Saturday, 14 March 2009

TNU 137

Some people believe in superstitions. In the village where I was brought up, many countryfolk were seriously superstitious. Take salt for instance. To spill it was bad luck. So if you did spill it, you threw some over your left shoulder where the Devil was waiting. Put it on the step of a new house and no evil could enter. (And did you know that salty soup is a sign the cook is in love.) No mayblossom was allowed in the house; knives and forks were not to be crossed when set out on the table; no job was to be started on a Friday. Don't open umbrellas in the house; don't place a hat on a bed; don't place your shoes on the table and of any case don't place shoes upside down. Don't, don't, don't! Notice how it always leans towards fostering goodness and defeating evil.
Not surprising in view of the dictionary definition.
Superstition - any belief, practice or rite unreasonably upheld by belief in magic, chance or dogma.
An unfounded belief that some action or circumstance completely unrelated to a course of events can influence its outcome.
It is interesting that whilst the most cynical of individuals will profess a disbelief in superstitions, they are often the ones who touch wood for luck, cross their fingers, also for luck (behind their backs, out of sight of course) and will invarably avoid walking under ladders. We all know its a load of old rubbish of course, but we still hedge our bets. We may be clever, but matey, we ain't that clever.
Let me tell you where this blog came from, so to speak. My last blog concerned my unfortunate accident all those years ago. Even prior to the accident my bike always was a strange old machine, a real bucking broncho at speeds over fifty. Yet I loved my 'Franny' Barnett. Though after the accident I was not quite as in love with motorbikes as I had previously been. Besides the fact that my beloved steed, number TNU 137 was somewhat mangled.
Jinx - evil eye, hex, spell.
I didn't need much persuading to give it to a family friend, a Mr Vince, who was a top class engineer. Over a period of time he rebuilt TNU 137 so that it was in fact in better condition than when I purchased it second hand for the princely sum of fifty two pounds. (I knew nothing of its previous history except that the headlight had been dented at some stage, presumably a non too serious event compared to my 'happening'.)
Jinx - dictionary definition. Something or someone believed to bring bad luck or misfortune.
Only Mr Vince never rode TNU 137. He took ill unexpectedly shortly after completing the restoration and sadly died not long afterwards. The bike languished, forlorn and unloved in Mr Vince's garage for many a while.
Jinx - in popular superstition and folklore 'an object that brings bad luck.'
My cousin Dennis, whose influence was instrumental in me buying the bike in the first place, negotiated with Mr Vince's widow and bought the machine, no doubt at a bargain price. Some bargain. Dennis was an experienced motorcyclist, unlike myself and was happiest tinkering with motorcycles for hours on end. One cold winter evening he tinkered just once too often and it almost signalled his end. TNU 137 was always an awkward customer where starting was concerned. (many two stroke motorcycles of that era were so.) It often necessitated several and occasionally numerous kick starts, a nuisance, somewhat tiring and creating exhaust fumes of considerable magnitude. No matter, no danger. Unless you were in a garage with the door closed. The garage complete with a paraffin heater, lit to warm cold December evenings spent in an otherwise unheated garage. Inevitably an explosion occurred , the heater igniting the fumes. In a closed garage the heat and flames were spectacular. Dennis was lucky to survive and had to endure months of repairs to his hands and face. TNU 137 survived almost intact.
Jinx - a spell or period of bad luck.
The bike was in fact repaired, again and Dennis did in fact use it, though whether his heart was truly with that machine I never did know. I doubt he needed much persuasion to sell it, particularly as Wraggy, a family friend showed interest in buying. All that was needed was a test drive and the deal would be done. So Wraggy vanished up the road out of sight on TNU 137, face beaming at the possibility of owning such an astute purchase. And we waited and we waited and we waited. We wondered why such a short test drive should be taking so long. That is, until a crestfallen Wraggy reappeared pushing his would be purchase. Evidently he had barely left the street when he was accosted by two observant policemen in a squad car, Wraggy's driving style no doubt would have attracted the attention of even the dimmest of traffic policemen. Wraggy had of course no licence and was also therefore not insured to ride any motorcycle, never mind TNU 137. No one was amused by this debacle, least of all Wraggy. But he need not have worried. Or perhaps he did just that. Poor old Wraggy, not so old Wraggy dropped dead one afternoon before his case ever went to court.
Jinxed - to bring bad luck or misfortune. (Perhaps from Jynx, genus name of the Wryneck, a bird used in magic.)
I know the bike was afterwards used by the son of Dennis, David, who is my godson. Not on the public highway as David was still a schoolboy. And I know it was in a head on collision on a local allotment with an elderly lady in a car who had lost her way. I kid you not, though to finish up driving a car on an allotment is seriously strange. Especially where TNU 137 lurked. Fortunately the only human injuries was the boy's pride.
I often wondered what happened to TNU 137. it may be still out there. But in the unlikely event that you are offered a small, green, vintage, battered motorcycle, do yourself a favour. Check the number plate. And if it happens to be TNU 137 do yourself a favour and run away; fast!


A Woman Of No Importance said...

Ken, that certainly sounds to have been a jinxed machine - What a tale you have told, Sir!

Anonymous said...

Now that really is a jinxed machine!
By the way Ken, you asked how I found you. By looking at other blogs, reading comments left on those blogs that seem funny or interesting and following that link. So there you go. You're famous.

GrumpyRN said...

I never was one for motor bikes and this dislike was increased when I worked in orthopaedics many years ago. Half the ward was young guys who had come off motor bikes in one way or another. This bike sounds a really scary bu***r and hopefully has not claimed any more victims.

Mean Mom said...

This story was a bit spooky and it made me shiver. I like to think that I'm not superstitious, but I definitely wouldn't have had a ride on that bike! Good post!

® ♫ The Brit ♪ ® said...

Great post Ken!!
And it sounds like you were well-rid of that bike! Sounds like it should have been incinerated just to make sure it "died"
And your list of superstitions at the beginning reminded me of my Nan who followed all those rules religiously... the only one I seem to have clung to is the walking underneath ladders - I cross the road to avoid doing so! haha
All the best!

Strawberry Jam Anne said...

That is a great story Ken. The motorbike's history would be enough to put off even the most intrepid biker! A

Annette said...

That is really eerie.
But I wonder how these machines become 'jinxed' in the first place?
Made me shudder when I read this, I must admit.

Anonymous said...

Spooky! You must hav been so glad to see the back of that one.


Nota Bene said...

I'll stick with GX58MYH! What a spooky bike....

Eternal Worrier said...

Me and my girlfriend have just been laughing at some of these superstitions. My mum believes in most of those you’ve listed plus more. Very good post.

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Thats the first time I have been called sir for over fifteen years!

Famous, not really, but nice to be talking to someone so far away.

I remember Ward One well. You are right but the humour was macabre and always present.

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Meam Mom
Thanks. we all have a bit of the old superstition in us never mind we say otherwise.

The Brit
we are very vulnerable at times, never mind the bravado we put up front.

Funnily enough it doesn't put people off. They always think bad things happen to others.

Grumpy Old Ken said...

We know its got to be coincidence and yet.......!

Not Waving
Funnily enough I still have fond memories on occasion!

Nota Bene
You know being a modern biker how much bikes have come on. Sometimes a good thing but.....!

The eternal worrier
Thanks.I wonder if modern generations are as superstitious as your mums age group. Come to think of it i bet she's not much older than me!

Eddie Bluelights said...

Much safer on 4 wheels, Ken, the bike was obviously spooked and you didn't stand a ghost of a chance with it right from the start.
See you. Eddie

Grumpy Old Ken said...

You must have seen the after effects of motorbikes. Where would we have been without blokes like you!