Martin Young - Raconteur

I love Martin's short stories - here is another one with a surprising connection!    -  Jon Stone

This illustration from member Bruce Leyland - Jones sets the scene....


 by Martin Young

During my time with Surrey Police, to cut a long 30-year story short, it came to pass that I eventually became an advanced motorcycle instructor, backed up by 15 years’ experience as the Waverley motorcyclist and countless excursions into this nations great capital to assist the Met with all the major Special Escort Group operations. In fact, most of my service has been on two wheels, mainly vertically, on occasions, horizontally.

Naturally, I have many stories to tell. Stories of misadventure, stories of danger and some hilarious stories I would never have believed had I not witnessed it with my own eyes. Or believe that anyone would ever do. More of these story’s spring to mind as I attempt to complete my biography. I haven’t sold a single copy yet. Story of my life!

Of course, I would have to spare the blushes of some otherwise fine officer students. Or would I?

Martin, in his training days                        

My favourite concerns an officer, lets call him Neil, who would eventually become one of my success stories.

During the first week of the course, I would lead demonstrating some of the required facets of the discipline. I rode along some of the back doubles of Cranleigh, positioning as accurately as I could in the hope that my students riding behind might emulate. Neil was riding second. As I negotiated the bends I kept a close eye on Neil in my mirrors. I remember the feeling of concern and doubt I had for Neil on this course as I watched him grapple with his bike when he ran wide on the bends and too close to oncoming traffic. I thought to myself, Christ, what am I going to do with this bloke!

‘Bugger’! Or as Neil would say, ‘Booger’! It made me giggle anyway.

Later in the course, we addressed the finer points of cornering. I had spent some considerable time coaching, encouraging, and demonstrating accurate positioning for right hand bends to develop Neil to a high standard of riding by increasing his view around right hand bends. After all, the more one can see the quicker one can go.

Martin at the London to Brighton Veteran Car run 2022

We had just left Goodwood Race Circuit and were heading home for lunch back at Guildford. Neil was riding at the first position, I, the second. We were at the top of Duncton Hill and he positioned the motorcycle beautifully in towards the nearside of the road, thereby extending his view around the upcoming corner. Then I saw his machine ride over the white marginal strip, onto the dust then onto the short grass, the long grass, through the saplings and somehow through the trees. It was at this point I formed the opinion that this ride was not going well.

I rolled off my throttle and observed Neil from the road, still maintaining 50 mph or so. My main intention was to observe and take in as much detail as I possibly could, purely for the Coroners Court if nothing else.

Neil's bike was behaving like a rodeo stallion. It was jumping up and down, swerving from side to side in an attempt to buck him off.                                                   Neil was having none of it though. He had a firm grip on the handle bars and wasn’t ever going to let go. Ever.

The rest of him however, was all over the place. He was completely horizontal. Flying just like Superman a couple of feet above the machine. If this continued, he would eventually have ridden over the massive 100 ft drop just overlooking Seaford College. That would test his flying skills.

Fortuitously, he struck a large pile of fly tipped tarmac and went airborne. Flying through the trees still in his flying position, he burst through the foliage and fauna only to remerge out onto the road in front of me. His various limbs falling neatly into place on the machine and he carried on riding.

Blimey, nerves of steel I thought.  “Booger”.

Duncton Hill on the South Downs 

Pretty Steep!

I was in conflict. Despite having seen the incident with my own eyes. I was personally sensing and judging that something was not true and simply wasn’t happening. with a very large degree of probability. Convinced that Neil wasn’t going to survive which may have been a 100% probability. Then to hear Neil say on the radio in his native Yorkshire,” I’m alright Martin. I’ll carry on”.

This surprised me somewhat. Or I was once again in a state of disbelief. Which was a total surprise to me.  Neil descended Duncton Hill having lost some pace and gained some composure. Then came the left-hand bend at the bottom of the hill and the spectacular stunt riding exhibition that was to come.  Neil was passing the oncoming traffic on the offside of the bend. Outstanding, I thought, I couldn’t do that, I thought. ‘Boogar’!

Remis of me to allow him to continue after Act 1 scene 1 I overtook him and found a place to stop and debrief him. Out came his packet of cigarettes and we both had one. I didn’t smoke then but felt obliged to take it up again as a way of thanking the lucky stars for Neil's well-being. 

He was so embarrassed that he couldn’t help but start giggling, which opened the flood gates of relief. I started giggling too otherwise, I might have cried. However, I pulled myself together and attempted to be professional.                                          Giggle is another sound word to describe a type of laughter. Giggling usually often comes from a feeling of embarrassment or shame. It’s a very distinctive sound, almost like little bubbles originating from the back of the throat.                                   This led to chortling. A particularly happy or pleased sound made with a strangled technique from the back of the throat. It sounded as though Neil was trying to say the word ‘chortle’. This, in turn led to me, bursting into laughter. Bursting shows that I wasn’t expecting to laugh but did anyway. Bursting emphasises more the reason for my laughter rather than the type of laughter.

I couldn’t help myself. I began howling. Another good sound word to describe the sound of laughter. It suggests that whatever caused the laughter is either so funny or so extreme that my laugh has come out sounding like a mating call of sorts, the same way a coyote or dingo might howl to attract attention or to laugh out loud. I glided straight through ‘in stitches’ and out the other side into sobbing. Uncontrollable sobbing with laughter, where breathing becomes confused with yodelling. Bodily fluids were leaking from our eyes, nose and gob.                                    “Neil, you great plonker” said I, almost unable to breathe “As if that motorcycle circus wasn’t bad enough, just look at the state of me” The important point was that Neil survived. He had taken it on board and learned from it. Which was a positive.      Right up to the point he did something else that was positive.  

At this point, I interrupt Martin's story to add some pix which seem very fitting.

In fact they show that such mishaps can happen not only to anyone - but to one of the best of Motorcyclists - namely Sammy Miller! 

Jon Stone

This story board is on display at The Sammy Miller Museum in The New Forest and are reproduced with their kind permission

Sammy was on an invitation lap at The Isle of man - not a race - but his competitive spirit got the better of him as he was climbing up to the mountain section and came a cropper at The Waterworks

The pix are self explanatory!

(Excuse the light reflection from the museum lights)

So, to finish off Martin's Tale

Earlier in the course whilst riding through the garden of England, Neil was riding up front with me behind. We were approaching a ‘T’ junction, one which I knew well. It contained an element of buggeration. On turning right, the camber of the road sloped away towards the opposite kerb which in turn drew a motorcycle close towards the kerb which could have made things a little hairy.                                                                  

 So I called up on the bike-to-bike radio. ‘Neil, just mind the camber here it can take you up onto the pavement if you’re not careful.    Neil, in his native Yorkshire returned ‘Ok Martin’.                                        Neil stopped at the junction. Looked both ways and pulled out. The camber got him and pulled him right over to the opposite side of the road, up the kerb and along the pavement for a short while before returning to the road. “Bugger, I see what you mean”. And I was glad for that. Once again, he had turned the incident into another positive.

Neil eventually survived the course. In fact, he probably wouldn’t have done so well without these learning outcomes. Neil completed the course successfully, with a Class 1 Advanced Motorcycle Certificate, having attained 87%. A first-class result for a first-class geezer. I can’t thank him enough for the memories he gave me and my grandchildren.

Martin Young