When Colin gets the keys to the van and much more!

28/12/2011

It was 20th December 1956 and I was the happiest 17-year-old in London. I had passed my driving test that very morning and I made my way back to the offices of Ruffler & Walker in Battersea, dreaming of the day I could do service calls on my own in a company van.

The place was deserted, as it was lunchtime but all of a sudden, the workshop door flew open. “Anyone working?” called a voice, which I instantly recognized as one of the bosses – the scary one – Fred Walker.

“Yes, Sir” I stammered. “Do you drive?” he asked. I puffed out my chest; “Of course, Sir,” I replied. “Well, get off to this address,” he said, handing me a piece of paper and a key. “The van’s outside,” he added as he closed the door.

I read the paper – “Green Door Club, off Wardour Street, London, W1.”

Oh my God, my heart sank – I ‘d been there before as a passenger. The traffic was terrible and the place itself was a dark strip club.

Taking my A to Z, off I went. I cannot describe my epic journey. There were hundreds of near misses, crunched gears and horns going off left, right and centre!

I finally made it and found a place to park on the pavement (you could park on the pavements in those days). I managed to get the van in to the space, shunting the cars in front and behind countless times in the process.. In the end I abandoned the van – still sticking out and grabbed my tools.

As I climbed the stairs to the Green Door Club, I was met by a large foreign lady. She was screaming at me. “The show starts in five minutes! Get that jukebox working or you can take it with you!”

I took a quick look. It was a BAL AMI 80, the mag bank needed adjusting. I told the lady it would take about 15 minutes to sort out.

“Can’t you put the music on while you do it, like the other engineer?” she asked, looking at her watch.

“Ok – what do you want?”

Of course, right on cue she asked for The Stripper, by David Rose! I put the record on by hand and out came a young girl who seemed a bit unsteady on her feet. I then realized that while I had been busy with the jukebox, the place had filled up with the dirty raincoat brigade I was up on the stage in full view of the audience.

The next minute, the young girl was completely nude and was looking for a prop. As I was the nearest thing to hand, she proceeded to wrap herself around me and pushed me to the floor.

Now, you might think that my day was getting better and better – but in fact I could not wait for the music to finish, to repair the machine and to get the hell out of there!

On arrival back at the office, I was met by Mr. Walker. “How did you get on?” he asked.

“Piece of cake,” I replied. “No problem at all.”

I conveniently forgot to mention that the side of the van that had once borne the legend…

RUFFLER & WALKER

BATTERSEA

… now read:

FLER & WALKER

TERSEA

That would come back to haunt me later!

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