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The Dream Team
First Run

Anyone can have a dream.
To make that dream real, requires hard work and not a little good fortune. To make a great dream come true takes a great man or woman.
Put a great team together, and the problem turns to halting that dream before it becomes a nightmare.
One mind is enough for any dream.


The Dream Team

Sam Leckie - the Head of the Motor Vehicle Mechanics Department - was always on the look-out for ways to improve the Department, and could be scathing when it came to 'suggestions' from Kirkcaldy on how to 'maximise' educational output on a minimal budget. When urged to increase the number of courses in Motor Vehicle Mechanics without any matching increase in the budget, he was reported to have replied ...
"And how am I supposed to do that? With buttons?"
(I have, of course, re-written the above for the benefit of the more genteel reader.)

As a result, the Motor Vehicle Mechanics Department of the Lower Methil Annexe of East Fife Technical College made a Unilateral Declaration of Independence and went into the future, determined to do their 'own thing'. No-one, of course, made any effort to notify Kirkcaldy of their new status. It was simpler, that way. If they had only come up with some catchy new title for their newly independent state, they might well have succeeded.
Sam Leckie was never short of ideas, and, with the aid of his loyal kinsman, Eddie Sparks, Sam was prepared to follow his dream. One day, he would create something that would force the bean counters at the main College in Kirkcaldy to sit up and take notice!

Amongst the new students enrolling that year, on the Motor Vehicle Mechanics Course, two stood out.
One literally. Peter Cunningham was over six foot tall, but built like a steam locomotive. In appearance, he looked small and squat, until you realised that he was standing further away than you were expecting. When you got closer, it became clear that he was more massive than you ever believed possible.
He rapidly acquired the name Podge - a common enough nickname for overweight people - though anyone who thought that Podge was fat, slow, and stupid, were committing a grievous mistake. Podge Cunningham - certainly no genius - pondered every question asked, never came back with a quick answer, but usually found the way eventually. Some had tried to push 'the big, dumb guy' around, assuming that slow of voice meant slow to react. Podge would consider the insult for a while, then, demonstrating stunning speed of action, and overwhelming strength, would swat the would-be aggressor with one blow. The first blow proved educational. A second blow was never required.

The second student was a very different proposition. Campbell Hutcheson had average looks, average build, and a mind like a cage full of monkeys. Always on the look for an advantage, or some profit, Campbell would engage in any form of larceny that presented itself. After several incidents in the first week, involving various items of College Property - a seemingly difficult term to grasp for someone with an otherwise excellent brain - Campbell Hutcheson had fallen foul of his classmates. They had taken exception to having a young Fagin in their midst. They had no objection to his acquisition of surplus-to-requirement College items, but suspected him of stealing from his classmates. An unforgivable crime in Methil.
Campbell had tried to prove his innocence, but his explanation came out sounding like a Pantomime villain, sneering at the audience. He was one of those people who always sound guilty, regardless of the truth. With a curse like that, he had only one career choice open - face reality and become a crook! Faced by his angry classmates, Campbell Hutcheson had run out of options.
"See here, Hutcheson! We know that it wiz you what stole mah money!"
The opening for the prosecution.
"Ah've no touched yer money. If it had been me, ye'd never have seen it go!"
An accurate statement from the defence, but not one to soothe the wronged.
"It was in mah bag, and noo it's gone! Must've been you!"
Conjecture by the prosecution.
"Have you gone and looked in yer bag?"
Obvious question.
"Dae ah look stupitt?"
Unfortunate question.
Unfortunate answer.

As the crowd moved in to restrain Campbell Hutcheson, and the affronted prosecution bypassed the trial by jury stage, moving straight to executioner. It did not look a good time to be Methil's budding Mastermind of Crime. A fist was raised and the blow readied, but before it could fall, a shadow fell over the proceedings. A six foot plus shadow.
"Ah think ye should check first!"
Podge Cunningham, lately come to the affray, held the main evidence - the disputed bag - in his hand. A slight (for Podge) tug split the bag apart down the seams. A flask, some sandwiches, a well-thumbed copy of Playboy magazine - and two crumpled Pound notes fell to the floor.
The would-be leader of the mob, suddenly became a majority of none. Hutcheson was released, with a few mumbled apologies. He looked up at his saviour, and noted the build that went with the strength.
"Thanks Podge. Bit close, there an' all that. Owe ye one."
Podge Cunningham regarded Hutcheson for a long, long moment. Then finally spoke.
"Mah mum says 'Find somebody with brains - and stick by him'."
Another long moment.
"Have you got brains?"
Hutcheson opened his mouth for a snappy reply, then slowly closed it. Another long moment passed. He smiled at Podge, possibly the first honest smile in his life, then replied.
"Aye, Podge. Ah've got brains."
He held out his hand to Podge, who took it in the gentlest grip.
"Podge! You an' me - we're a team, so we are! A team!"

The next day, all the front doors of the Lower Methil Annexe went missing. They were big, solid doors, with brass fittings and heavy cut-glass windows. Worth a few quid. It must have taken a lot of strength to shift them.
Methil, like the USA, has a Statute of Limitations. The USA has a limit on the length of time you can be liable to prosecution for certain crimes. Methil has a limit on the magnitude of a crime. Petty crime was generally ignored. When the sheer impudence of a crime became too much to overlook, the authorities were forced to take action.

Before Campbell Hutcheson had enrolled at the College, he had been known as 'Hutch' to his friends. Within days of his enrolment, several items had gone 'walkabout'. It became widely rumoured that Campbell would acquire any item for his own personal gain if it were 'neither too hot nor too heavy to lift'. The inevitable finger was pointed, and so, the following day, Campbell Hutcheson was summoned to a ten-minute interview with Rico Napier. Immediately following the interview, Hutch convened a hurried conference with his new team-mate, Podge Cunningham.

No detail of that interview has ever been released, but the front doors of the Annexe had re-appeared the following day, as mysteriously as they had vanished. The brass work on the doors was gleaming, and all the fixing screws had been replaced.

Hutch Hutcheson became Too Hot Hutcheson, and a Methil legend was born.


People are rarely fascinated by the ordinary. A worthwhile event has to be extraordinary. It has to have an exceptional quality. Something that stands out. An object of desire. If this object becomes an obsession, then no absurdity, impracticality, nor public derision, can stay that desire.
Podge Cunningham loved bicycles. Any bicycle. He happily cycled to the College in all weathers, perched on some ancient Raleigh bike. To any other cyclist, that bike would be old-fashioned, big and clumsy. With Podge perched on top, his huge bulk made it look like a child's Fairy cycle.
Everybody laughed at the sight - Podge laughed with them, and waved to those who laughed the loudest. The world might have continued on, contented with Podge as a pedal cyclist, if someone - I am not saying who - had never made the suggestion ...
"Hey, Podge! Why don't ye get a motorbike?"
Such small beginnings.

It took a day or two for the idea to take root, but once the seed was planted, it could only grow in the fertile soil of Podge Cunningham's desire. Soon, he was asking around the Annexe, if anyone had an old motorbike for sale. Apprentices were never well paid, so anything on offer had to be cheap; and a cheap motorbike was unlikely to be in a roadworthy condition.
Podge did have the advantage of being in Sam Leckie's Motor Vehicle Mechanics class, and Sam could make almost anything on wheels fire up and run. Almost anything ...

The first motorbike that Podge was offered, was a 1952 BSA Bantam, with plunger rear suspension, with a 125cc two-stroke engine, and 50,000 miles on the clock. From the condition of it's insipid green paint finish, and the tattered seat and pedal rubbers, most motorbike experts would have believed the 'clock' to be exceedingly modest in its claims. Assuming that it was the original 'clock' in the first place!

This was the point where I became involved in the College Bike Affair. Campbell Too Hot Hutcheson, fearing that his recently acquired lieutenant would become a victim of some unscrupulous motorbike seller, approached me for some advice. Campbell was more than qualified in the 'unscrupulous' part of a deal, but, as a new apprentice, felt that he was lacking expertise in the motorbike world. I, on the other hand, had a reputation as the Annexe motorbike expert. Until a few months before, I had travelled around on a Royal Enfield Continental - a beautiful machine with red metallic paint, a chromed tank and mudguards. It had been a fun summer, but the joy of motorcycling had faded with the realities of owning a British motorcycle of the period. Oil leaks, slack chains, gearboxes that jumped out of gear, dodgy electrics - all contrived to dampen my enthusiasm. Oil on the rear tyre, and the subsequent 'coming off', persuaded me that severe 'gravel rash' could only be cured by refraining from using my chin as a brake, and finding some alternative transport. When the scarring cleared, and my face stopped looking looking like a butcher's shop, I sold the bike and bought a Morris Minivan.
Rico Napier owned a Velocette Venom, but after the 'College Door Incident', Campbell felt a certain reluctance to approaching the College Registrar.
As the Annexe Laboratory Technician, I had pitched my tent somewhere between the students and the staff. Not the easiest place to be, but I worked hard to earn the trust from both sides. Confidences stayed confidential, and I could go places where officialdom could not.

I had just finished for the day. With no night-school that evening, I was looking forward to a relaxing summer evening, when Too Hot Hutcheson approached me in his usual, casual manner. If you could describe a Cairo Feelthy Postcard Vendor as 'casual'.
Pantomime whisper must be modern equivalent of Latin - a common language in every Souk and marketplace in every part of the world where the insect life outnumbers the human throng.
"Surr! Can ah have a word with ye?"
I checked my pocket contents, and confirmed the presence of the watch on my wrist. A natural reaction, I thought.
"Yes, Mister Hutcheson. And what can I do for you?"
I felt my evening slip away, stolen by ghost fingers.
"It's no me, surr! It's Podge!"
I waited for further enlightenment. It soon followed.
"He's lookin at a bike. A motorbike. He's taken a fancy tae a motorbike, an' one o' the other students is tryin tae sell him wan."
"And ...?"
Hutcheson had this embarrassed look on his face, as though Captain Hook had been forced to admit that his fearsome Hook was, in fact, only a harmless stage prop.
"Well ... it's like this ... Podge asked me tae check it oot, and ah'm no sure aboot it."
Too Hot Hutcheson not sure about a deal? This was a first!
"Not sure about what? Whether it's stolen, perhaps?"
Scorn filled Hutcheson's eyes. His normal cocky confidence flooded back.
"Dae be daft, surr! Of course it's stolen! We'll soon fix that! It's the mechanicals ..."
"The 'mechanicals', Mister Hutcheson?" I decided not to press him on the 'stolen' part. Safer that way.
"Aye! The mechanicals, surr. It's just that oor Course hasn't got tae the mechanical bits yet. So, ah thought that we'd get in an expert, and ah thought o' you. What with you havin yer own bike, and that."
"I'm flattered, Mister Hutcheson. I presume that my services would be provided, free of charge?"
"That's awfy guid o' ye tae offer, surr! Podge will be fair pleased if you check out the bike."
My evening was fading rapidly, but I reckoned that a quick check would take no more than ten minutes, and I would then be on my way.
"OK, then. Where is this motorbike?"
"Buckhynd Braes, surr! It'll no' take ye long."
"Buckhynd Braes!"
I may have missed out an expletive or two ...
"How on earth am I going to get to Buckhynd Braes?"
... or possibly three!
Hutcheson gave me his best 'innocent' face. The one that completely ignores the crocodile waiting in the wings.
"Ah thought that we could drive up there in yer new Minivan, surr!"
"We? Mister Hutcheson?"
"Well, ye'll need somebody tae show ye where Podge and the motorbike is."
My evening was gone. Too Hot Hutcheson had stolen it from under my nose. If I had known what was in store, I would have headed in the opposite direction - sans Hutcheson - as fast as I could.
It's the trust bit. It gets you every time.

It didn't take long to get to Buckhynd Braes. Too Hot Hutcheson provided directions on how to get there - if you were a pedestrian - and I mentally translated those directions into practical guidance for someone driving a Minivan.

I parked the van at the aptly-named Viewforth - the nearest that you could get by road - and followed Hutcheson as he led me to the track of the old British Rail line that once ran from Methil, through the Wemyss, to the main line at Thornton Junction. As a child, I had travelled along that line, in rickety old coaches pulled by a steam locomotive, on my way to the Miner's Gala in Dysart. Those days were long gone, and all that remained was a cinder path, with a slightly corrugated surface where the railway sleepers had once carried the rails.
The old line had one great virtue. No one made any claim to the track. It was not a road, or private land. Just a dirt track that ran halfway across Fife. No rules, no regulations, and most important - no Police. For the impoverished proto-motorcyclist, who could barely afford to pay for petrol, it offered miles of motoring without the requirement for Road Tax, insurance, or licence. By the requirements of the Law, this was not strictly true, but in practical terms it was exactly that. The freedom of the open road, without restriction, where a self-taught motorcyclist could make as many mistakes as he liked without officialdom added to the embarrassment.
I had acquired my own, hard won, driving skills on this same track - and still carried the scars to prove it.

Podge Cunningham was standing there with his potentially new (to him) motorcycle - though 'new' was not the first word that came to mind. I had a fair knowledge of British bikes of the period, and had looked at the new Japanese bikes that were starting to appear, but this one was something else. It was British, but on the day that it appeared from the BSA factory, I was still in nappies! I was familiar with the BSA Bantam, which this relic claimed to be, but I had never seen one so ancient. I could only assume that, in the aftermath of World War 2, the BSA factory could only obtain paint from war-surplus stocks, and consequently, could only manufacture bikes in green. Whether the green had faded with age, or someone had conducted some Frankensteinian experiment to change the hue - I do not know. It even had plunger rear-suspension - perhaps suitable at the time, but the world had moved on. Faster, I suspected, than the little Bantam would ever manage.

The seat cover - foam poking out through the tears inadequately repaired by electricians tape - was complemented by the rusty handlebars, balding tyres, and a peanut petrol tank with a scarred BS logo. 'Birmingham Small' remained, the 'Arms' were long lost. The picture of a fading chicken added nothing to its desirability. 125 cubic centimetres of two-stroke engine provided the 'power' source.
Looking at Podge Cunningham towering over the little green Bantam, I was rapidly assembling a huge quota of doubt.
"What d'ye think, surr? Does it no' look braw?"
Have you ever seen a starving child clutching a mouldy loaf of bread? The truth can only hurt.
"Well ... it's green."
The only painless truth I could think of.
"How much are they asking for it, Podge?"
Podge Cunningham pointed to a small group of youths standing about 200 yards away.
"They're asking for £40. Cash!"
I turned to Hutcheson, and asked why the sellers were coming no nearer to the bike that they were trying to sell.
"They dinnae want to be near. Just in case the Polis turn up."
"And why would the Police turn up?" I knew the answer, but had to ask, anyway.
"Cause it's stolen, surr."
Too Hot Hutcheson regarded me as though I were a naive child. I looked at Hutcheson as though he were an idiot.
"And why would you buy a stolen bike, for heaven's sake?"
"Cause it's cheap. Ah reckon that ah could knock a tenner aff the price. Mair if you could say that it wasn't workin properly!"
I was right. Hutcheson was an idiot. If the condition of the bike was taken into consideration, Hutcheson could charge them money to dispose of the offending item!
Podge broke into the insane financial calculations.
"D'ye think ye could take it for a run, surr? Ah'll just sit on the back. Try it oot, like."
Never disappoint a hungry child.
"OK, Podge. Let's see if it'll start."
Idiocy is never without company.

I approached the motorbike in the same manner that some Bomb Disposal Officer might show with an unexploded bomb. An outward display of confidence, inwardly suppressing a paralysing dread at what I might find. I doubt that I could ever tackle a bomb - I lack the courage - but Podge and Too Hot Hutcheson regarded me as an expert, and I lacked the small bravery required to disappointment them. Apart from that, BSA Bantams rarely explode.
I hoped.

First of all came the 'routine'. Check the bike.
Tyres. Short on tread, but full of air. I had no idea what the tyre pressure might be, but lacking any kind of gauge, I had to take them on trust. I refrained from kicking them. I was an 'expert', after all!
Brakes. One front, one rear. Fitted. Cables and linkages looked intact. Would find out if they actually worked, later. When needed.
Petrol. Unscrewed the cap, and peered inside the tank. Rocked the bike from side to side, and listened to the fuel sloshing around the tank. Enough for our purposes. Of course, I knew that the BSA Bantam had a two stroke engine, and required some oil mixed with the petrol. Essential for lubrication.
"Did anyone check that we have the correct petrol-oil mixture in the tank?"
I thought I might as well ask. Someone might actually know.
Podge piped up.
"Aye, surr. Ah seen them put some oil in the tank when they poured in a gallon o' petrol."
So far, so good.
Petrol tap. I reached down and turned on the petrol cock. Did not want to ruin my 'expert' status by starting the bike with only the fuel sitting in the carburettor, then having the engine die half a minute later when the fuel ran out.
Clutch. The lever on the left handlebar appeared to do something, but what that something might be, you never can tell. Only one way to check. I prodded the foot gear-lever down into gear, then tried to push the bike forward. I could feel the engine resist until I pulled on the clutch lever. It moved smoothly forward until I released the clutch. Check.
Gears. I hooked the gear lever up several times in succession, then eased it down about half way. Neutral. Easier to find than I expected. The Bantam had only three gears - my Royal Enfield had five - so this should be simpler. That left only one final action. Try to start the bike.

You can kick-start an unfamiliar motorbike in one of two ways. You can sit on the seat, holding the bike up by balancing on the one foot and pushing down with the other on the kick-start. It might work - you look cool - or you might make a hash of it, lose your balance and fall over on your side. Decidedly uncool!
Or you can prop the bike on its centre-stand, steady yourself against the bike whilst standing upright, and push down on the kick-start. Not so cool, but less chance of looking like a total idiot.
I would have gone for the more conservative second choice, but someone had removed the centre-stand. So look cool, and hope, it had to be.

Normally, I would open the twist-grip throttle about half way, then gently ease the engine over a couple of times without switching on the ignition. Two-strokes take a turn or two to get the petrol-air mixture into the cylinder. The Bantam didn't have an ignition switch - just a magneto. I simply opened the throttle, and firmly pushed the kick-start. The engine coughed briefly, then died. I gave the kick-start another firm push. This time, the engine caught and began to spin ever faster. I let it run for a second or so, then eased off on the throttle to hold the engine revolutions at a moderate level.

The process might sound reasonable on paper - but in actuality, the Bantam sounded more like a cross between a pneumatic drill and a bumblebee with terminal flatulence. The vibration from the aged engine made my fingers tingle on the handlebars, the silencer failed utterly to fulfil its function, but did emit large quantities of incredibly evil-smelling blue smoke. Over the clattering symphony for tin bucket, and woodwind, I shouted towards Podge Cunningham.
"How much oil did they put in this bloody thing?"
"Only a wee drap, surr!"
The smell was overpowering, but oddly familiar.
"What kind of oil did they use?"
I hoped against hope that they were not using cooking oil.
"It wiz this stuff, surr!"
Podge held up a small plastic bottle. I peered at the labelling. 'Castrol 90 EP Oil'. Suitable for most car differentials and rear axles. At least I could be grateful that nowhere did it say that it was NOT suitable for two-stroke engines. And it did smell a little like the famous 'Castrol R' oil used in racing engines of the not too distant past. 'Castrol R' was a vegetable oil (the name 'Castrol' actually comes from 'castor oil') so my first guess that the were using cooking oil was fairly close to the mark.

I closed the throttle, and the engine died - no tick-over setting on this bike! The blue smoke and the stench began to dissipate, and I could observe the look of rapture on Podge Cunningham's face.
"Does it no sound great, surr!"
Starving child. Mouldy loaf.
"Well, Podge, the engine does seem to run."
Stick to the facts. The whole truth could wait.
"Let's see if the rest of it can run as well."

First Run

Once (or thrice) more, I kick-started the Bantam. Once more, the stench of Castrol 90 EP drifted across the Ness Braes. Once more, the residents of Viewforth were forced to close their windows and shut out the noise. Once more, Podge Cunningham's face filled with rapture of the 2-stroke Symphony (Soloist - Neil Collins).

I decided that a solo drive up the old British Railways track, to the Rosie bing, was essential. I needed to check out the track. The sleepers had been torn up years before, but the surface still had a few corrugations to catch out the unwary.
"Just wait here, lads. I'm going to do a recce on the track."
I had probably seen too many war films at the local picture house. Podge's face fell. His potential new toy was being taken away.
"Aw surr! Can ah no come with ye?"
What can you do? I relented.
"OK, then. Get on the back."
That big face filled with joy. Podge sat on the pillion seat by simply walking forward and sitting down.
"Gi'e it some stick, surr!"
I revved the engine. The smoke thickened. The noise increased, with the added accompaniment of a shrieking clutch. Podge wrapped those huge arms around me. Everybody cheered.
The Bantam didn't move an inch.
"Podge!" I bellowed at the top of my voice.
"Podge! Lift yer bloody feet!"
"Oh!" Podge lifted his feet.
Now free to move, the motorbike lurched forward. I would liked to have said that we shot forward, but, with Podge on the back, it was more of a gentle canter, shading towards a slow trot. We were off!

Bit by bit, the speed increased. The frayed speedometer cable made the speedometer needle oscillate violently, and I could only tell that we were doing somewhere between 5 and 50 miles-per-hour. The Bantam was travelling faster than the average pedal cycle, and that was all that Podge Cunningham cared about. I tried to steer up the undulating track, but Podge had those gorilla-sized arms wrapped tightly around me. Around my arms. Breathing was difficult. Steering was nearly impossible. I could twist the throttle, but any functional steering was only possible by leaning to one side or other. You can, if you are brave or stupid enough, steer a bike without your hands on the handlebars. The bike goes where you lean. With Podge bouncing around on the pillion like some demented jack-in-the box, the Bantam steered where the mood took it.

"Podge! Ease up on the grip. I'm no' yer teddy bear!"
The vise opened. I was able to choose the track rather than the undergrowth. I was almost starting to enjoy it.
Podge leaned around the one side to tell me something. Whatever he said, I have no idea. I was too busy trying to wrench the bike back on track instead of riding some maniacal weed strimmer. Thistles and dandelions were flaying my feet.
"Podge. Will ye sit still!"
Anybody else would have taken offence at the constant screaming, but Podge Cunningham was happy. Glad to be alive. I would be glad, too, if we made it back alive.

Eventually, we both arrived at the Rosie bing. I released the throttle, and the engine clattered into silence. The Bantam did not have any kind of stand, so we just laid it down on the track. I lit a cigarette. The sun was shining. There was a wonderful sense of silence. We took the time to wander around.
The waste tip was the last reminder of the once thriving Rosie Colliery. I had a fondness for pit bings. Much of my childhood had been spent in a landscape of industrial waste, abandoned buildings and rusting corrugated tin. Now it was all disappearing. The bings were being excavated. The blots on the landscape were being removed, one by one. What was once waste, was finding a new purpose as foundations for roads and other construction works.
The core of the bing had been dug out, and what remained looked more like a volcanic crater. The wall of this 'crater' was only about eight foot high at our side. A clamber up the crumbling side revealed a vast hole and a fifty foot drop on the other side. What had once been a playground of the mind, was gone.

"Time to head back, Podge"
"Can ah drive the bike back! Ah think ah could manage it."
Not an appealing prospect. Sitting behind a first-time motorcyclist as he wobbled down an old railway line. Then again, it wouldn't be fair to let Podge loose without some kind of supervision.

Podge took the front, and with one gentle (by Podge standards) prod, kicked the Bantam into life. I clambered on to the pillion, and with a burst of blue smoke and clattering bearings, Podge released the clutch. I was expecting either an engine stall, or a wheelie, but Podge judged it right, and we surged forward. The first few yards were not quite following the track, but he rapidly got a feel for it and we surged back down the track.
Podge Cunningham was a natural.

Taking care not to shift my weight, I shouted into Podge's ear.
"Watch the brakes, Podge. They're worn and no very good at stoppin."
I presumed that he had heard. His face was one big grin. Podge was in his element.
The speed built up as we headed back. It was downhill, going back. The speedometer had given up its pointless task, and was registering a twitching 5 miles-per-hour. We were going much faster.
Soon we could see Too Hot Hutcheson and the would-be sellers. Hands in pockets, huddled together like ground crew, awaiting a pilot's return. Hutcheson waved to Podge. Even the sellers looked relieved that the bike had stayed together long enough for a prospective sale.
"Mind the brakes, Podge!"
The approaching group started to look a little nervous. Podge pulled on the brake lever. Not a lot happened. He tried pulling harder, but, with all that weight on board, the brakes were useless.
The crowd, sensing the relentless approach of Podge and I, started to scatter. They knew that the brakes were rubbish. We were heading for the fence at the end of the track. Podge veered to one side of the crowd, trying to maximise the distance available. There was only one course of action. Lighten the bike. I did a Podge, and stood up.
Do not ever try this at home. It is not recommended!

I stood up. The braking effect of my feet touching the ground, allowed the Bantam to slip away from me. My feet were slowing down but my body was not. I did a nosedive through the long grass. Before my vision was reduced by the grass, I could see Podge wrestling with that little Bantam. I hit the ground with a grinding thump. My loose change shot out of my pockets, and whizzed by my ears. Out of my view by now, Podge managed to slow down the Bantam by a combination of a lighter bike, the long grass, and using the fence like an arrestor wire on an aircraft carrier.
The bike owners headed towards Podge. That was where their investment lay. Hutcheson came across to me. Helped my back to my feet.
"Ye've drapped yer money, surr! Ah'll get it for ye."
Amazingly, he managed to find every single coin in the long grass. I had long suspected that he could actually smell money.

Together, we helped Podge extract himself, and the Bantam from the wire.
"Bit like Steve McQueen in that prisoner o' war war film, innit?"
Podge was still grinning. Sensing an easy target, the bike sellers started pressurising Podge to buy.
"Great bike that, Podge. Ye'll no' be wantin tae turn doon a once in a life time opportunity."
I could see that Podge was weakening. He really wanted a motorbike, and that ancient pile of scrap was close enough to touch.
"What do you think, surr?"
Podge looked like an orphan at a Christmas party. I was going to hate myself for this, but I had to tell him that the bike was a dud. Before I could open my mouth to speak, Too Hot Hutcheson intervened.
"As ye can see, lads, Podge really likes the bike."
Nodding heads. Hutcheson was on their side.
"But, as you know, ah'm the man that's holdin the money."
A frown or two. Then again, who cares who pays?
"So it's only right that I should check out the merchandise."
They couldn't argue with the logic, so the heads gave a collective nod.
"So ah'll have tae try it oot! So, if ye'll kindly drag that bike out o' the wire, ah'll give it a punt."

As the crowd slowly extracted the Bantam, I whispered in Hutcheson's ear.
"Can you drive a motorbike?"
"How hard can it be?"
I gestured towards the group struggling with the wire-bound Bantam.
"Dinnae bother yersell, surr. Ah ken whit ah'm dae'n."
I looked at Hutcheson - the pantomime arch-villain - and the comic extras struggling with the bike.
"It's all yours."
I felt almost sorry for the bike sellers.

The bike was finally free, and Hutcheson hoisted himself into the saddle. A casual kick, a cloud of pungent blue, and he was off. With only one, normal-size person in the saddle, the Bantam accelerated briskly.
The sellers cooperative started to mentally count the cash.

We waited. And waited. Gave him another five minutes.
The frowns re-appeared.
"He's stolen the effin bike."
Accusing eyes turned to me.
And Podge.
Then thought about it and turned away.
"Mebbe he's had an accident, surr?"
"Possible ..." I thought "... but highly unlikely."
I addressed the group.
"We had better go and see if he is alright."
The crowd muttered a bit.
"Well! That's where the motorbike is."
We all headed up the track.

It took us ten minutes, rather than two to reach the Rosie bing. The tyre marks up side of bing were quite pronounced. There was a fresh notch hacked out of edge of the crater wall. I climbed up to the edge. I could clearly see the remains of the Bantam lying in mangled heap at bottom of excavation. No sign of Hutcheson. I started looking for a safe way down to the wreck.
"Give us a hand here, you lot!"
No reply. I turned round. Podge and I stood alone. The rest had disappeared. No-one wanted any kind of connection to a stolen bike, and a possibly fatal accident.
Podge was starting to look worried, until a voice reached out from behind a nearby hawthorn bush.
"Ah think ah might have bent it a bit."
Hutcheson appeared. Not a scar nor a speck of dirt on him.
"What about the bike?" Podge looked relieved for Hutcheson, while concerned for the Bantam. After a brief contest, relief won.

It was a nice day. The sun was shining. It made a nice walk back to Viewforth, and my van. Hutcheson got into the passenger seat, and Podge crammed himself into the cargo area. Quite commodious are Morris Minivans.
"You know, Podge. We'll have to get ye a real bike. Ah know where we can get a Triumph Bonneville. 650 c.c. That should be big enough for ye."

The hungry child smiled.
I concentrated on the driving.

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The Dream Team
First Run

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