Between the lawn and the blackberry bushes on the right of the garden was a path. This path ran all the way from the sheds down past the sloping lawn and levelled out by the summer house near the bottom.
It was a nice smooth, dipping path and ideal for Go Karts. Ron Lloyd had made his own Go Kart with some help from his Dad. It was made from old pram wheels attached to a timber frame and an old wooden fruit box with a side cut out for the seat.
Ron proudly brought his new contraption down to the High Street house’s garden to show Simon’s brother Jer. Ron and Jer were best friends and Simon thought Ron was brilliant as he came from Liverpool and looked like one of the Beatles. Ron was also pretty good and making things.
Simon was seven and their brother Jon was five, so they were a little young to be freewheeling down a slope on Ron’s kart. The bigger boys would tuck a smaller brother between their knees and fire off down the slope on Ron’s Go kart.
You could build up quite a speed on that slope. There were gooseberry bushes at the bottom and the kart had no brakes. The only way to avoid a prickly end was to jam your feet into the ground and turn left as hard as possible. The problem with putting your feet down was that you had to be careful that your feet and backs of your legs didn’t get dragged under the kart. There was also the problem that the wheels were under so much stress they would often pop off their mountings under the kart!
One kart just wasn’t enough. Friends would arrive to join in, so quite a queue would form and take a turn for a ride. Simon was always keen on making things. His big brothers had good brains that could reel off facts and figures. Simon didn’t have a mind like that, but he was good at practical tasks and art. Simon’s Mum called Tim and Jer ‘academic’ and they chose to go to Boarding School.
Because of this Simon felt it was his job to get the kart built.
Simon decided he wanted a kart that he and his brothers could use. He always got on well with the workmen in the yard. He watched and questioned them about what they were doing and how they did it. He was keen to learn and he showed an interest in their work. They liked the boss’s Grandson learning from them.
Simon made a start on his project but in the end, it was really the workmen and his Dad who all chipped in to make his vehicle. Simon just did the foraging in the sheds for wheels and boxes to make the kart out of. Finally, they had a kart equally as good as Ron’s. They had quite a rally going on. After all the practice they were getting, Simon and Jon could ride a kart on their own.
Jon was a little daredevil and the garden slope was not good enough for him. One day Simon went off to play football with his friends. Tim and Jer were back at boarding school and most importantly; Jon had exclusive use of the trolley.
One day, Simon came home from football with his friends at the ‘rec’. to see his brother Jon stretched out on the settee with just his underpants on. He looked like someone had tried to paint him pink with a paintbrush that was too small for the job. Under every smear there was a wheal of red angry skin. The pink paint was Calamine lotion. A medicine that was in every Mum’s cupboard in those days.
Left to his own devices Jon had decided he needed a steeper slope for the kart. He had wheeled it down the High Street to the top of a path that ran steeply down to the recreation ground. This was a very narrow path that bent sharply right at the bottom. Jon had never tried this slope before; the kart had no brakes; the bank at the bottom of the slope was a mass of very large stinging nettles. The signs were all there for a major incident. Forward planning is always a key ingredient for any type of trial, especially speed trials. Sadly, Jon had not planned his descent.
Jonathan got to the bank at the bottom but didn’t manage the bend. He somersaulted into the spring growth of nettles. His Mum said that one of his friends had brought Jon home crying and in pain. He had not only been bruised all over, he was stung from head to foot by the stingers. Jon was lying there all pink, red and helpless. He looked like a badly drawn lobster.
Jon was so limp and crestfallen that Simon did not have the heart to say anything about the Go kart. It was outside the back door and in a much worse state than Jon was. That was the end of their kart. It was a total write off.
Never mind, later that Summer, they found plenty more methods to inflict injury upon themselves and others!