in particularly large amounts. This was unfortunate because Alton is located several miles from Old Park Farm and necessitated a drive home after each Young Farmers meeting, unfortunate because in most cases Tim was not fit to drive. The drink driving regulations we have today were not then in place and proving a driver was over the limit was very much a hit and miss matter which involved calling out doctors and all sorts of other methods. Walking along a white line, touching the nose with the index finger were just two of the methods used to establish guilt. It was, therefore, reasonably unlikely for a driver to be caught or convicted. In Tim’s case this was so as he was never nicked in spite of some rather hairy near misses. Turning his car upon its head between two steep banks of the road just west of East Worldham being one of them. Rather nearer to home, his regular confrontation with the hedge bordering Mr. Moore’s garden at the beginning of the drive down to the Old Park Farm house was rather more troublesome. The hedge became known as Old Moore’s hedge among the lads on the farm, and as a result of a number of rather unsporting complaints to Mr. Nicholson, the farm owner, by old Moore Tim often found himself on the carpet. The major problem, in spite of Tim’s vehement denials of any involvement with hedges in general and Old Moore’s in particular, were the very obvious signs to the contrary. In most cases a large piece of hedge had been removed from its rightful place, and more inconveniently, could be seen decorating some part of Tim’s car in the morning. I have lost count of how many times the unfortunate hedge suffered from Tim’s assaults, but suffice to say, things got to the point where a final warning was issued to Tim based upon Old Moore’s increasingly hostile complains. This resulted in Tim changing his parking place and, instead of parking the car by his flat in the farm house, he took to parking it in the farmyard. This avoided the turn past the hedge and the assaults upon it and the complaints dried up.

It was as a result of an invitation from Tim to accompany him on a visit to the nurses home at Alton Hospital, that I met my wife. We had gone out together for the evening and had our usual half pint of Red Barrel or Courage’s Tavern Keg in the Market Inn in Alton when Tim suggest we went to the nurses home to see if he could find a couple of girls to take out for the evening. Off we went, Tim disappeared around the back of the said nurses home, and after a short while reappeared with the news that we would be joined by a couple of young ladies shortly afterwards. This prove to be the case, and as a result of that meeting both Tim and I went on to marry the two girls in question. Sadly Tim’s wife Maggie died last year after a particularly nasty illness.

As a result of that fateful evening the four of us spent the next two or three years together in various parts of the country. Usually, when one of the girls went home for breaks or holidays Tim and I followed in some form of old banger which then doubled up as living accommodation whilst we remained near to our girlfriends. Great times and happy memories. After marrying and qualifying Tim and Maggie went to an estate in the West Indies for several years before returning home and settling near Devizes. Maggie remained in nursing until her final illness.

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