Building Bonfires

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I was more or less brought up in a forest village, and there was a kind of unwritten tradition amongst the lads to build a bonfire for November 5th. We all chipped in with this and over the years as my friends and I grew up the bonfires grew with us, it was like a challenge to build a bigger one each year.

In the mid sixties I had aleady begun my biking career and in amongst all the bikes I was later to own was a BSA M20, a 500cc side valve combination. A performance machine, not hardly, it would do about sixty, whether it was, into the wind, with the wind, or up or down hills. But it was somewhat like a tractor in many ways, it had immense pulling power.

Well this particular year they had started to lay new sewers down one of the country lanes about a mile or just over from where we always had the bonfire and to do this they had to fell a whole lot of trees, which they had just chain sawn off leaving stumps in the ground for the dozers to take care of.

So I had the bright idea of moving all the trees to our bonfire, after all it would save them so much trouble. This particular weekend we had been down and dragged back several trees, just by lashing the stump end behind the Beeza and driving them to the site. The bike was quite happy with this and I could still do about 40 with a tree dragging along the floor behind me and this lane was very narrow and the last part of it was up quite a steep hill. But being a country lane it was seldom used so we didnt worry too much, probably didnt worry at all truth be known.

We went back to get another, this was one big bugger I remember the trunk on it being quite a full foot or so across and the crown of the tree filled the lane rubbing on the hedges as we hurled along. Well it had all gone so well so far why worry now. We crested the top of the hill flat out and I remember so well this old timer and his misses driving straight towards us, they only had a small car it might have even been an Austin A35. The look in this blokes eyes will stay with me forever, I think abject horror just about covers it. He must have seen the tree looming behind me and at first couldnt believe his eyes (Who would), he slammed his brakes on and came to a stop just before a pull in to the farm cottage on his side of the road. For me this was a bonus, as by now I knew stopping just wasnt an option with thirty feet of tree following me up the road, so I swung into the opening right in font of him and then swerved left and accelerated again, the tree I remember went into the drive then back out and up the bank on the other side and we passed him without a single branch touching his car. Needless to say we didnt stop, I mean in those days you only stopped if they gotcha, and we drove up and deposited yet another tree on our fast growing bonfire of bonfires. And yes we did go back for more, but not during the day after that one..............