Owls of pain
Althoughthe first Harley Davidson rolled out of its workshop in 1903, it wasn’t until after the First World War that the motorcycle became universally popular. By the 1930s, more than 80 different makes of motorbike were available in Britain, from the recognisable Triumph to the more obscure SOS.
Motorcycle fever soon hit, as evidenced by TE Lawrence dying due to a motorcycle crash in 1935 and Joe Petrali setting a new land speed record in 1937. But the dangerous glamour of the motorbike may have been lost on Luton’s Mr Louis Linnett, who suffered what he described as a “savage attack” on his bike, near Grendon, Northamptonshire in 1931. The perpetrator? That well-known terror of the British countryside – an owl. Mr Linnett claimed the owl flew into the machine and slashed at his face “with beak and claws”, causing him to drive into the hedge.
Almost blinded by the blood from his wounds, Mr Linnett threw himself face downwards on the grass, where he was found later in a semi-conscious condition. He then stayed the night at a nearby cottage, and was taken to Luton by car, suffering from severe cuts on the head, face and hands, perhaps never to ride his motorcycle again.