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13th September 2007

'Titch: The Founders Tale' by C E Allen
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The leading light of the VMCC finally, at the age of 92, found time to tell his life story. Jon Warren (aka jonthevicar) read the book and recommends...

'Titch: The Founders Tale' by C E AllenTitch Allen is someone who no VMCC member can possibly have failed to encounter. His presence has loomed large in the classic bike scene in general for the past 60 years.

For me Titch had always been synonymous with his monthly columns in the VMCC journal which recall rides made many decades ago on ancient machines; machines which covered amazing distances and were routinely bodged with nothing but fence-wire and a big hammer.

Here in Titch's autobiography there is plenty of that, but a good deal more too. In an age where the latest airhead 'celebrity' or flavour-of-the-month footballer routinely has their ghost-written autobiography published by the age of 25, it is refreshing to find a book written by someone who has reached the age of 92 and largely been too busy
to do it earlier in life.

It is difficult to review an autobiography without giving 'the plot' away completely, but I'm going to try anyhow…

Titch traces his life from his beginnings in rural Nottinghamshire, his early introduction to motorcycles on farmer's fields and the start of his career in journalism.

The war years proved a watershed for Titch as he served as a dispatch rider and along the way had an idea that would eventually become the VMCC. Titch's account of the VMCC's beginnings and its early days proves fascinating and very informative.

What is striking is how Titch attempted (as so many of us do) to cope with the demand of work, family and an all-consuming passion for motorcycling and the VMCC, and the problems and conflicts which inevitably arose.

There is also much which will be of interest to devotees of classic racing, with some wonderful tales of the machines, events and characters which were central to the formation of the classic racing scene.

Throughout it all, Titch comes across as an essentially modest man, understating his importance as a pioneer of the vintage and classic movement, and the personal qualities of tenacity, not taking 'no' for an answer, and more often than not sheer bloody mindedness.

What also comes across is how Titch and the few of his ilk that are still with us provide a link with an earlier age, a world before motorways, let alone speed cameras - a world where bikes, which now command five figures sums and spend pampered lives locked away by collectors, were just old bikes, bought for paltry sums and ridden to work.

Titch commuted in all weathers on a Brough Superior throughout the late 1940s and early 50s. He is also a link to those who were the industry, and can offer an insight to them as people, which brings the famous names to life.

For example he recalls calling on no less than George Brough himself in an effort to confirm a machine's identity.

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In conclusion, this is a lively and diverse book which once started is hard to put down. It will leave the reader better informed about the origins of the vintage and classic world. We often take it for granted, but it was built by enthusiasts such as Titch.

Reviewed by Jon Warren


'Titch: The Founders Tale' by C E Allen is published by Livewire, ISBN 978-0-9553124-3-4, price £19.99.

It's available direct from the VMCC:

'Titch: The Founders Tale' by C E Allen
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