Tag Archives: triumph bonneville

2. Triumph Bonneville

Whilst I was standing looking at the bike a man came out of the shop, dressed in a white butcher’s coat, covered in blood.  He asked me if I would like to have a go on the bike.  I said I would.  Even now, so many years later, I remember I was so excited.  I went home and told my mother about the motor bike.  I asked if I could go for a ride and she said yes.

A few days later this man, Jimmy Robinson, came to my home on his bike, and introduced himself to mother.  I remember him having a cup of tea and explaining to my mother that he was a trainee priest, working his summer holidays in the butchers shop. We were also told that he had been a professional boxer, before going to training college.

Jimmy Robinson was about 23 years old.  He had the looks of a boxer:  very short cropped hair, he had swollen eyebrows, broken nose, and swollen ears.  He looked just like Henry Cooper, but was slightly smaller.  I use Henry as an example.  We all know Henry Cooper was a pure gentleman, unlike the man I was about to get to know.  Robinson had the walk of a fighter; the way he held his arms, his hands.  His posture was very threatening.  As far as my mother was concerned, he was a very respectable young man.

I think we children were sent to the Methodist chapel in Aldridge because our aunty Mabel was the head of the Girl Guides in Aldridge, and they met at that chapel.  Mabel’s husband, our Uncle Jack, was in the Aldridge Band.  He played the big drum, carrying it on straps on his belly. Those thoughts bring back my innocence, and such happy memories.

I remember when he had drunk his tea, Robinson said, “Come on Geoff.”  He told my mother we would be gone for a ½ hour ride.  We walked down the entry, between our house and next doors, out to the road to the bike.  Robinson got on, and told me to hang on, my arms around his waist.  No crash helmets then.  We shot off up the road.  I kept putting my head out around his body to see where we were going, not as I knew many areas other than my local area.

It is now 51 years later.  I realize that me being on the back of his bike, holding on for  grim death, my arms around his waist, was not the thing to be doing.  But I was 11, innocent, very vulnerable, and yes, somewhat scared.

We drove for 6 or 7 minutes, and suddenly stopped outside what I now know was a semi detached house in Leigh’s Road, Shelfield .  When the bike stopped, he switched it off, and we got off.  Robinson told me this was his mother’s house.  We walked up the path.  He unlocked the door and pushed me in.  At this point I had no way of knowing what was going to happen, I stood there waiting.

Jimmy Robinson told me to go upstairs.

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1. Summer 1961

Well, where do I begin, I am 11 years old, I live in Oakley Avenue, Aldridge, West Midlands together with my two elder brothers. We are from a working class family.  My father worked one week days, followed by one week nights, at a steel foundry.  I remember being normal, just like all the other lads in the street.  I had many friends.  We spent time playing football, going down the railway tracks hiding behind bushes, watching steam trains shunting in the goods yards.

When I was 11 years old, I attended Tynings Lane Secondary Modern School, In Tynings Lane, Aldridge, just ¼ of a mile from home.  I didn’t like school, because I wasn’t the brightest of lads.  My problem was that I found it very hard to concentrate because there was so much going on around me.  My brothers and I were taught to respect, the vicar, the policeman, the doctor.  Many a time a policeman in the same avenue would belt us one for climbing over his wall to get our ball.  We took it.  We didn’t tell our mom or dad because you would get another belting, when dad got home.  That was how things were.

On a weekly basis my mother used to send me to Poxon’s butchers, in Station Road, Aldridge, next door to Aurthur Thomas, fruit and veg shop.  I went to the shop probably twice a week to get meat or sausages.  This I did after school, or Saturday mornings. This went on for a few years.  After all, it was safe for kids to be on the streets in those days, or so my parents believed.  On one day, just like any other, I walked to the shop only to find a Triumph Bonneville motor bike standing against the front of the shop.  I still remember standing looking at this massive machine, trying to imagine what it was like to ride.  This was the day that my life changed forever.