Malcolm Sheppard (Shep)
Like many past members Malcolm began his working life as an apprentice and stayed at Brush for some years before starting his own business. Then, in a major change of direction, he worked (as a civilian) for the Police at Charles Street. He often parked his Triumph Speed Triple 509 next to a Gold Wing and chatted to Wally Bradshaw without either guessing their connection.
Malcolm and Janet have a grown up son, Nick, in the Rugby area and five grandchildren who run them ragged when they visit Whitwick.
Ill health has dogged Shep these past few years so, like many of us, he is paying the price of riotous living and late night rides by being banned from the booze. (sigh)
Some events from long ago.
The club spent Easters at Hawkshead where we sheltered from the rain in the Sun (pub) opposite the campsite. Lawrence Mounteney stripped the cogs off his TriBSA's magneto. When we rode over Wrynose and reached Hardknott we stopped while Dave Parry and a few others had a fag. "Where are we going next?" I asked because I thought we were at a dead end.
"Up there." said Dave Parry pointing up the mountain and I nearly had a heart attack. I didn't think a mountain goat could get up that hill but I could see vehicles weaving too and fro round the hairpins. In first gear going up was possible provided you kept going fast enough not to need to put your foot down on the inside of the hairpins. Going back down the other side was much more hair-raising. Half way down my Honda Benly 125 hit a pothole and the blinking forks broke!
We left my pneumatic igloo tent and camping gear in Hawkshead and persuaded Shep to take us back the following weekend in his Morris Minor. We piled all the tools and my replacement front forks into the boot and set off on Friday night straight from work. Shep was the only one of us with a full driving licence and drove overnight up the M6. We found it difficult to stay awake but kept our eyes open to keep Shep company and make sure he didn't nod off.
I knew Shep could fall asleep easily because at one time he needed to take the train home from the Brush to West Bridgford and he fell asleep on the way and ended up in Sheffield. He looked up the time of the next train back to Nottingham and saw it would be quicker to go to Crewe and change to another train for Nottingham from there, so off he went. He made the connection but as it was now getting quite late he nodded off again and didn't wake up until Bedford. The next train back to Nottingham was the milk train in the early morning so he slept in the waiting room then boarded the milk train back to Nottingham. He worked out what time he would arrive home and decided to get off at Loughborough and go straight back to work.
Lol and I kept the conversation going and in the early morning mist we watched the emergency telephones looming into sight and being passed. For a joke we said "There are a lot of hitch-hikers. Shall we pick a couple up?" Shep was very enthusiastic and when the next telephone loomed out of the mist he pulled up on the hard shoulder next to it and waited for us to open the door. To this day I don't know who was pulling whose leg. That was our first night without sleep.
We picked up the camping gear from Hawkshead and set off for Eskdale where the Honda had been left on the far side of Hardknott Pass. We took the direct route which was over Wrynose and then Hardknott. When we reached Wrynose it is a long steep straight road for miles. Shep stopped the Morris at the bottom and looked up the road. "It won't go up there." he decided. "Yes it will." we pleaded but he was unconvinced. So we took all the toolboxes and camping gear out of the car and Lol and I carried them up the mountain, then went back to the car to walk behind it to push if necessary. Shep put it into first and set off then stopped after a few yards. "It won't go up there." he repeated. We knew darn well that if he was doubtful about Wrynose, he would be dead certain about Hardknott! So we walked back up the mountain and brought the kit back to the car and set off on the 100 mile detour to reach the Honda.
My bike had been left at a small garage after being brought back in a landrover. I set about replacing the forks as soon as we arrived. It took most of the day as the most complicated bit was reconnecting the wiring. Good job we were all electrical engineering apprentices. In the late afternoon I took it for a test ride and it seemed OK. It was too late to move on to Lol's bike so we put the pneumatic tent up in the field at the back of the garage. By evening the weather had turned nasty with wind lashed rain. The problem with the tent was a slow puncture. Slowly the structure would go soft and the tent sagged in the middle. We were so tired by this time that we would have slept through it but the sagging middle acted like a funnel for the rain water. I had to keep going outside to put more air into the tubes. At that point I swore that if I ever made a pneumatic tent it would have a spare valve in the INSIDE. I just could not be bothered to keep putting on clothes to go outside and get them soaking wet so, as it was dark, I went out in the altogether to pump frantically for a few minutes then come back in, towel off and try to get half an hour's sleep before the middle of the tent dipped down to my face again. That was the second night without sleep.
Next morning the day was much brighter which is more than we could say. We set off on the detour back to Lol's TriBSA that had been abandoned at a garage near to Windermere. I could have let Shep and Lol take the long route and took a shortcut over Hardknott and Wrynose but after my last experience over the mountains I preferred to stay with them.
By early afternoon Lol had his bike almost sorted but needed an additional part that he could not obtain until Monday morning in Kendal. We had the Honda running now so I could take Lol to Kendal and back. Shep decided to return home overnight. We tried to persuade him to get some sleep first but he was awfully grumpy when tired and would not be dissuaded from his choice. That was Shep's third night without sleep. Like his train trip he arrived back just in time to go straight to college where he was about an hour early for the first lesson. He went straight to the classroom and lay down across the front four desks. He slept right through the morning in that position with lessons going on across him and no-one dared wake him up.
On Sunday evening we asked the garage if we could pitch the igloo in the field at the side. The proprietor suggested that we might prefer to take digs with a lady and her daughter at a farm just up the road and he gave a knowing wink. So off we went. The lady asked if we minded sharing a bed. "Who with?" we asked incredulously. "Each other." she replied. We were also asked to leave open the door to our room so she and her daughter could pass through to the toilet during the night. That was our third night without sleep.
The next thing we were being called to breakfast. When we saw her daughter she had everything bikers desire - muscles, tattoos, moustache. . . . .
At Brush we would spend the lunch break sitting on a railway wagon listening to the latest Beatles' and Rolling Stones' hits through Shep's new fangled transistor wireless. If it was wet we might wander round the factory looking for mischief.
One time we came upon a transformer that had recently failed an electrical test. To make repairs they needed to drain out the insulating oil. It was suspended three metres off the ground, the drain plug had been removed and the amber oil was pouring in slow motion from the 10cm plug in an arc that reduced the width of the stream to about 5cm. It poured perfectly into the hole at the top of a 200litre barrel. We were fascinated by the slow motion stream. We could watch small bubbles in the oil as it left the transformer and accelerated to plunge into the barrel. Someone had very carefully aligned the barrel without any spillage. There were thousands of litres of oil in the transformer and lots of barrels lined up. They were changing barrels without any spillage and now they had gone off for lunch knowing precisely what time they needed to return to change the barrel. It was one of those unrecognised skills of industry. We were hypnotised by the whole picture as if time was suspended. I looked at the clarity of the oil that was used to provide insulation and cooling at thousands of volts and huge currents. I wondered how slippery it felt. Very carefully I touched it with the back of a finger. As I said, the oil is for insulation and cooling. It is NOT lubricating oil. It is NOT slippery - it is sticky. It stuck to the back of my finger so when I pulled away the stream of oil came with it. The oil behaved like a length of rope being shaken and began a pendulum action that went everywhere except into the barrel. Like treacle all over the floor. Boy, did we run!
We would spend Saturday nights at a pub, a group of about half a dozen friends from Brush, the motorcycle club and neighbours. Youths are still the same. One place we went was the Forest Rock in Woodhouse Eaves. One evening we were sitting listening to the latest records on the Jukebox. I was resting my head on the wall facing Shep and Bruce Gibson and just taking a drink of my beer. Bruce looked straight at at me and said to Shep, "I don't think I have ever seen such a big spider." I wondered what the punch line of the joke was going to be and looked towards Shep. He agreed with Bruce. "Yes, it certainly is a whopper."
After a second or two it dawned on me that it was not me they were looking at, it was the wall right next to me - very close. I remember that very well because never before nor since did I move so quickly. And yes, it was very big.
At the club Malcolm was always known as Shep (wonder why). If you telephoned and asked for "Shep" he knew where you were coming from!
Sadly Shep passed away at Glenfield Hospital on 8th April 2005 so now he cannot contradict our slander.
(Well, actually he was worse than that.)