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22nd April 2003

Just when you thought you were safe from the club/pub 'expert' here in the virtual world of, Old Sidevalve somehow splutters into the ether. Just be glad he's not sitting in your local...

Old Sidevalve Speaks

Old Sidevalve could be lurking anywhere (and he probably recommends wearing heated gloves, too)Here's a valuable lesson for you, lads - it's how my life-long experience of bikes saved a pal of mine from chucking all his money away. My mate Reg phoned me up the other day to say he'd heard that a widow-woman was getting rid of her late husband's Vincent Black Knight, which was in bits and for sale for 300. Well that put me on the alert for a start, pals! I mean, you can get a new Vinnie (as we call them) for that sort of money!

So off we went, and the lady showed me the pile of bits in the shed. Just as I thought, I said to Reg. Oh aye, the wheels, engine and other bits were there all right, but then I said to Reg: 'But where's the frame, eh, mate?'

He didn't have a reply to that, so I continued: 'You see, mate, it pays to have someone cast an expert eye over things, otherwise you can get conned.' He had just started to say something when the lady appeared.

'Well, gents' she said, 'what do you think?'

'I'm sorry love,' I said, 'but we ain't taking it, cos it ain't all there.'

I thought I heard Reg say 'You ain't, you mean,' but before he could thank me I told her we was leaving, and I dragged Reg out of the shed, past the crowd of people who was all fighting in the front garden. What a state the world's got into when grown men fight about who'll be first to pay their respects to a widow-woman!

The sight of all that fisticuffs seems to have affected Reg quite badly. On the way back home he didn't speak, and now I hear he's taken to drink. All of which goes to show - when you go to look at a bike, make sure you take someone who knows something about 'em. I'm always available!

The Longest Three Hours of a Lifetime

We had a great night at the club t'other evening. I was asked to speak about the time I rode my Matchless B52 side-valve from Little Sneddon to Upper Quigley in 1953. So I started off by explaining that I took the B5350 - no, hold on, it was the C2515 - no, no, that's after you go past Robham-on-the-Fiddle, you first turn left - no, it's got to be a right because otherwise you end up going towards Effham - so then you turn onto the M21 [17 pages omitted. TP].

The lads were clearly enthralled, because they had their eyes closed as they pictured my exciting journey. And three-and-a-hours just whizzed by! As the bell rang for closing time most of them suddenly opened their eyes and ran to the bar, demanding treble whiskeys and muttering about 'the old fool.' It's a pity they spoiled a good evening by being rude about the landlord. Still, I offered to give a series of talks on my life in the saddle. The club chairman kindly said I was welcome to chat as long as I like any Tuesday night. He obviously meant Thursday, because that's Club night!

Call the Professionals

Let me tell you how I went about restoring a lovely 250cc Norton Bantam. Over the years I've learnt a number of useful short-cuts when it comes to rebuilding bikes. So I sent it to a close personal friend of mine who's a professional restorer, and he subcontracted it to the local Youth Custody Centre. It's nice to give the lads something constructive to do with their lives, right chums?

They did such a good job with it that it was on the telly the other night. I was in the kitchen fixing the Commando (another useful tip, lads - if you put a bike on a raised surface, it's much easier to drain the oil). I heard the wife yell 'Get that damn thing off the kitchen table and come here!' I don't what programme it was, but this nice lady was saying how a couple of youths had ridden off on an old bike they were restoring, and if anyone had seen them to ring a certain number. Talk about publicity!

I were right proud that I had entrusted my bike to such a public-spirited bloke. Anyway, the whole job only cost me three grand, so I reckon I got a good deal, what with it being on telly. And like my pro restorer chappie says, it's a good investment for the future. So take a tip from me, lads - cash in your worthless pensions and insurances and invest the whole lot in old bikes. If you've got a few old wrecks, just nip 'em round to my mate to sort out. Trust me on this one, pals - you can't lose!

Is this Old Sidevalve? Gawd, we do hope not...

Have you met old Sidevalve?


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