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The Polish stone stew: it's actually an old Polish joke that Frank told us. Apparently this tramp goes into somebody's house ... No, I'd better tell you about the cyclemotors, autocycles and mopeds first.
The Cyclemotor section of the VMCC had organised a parade of cyclemotors and the like at the VMCC Racing section's last meeting of the year at the Three Sisters circuit near Wigan. Naturally the shy, reserved, non-extroverts of Granadaland leaped at the chance to be let loose on a real race track. On the Sunday morning of the event a small group met up at the Red Lion to ride down together. Frank is on the Mini-Motor, Brian Whittle on the James, with Glynn Stockton, Louise and yours truly on Raleigh RM4, RM5 and RM6 respectively. The extra whiz of Glynn's Supermatic soon sees him at the front: a pity, as he doesn't know where the race track is. Somehow we get there, meeting up with various others in the process. A display is in the process of being organised. Names are taken of those who are going to ride on the track. I have arrived on the Runabout. Is this my mount for the 'parade'? Am I going to ride the hotted-up RM4? Actually, no. It would appear that I am to ride a Motobi with a sidecar attached.
"So, Mr Gott, you are riding the Raleigh?"
"Er, actually, I'm riding that Motobi outfit."
"Isn't that the one entered by Mr D Winstanley?"
"Er, yes. But it isn't actually his."
"Oh, whose is it then?"
"It's Eddie Dewe's. He isn't here."
"Is Mr Winstanley riding?"
"Yes - he's riding a Raleigh." Exit confused organiser.
This is the point at which Frank's stew joke appeared. Y'see, Dave Winstanley and his young son love racing - they would have been at the track anyway - and young Richard W loves the racing sidecar outfits. On NACC events Dave normally rides a Batavus with Richard (6) on the pillion. Pillion passenger aren't allowed out on the track so Dave's only hope of taking his lad round the track was to come up with an outfit. He has two weeks to find one. Several 'phone calls later he has borrowed Eddie's Motobi, which has a banking sidecar, albeit without any body. Frank has been talked into going with Dave to collect it in (Frank's) trailer. Several days later a joiner has been persuaded to make Dave a sidecar body with wood that Dave has borrowed from somewhere else. Arriving at the track with it loaded aboard a trailer that he has borrowed from a local farmer pulled by - incredibly - his own car, Dave admits to not having had any chance to ride the 3-geared, 3-wheeled monster. He therefore eclipses all previous efforts by borrowing somebody - me - to ride it. Dave is not allowed to escape though. He gets the RM4.
So ... out we go, onto the track. The lunch time panto begins. We have all been given a pep talk by the head marshal. We are not to race or overtake the 'pace bike' - for the first lap anyway. The 'pace bike' turns out to be a Cyclemaster - and a jolly good 15 - 20 minutes ensues. I wrestle with the 'banking' outfit, which only banks on right handers. On lefts the chair gets in the way so I have to ride those as if it was a normal outfit. All in front of an audience. I did enjoy it though, and, of course, young Richard got his first outing on a race circuit.
Many thanks are due to the VMCC's Alan Hummerstone who did all the hard work organising it. Now, back to Frank's joke: ... first the tramp says "Can I borrow some water to make a stew with this stone please?" So the person in the house lets him have a pan full of water. Then he said "Have you perhaps got a carrot I could have to ... " Oh. I've run out of space. You'll have to ask Frank next time you see him.
First published - December 1995
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