Down and out

This is the last available excerpt from Cyril Green's memoirs. There are, I'm sure, many fascinating extracts that we haven't yet seen, but for now, with Cyril lost in the Russian hinterland, his young wife Francesca has asked for some privacy and the diaries remain under lock and key. Thankfully, her gardener, Claudio, is offering great support, in between bouts of expert dibbing, hardening off and pricking out.

From Cyril's memoirs dated 15 April 2008

Ewan and Charlie, eh? Long Way Down? Great entertainment, but I do wish there had been a camera crew on hand when Mr Unlucky himself, Kevin Stott, undertook his ill-advised trip from John O’Groats to Cape Town back in 2003. Had there been, then I’m sure Mr Stott would not now be on the missing persons register.

Stott’s major problem was a terrible sense of direction coupled with the shunning of “high tech cobblers” such as sat-nav and an almost total inability to read a map or use a compass. Nor was his choice of machinery what many would have considered apt. The oil-cooled GSX-R1100 does, indeed, have an admirable reliability record, but once fitted with a turbo and nitrous things are less predictable. And vast experience over many years on high-powered motorcycles… would have been a help. Unfortunately, Stott’s previous bikes included a customised Kawasaki GPz305, an IZH Planeta two-stroke single and – the machine on which he covered most miles – a 2bhp 1958 Phillips Gadabout. Add to this, according to his brother, that Stott’s mechanical abilities were negligible and his attitude to maintenance negligent, the odds were rather stacked against him.

The journey seemed to go smoothly for several weeks, but then things turned sour. Having been lost for many days in a remote wilderness, Stott’s provisions were almost exhausted, thanks mainly to poor planning and incessant snacking, though basing supplies largely around Sugar Puffs and Dr Pepper was never a great idea in the first place, especially for a 19-stone diabetic. With his petrol reserves almost spent, he crested a hill and saw a settlement in the distance. Crying with relief (we know such details thanks to the survival of his video diaries) Stott descended towards signs of life, no doubt hopeful of salvation.

However, it was clear from the outset that this lumbering, weeping outsider was regarded with suspicion at best, open aggression being the overriding reaction from any of the locals he approached. He didn’t know the language and they clearly didn’t understand him. That night he slept fitfully in the open alongside his GSX-R.

Speaking to his video diary, Stott, apparently affecting the tones of a Victorian explorer, said: ‘I have had no luck in finding either food or fuel. Everyone I approach seems to bare their teeth and bark rebukes, which although I cannot fathom are clearly warnings to stay away. This afternoon, feeling delirious with thirst, craving simply water, I stumbled into what appeared to be a meeting place for males of the community. But although they each clutched a beaker of some strange, dark concoction, I was offered none and the elder, clearly in charge and standing in a small, raised enclosure, failed to understand my pleas. In desperation, I reached for the drink of a younger man sitting nearby, but I was heavily beaten and thrown out into the mud. I shall try again tomorrow, but this evening I have supped on some water from a puddle to help wash down the last of the Sugar Puffs. Thank God I didn’t bring Alpen as my mother had advised.’

Things didn’t get much better, as an entry from the following day testified: ‘Today was terrible. I had left the bike outside what appeared to be a primitive version of what we might call a grocer's and when I emerged, empty handed, I saw the bike being pushed away by a group of dirty, wretched children. As I came near they managed to start it and the largest rode it away, several others on the pillion, gesticulating wildly. I fear I shall not see it again. Later, I wandered into a steamy, filthy shack in which a local woman was stirring all manner of unrecognisable foodstuffs in a vat of boiling oil. But having no money of any kind, I could not convince her to part with even the smallest item, not even by bartering with my Wee Willy. Is this it? Is this where I shall end my days, in this Godforsaken hell-hole?’

The answer seems to be yes, as Stott was never heard of again. And the saddest aspect of this tale? He hadn’t even made it out of Britain. The remains of Stott’s GSX-R, stripped to the bare frame, was found in a suburb of Glasgow. But in funny sort of way I’ve been inspired by Kevin Stott to make an epic journey of my own, except I plan to travel north from John O’Groats, deep into the Arctic Circle then strike out east into Russia. Watch this space.


Fannying about

From Cyril's memoirs dated 4 April 2008

'BSA enters sex toy industry' is not a headline you’re likely to have seen, but only because fate dealt the project an early conclusion, to the relief of women everywhere, I should imagine.

In late 1963 BSA was pretty healthy, but the smarter people high up knew that the future held stiff challenges. To that end, a scheme was set up for workers to put forward ideas, which could be as wide-ranging as their imaginations (which, given mid-1960s Birmingham, led to a pretty conservative haul). However, among the two-stroke shopping trolleys and automated dog bathers was a racy suggestion for a, well… a motorised phallus. BSA had a reputation in some circles for being a stuffy firm, but there must have been something in the tea that week because a development engineer was put straight onto it, so to speak. Although phallic pleasuring devices are as old as mankind itself, the first battery-powered ‘widow’s comforter’ was still a few years away, so there was certainly a hole in the market, and BSA intended to fill it.

A lad was sent up to Soho and returned, still blushing, with a duffle bag full of samples ranging from the ludicrous to the frankly unfeasible. The development team disappeared into the workshop and after a few months of intense beavering a fully functional prototype was ready.

Development manager Terry Sheldon presented the creation to a special assembly of the board and managers, but initial impressions weren’t good. Many were surprised by the sheer bulk of the thing, made clear when Sheldon yelped on trapping his finger beneath it when heaving it onto the boardroom table. The ‘business end’ looked normal enough, complete with convincing veins and ridges, but the alloy casing beneath, equipped with steel grab handles sporting fat, anti-vibe grips, made the thing look like a two-horsepower AC generator – with a knob on it – an image only enhanced when, to everyone's horror, Sheldon turned a petcock, grasped a pull cord and yanked the beast into life.

After the initial shock, someone shouted above the din that the banshee wail of a 25cc two-stroke engine running on pre-mix would take some explaining to the neighbours, and by the time the 'Beeza Buzza' had vibed its way across the polished boardroom table, leaving an unsightly gouge, most people had left the haze-filled room
in dismay.

In late April 1964 we were summoned once again and this time Terry Sheldon placed a much more compact contraption on the table. He explained how he’d worked closely with the chaps at Joseph Lucas to come up with a battery-powered alternative, the 'Beeza Teeza'. But initial enthusiasm began to sour when Sheldon produced a battery pack the size of a large loaf. He strapped this to his waist then, using cables and clamps akin to jump leads, he connected it to the 'spinster's companion' which sprang into life with a fizz of blue sparks. Sheldon gripped the thing with grim determination while maintaining a bravado grin, despite quite clearly having his teeth rattled.

Now, I’m no expert on these matters, but I have to say that the movement created by the various cams and cranks would have been sufficient to mix a small batch of concrete and the thought of it going anywhere near a person’s more delicate regions was quite disturbing. Very quickly, the room began to fill with a smell familiar to generations of youngsters, that of burning-out Scalextric cars, and we watched in bafflement as Sheldon, his vision now blurred beyond use, grappled with the beast in an effort to switch it off. Thankfully, the Small Heath fire brigade swiftly brought the resulting blaze
under control.

Unbelievably, Sheldon was given one last crack at it and in early August he brought us together one last time in the refurbished board room. This, it was clear from the start, showed far more promise. Very compact for the day, weighing just four pounds, it gained nods of approval as it was passed around the various members. Then, with not a little showmanship, Sheldon produced an ‘adapted’ honeydew melon, inserted the device, turned a Bakelite knob and off it went, thrumming away happily as Sheldon slid it in and out with some skill. However, batteries weren’t then what they are now, and within about a minute the 'Beez-o-Gasm' was struggling in its death throes like a giant drowning slug.

It was quickly decided that 60 seconds with a floundering gastropod would not be sufficient to pleasure even the most desperate of ladies and that far more fun could be had in a couple of miles on the pillion of any of the wildly vibratory BSA range. Sheldon was suspended on full pay pending enquiries.