Brief Encounter

In 1964 my dad’s brother Jack came to visit us at our home in Corby. I’d never met him before and never saw him again, and the reason for his visit remains a mystery. I remember taking him a cup of tea in the morning, noticing that he slept wearing a watch. He’d been working as a chauffeur in London at the time, driving some beautiful cars at other people’s expense and, without telling my parents, drove me at speeds up to 100 miles per hour. I wish I could recall the make of that ‘beast’. This was extremely fast for the sixties without the benefit of seat belts or air bags!

Summer 1964. This is me aged 9 holding my niece Jane Ruby Oliff (Booth) who had been born on 16th June that year. A part of our family ‘fleet’ of bikes can be seen in the background. 27 Thoroughsale Road, Corby, Northamptonshire

During that short visit my bike had been stolen from our garden. Uncle Jack and I motored around the area looking for my distinctly green Raleigh. I let out a yell as I spotted my pride and joy leaning against a wall in the garden of a house. We stopped immediately and Uncle Jack was off. A couple of minutes later he emerged, collecting my bike en route. “You ride it home and I’ll see you there”. With that he tore away. On reflection he reminded me of the British comedic actor Terry Thomas. I guess he was the ‘Flashheart’ kind of uncle that adults might ridicule and that children find fascinating. Private Walker from Dad’s Army is another comparative character that comes to mind right down to the pencil moustache and accent. He told me of an event that he’d attended recently in London at which John Lennon and various others had attended. He knew I was a fan of the Beatles, telling me more about a well documented luncheon at the Dorchester. When uncle jack was leaving we were at the gate to wave him goodbye. He beckoned me to the car. He reached into the glove compartment and handed me two little pieces of paper. They were the signatures of John Lennon and Brian Epstein.



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3 responses to “Brief Encounter

  1. Jim Drummond

    Fascinating – Time for – has a similar occurrence when I was a boy mum and dad got dressed up to the nines “to meet with relations from Canada” my brother Sandy went with them. It was organised by our family historian (not know she was or else I would have spoken to her before she passed) Auntie Mary who lived in Kirkland (of lino making fame).
    The visit culminated in the “cousin” giving Auntie Mary 5 x £5 – £25 in all.
    I have tried a few times to trace the Canadian connexion but to this day still have not managed it.

  2. Do you believe the signatures to be genuine? I hope you’ve got them somewhere safe!

  3. Micahel Oliff

    Richard, in the fifties Uncle Jack ran the ‘Brackenback Nurseries’ in Hutton Essex. I can’t recall his wifes name and they has a son, John, who would be Lou’s age i would guess. I think John was in the merchant navy.
    Jack was a more flambouyant character than our fathers and I remember taking a ride with him in his new Vauxhall Cresta in about 1956. Check out the Cresta, quite car in those days and not at all like the Vauxhalls of recent years.
    Cousin Michael x

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