Richard Dickenson + Valerie Smith

Richard Dickenson + Val Smith © David Forward 1975

Richard Dickenson + Val Smith © David Forward 1975

Richard Dickenson © David Forward

Richard Dickenson © David Forward

It was early one morning on the day of my 15th birthday when a large lorry began reversing down our road and too my surprise it stopped right outside my house and the driver got out then climbed up into the back to edge a large box towards the tailgate, he then jumped back down onto the road and lifted the box off the rear of the lorry and proceeded up our path to the front door. While the driver was knocking on the door, I was rushing down the stairs to open it. The driver asked if I was David and said the box was for me. I thanked him and pushed it inside to close the door.

I eagerly began to open this unexpected surprise and found it a slow process as it was so well taped together. Once inside I began to work my way into the numerous layers of packaging. I carefully went deeper and deeper into the box and some while later having not found a thing I finally got to the bottom and there taped to it was an envelope addressed to me. Now confused I quickly opened it and there inside was an ordinary birthday card with a happy birthday message from my school friend whose father just happened to own a fleet of large lorries. Thank-you Richard Dickenson!

* * * * *

When I was a postman we used to be allocated a set of rounds and given a different one each week and it was whilst out one afternoon on a village collection round that I called into the lorry depot of my old school friend in Sherston. I parked the Morris Minor post office van outside their workshop and went inside to talk with my friends brother who was the commercial fitter for the company.

After quarter of an hour or so my old school friend returned to the depot in his own lorry having been out delivering in Bristol all day. When he finally entered the workshop I looked up at the time and suddenly realised I had to be at the village post office to make the collection at 5 pm. I quickly said hello and goodbye and rushed outside to the van.

Jumping into the van I started the engine, engaged reverse gear and started to let out the clutch but for some reason I did not seem to be moving. I put the gears into neutral and tried reverse gear again and still the van wouldn’t budge. I jumped out and rushed back into the workshop and asked them in a panic to come and help.

Both the brothers came outside and with straight faces watched me demonstrate the failure of reverse gear. Then I noticed the brother from the lorry nudging and winking at the other brother from the workshop and that’s when they both burst out laughing. Richard Dickenson then walked over to the loading bay and retrieved a large trolley jack from out of sight behind his lorry and placed it under the differential of the post office van.

That’s when I saw the wooden blocks under each side of the rear axle holding the rear tyres off the ground just enough to prevent any motion of the vehicle when in gear. The van was returned to Terra firma and with me still cursing them both out aloud I shot out of the yard in a cloud of dust heading in the direction of the post office.