Member: Valvekits

Have I already mentioned the dreaded field service visit where you need to be there before 10:30 or after 3:30? They were the type of time constraint visits that could really mess up the planning of your day back in the 70’s but are unheard of these days.

One call that I had was to a colliery village, where the customer required a visit before 3:00 pm. It wasn’t such a big deal, but during the course of the morning I had a couple of calls on my RT (Radio Telephone) to say the customer had phoned to make sure I would be there. Of course I would, who would be daft enough to clash with a miner?

I actually arrived just in the nick of time and was greeted by a big man and those of us who remember the 60’s will know what I mean if I recall “Big Bad John” as there was a Jimmy Dean song about a huge miner and this man could easily have been him. Big John was rather agitated, he smelled of drink and pointed to his TV that had a white line across it. He nervously explained that he needed it up and running pretty pronto as there was a horse race on that he had a vested interest in.

I cheekily told him to get the kettle on and I would have it fixed in a jiffy. It was a straight forward job and when he returned with my tea I was already refitting the back on the set. The race was about to start and when Big John handed me my mug, I noticed his trembling hands were so massive they dwarfed the mug. I considered that you probably wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of those fists in an argument as I took up my ringside seat.

He told me that he and his workmates had been given a red hot tip from someone who was “well connected” in equestrian circles and they had a £100 bet for the horse to win this race. I had no idea about horse racing, but as the race started, his horse was first out the gate and running quite well as far as I could tell.Then it slipped to second place, then third, then fourth and all the time Big John had his head buried in his hands. I was quite young back then and I couldn’t understand what all the urgency was if he wasn’t going to watch.In a blink, the race was over and when he looked up, the strangest sight I ever saw; this massive fella just didn’t seem to know whether to laugh or cry, I knew it was time to drink up and leave.

He appeared to pull himself together and insisted on carrying my tool box to the van and when I opened the van doors he caught my hand and thrust a fiver into it.
I tried to refuse, but the look he gave was enough, anyway, who the hell was going to argue with Big John? Then I noticed he was laughing at me with a big toothy grin, it turned out that Big John was mighty relieved. He said that he had collected a fiver off each of his mates for the bet but had borrowed some of it before he could get to the bookies.He had also downed a few pints and before he knew it, the money was frittered away and he was unable to make the bet.

Good job the horse lost, Big Bad John!

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