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Coventry Section Part VI - It seems like Yesterday

Chris Reeve’s first Section Review of the new decade was in the January 1970 MPH and was a report of the Section’s 700th Meeting which had been held at the tail end of the previous year, 21st November 1969 to be precise. Once again to disprove what is said about the Sixties I was there that night and I do remember it so I can safely endorse Chris’ opening remarks that the event “went down very well, due in part to the marvellous cake Pat and Neville Arber donated”. It was not the first time which we had enjoyed the fruits of Pat’s cooking at our parties. Chris’ review also reminds me that we took the opportunity to present Martin Davenport’s mother with an engraved stainless steel tea service for the equally marvellous help she gave at the Annual Dinners. Reading the committee minutes it was frequently noted that Mrs Davenport was to be asked to do this or had agreed to do that. It is fair to say that without our wives and girlfriends over the years Section life would have been a lot poorer and is still richer for their influence.

Looking at the attendance book for that night is most interesting. It was sixteen years since the Section started. Those of us still in the section now forty years on outnumber the early members there that night. Not all the signatures are legible but the ones I can make out includes Ian James, Chris Worland, Neville Higgins (still Coventry based then), John Benson and Jenny Bloor. Someone else there that night was a fairly new member, Dave Gilbert who is mentioned in the survey as having just bought a Comet. I owe him a great debt of gratitude. I had been happily plodding around on my Meteor for about ten years when, in 1970, I managed to scrounge the use of a Trident for a week. Having real performance in my right hand reminded me of my Shadow years so much that I decided I wanted one. Dave, as a loyal Triumph employee, persuaded me that anything a new Triumph could do an old Vincent could do better, so I went out and bought another Shadow whilst they were still affordable. Just to complete the tale someone else there that night was my old friend from the Binley Road days, Chris Chandler, who must of course take most of the blame for my getting my a Vincent in the first place.

Also there was Nev’s brother and his wife, Kris and Joyce Arber, from the Cambridge Section. The smattering of members from other sections reminds me that there was still a lot more inter section activity that there is now. A look at the provisional programme for the year shows that we already had a couple of meets planned with the Oxford Section at the George Hotel at Shipston, not the Black Boy, our usual venue, and a meet at Bassetts Pole which was traditionally with the Birmingham Section but at this period you could never be sure whether they were dying or being resurrected so we carried on meeting there just the same. Not mentioned are the East Midlands but I am sure we would have met with them at some time during the year, the Skittles Match was already an annual event.

A search further through the year reveals that there was in fact a South Birmingham Section because a one of their members is noted as having won the Navigation Trial on a Norton Commando, someone of whom we will hear a little more as our story progresses, Paul Ennis. The trial had already settled into a semi-social Sunday event, the rules of which have developed over the years. In this particular year the places to visit must have been given out prior to the event because he rode round in company with Mick and Jo Fisher as they fol