Edgar Jes­sop

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Old Bike Australasia - - CONTENTS - Edgar Jes­sop

The win­ter of ‘38 is still talked about by the old timers of Gig­gleswick. The Spag­forth fac­tory, oc­cu­py­ing much of the town, seemed to be per­pet­u­ally shrouded in a thick grey fog; so thick that it was col­lected in a gi­ant suc­tion cham­ber mounted above the Town Hall and boiled down to re­cover vi­tal trace el­e­ments such as lead, as­bestos and nico­tine. It was so cold hitch hik­ers could only hold up a pho­to­graph of their thumb, and smoke ex­it­ing chim­neys froze and had to be chis­elled off.

In­side the beastly old Spag­forth fac­tory, there was no respite for the ragged work­force, who had to drink their tea through straws so their lips would not weld them­selves to the chipped metal mugs. Pro­duc­tion of the new Spag­forth Scaramouch was al­ready months be­hind sched­ule, due to strikes by the Spag­forth Work­ers Union and re­peated fail­ures of the an­thracite pis­ton. In an at­tempt to re­duce the weight of this cor­pu­lent cre­ation, the muf­fler had been dis­pensed with, and the si­amesed steel ex­haust pipes re­placed with bam­boo, which the en­gi­neers pointed out, had nat­u­rally oc­cur­ring baf­fles. Upon this ma­chine “rested the very ex­is­tence of the com­pany,” ex­pounded Sir Carruthers Spag­forth in one of his flow­ery and un­con­vinc­ing ora­tions, wrapped in an over­coat made from the pelts of more than 200 stoats (sourced from his weasel farm which also sup­plied the seat cov­ers for the Scaramouch), his voice barely au­di­ble above the chat­ter­ing of teeth. In or­der to main­tain some faint hope of hav­ing the Scaramouch ready for the all-im­por­tant Gig­gleswick In­ter­na­tional Mo­tor­cy­cle Expo, the gu­vnor de­creed that shifts would work around the clock, but as the mer­cury plum­meted fur­ther, an­ar­chy set in. With ici­cles pro­trud­ing from their nos­trils, the night shift be­gan burn­ing any­thing re­motely com­bustible, in­clud­ing the work benches. It was only the in­ter­ven­tion of works tester Edgar Jes­sop, a man uni­ver­sally held in the ut­most es­teem by his peers, that the mob’s ran­cour was even­tu­ally quelled. Al­most pre­dictably, the Scaramouch drew scathing re­views from the press when the first mod­els were made avail­able. “Why fit a speedo?” one jour­nal­ist wrote. “This pa­thetic cre­ation is so ut­terly de­void of per­for­mance, a cal­en­dar would be more ap­pro­pri­ate!” “The Scaramouch has all the ac­cel­er­a­tion of a limpet at low tide,” fumed an­other. “As even a light head­wind would set this ma­chine on a re­verse course, I sug­gest fit­ting rear view mir­rors in both di­rec­tions.”

The bam­boo ex­haust sys­tem on the Spag­forth Scaramouch, which was com­mend­ably quiet but tended to in­crease in length overnight, par­tic­u­larly in times of high hu­mid­ity.

RIGHT With all work benches torched by the night shift, child labour was brought in to com­plete the pre-show ver­sions of the Spag­forth Scaramouch. Here Edgar Jes­sop puts the wretched ma­chine though static tests in Gig­gleswick Gar­dens.

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