When I met Mr Shakespeare.
In about 1962 I became the proud owner of a Lambretta scooter. Dad and I went down to a vendor of pre-owned scooters whose business was on Warwick Rd in the Easton part of Bristol.
The owner of the business had some sort of connection with the Plymouth Brethren - so that (allegedly) made him more reliable.
The scooter was useful for my work - I used it to travel the ten or so miles from my home to the Westminster Bank in Chipping Sodbury, Glos where I was a very junior clerk.
I was the last person in the world to have been allowed such a machine as I do not have a mechanical cell in my body. In those days there were no electric starters for scooters - and the kick starting could be a pain. My Lambretta had a two stroke engine, using a mixture of petrol and oil.
Soon after I bought the scooter my Gospel Quartette friend Eric Pavey and I set out for a trip from Bristol to Coventry. I yet had a “leaner’s licence” but Eric could be my passenger as he had a full licence.
We set out sans maps and travelled through the edge of the Cotswolds. It was a cold and foggy day. At a traffic light in Leamington Spa ( ahem – I meant to write “Royal Leamington Spa”) I failed and failed again in that process of letting out the clutch and increasing the accelerator to begin traction. There was a long line of cars behind us, and soon a long line of angry drivers whose way I was blocking.
On arrival in Coventry we explored the Cathedral and then sauntered down to the pedestrian free shopping precinct.
There we happened upon an older gentleman who was taking his rest on a bench. He was sweet, kind and gentle. His name was Mr. Shakespeare - that’s the truth!
Eric and I, being good Plymouth Brethren gave witness to our faith. It transpired that Mr. Shakespeare was a member of an evangelically minded Church of England parish in Coventry. He invited us to attend a “house group” meeting that evening, and so we did. Indeed we not only attended the house group, but were also given lodging for the night.
My memory is a bit imperfect but I think that the Vicar of the Church was our overnight host. What I remember clearly is that this evangelical parson had a minor obsession with the so-called “Shroud of Turin”. He believed it to be authentic.
Even then it seemed odd to me that an evangelical parson (evangelicals base their faith on the Bible alone) – should be an advocate for the authenticity of a Roman Catholic relic.
Even then I was sceptical about the “Shroud”, as I am to this day!
But it was an excellent adventure for Eric and me.
The photo’ (below) is of a 1962 Lambretta Li. I suppose that mine looked a bit like this.