On the 1st
May 2015 is the start of the ‘TOUR de YORKSHIRE’

On the 4th
June 1997 WILLIS HALL wrote this article that was published in his column in the


that there is support for the mandatory fitments of bells to bicycles,” stated
Lady Hayman, the new road safety minister, in a Parliament written reply some
days ago, and I am looking at the issues as a matter of priority.”

The news that
the government was ‘urgently examining the possibility of making bicycle bells
compulsory’ came as no small surprise to me – I had been of the belief that
bicycle bells already were compulsory. I have held that view ever since I was
first granted permission to ride my cousin’s fairy – cycle up Beeston Hill.

Some years
later, when I was a short – trousered South Leeds growing lad, it seemed that
almost every kid in Hunslet had a bicycle bell – although the majority of the (myself
included) lacked a bicycle to attach them to. Bicycles or ‘two wheelers’ as
they were commonly called back in the golden days of my boyhood, were items
which all lads (and most lasses) hankered after, but few possessed.

You’re not
bringing a bicycle into this house,” was the common cry of most mothers, to their
offspring, in the cobble – stoned streets of the South Leeds back – to – backs.
The same sort of stricture applied to quite a number of things: small creatures
(stray dogs, newts, jam jars alive with tadpoles, white mice); second – hand
comics borrowed from strange households (they were known to carry germs – particularly
if their owners were small boys with shaven heads covered with purple tincture);
bus – tyres (they were the legal property of Sammy Ledgrad); bluebells (they
brought bad luck); dandelions (they made you pee the bed).

Bicycles were not allowed across the threshold,
understandably, because there was not room for them and furniture in the close
confines of a South Leeds two – up – one – down.


There was room
for a two – wheeler if you went without a sideboard – but even then, the bike owner,
and his accoutrement, tended to monopolise the house. “You’ll have to mend the
puncture outside on the flags, lad” some long – suffering householder might
patiently explain to his son.

“It’s bath night tonight and there’s not room, on the
clip – rug in front of the fire, for your bike and the zinc bath – tub when I fetch
it up from the cellar.”

Two – wheelers
were not generally for people like us – they were for those of property whose
residences included backyards, garden sheds or indoor hallways. And, because
two – wheelers were taboo in most back – to – backs, we collected instead the
paraphernalia that went with the two – wheelers. As I began by stating, as a
ten year old, I was the proud possessor of a bicycle – bell. I kept it in my
school – blazer pocket and took it with me everywhere. I often took it out and
rang it, Ting – a –Ling, and caused old ladies to leap aside as I approached
them from behind on Dewsbury Road. Other kids went in for other things.

I had a pal,
another Addington Street – ite, who owned a bicycle lamp complete with battery
and bulb. Another chum of mine, a lad who lived in the Longroyds, who had
managed to acquire a pair of bicycle clips – although as he was not yet into
long trousers, he never really had much use for them.

We would assemble,
the four of us, on autumn evenings, by the Old Men’s shelter on Hunslet Moor. I
used to ring my bell, “Ting – a – ling”, the second of us would flash his
bicycle lamp up into the night sky, while the third member of the Bicycle –
Parts – Collectors – Club would work his bicycle – pump furiously, with one
thumb over the nozzle – end, exactly reproducing the sound of someone breaking
wind – while the fourth member of our gang would stand there hooting with
laughter, his bicycle – clips dangling loosely over his stockinged ankles.

Keith Waterhouse,
in those days was living in a council house on Miggie estate, which boasted not
only a back garden with a shed, but also had a hallway. His Miggie House had
Two – wheelers in every room – there was even one (he told me so himself) which
hung from the kitchen ceiling on the clothes rail.


Because of my back – to – back connections, I never owned
a two – wheeler. I must confess that, to this day, I have never learned to ride
a two – wheeler. But I have never lost my skills with a bell:

‘Ting – a – Ling! Ting – a – Ling!’ Some days ago, a
Conservative spokesman dismissed Lady Hayman’s proposal as ludicrous and
totally impracticable. “You can make people fit a bell,” she said “but how are
you going to get them to ring it?”

Have I got
news for you lady! ‘TING – A – LING – A – LING – A – LING!’

Whatever that’s got to do with the Tour de Yorkshire I have
not got a clue but it makes good reading