From Cyril's memoirs dated 8 July 2006
Smiffy is a character from my past with whom I’ve had many adventures, several of which I’ve tried hard to forget, though they return in fevered dreams. I shall now tell you of one I’ve kept to myself for many years.
Carl Smith is one of the finest motorcycle mechanics I’ve ever met. Known to his mates as Smiffy or Smudger, we’ve been firm friends since school. He was a bull of a youngster, a superb lose-head prop and bore huge forearms which easily powered him to the position of school’s top arm-wrestler. And even at that relatively young age he already packed a fearsomely destructive punch.
In 1985 we both celebrated our 50th birthdays and decided to mark the occasion with a motorcycle tour of Britain. I was working for Suzuki and got my hands on the then new RG500 Gamma – not ideal for touring, but hilarious two-stroke madness. Smiffy had his Kawasaki Z1000-engined Harris Magnum, a beast he’d spend years tuning to match his rather volatile but ever entertaining personality.
On a bright summer’s morning we headed for Dorset, for no other reason than as kids we’d had a great holiday together in Weymouth. Early on there were tedious dual carriageways to clear and what better way to clear them than quickly? It was still early morning and the long stretches of open tarmac were too much to resist so Smiffy and I lined our bikes up side by side and wound up the throttle.
I was caught napping with the Suzuki out of its power band and the Magnum pulled away in top gear on torque. Down a gear and the Gamma’s revs pushed to the magical 9000, the exhaust note crisped and Smiffy was reeled in. As I crouched behind the fairing I turned to see him braced hard against the wind blast. I flashed a victorious grin and screamed off with 148 on the clock. I didn’t know it then, but I’d sown the seeds of disaster. Smiffy has never taken defeat well. (As kids, we once battled to capture the most disgusting fart in a jam jar. After several attempts my gaseous resources were exhausted but I’d produced the most nasally damaging parp. Smiffy, straining desperately to produce one final example, went a little too far with dire consequences.) Laying the Magnum to waste had lit Smiffy’s fuse and he would have revenge.
We left the dual carriageway for a twisting B-road and the Magnum filled my mirrors. We came to a short straight which, at most, was good for 100mph before a sharp bend. Half way along the Magnum came by doing about 130. By the time I was braking hard Smiffy was bursting through a flimsy gate into a field, feet down and elbows raised like a motocrosser.
Somehow, he stayed upright. I found him sitting on the edge of a trough lighting a cigarette. The Magnum was his pride and joy and the thought of it being totalled in a crash had shaken him up. I approached with caution as at times of high excitement (and damaged pride) Smiffy could be unpredictable, but he smiled ruefully and we laughed about it.
As we chatted, a fat Friesian cow wandered over to drink from the trough. When it had finished, it lifted its tail and a steaming gush of piddle cascaded over the Magnum. Horrified, Smiffy leaped up and tried pushing the cow aside, but the pee kept coming and the cow wouldn’t shift. Incensed, Smiffy took a step back, threw off his jacket and let go with one of his trademark right hooks. Well, I’ve seen him lay out a few blokes in my time, but a cow? The creature’s back legs buckled, it lurched backwards, knocked the Magnum onto its side then squatted with its full weight on the bike. But the searingly hot engine against the cow’s backside caused it to jerk back up, wide-eyed and mooing, inadvertently head-butting Smiffy full in the face.
I’m afraid that was the end of our celebratory jaunt. As I said, Smiffy never could take defeat, and being knocked cold by a dairy cow was a personal disaster. To this day his explanation for the clearly broken nose involves a yarn about a gang of skinheads. And I, naturally, have never contested that in public. Until now.