Edgar Jes­sop plus next is­sue pre­view

Old Bike Australasia - - CONTENTS - Edgar Jes­sop

Fol­low­ing the war, ev­ery­thing was in short sup­ply; tyres, fuel, dunny pa­per. Out in Gig­gleswick, a dreary, damp lit­tle place with a per­pet­u­ally grey sky, leaden with car­bon par­ti­cles and smog from the mas­sive Spag­forth In­dus­trial Es­tate which was the town’s main em­ployer, queues stretched from every shop; the ar­rival of a bread van was a cause for re­joic­ing and oc­ca­sion­ally ri­ots.

In fact, if there weren’t a queue from a shop, re­gard­less of what it sold, lo­cals would quickly form one in the be­lief that such an op­por­tu­nity should not be lost. Fuel was in such crit­i­cally short sup­ply that cig­a­rette lighters were reg­u­larly stolen and emp­tied of their com­bustible liq­uid. En­gines were con­verted to run on ev­ery­thing from peat to fer­mented pota­toes. Even bed­socks were boiled to ex­tract toe jam which when mixed with sul­phur, char­coal and potas­sium ni­trate pro­duced a sub­stance that could be forced to ex­plode within a com­bus­tion cham­ber. De­spite the aus­ter­ity, the ex­port in­dus­try was so vi­tal to Bri­tain’s re­cov­ery that pro­duc­tion had to be main­tained re­gard­less, and in­ge­nious meth­ods were in­sti­gated. Of course, the work­force had to find ways of get­ting to the place of em­ploy­ment, even though few owned mo­torised ve­hi­cles. Those who did formed ‘trans­port pools’ to ferry fel­low work­ers to the var­i­ous Spag­forth fac­to­ries, and here we see an ex­am­ple of the in­domitable spirit that not just won the war, but al­lowed the na­tion to drag it­self out of the post-con­flict tor­por and back to some­thing re­sem­bling pos­ter­ity. In the pho­to­graph, a Spag­forth Squit­ter (run­ning on a formalde­hyde/nail pol­ish re­mover mix­ture) steered by the fore­man of the Spag­forth Grundling depart­ment, Jack Rab­bit, de­liv­ers per­son­nel to their var­i­ous di­vi­sions. At the van­guard of the hu­man mass is Leroy de Lodger, chief test rider, be­hind him Edgar Still­skin from the up­hol­stery sec­tion (whose task it was to trap stoats and cure the hides to be used in seats and sad­dles), with ap­pren­tice fum­bler and tremle valve reamer Toby Jugg on his shoul­ders. Due to the con­tin­u­ous round-the-clock shifts, the process of per­son­nel pick up and de­liv­ery would run non-stop, and in the evening the fore­most in­di­vid­ual would be re­quired to carry a tray of flam­ing cot­ton waste to il­lu­mi­nate the road ahead, while shout­ing in­struc­tions to the rider, whose vi­sion was ob­scured by the but­tocks of the chap ahead of him. Even­tu­ally, the Spag­forth Lo­cal Union of Man­u­fac­tur­ing Peo­ple (SLUMP) com­plained that the age­ing Squit­ter was a dan­ger­ous de­vice and a hu­mil­i­at­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for its mem­bers, and the Spag­forth di­rec­tors pur­loined an exCrimean War Sur­plus Ghurk­mo­bile Om­nibus, which, when fully loaded, could carry up to 6,000 per­son­nel, but only for very short pe­ri­ods and only with a strong tail wind.

RIGHT The Ghurk­mo­bile Om­nibus was ca­pa­ble of trans­port­ing up to 6,000 Spag­forth work­ers at a time.

ABOVE Spag­forth test rider Leroy de Lodger shouts in­struc­tions to pilot Jack Rab­bit.

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