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READER LETTER: Bikes whizzing around Diss reminds me of my childhood

Pete Gillings
Pete Gillings

A lot has been said about the motorbikes and scooters whizzing around Diss and causing anti-social behaviour, including me in Mission Road (a residents-only road).

It takes me back to my youth, back to November 1964. I was 16 and old enough to ride a scooter, which, in my case, was a long-saved-up-for Vespa GS MRII.

I bought it from Eddy Grimstead in East Ham. It was one of his Hurricane specials and came in blue and white with chromeside bubbles and a front mud guard with front and back racks and California side bars. It was a sight to behold.

My mum’s mode of transport at the time was a Thames 15 CWT van fitted with window seats, a sort of mini bus of its day.

Poor mum, she had to drive whatever we had for sale at the time. My dad drove me down to London in it to pick up the gleaming Vespa. He had long ago borrowed the £200 I had saved up in the post office for the said machine.

Well, he gave Eddy a right load of old flannel, along with a W E Gillings and Co Ltd company cheque, which, of course, later bounced.

No matter, not my problem. I was on the road and free to ride. I was up and down Mere Street –it was not closed in those days – up Pump Hill and down St Nicholas Street frightening OAPs and cats alike.

One day, when I was doing a tricky little manoeuvre around the chip cart and down by the Dolphin pub, a policeman stepped out in front of me. I think it was Pc Spencer.

Well, he screamed at me nose to nose and frightened the life out of me, but let me go with a stern warning.

I crept away and slowly drove down Mere Street and, when I got to Victoria Road by the old church hall, Sergeant Edwards jumped out and shouted: “Halt Gillings, you’re nothing but trouble. Every time you come to a dance in the Corn Hall, there’s a fight and now you’re screaming around town on this sewing machine.”

I didn’t have the heart to tell him I’d never started a fight in my life. It was only because I had blonde hair, wore a white suit and would dance with girls whose boyfriend had motorbikes.

On top of that, I was driving the slowest I’d ever done down Mere Street because I’d just had the dressing down of my life.

Then he said: “If I ever catch you again, I’ll arrest you for anti-social behaviour.” I had to go home and ask my dad what it meant. He said: “You get it from your mother when she’s had a few brandies.”

Peter Gillings

Mission Road


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