User Tag List

LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 02-22-2016, 06:26 PM
Join Date: Feb 2016
Posts: 134

By Jelliot

Dad and I had done a tank extraction for a chemical/ cosmetic company in south west Scotland during the summer of this year. The CEO was one of Dad's old mates and told us he was very impressed with how the whole job had gone smoothly, then out of no where he offered us a contract to do the UK and European distribution for his company.
This wasn't our game and Dad told me a 1000 excuses for why we shouldn't get involved, but by the time we got back to the office we put a plan together which was roughly go in with such a ridiculous high offer they wouldn't even consider us as a contender.

Dad had always been up front that it was tanks for customers first, everything else second. I knew at the back of my mind that neither he nor George really wanted to get anywhere near the project.
Dad, the Suit and the lawyers had their meeting. Everything seemed to be above board, while I was getting wet loading tanks somewhere south. When I got back to the yard, Dad, George and I had a chat in the office.

The main part being stressed was that they were doing this for me and it was now time for me to step up and take on more responsibility. There was a bit of a shopping list to get, and top of it was four heavyweight trucks, followed by four tri-axle fridge trailers. Because Dad didn't really want anyone to know he was involved and the nature of the business, they were to be standard factory colours, perhaps a bit of factory graphics, but no sign writing or distinguishing features.
Most of the work going out was light, between nine and twelve tons per load, as were the back loads, but on occasion there would be raw materials coming back, up to twenty two tons at a time. Some of it would be heavy, and because of the distances involved, top of the line trucks would be needed.

Some of the return bulk supplies were rated as low grade Haz Chem, meaning there would be an extra bit of training and some other stuff to be carried like fire extinguishers and spill kits, and there would also have to be a bit of extra insurance.
Because of the reliable performance of the Volvo and it being on top of the job, Dad now thought that the bigger the truck the better. Tempting as it was, I refrained from saying I told you so.¯ A quick phone round the truck dealers found that there was a six to nine month waiting list for just about all of the new trucks that we had short listed. So, that was the first problem. The trailer manufacturers were all about the same, even ordering four at a time.

I heard back from Newcastle: we would get about half the permits we applied for. That wasn't too bad, as most permits could be used again for a friendly handshake with the guy that was in charge of passports and stamping. The lack of trucks was a bit more of a challenge, as the contract was due to start early in the New Year. The ministry had been informed and there wasn't a problem there, as we still had conditions for up the nine trucks and eleven trailers operating on our O licence.
That left drivers. There were plenty of people that had truck licences, but there were only a few that could actually drive trucks, and most of the good ones were already working.

Dad told me that he had gone to the bank with the contract and the finances, they'd been over it and were happy enough to secured a deal so there was money to buy equipment, we just had to find it.

I had been doing the rounds at the dealers, but there wasn't much in the way of things that I would like to buy. Dad, on the other hand, said he was on to a couple of trailers, and gave me the address to go and have a look. There were three tri-axle fridges sitting at a farm in Buckinghamshire; two looked good and the other was a couple of years older a bit battered on the inside, the pogo stick retaining strips had been ripped out and badly repaired and on farther inspection found that the A.P.T. was almost out of date.

Three days later, the two good ones were ours. I had to borrow a unit one weekend and go and collect them, as we didn't want to leave them sitting about. They were parked out of the way at a friend’s farm, after they had been given a good look at by the trailer guy at Broxburn.

I had a chance encounter with Porridge one day while I was at a motorway services. He had moved his operations to a place near Preston and he had just taken delivery of another truck and trailer. The conversation was the same as usual, with him complaining about not getting a good rate and there being no decent work around. He did think that he was in too deep to throw it in, but didn't really see the point of slogging his guts out seven days a week for the hire purchase man.

I had an idea - if we couldn't get enough trucks and trailers, how about subbing out some of the work to an owner driver? After all, we knew that Porridge had Italian and Spanish permits, and he knew the job as well as anybody. I put the idea to Dad, who was thinking along the same sort of lines, and also mentioned that a Volvo dealer in the midlands may have something to look at.

Monday morning of the next week I was at the dealers yard looking at a very tidy F twelve, twin steer, Globetrotter that had been towing an exhibition trailer for two years. It was in factory metallic grey with some factory graphics which was just the thing that Dad had mentioned.
The only thing against it was that it had a very small fuel tank, but I had met someone at one of the shows that was making custom tanks and was quite confident that he could sort something out for me.

The mileage was so low that it was only due its third service, and the company had only sold it because of its lack of use. The asking price was a bit high, but I threw in the thing about the tank. As I was also looking at an F sixteen Globetrotter tag unit which was factory white with metallic grey factory strips that had been snatched back on finance from an owner driver as well, the sales man looked quite happy to do a deal. I phoned Dad and he told me that if I was happy with them to sign on the line and he would sort out the finances.

We now had two trucks and two trailers. It was the beginning of December and things needed to get moving. The Volvos were put into the local Volvo dealer and given a good going over.

There was extended warranty on the F sixteen and something could be sorted out for the F twelve as well. The fridges had been checked out and certificates were issued just in case we needed them. Dad had come up with something to fill the gap, as he put it. He gave me a lift to Newcastle, and I drove home in a new Seventeen Forty Eight Merc. It had been a cancelled order, so the price was good. Dad had always been a fan of Mercedes and had run them in the past.

The job of interviewing for drivers went to Dad, as he was about at the time, and even though the vacancies weren’t advertised, over twenty people asked about them. It was quickly thinned down to two, as Dad already had his thoughts about who was going to drive his trucks.

Steve was the son of the farmer that had looked after the trailers. He had a reputation as being a bit of a bike nutcase around the local area. His only truck driving qualifications, though, were that he had done a bit of stuff in the last couple of harvests for a local haulage company. Dad had spoken to the guy he was working for, and was told that he hadn't damaged anything he was driving. Other than that, he didn't know much about him. Dad had thought that Steve being a friend of the family was a reasonable bet, and he also had a current passport.

Ally was well known in our area and had worked for a few companies, and was always regarded as a canny bloke. He had been an owner driver for a few years, and had done a bit of distance work, but had given it up, due to family commitments.
He was now recently divorced and living with his mum, had never been across the water, but was willing to give it a try as long as it wasn't too far. As far as it went, that was it: two drivers. I pointed out the flaw in Dads plan - two drivers, three trucks and no trailer for the third. The trailer was easy, as we were going to hire one until a suitable replacement could be found. I was to be the third driver for now. Pat Laing, Norforst and Brady were going to handle the tanks for a while, and in the same breath, Dad asked which truck I wanted.

All the trucks and trailers were to be on contract maintenance, fuel and tyres and tolls were handled by D.K.V. The drivers were paid into the bank every week. Porridge would be paid on receipt of C.M.R. Dad and George were going to handle wages and general bills.

I was set the task of making sure everything else worked as it was meant to. That took care of as much as we could think of. We had Authorisation forms, A.T.P. forms, C.M.Rs, G.V 60s, T forums, various other bits of paper for each truck and trailer and insurance documents for everything, and a bloody good contract. As far as I knew, we were good to go.

There were some changes made a couple of weeks before Christmas, and Dad wasn't very happy saying, it was a sign of things to come. Right from the start it had been mentioned that we might not get the main UK distribution contract.
If we did then I would have to come of the road all the time and be a proper transport manager. There were over a hundred and fifty deliveries to be made every week, that would mean buying another five trucks, mainly six wheeler ridges as most of the deliveries were to high street shops.
But that part of the deal wasn't going to happen until after Easter so there was still time to get it sorted out. I was happy that now most of the U.K stuff was going to being delivered by a local overnight parcel delivery service.

We were still to do the rest of the heavier stuff, which was mainly European work with the odd full load round the U.K. There were still three loads a month to and from Spain, and the same from Italy and Germany, three loads a week round Britain, and four a month to France.
There were also a few places in Belgium, Italy, Germany and Holland where raw product was to be collected. It wasn't going to be a holiday and there wasn't much room for error, but neither did we have to run bent.

I was quit relieved that most of the multi drop U.K. had been passed on; I think Dad was as well, but he didn't say anything. However (and it was a fairly big however), this was road haulage, and things seldom went as planned.
There was a couple of tanks in the shed getting a fair bit of work done to them. Some of the tanks did get a fair bit of attention, but these ones were in the shed for quite some time, and Andrew the welder as well as Colin had put a fair bit of work into them.

When I got back to the yard one day in mid-December, there was a guy doing a pressure test on them, so I assumed they must have been for a special customer.
Getting back into the yard around three on a wet Monday afternoon, as usual I went straight into the yard, parked at the fuel tank and washed the passenger side of the truck.
While I was filling up the tanks on that side, I loosened all the ropes and nets holding on the load of plastic tanks. I had done that many times and knew exactly how long it took to fill.

The fuel nozzle was taken from the front tank and put in the rear one as I started dragging the nets off the load and rolling them up. The next bit involved watching the last few gallons of the greenly blue liquid make its way to the top of the tank, then switch it off and hang the nozzle back up.
I could hear Colin in the shed and by the sound of it he was giving the pressure testing guy a hand, so I got on with unloading the plastic tanks on my own. I assumed that Dad and George would be in the office, and as it was raining there was little probability of seeing either of them, let along getting any kind of help.

In my head I was going through the next few hours. Ten minutes to unload, turn the truck and drag round, fill up the tank on the driver's side and wash that side of the truck as well, which would take about another ten minutes.
The outgoing load was two big steel tanks. If Colin was available he could give me a hand, if not I could do the forklift myself, as long as he and the testing guy weren't using it, so I needed another ten minutes for that, including strapping it on.

I'd need the nets for the back load. Shower, avoid Mum, get all the paper work and away. I should be at Newmachar chippy for supper around eight. Up to Turriff for the crane first thing Tuesday, then back for a load of muck spreaders before lunch.
Andover first thing the next day, then load tanks out of Poole and back home for Saturday lunchtime. That would work well; I could service the Volvo and drag, then do a couple of two or three quick Londons the following week, and have time to help Dad sort out the new contract for the New Year.
If it went really well I could get the new trucks in the shed and do a bit of painting on some of them. Even if it was just doing the wheels all the same colour and I also knew the F16 chassis and light brackets looked a bit tatty so I could sort that as well.

Both Dad and George came round the corner of the shed. They had a bit of a look about them. It wasn't the kind of look that meant they were going over to the tank stock to measure something or count the number of plastics tanks in stock. They were looking straight at me, and coming my way as well.

Dad started, “Bit of change of plan. You're not loading muck spreaders.¯
My mind answered back with, Oh no, not reels of paper out of Aberdeen! We haven't done that for years! but my mouth said nothing.
George chipped in with "Straight up to Turriff, then straight back here, Colin will give you a hand to load. You'll need to be back here tomorrow as soon as possible¯
I came back with, So it's not rolls of paper reels¯ George looked at me as if I was daft.

"Don't let that diesel overflow¯ was Dad's next comment, as both he and George headed back to the office, while leaving me in the cold rain to get on with things.
I was sure it didn't take both of them to tell me that, as they disappeared back round the corner of the shed. I got on with it and unloaded and stacked the plastic tanks, then turned the Volvo and drag and got on with the rest of the stuff.

I heard Colin getting the forklift fired up, and no sooner had I got all the bearers ready than Colin lowered the first big steel tank into place. Once I had guided him into the exact position, I hammered home all the wedges and threw the straps over while he got the next tank ready for the drag. The same procedure was done to the other one, and in less the four minutes I was loaded and strapped and gave Colin a nod.
That was the total extent of the conversation, then Colin and the forklift disappeared back round the corner of the shed leaving me alone once again in the rain to get on with things.

I stuck the diesel hose back into the drivers side tank and went round all the straps and ratchets while it was filling. With the wet nets on my back I trudged round the corner and into the shed where Colin and the testing guy were busy, so I let them get on with it.
In the office I was told that I was needed back in the yard to load tomorrow. Well, they had already told me that, and they had also left the comfort of their nice warm office and ventured out into the rain to tell me, so who was daft now?
I got my paperwork and headed off. At least I would be having haggis and chips that night with a bottle of Irn Bur and a Tunnocks tea cake. It would be too late for tele though.

I looked at the taco and did a quick time work out, then realised that it would be too late for the chippy at Newmachar, so it would have to be Laurencekirk chippy instead and eat it on the run. I wasn't even out of the yard yet, and I’d already had to change my plans twice

There were obviously things brewing, so when I was heading up the motorway I decided to see what Willy the crane was up to, and gave him a phone from the cab.
As luck would have it, Willy had foreseen what was going on when George had phoned him earlier, and he’d parked the crane in position in the Turriff yard ready to unload me tomorrow morning. That was good news! Not only that, but he had left the keys in the usual place, so at least something as going right.

As it transpired, it was Laurencekirk chippy that evening. The newly opened by pass meant most of the traffic was going round it, so parking outside was fairly easy and there were only three or four oil field trucks parked down the high street, meaning I had to walk no more than about a hundred meters.
However, with the traffic round Edinburgh, it was about half past eight before I got there, so I was a bit tempted to go to the chippy at Forfar. I ate my haggis and chips covered with brown sauce while I was pushing through the darkness and rain on the newly opened duel carriageway.

Then I made my way round the western side of Aberdeen like I had done many times before. Up the hill by the awkward roundabout at the Egg and Dart Pub, then eventually into the usual layby on the north side of Newmachar.
By then it was nearly half ten and the chippy was already closed and dark, so it was a good call to go to Laurencekirk.

I was off the next morning just before six, into the Turriff yard and in position by about half past. I found the keys for the crane in the pre dawn halflight, cranked it up and had the lifting bar installed not long after that.
By seven, I was heading south empty. The taco card was installed at Newmachar on the way back south, and I was back in the yard just before half past eleven. No one was terribly surprised to see me, and Dad called me into the office to tell me that it had all worked out pretty well.

The two tanks that were tested and passed yesterday were now ready to go, and I should load them now. Colin would give me a hand, get fuelled up and come back in and get the paperwork. Oh yes, leave the tank lids open.
Fair enough. I topped up the fuel tanks and turned the Volvo and drag and topped the other side tanks as well, while Colin was getting the tanks ready. He also came out of the shed with a load of new chocks and nails.
“Oh goodie, Christmas bonus!” I thought to myself.

The tanks were loaded directly onto the floor, as they had some kind of big skid arrangement welded to the bottom of them, and I was thinking of how good it would be if all the tanks we handled had the same kind of gear on them.
As we were about to finish, Colin told me there was another bag of stuff to go that in the shed, and also not to strap the tank on the drag before I talked to Dad.
Just about on queue, Dad turned up and told me that the tanks were for Mr Hudson, and they were special order, so be careful with then. Well, I was always careful with the goods, no matter what they were.
I wondered what the bag of stuff was, thought it was probably valves and seals, and no, they were not getting a lift in the cab.

Dad called me into the office.
“Right then, two tanks for Mr Hudson, special order, here's a load of paperwork for them - but first, have you got your passport?”
Passport, I thought, another one of Dads jokes. Ha ha, very funny, if only!
"No, you'll need your passport. I hope you haven't lost it or anything like that? He was now engrossed in the paperwork, some of which I recognised as being transit documents and Department of Agriculture forms for Tunisia.

I also saw the word Gasfa on the paperwork, meaning this was for real, not a wind up. Well that was surprise, a bit more notice would have been good though. Here I was thinking that I was going to have a quiet run down to Christmas and have a bit of time between then and the New Year to sort things out for the new contract. But this was road haulage. Who was I trying to kid?
"So they're not going to Aberdeen, then? "was about as good as I could muster.

"No, Gasfa, and as soon as you can, because you're needed back here on the forth of January to start the new job."
As usual, Pat Laing, Brady, and Norfrost would be brought in to cover for me when I was away. Hmmm! It was now taking three haulage companies to cover the work I was doing with just one truck.
He said all that while wandering around the office looking for other bits of paperwork. I hoped that if that was what was really happening, it would've been all sorted out by now.

"Here, have a look at that. Just go through it and make sure it's all there and in order. After all, if it's not, then you're the one that'll be sitting on the other side of the world thinking you would have been better spending a few minutes getting it right before you left."
He tapped the pile of paperwork, then asked George if he wanted a chocolate biscuit with his coffee.
George didn't even look up as he said, "Aye, a Hobnob would be good."
I got on looking at the paperwork, and within five minutes I could see that most of it looked good.

The rest I wasn't sure about, as I had never seen it before, but when Dad came back with the coffee and biscuits for three he told me that Mr Hudson had sent the other paperwork and assured me they were all done right.
Dad and George were now sipping their coffee, when Dad started up with, "Now the other thing I've been told is that you have to carry snow chains at this time of year, so there's a pair in a bag in the shed, and they're bloody expensive things, so lock them in the cab."
After having another sip, George looked up and said that they had borrowed a couple of spare wheels and tyres from one of the local hauliers.

I assumed that was them I’d seen in the shed earlier and as they both had mud and snow tread they were probably Pat Laing's. George said, that I should get Colin to give me a hand to fit the wheel rack back on the drag before I went - and when I saw him in the shed, I was to tell him that there was a coffee and Hobnob in the office for him before it got cold.
Well, I wasn't expecting any of that, and not only that, but when I saw Colin in the shed he told me I was reloading marble from Marni Sud. Talk about being a mushroom man.
Colin disappeared into the office for his coffee and Hobnob as I went up the back of the shed, just hoping that the spare wheel rack hadn't been converted into something else.

As luck would have it, it was a bit dusty, but fine. So much for getting a hand, but inside half an hour it was fitted back onto the drag, and I proceeded to strap the tank with the skids to the drag.
They weren't the prettiest things to have as a load, as they were ex-rubberlined rail barrels, and all the new steel work was in the traditional red oxide, which Colin was never afraid to trowel on with a four inch Hamilton brush.

They both still bore the original ProCor livery and even though Colin had slapped a coat of red oxide paint over them, they still proudly proclaimed they were designed for hauling Caustic Soda. The last thing to do was get the wooden box containing the spares, which was still in the other shed, and fit that into the middle of the spare wheel rack along with the spare wheels for the truck and drag.

Back in the office, George, Dad and Colin were on their second cups of coffee, but at least Dad now had the paperwork and running money sorted out.
He pulled out one specific document and told me that it was an official tank cleaning document. I would need to show it all border crossings to confirm that the tanks had been de-commissioned. All that was left for me to do was get going after Dad and George had given me their shopping list, which was whiskey, cigars, vodka, Martini for the wives, and a few of those Italian cakes in the blue boxes.

The route Dad had planned was Dover Calais. As I was under twenty eight tons, it was going to be Basil into Swiss, Ciasso into Italy, Ferry from Sicily, into Tunis then down to Gasfa north Africa.
Then, load the drag onto the Volvo back up into Italy, load Marble from Marni Sud, ten tons for a tombstone guy near Rochdale and nine ton for a bloke in Dundee.
One last thing - he thought that the last ferry to Tunis was on the twenty third and the next one wasn't going to be until after Christmas, but I would have to be back here no later than the third, as the new job started on the fourth of January.

And he also gave me a stack of signed taco cards, with his name on them, and as usual told me they weren't to get back to Britain.
One of the things I didn't understand was why Dad hadn't mentioned where I was going before I filled the fuel tanks, which combined held the best part of a thousand litres. Very handy for tramping round Britain, carrying lightweight loads, but not for going into France where they would tax you for every drop you had over three hundred litres. When I told him, he had a look on his face like he had been sucking lemons.
He then told me to meet him at the bank and he would draw me a bit extra to pay the French fuel tax.

There was just enough time to have a quite shower, try to avoid Mum, and grab as many clothes as I could before I headed out of the yard. The first stop was the large car park down in the old Galashiels station yard, behind the new medical centre.
I literally ran through town doing as much shopping as I could before making it back to the bank, where I got two hundred quid from Dad, who still didn’t look too happy.

The taco told me it was five past two, as I got the Volvo and drag pointed out the station yard car park. It was still raining as I headed off down the road, and as I was driving along, much as I knew I shouldn't, I started planning ahead. I'll get to Toddington tonight, Turriff to Toddington, no one can complain that that's not a good effort. Wednesday, Reims tomorrow, then an early start and into Swiss by lunchtime, and clear and through into the Italian side.
Early start Thursday, lazy day to Napoli, then from there a big push over Sicily to the ferry, I should get an early start so I can get to the ferry terminal as soon as possible. That doesn't allow for any kind of mishaps or breakdowns. It's going to be fairly tight."

The farther down the A seven I got, the more I changed the plan. Jethro Tull was puffing into his flute as hard as he could on the cassette as I wound my way across the moor at Moss Paul. Still, in the back of my head I was laughing at the voices of all the old local drivers saying how that was one of the bleakest places on the planet.

Granted it was still raining and there were a few low clouds about, but I had been in worse places then this.
By the time I got to Longtown I'd had a fairly good run, the rain had eased and I knew I was out of the worst traffic. At the very least there might be a couple of slower cars between here and the motorway, but at the most it would only be a couple more minutes, if anything.

I put the radio back on and listened to the news. Supper at Forton tonight: pie, chips and Coke with a bit of the nice chocolate cake; that should be about half seven by then, on to Toddington for tenish. Robert Plant was belting out his dulcet tones accompanied by the guitar thrashing of Jimmy Page, as the relentless rain hammered the Globetrotter from every direction.

Round the roundabout onto the motorway, and I checked the mirrors to have a look down each side of the drag for anything out of the ordinary.
In my haste to leave the station yard car park, I had left my stock of Coke over on the passenger side, so I decided to stop at Southwaite and get a couple of cans for the rest of the trip and have a better look at the trailer.
Another fifteen minutes in the rain and I was parked in the long loads section. I went around everything. The chains were still holding the wheels on the rack in place as a backup measure, the main thing being the new gates that Andrew the welder had made recently.

The tanks were sitting really good, they weren't swaying about as much as they used to when they were just chocked to cross bearers. Three straps per tank were working well and I had an extra six of them just in case something happened.
Back up the steps and with the company of Jethro Tull on the stereo, once more I was off into the rain. To take full advantage of it I decided that sixty five miles an hour would be fine, as the rain water would keep everything cool, and before I knew it I was through the hills and into Forton.
No super there for me that evening; I'd never seen the truck park so full. Not even the long load bays were free, but I still had another few hours left before Dad's card needed a break, so I kept pushing.

I was getting along just dandy, Mr Tull was rasping away on his flute, when the phone went, I could easily pretend not to hear it but instead I answered it. Dad was on the other end and he informed me the Mum was not happy about the situation. Not only that but she was on the other line and he was going to put her through. Mum had her say, she was less than happy about things, mainly me not being home for Christmas, family blackmail, guilt trip and all that sort of stuff. Dad had been a stingy with the truth, and Mum didn't know it would be after the New Year before I was dew back.

Well that set her off again. I was only doing my job I didn't make the schedule. I was a bit relieved that I would miss the usual Christmas extended family argument, of course I didn't tell her that, but just passed the buck back to Dad to sort out, after all he was the boss.
Most of the commuter traffic had gone home by then, so into the centre lane at the Blackpool turn-off as the left one disappeared, then on to the dips round Preston. Once past the Leyland turn-off, most of the locals were gone, and with it still raining and dark, it was mainly freight that was left now.

I was back up to sixty five and held it there for the next hour and a half. I had a look at both Sandbach and Knutsford, but again there wasn't anywhere to park, and as they had put up height barrier on the car park entrance so there was no room in the Inn tonight, there was nothing left to do but push on to Keele.
Four hours and twenty nine wet minutes after leaving the station yard car park, I was parked. I didn't really like the food at Keele, so I had a bit of a wander round the shop, bought a few pork pies to last the rest of the trip, waited, and had a bit more of think about the time scale.
It was going to be very tight; I had to get a bit of a safety zone in there somewhere.

Without thinking, I lifted the centre cooker pack and took the fuse out. After all, I was on Dad's card and already out of time, and they would throw the book at me if I got caught, so it wasn't going to make any kind of difference now.
I got myself going down the slip road and into the wet night. I was just starting to pick up some speed when I saw a set of truck lights bearing down on me going fairly fast, but he'd seen me from a long way back and was getting into the centre lane.

The C.B. jumped into life. "Fit like a day loon!"¯ came the broad Aberdeen accent.
I knew the voice at once to be Captain Burdseye.
"Aye, no bad."¯ I tried not to sound too much like a choocter.
"Bring it oot sun, it's me and Wee Willy D. Where yeh gon on a night like this?"¯
There was another voice coming through before I had a chance to key the mike.
"Fazz that then, Burdseye!"¯crackled the C.B.

"It's that night time bandit that runs yon tanks fah the borders, in that muckle motor!"¯
The answer was quick as Captain Burdseye gathered speed on the down-hill section; he wasn't hanging about as he shot past.
My headlight illuminated copious clouds of water spray getting spewed from all fourteen tires as they mashed the rain relentlessly into the tarmac.

By now I was getting rolling and doing the best part of sixty again. When he was clear I gave him a flash of the headlights to let him know the job was done and he could bring it back into the left side lane.
This was followed by a well-rehearsed combination of him flashing off and on his rear lights and indicators both left and right.
Wee Willy was equally quick to come back with his reply of, "If it's him then there's something amiss, as I saw him gettn roond the Egg and Dart late last night when I was goin hame in ma car!"

I was straight back on the mike as I flipped the switch on the side of the gear stick and did a half thinking dip on the clutch, as the Volvo got going into top gear, with its self-picking up speed.
"If I'm up to no good, how come you made it here, Willy D "
Willy was straight in there with, "Ma aunty Betty drove it doon tah Forfar for me!'¯
And Captain Burdseye had a similar answer.

We all chatted away for the next few hours and it gave me the lift I needed.
Willy D and the Captain were heading to Billingsgate with a couple of loads of fish.
I sat in between them for the next hour and a bit until I stopped at Toddington, not for the night but to go to the toilet and put the fuse back in.
Three hours after that I was weighing into Dover and ready to do my paperwork.

On the weighbridge I was in for a surprise, as I found my gross weight to be twenty nine and half tons, far too heavy to transit Switzerland with their strict twenty eight ton limit.
So I guess I wouldn't be seeing their snow-capped mountains this trip. I managed to get a bit of head down before I was on the four A.M. boat and elected to have a sleep in the Volvo rather than going up stairs.
I felt that was justified, as it was blowing up rough, I was already exhausted from the long day, and I didn't think that two hours of throwing up would help anything.

I slipped onto the bottom bunk as soon as no one was looking.
Calais six A.M. was still blowing rough and still raining.
I was off the boat and looking for somewhere to park where I wouldn't have to walk too far to do the paperwork.

Mr Hudson had already booked me in with an agent to sort things out, so after parking, I found the office and went back to bed. It was a bit after nine when I got up again, still feeling a bit worse for wear after a long day driving in the rain. Wash gear under my arm, I went off to have a shower and after ten minutes in there I was ready to get on with things.

Turriff, Dover, via Galashiels, then on to Calais surely no one could complain about that.
I know I should have exchanged the money the night before on the boat, but given the circumstances and the fact that the money exchange in the terminal was offering a fairly good rate, that would have to do.
The next bit was collecting the paperwork, where that agent told me I that I would have to change my plans again.

Seeing as I couldn't go Swiss, I had elected to go via the Blonk, but the guy in the office told me they wouldn't let me go through with the tanks on.
I explained that I had a decommissioning certificate, but he told me it stood for nothing. What about the Frazers, or Mont Cenis. NO, no chance, the option was that I would have to go via The Vent down by Monaco.

My head was still going round in circles. I couldn't quite get on top of this.
First I was too heavy to go through Switzerland, so I would have to go through one of the tunnels.
That had put another four hours on the trip, and then I couldn't get through the tunnels either.
That would have added another four hours to the trip which was even at the outset almost impossible.
It wasn't looking good, but there was no point phoning Dad.

The agent didn't look fazed at all, in fact he just looked blank. After all, it wasn't his problem, he was just the messenger.
The rest of the paperwork was fine. It would get me to Tunisia, and all I had to do was find a way to get out of France.
Dad hadn't given me much running money, as he thought I was going Swiss, and as most the roads going that way were nationals, there was very little to pay in road tolls.
I had already changed the money and some of that was in Swiss shillings, but I could change that back into French and at least have something. And there was the extra that I had to pay for the fuel tax. I had a plan, but it was bold.
Back in the truck I had everything ready to go, and it was still chucking it down.
When I was going to the shower I noticed the French guys who were checking things weren't too efficient when it was raining, and the heavier it rained the more lax they seemed to be.

As luck would have it, the rain was now thumping down, so I put my new card in and rolled forward.
There wasn't much traffic about so I worked my way back through the trucks to the control point. Luck was defiantly on my side as not only was it raining but the wind had got up as well and to add to the delight it was coming from the west.
Whoever was checking right hand drive trucks was getting a complete soaking. As the guard came forward, the rain just rolled of him, he was trying to get as little of himself exposed as he could and he also half turned the other way.
I rolled down the window and as I was showing him my paperwork which was blowing all over the place he couldn't help but notice had a packet of Marlboro that I had put in plain sight.

"Bon Yule,"¯ I said to him, and the truck barely stopped.
"And to you too, the tanks are empty yes? "He said as his body continuously wriggled about from side to side trying to get some kind of shelter from the wind and rain that now seemed to be coming from every direction at once.
"Oui, oui,” was about as much as I could say with giving too much away.
"Ave a merry Christmas!" He took the packet and waved me on, and I just kept rolling. All the while my arse was busy eating the seat.
I was free to go now, but until I got to the far end of the truck park I felt slightly sick.

On the plus side I was now about four hundred Francs ahead than I had been two minutes ago.
Things might not be looking up, but they were a bit better. Time to put plan B into action, or was that plan C, D, or E more like plan Y.
Half past ten Wednesday, I was at St Omar and getting my ticket. I had a fair bit of French money on me, and my plan was to get down to at least Reims before I hit the free nationals.
I still had a stack of Dad's taco cards and I was going to give it my best shot. Reims for two in the afternoon - that would do as a task for the time being, but I really had to stop making plans.

The whole way south I was on edge. I was on my card, but it wouldn't take Sherlock Holmes to figure out what was going on; even inspector Clouseau would see what was happening, but I had to get the ferry for the last sailing on the twenty third.
I popped the fuse out as I was climbing to the high plane near Loan and got myself wedged in between a few local French trucks that weren't in much of a hurry.
Reims by two forty in the afternoon still raining, but the fuse was back, in and I now had at least three and a half hours to drive before I needed another brake.

The toll wasn't as bad as I thought, but at the parking area on the bottom side of the booth I thought it would be prudent to have a look at the map and get some kind of plan as to where exactly I was going. There weren't any signs of police activity, probably as it was still raining, so this was a good place to stop.
I came off at Reims and felt fairly safe, as I had done that road many times before, then followed it through to St Dizzier. It wasn't a blistering pace and there was a fair bit of local traffic to deal with, but I got back onto the Autoroute at Chaumont and stayed on it until I was well past Lyon.

There were two main reasons for that: firstly, I never really liked negotiating major cities, and second, if I had, I would've hit both at peak time. As it was, by the time I got to the south side of Lyon it was past seven in the evening and still raining.
I'd had a stop with a bit of a sleep at one of the motorway services near Macon, and even on my card I still had an hour and a half to drive.
I had about four hundred Francs left, and decided that in light of the progress today, it should stay in my pocket, so I opted to run the national until I was near Marseilles.

Map reading in the dark isn't much fun, and I hadn't even noticed Avignon, but the road signs told me it was getting close. I had feeling it wasn't just a small provincial village, so I got back on the Autoroute and pulled the fuse for the last time that day.
I was picking up signs for Toulon when I started to nod, and as it was getting close to half past eleven, the next services or rest area would have to do.
The taco said I had stopped at nine forty the evening before, so at six forty local time I was on the road again, and at the Vent just before eight.
There wasn't really much happening there, but the customs man did want to climb the ladder and have a look inside both tanks. By the time I was cleared into Italy, it was getting on for eleven on Thursday.

Driving at eighty k's an hour, Napoli was eleven and a half legal hours from the border, and from there to the ferry it was another six, then across Sicily another four. This wasn't going to work.
If I was at Florence now, I would just about do it, even better, somewhere high on the planes of Umbria.
I needed to be about half a day in front of where I was, even to be halfway comfortable. I thought it was all going out the window very fast, then realised that it was already out the window before I even left the yard.

But there I was, on the border at Ventimiglia, so I had to make the most of it and give it a good try.
I thought the chance of getting pulled for the first hour east of the border would be fairly small - after all, any international traffic would have been parked up like I was for about three hours minimum.
Fuse out and off I went. By lunchtime, paranoia was getting the best of me, so I stopped and had some Maxi toast just to celebrate not getting pulled.
I also phoned back to the yard, where they were a bit concerned, as they hadn't heard from me since I left on Tuesday.
George wasn't too impressed with the situation and thought that I should have at least have gone to Switzerland and had a word with them to see if they would let me through.

I didn't even bother trying to explain it to him that it would have cost the best part of the running money I had, plus a day and a half of time. But he seemed more concerned about me filling the duty free order.
I was told to try to make up time and give it a good push, so after those kind words of wisdom, I put the fuse back in and rushed on at a blistering eighty k's.
Peak hour traffic round the Pisa, Florence area slowed me a bit, and I noticed there was a lack of British trucks getting about.
By the time I hit the Rome area it was getting late again, but my magic fuse had by now scored me another hour and a half, so tonight I was going to Salerno and not Napoli. Half past ten I called it quits, as I couldn't go any farther ...but I couldn't get any sleep either, as I was worried I would miss the ferry.
By one in the morning I was still awake, so to pass the time of day I put one of Dads cards in, and let him do a bit of driving for me.
The roads were even quieter than Australia, and surprisingly enough, even though the roads were hilly and not the best, by eight in the morning I was at the ferry terminal waiting to cross onto Sicily.

At that time on a Friday morning I was pleasantly surprised that there wasn't much about, and by ten I was clear of Messina and winging my way across Sicily.
Not wanting to tempt fate, I thought to myself, “One hit to the boat.” I wondered how many drivers had done that. I wasn't the first and I wouldn't be the last, either.
As I approached the docks, I was elated to see the ferry berthed there, and it didn't take long before I found the agent and handed in my papers, only to be told, " Sorry, no chance."
I thought he was winding me up.
"No, sorry, not a chance; the ferry has already gone."

I pointed to the ferry, which was moored to the dock in plain sight of his office, and told him I could see it, it was still there.
Then I told him I was booked on the ferry that leaves today, the twenty third.
"No. Sorry, the ferry gets into Tunisia on the twenty third, it left last night. Next crossing is on the twenty sixth. You came back then, and we get you on that one."
It was all some kind of bad joke or something. I could see the ferry, and for some reason the guy wasn't having it.
Was it some kind of bad dream I was having? Was I hallucinating? Perhaps I was still asleep in the truck at Salerno, and would I wake up any minute and find it was seven in the morning and I still had to drive the rest of the day?
Another bloke came into the office and talked to the first guy then looked at me.

"What is your company name, and do you have a booking?” he said, as he looked at a long list of names. I could see Mr Hudson's company name and my truck registration number, so I pointed to it and said it was me. They talked to each other for a bit.
The boss guy started up, "And so I see you were booked on last night's boat, but you missed it"¯.
I was straight in there with, "But I was told it was leaving today, and anyway, it's still here"¯
"Yezz yezz but I see, it's not quite as simple as this, you know!"
He rustled about in his double breasted jacket with matching designer trousers, and brown shoes that had never seen mud.
"Yezz, the ferry has had some technical problems, and as you weren't there, your booking went to another traveller. On the twenty sixth you come back, and we will sort this out for you."¯

I was sure they were just making things up on the spot to suit their needs, but I wasn't going down without a fight.
"Can you sort out the paperwork for me now? At least that way it'll be done, and you won't have to do it when I come back."¯ I was waving it around in front of him, but he just gave me a blank stare.
The other guy looked up at the boss, who gave him a half look in return and took my pile of paperwork.
"Thank you, thank you, molte grazZi,"I said, as I retreated from the office.
"Perhaps you can come back in an hour or so, but not too late, as we are going home soon," replied the boss man.
I still wasn't beaten; I hadn't done all that work to sit at the docks in Trapani for five days over Christmas.
I went back to the truck, which was looking lonely sitting on its own in the bright winter sunlight, and sat on the driver's seat for a while. There had to be something. There wasn't any point phoning anyone in Britain - this was my situation to sort out.

The agent was his own man; this was his domain, and he wasn't going to listen to someone on the other side of Europe.
Ten minutes later I had a plan. It wasn't much of a plan, but it was all I had. However working on the theory that something is better than nothing I went for it.
I went back to the office and was surprised to see that the guy was actually getting on with my paperwork. In my hand I had my duty free bag containing all George' and Dad' gifts. I didn’t know what Merry Christmas was in Italian, but he got the idea when I produced the first bottle of Glen Morangie.

The boss guy glided into the room shortly after that, and he got the other bottle plus Dad's cigar.
I was told to wait for a bit and have some coffee or some nice cool water, while the boss man picked up the phone and talked to someone.
" In an hour or so they will have the problem sorted out with the ferry. This is technical, yes, and I am not sure. What is left of the paperwork will be about twenty minutes, plus customs.

My colleague and I will go over it, but you must hurry and take your truck to the ramp right now. There is a small space at the back of the ferry and it's yours if you like. This is possible, yes."
Too right mate, I thought to myself, trying not to pee myself with excitement. Just to show my thanks, Mum's bottle of Martini was also donated to the cause.
I paid all the official fees as well, then got back to the truck, fired it up and drove to the boat to find the ramp was still down and they were also loading other vehicles as well.
The space available wasn't big enough to take the Volvo and drag in one go so I had to reverse the drag on first drop it, then squeeze the Volvo in next to it. It was so tight that I had to get out on the passenger side and only just made that as it was hard against an old Fiat van which only left about 300mm to get the door open.

Still never mind, at least I was on board and not before time as they were starting to get the ships engine would up a bit and the back door and ramp were getting moved about.
Still caught up in the excitement, I gave the deck hands a packet of Marlboro, but I wasn't out of the woods yet, as the agent still had all my paperwork, and it was until about three minutes to go before he rushed on the foot passanger ramp with them.

I was on the boat, on my way to Tunisia, and so anxious that I felt like I was going to throw up, but that was normal for me on a boat anyway. Again I managed to get a single cabin and the food was fairly good, there was distinct lack of northern European truck drivers on board and I can't remember speaking to anyone other than staff on the whole crossing.
Getting off was the usual affair, with the added bonus of me having to hitch to the A frame with a strap and drag it round to an angle that I could get to it with the Volvo .
This was done while the crew made themselves very scares and if I hadn't seen the plumes of cigarette smoke rising from behind some ferry infrastructure I would have said I was on my own .................................................. ...........

Merry Christmas to me! I was still in the hotel and waiting to hear from customs regarding when I would be cleared, and it was just before four when the bartender told me there was a phone call.
It was five am. on Boxing Day morning and I was now heading south into Tunisia.

I had spoken to the engineer at the site in Gasfa, and he told me that even though he wasn't going to be there, there were going to be plenty of local guys that could do the job.

By one in the afternoon it was the best part of twenty five degrees. I had been told it was unusually hot for that time of year but I didn't care, as the tanks were on the ground and I had a load of signed paperwork to say my job was done.
Lunch on site with the crew was couscous and roast chicken with a can of ice cold Pepsi, but I think the chicken must have done a runner before the cooking process started, as there didn't seem to be any sign of it on my plate.

The drag was loaded and strapped on the back of the Volvo and I was heading back to the ferry. I had no idea when it was leaving, as the departure dates didn’t really seem to mean anything, but I knew one thing, and that was that I was going to be on it.
And to give it my best shot, I was heading straight back to the docks that night, which would mean the best part of seven hundred k's across the Sahara in one day.
About an hour north on the P3, dodging the extremely over loaded local transport I noticed it was starting to get a bit windy, and there was a bit of sand flying about.
I'd never seen sand flying about before, so I watched it as I was driving. I became aware that there were very few cars or any other kind of transport on the road, even the goats had disappeared from their usual spots high up in the trees.
It hadn't been peak hour traffic in London or anything like that, but there was usually something to follow or avoid that was coming the other way.

It was starting to get darker, and there was a strange yellow light to it, but as the traffic was now fairly thin, I took advantage of it and pushed a bit faster than the usual seventy k's an hour that the locals bumbled about at.
In the mirror there was a strange sight: everything was dust. I knew it wasn't coming from me, as the road was fully sealed.
It only took a few seconds for the visibility to drop to about ten feet. This was my first dust storm, and it wasn't good.
I dropped my speed to less than ten k's, and even at that it was hard to make out what was what, and where.

The wind was now howling and was accompanied by an orange brown glow. I was now travelling even more slowly.
I didn't want to look at the speedo to see exactly what I was doing, as it took every bit of my concentration to work out where the edge of the road was.
The independently sprung cab was being thrown about, as the sand on the outside was being hammered against the back and side of the truck.
I let it roll to the side of the road and assumed that like most of the road so far, there was a bit of hard standing for me to stop on. No wonder the rest of the traffic had disappeared.

After shutting it down, I sat in the cab getting a free ride from Mother Nature. It was tempting to go outside and witness firsthand what it was like to be in a sand storm in the middle of the Sahara Desert.
The other option was to sit in the cab, taste dust, drink Coke and eat some of my Tesco crisps.
I tried to listen to ZZ Top, but even they were inaudible over the sound of the paint getting ripped off the truck.

It had been an hour, and still it was howling. I wasn’t getting any closer to the ferry, and this was about the first time in the whole trip I'd had a legal break.
I was a bit concerned that some of the locals would coming barrelling out of the sand storm and run into the truck, as I knew it wasn't the best place to stop.
Three hours later, I was glad I had left early, as this was taking a big chunk out of my day.
I still had a feeling that the next ferry wasn't until the day after tomorrow, so I wasn't panicking just yet, but in a couple of hours it would start getting dark, and that would change the safety aspect of things.

Keeping a sharp eye through the windscreen, I noticed that the storm was starting to abate a bit, and thought I should make some kind of move. Visibility had increased to the best part of thirty metres, and that had been for a few minutes, so I thought it would be a good time to make a move.
It was like driving in billowing snow or fog. One minute there was a hint of road, and the next it was gone, but I knew sitting out in the open in that kind of stuff wasn't a good idea, for all sorts of reasons.
All I managed was about fifteen miles an hour, if that. The dust was everywhere and had blown over the road, so trying to distinguish anything was at best an educated guess. It wasn't just sand and dust - any kind of vegetation that couldn't fend for itself was in on the act as well, making it even harder to work out the road from the desert.

After about half an hour of plodding, the Volvo wasn't doing too good, and there seemed to be a fair bit of black smoke joining in with the sand and dust around the truck.
I didn’t have to search too much into my mechanic past to work out that the air filter had eaten half the Sahara Desert and was probably blocked. I'd recently passed a sign telling me there was a village not too far up the road, and I'm sure the wind was dying down a bit more, as visibility was increasing to about fifty metres and I’d met a van coming the other way.

Luckily, the village offered a bit of shelter, and even though it was still very windy and there was fair bit of sand and dust still being blown about, I was able to get out of the cab and have a look at the air filter.

I wasn't surprised to find it blocked, and as I took it out, there was a fair bit of sand still stuck up the high rise stack. Most of it was like talcum powder,
very, very soft, and with no substance or body to it. It was all around me on the ground, and I assumed everywhere else, too. It was lying on every surface.
I believe the locals called it fesh fesh. It didn't take long for me to realise that it was all over me as well: in my hair, through my clothes, and even in my bum crack.

I knew I didn' have an air cleaner filter with me. I had fuel and oil filters, a few injector pipes, a drive belt set and a set of hoses as well. Wheel bearings for both the Volvo and the drag, and spare wheels for both as well.

Sitting in the Volvo driving about in the rain in Scotland, it never occurred to me that an air filter would be a thing to add to my list.
Not only was the air filter blocked, but everything between that and the outside world was caked in fesh fesh, so I was very reluctant to start the engine and run without it, as the engine would just suck it all in.

There was fuel station up ahead, so I went there to see if they could blow it through. I was willing to pay for it if I had to, and I’m sure it wouldn't be the first time they had done something like it.
Air filter in hand, I set off up the street, and a few minutes of eating dust later, I was trying to explain to the assistant in best French, Arabic and miming that I needed the air filter cleaned.

Yes, yes, no problem, he could clean it for me, and took it though the back.
I bought a Pepsi and waited in the front shop for him to come back and a few minutes later he appeared with a very wet air cleaner, and told me that now all I had to do now was take out the mesh and dry it out.

I was gobsmacked! Then remembered a time at college when the lecturer had told me that it was usual in desert countries for the air cleaners to be made from washable foam so that when they got clogged they would simply wash out all the crud, dry them out and off you go again.
The one out of the Volvo was a standard European replacement paper element, and if it got wet it was for the bin, so now I had nothing, and very little hope of getting anything where I was.

I thanked the guy for his help, drank my Pepsi and headed back to the Volvo.
On the way back I went into an everything shop and bought a couple of paint brushes and a length of wire. Back at the Volvo, where it was now getting dark, I got the paint brushes and cleaned as much sand out of the pipes as I could, then got some tape and taped a long length of wire to a brush and did the high rise stack as well.

I got a couple of spare susie lines and connected them together the best I could, then attached it to the red line and just let it blow as hard as it could.
An hour with a torch and I was convinced it was as clean as it was going to get, and as the storm was now finished, it was time to get going.
The desert at night after a big sandstorm, where for most of the time the road had had a good overing of sand dust and general crap, wasn't one of the best places I had ever driven.

The progress wasn't lively and there were other vehicles getting about, so I just kept it going as good as I could, relishing the thought of what it was going to be like in a sand infested bed that evening.
I was back at the ferry terminal for eleven at night. Other than the sand storm, the only stop I'd made was to get a couple of cans of Coke from the fridge under the bed, and while I was there I also got one of Dad’s Italian cakes.

All that was eaten on the run, along with the last of the giant slightly crunchy Toblerone, while following local traffic at whatever speed they decided to drive.
There was no sign of the ferry at the docks. I didn't know where it was, or which direction it was going, and no one seemed interested enough to tell me, either.

It was half past one in afternoon on the thirtieth of December when I rolled off the Italian ramp, and by the time I was done with customs and passport control, it was nearer four. Out the gate and into the traffic, then non stop across Sicily. Sightseeing and being a tourist were a long way behind.

I had enough fuel to get me to the mainland, so I just kept chipping away at the k's, one at a time. By the time it was dark, I was parking up at the police station, thinking at last I'd cracked it.
Pizza that evening, and I took the last chance to get some rest. I was on the ferry the next morning for the short mainland crossing by seven, and driving north at a leisurely speed making for Marni Sud at Canna.
I even managed to do a legal stop for an early lunch, then arrived for the marble just before twelve, which in hindsight, wasn't really that smart.

The load was two blocks at five ton each for Rochdale and one for Perth or Dundee at nine, but there was more.
There was also another three ton block going to Ivrea, which even though it was on the way back, I wasn't legally allowed to do.

However, the guy made me an offer I couldn't refuse, and gave me some dodgy paperwork to make it look like the whole load was going to Britain, and by three in the afternoon I was making my way back down the mountain with the gearbox in the low range and the exhaust brake fully on.
The Perth drop could be Dundee as it still wasn't known exactly where it was going, but I still had plenty of time to sort it out, so I wasn't panicking yet

The first of January was a public holiday, and as such, it there was a truck driving ban to go with it.
That wasn't over until two A.M. on the second, so I sat it out at Bari docks. In the pit of my stomach I had a feeling that I should change the outer wheels on the drive for the ones on the tire rack on the drag. With the cold and all the rain we were having this far south, I thought that by the time I got farther north there would be a good chance of snow, and that would happen up on the mountains.

As I was sitting there doing nothing anyway, I got on with it. An hour later I was washed and scrubbed up, but I had also broken up the day.
Five past two, time to get peddling, an hour and a bit to Foggia then the running got a bit flatter as the road followed the coast line for a bit. I remembered the rain-filled tram lines from before, as the drag wiggled its way north again.
I had my head down for an hour or so not far from Pescara, and by the time I was ready to go, I noticed that there were a couple of Italian trucks about to head out as well. The fuse was quickly removed and I tagged along with them for the best part of three hours, by which time I was picking up signs for Rimini and Modena.

It was still before mid-day, if only just. I kept pushing through the endless rain, only stopping to brave the cold for Maxi toast a few times, and by three in the afternoon I was on the phone to the guy at Ivrea and telling him what time to meet me at the toll booth.
The offending block of marble was removed, I got rid of the dodgy paperwork, and as promised the guy handed over the transport payment in cash.
Before I started out again I decided to change to Dad’s card, as I was back to the situation where I needed at least another half day from somewhere, or this just wasn't going to work at all.

Back on the Autostrada and heading north in the dark, it wasn't long before the headlights picked up some fluttering snow, and the farther up the valley I went, the more there was.
By the time I got to the Auto port at Aosta there was plenty, and it was now dark. I knew marble was quick to clear, and before long I was heading up towards the Blonk with all the snow warning lights flashing away.

I just about crapped myself when a school kid dressed as a Carabeneri jumped out with his lolly pop. It wouldn't have taken me long to hold up my hands and say guilty, but all he wanted to know was if I had snow chains.
I wondered what his crime had been that his boss saw fit for him to be standing out here in this kind of weather asking if trucks had chains with them.
That was it! I wasn't asked for seven days of taco cards , no documents, nothing, he didn't even want Marlboro.

On my way again climbing out of Aosta nine in the evening, it all looked very picturesque with the fresh snowfall adding to the two feet they had already had, but at least the roads were still relatively snow-free, meaning there was still a good chance of getting across if I kept my head.
Farther up the valley, my heart was in my mouth as the drive lost traction, but I eased off and flicked the diff lock in and willed my way on. Round all the corners and I was lost; I didn't have a clue where I was.

I seemed to be going downhill, but I knew I was still climbing. The falling snow was very disorientating. It had been an hour or more since I'd left the Auto port, so the tube couldn't be much farther.
I was now up behind at least three other trucks, and as long as no one bottled it or spun out, we should be fine.
The hairpins: I remembered the hairpins, and they meant we weren't far from the top, but now we were going very slowly.

Every corner I was losing traction, and I was willing the tires to bite just one more time.
It wasn’t easy getting it round the corners with the diff lock in, but I daren't have switched it off, or it wouldn't be going anywhere. At last I reached the tube, the toll was paid with the ticket that I'd got from Dover, and I was in.
Relief for a few minutes as we all strung ourselves out through the tunnel, which leaked, even though it was more than a kilometre above the sea.

I was starting to worry again. What if there was a lot of snow on the other side? I would have to chain up to get back down the mountains! There was no way I could get snow chains in between the tires and the wheel arches.
All those years ago I had helped Bert to fit a chain to his Merc, which that was bad enough, and we knew one of them would actually fit. But in the dark, I wouldn't stand a chance.

I needn't have worried. On the French side it was still raining; very cold, but rain none the less. It was a long night for Dad, and he chucked it in just before Macon, but he managed to clear all the high altitude problems.
I started driving again just after six. I can't remember if it was local time or British time, but I kept punching all day, and with the money the Italian had given me it was motorway all the way back to Calais. There was no snow but plenty of rain, and it was very cold, and the fuse was out as much as it was in.
By nine twenty at night I was back into Dover and time for bed, after I handed my paperwork in. Dad's cards found a new home in a bin at the docks in Calais, which I felt bad about, as it surely wasn't a way to show regard to something that had helped me out so much.

The last punch was out of Dover, and up Jubilee Drive at two in the morning.
Rochdale had their delivery by ten and I punched it up the M six and A seventy four to make the Perth drop just before three in the afternoon. I couldn't have possibly done the trip any faster even if I’d tried.

It had rained all the way from the south of Italy, I was glad it wasn’t Dundee, as that would have put another two hours on the trip.
Was Dad pleased to see me at six o'clock in the evening? What did I get for my troubles?
"Did you get the bottles of Glen Morangie for George and me, and the Martini for your Mum? What about the cigars and cake? Now remember to wash the truck before you park it up out of the way, and move all you gear into the F16, you have an early start, and a big day tomorrow."¯

The End
Reply With Quote
Old 02-22-2016, 06:34 PM
Join Date: Feb 2016
Posts: 134

Trucker driving while sitting in PASSENGER SEAT (Shocking)

Video captures trucker driving at 65mph on busy Saudi highway while in the PASSENGER SEAT | Daily Mail Online
Reply With Quote
Old 02-22-2016, 06:56 PM
Join Date: Feb 2016
Posts: 134

A Truckers true story.

Kingsley Foreman – The real Story of the Caltex Keswick Shooting.

The night of the attempted robbery, that resulted in me shooting a young man who died two days later in hospital. As a result of the autopsy the question was raised. If the hospital staff had followed the path of the bullet, through the neck would they have noticed it had, in fact severed the main artery to his brain. It may have been possible for a surgeon to repair the damage, but it can not be denied that if the shot had not been fired he would still be alive today. Little did I think it would turn into one of the most sensational murder trials in Australia, with huge coverage by TV, radio and newspapers all over Australia….

I was 35 years old at that time. I am the third living child, My mother had several still born children before we came along , One boy who died after some days had been named the same as myself, Kingsley. My Father was keen to name one of his boys after a friend, Kingsley Perthrick who had served in the Royal Australian Air Force ( RAAF ) in England in world war two, as part of the bombing crew over enemy lands.

When I was about two, the family was transferred to Alice Spring, in the middle of outback Australia. Alice Springs was then a small town of about 3,000 people. My Father was a technician for Department of Civil Aviation (D.C.A.). We lived there for five years but I was too young to remember that much,

although I do remember our house had a creek at the back which then went into the outback. Good fun for my brother and me to play. After we left Alice Springs we were transferred to the city of Darwin.

Darwin is on the tropical coastline of Australia, it had about 40,000 people at that time . It is so different from the dry outback in the heart of Australia, where you wait years for it to rain. Darwin had lots of trees and coconut palms, and it rains for three months of the year. It has only two seasons the Wet and the Dry.

I did most of my schooling there, but I had a reading and writing disability which we now know as Dyslexia. Until I was 30 years old I had not read one book or a whole newspaper, but I had a high IQ they said. So as a result I didn’t do any good at school. But they were the best years of my life, there was no TV up there at the time, so as kids we spent most of out time having fun out in the clean fresh air. Darwin was a very safe place to let your kids play anywhere, we had a good beach just a walk away, good fishing, never cold, a great place to live.

My Family was transferred back to Adelaide in the early seventies, where I started High School. Because of my learning disability I was not doing well at school ,then to make matters worse my father died of a stroke .

At that time I had just turned 15 years old, which was the minimum age you were aloud to leave school. So my mother along with my teacher, agreed that I would be better off stating a full time job.

My brother had a job working at Myers department store warehouse. I stated as a storeman loading and unloading trucks, I taught myself how to drive the trucks around the depot. I could back the trucks with skill long before I was old enough get a licence. I was working at the age most teenagers are out having fun and going to parties. I did not have much chance of mixing with girls of my own age, so I never got around to finding a partner. When I was old enough I, got my licence and I became a truck driver. I worked there for about six years, but I wanted to drive the big rig trucks .

After leaving Myers I started driving a car transporter for a friend I knew, I did that for two years until he sold his truck. Then I started 24 hour towing for Cole Motors at Henley Beach. That lasted for a few years, then I went to work for Richmond Towing Adelaide.

I worked 24 hours on call driving their tow-trucks of all types for over 10 years before buying my own tow-truck and running as a Contractor for them. I did this for about six years.

That is what brought me to the Caltex gas station at Keswick, a suburb of Adelaide on that fatal night October 14 1995. As Richmond Towing depot is just down the road it was like a second home to me. I called in to get fuel nightly, and they let me use there staff room to make a free coffee or two, then I would sit behind the counter and have a talk to the person who was on that shift.

On that Saturday night I knew that Margaret always did that shift, I parked my truck were I usually did alongside the Auto-car wash and walked into the shop. I did not buy fuel that night. It had been that quite I had not done a tow yet, and it was just after 9:00pm . On walking in I gave Margaret a wave to make sure she knew it was me, she was at her station behind the counter. I went straight in to the staff room opposite the entrance, there was no door at the entrance of the shop, (keep that in your mind for later, you will know what I mean later in my story). I made my cup of coffee and went and sat down on the chair alongside Margaret, I had only been there for a short time when I notice Margaret who was serving a customer, I thought her face turned to a look of shock. I stood up and walked out to see what was wrong. I saw a man with a large Chef’s knife demanding money from Margaret by holding it to her face.

I said to the robber ‘What the **** are you doing?’, he moved the knife to my chest and said ‘Don’t **** with me’, at this stage I went into shock myself. He turned towards Margaret then I remembered the little pistol I had in my pocket to show Margaret, it was a gold plated .25 Cal Barretta. The media, TV and newspaper made a big thing about me having a pistol there.

I have been a licence gun collector and club shooter for over ten years.

Firearms are not common in our city, and we have very tough licensing and each firearm has to be registered, even B.B. guns. Being tow-truck drivers they think we are a bunch of thugs. So after I pushed the magazine into the pistol and pulling back the slide to cock it, he had taken some money and started to run back to the exit. At this stage I had a large knife thrust at my chest, I am still in shock. I have loaded my pistol, and I don’t know what he will do next as he is near the exit, there was no need for him to stop, remember there is no door to be opened, but for some reason he started to turn back to us, so I fired one shot.

He went outside I thought I had missed him. Then he walked back in slowly I didn’t know what he was doing at first, so I held my pistol on him until he put the knife and his pistol on the ground. I could see the blood spouting out of a hole in the side of his neck. We think his get away driver drove off when he heard the gun shot, he came up to me and said quietly ‘You did not have to shoot it was not real’, then I realised he had a replica 9 mm. pistol .We called for the ambulance and the police and tried to stop the bleeding. Before the police arrived, I made my pistol safe and left it on the counter near the cash register. Margaret was in shock so bad she did not turn off the pumps and customers where still coming in to pay for fuel, there was blood all over the floor. The uniformed police were the first to arrive. They came guns at the ready, they told me to sit down and only talk to the detectives .Then the TV news crew started to film, so they told me to sit in a police car out of sight of the media.

Two detectives from Darlington CIB asked if I would go to Police Head Office at Angus Street in the City to be interviewed. They drove me into Angus Street police station. When we went in they let me wash up first, I had blood over my hands from trying to stop his bleeding, there was blood all over my shirt as well. When we got to the interview room they gave me a coffee, I was shaken up and still in shock. They asked if I would mind doing a taped interview on video. They read me my rights, the noise went off on the tape recorder and away we went. It took about half an hour they just asked what happened, I do not remember most of what I said, I was still in shock but they were happy it was self defence, then we headed back to the Caltex station. On the way back to the service station, one of the detectives said off the recorded that he would have done what I did, if he was in my shoes, then he said that because I was a tow truck driver, and I had a pistol the media would make a big thing of this, and he warned me not trust them. ‘They would say whatever they like to get the story’. I had no idea at that time how true his words would turn out to be.

We arrived back at the service station, the last of the police crew were just leaving. Margaret had been interview at the scene by two detectives, they said it was OK to talk to Margaret so I went over to her and asked if she was OK she said ‘yes’, detective Brennan ask me if I would like to be counselled by the Victims of Crime councillor, I said ‘No I’ll be OK’, and I would buy some beers on my way home. I stayed there for about an hour talking to Paul, the owner of the gas station, as they started to clean the shop up. There was more blood there than I realised, I remember looking at the Thins chip stand with blood over most of the chips, my brother was the Northern Territory Manager of the chip company at that time. I said to myself, ‘He won’t like his chip stand looking like this’. I could not believe that so much blood would come from one person, Paul said I was not looking too good and I should go home. When I got home my supper was on the table for me and Mum was asleep, I left a note for her, "Not Hungry Tonight Mum". I had a shower and went to bed .

The next day Sunday, I received a phone call from the owner of Richmond Towing Bob, who said the newspaper kept on ringing trying to find out what happened at the service station last nigh, They got the company name off my truck, but they did not know who I was. Bob told them he would tell them nothing about it, the newspaper said if we say nothing they make up a story themselves.

I received a number of phone calls that day from my sister here in Adelaide and my sister in-law from Darwin, plus other family and friends. I also received a call from one of my friends at my Pistol Club at Golden Grove, he had seen me on the TV news and could not believe it. Bill asked what I was doing about a lawyer, I had not even thought of a lawyer, silly me I did not think I would need one. Bill said I should go and see Keith Tidswell from the Sporting Shooters Ass. I told Bill I would see them the next day which was Monday.

The next day Monday the phone went crazy again, they asked if I had seen the font page of the newspaper, it was over the whole of the font Page!

The font page of the newspaper had colour photos of the scene of the robbery at the service station, photos of my truck at the station and the story they made up said he was shot in the back of the head.

I could not believe it, people reading the paper will believe he was shot in the back of the head. I had seen the blood spurting out of the side, there was NO way he was shot in the back of the head, it makes it sound like I executed him.

That Monday I went to see Keith at the Sporting Shooters Association, at their Adelaide office at Park Side. Keith knew I was coming to see him, he told me when he was told a tow-truck driver was coming he was looking for a man that looked rough with tattoos all over, dirty looking like a bum off the streets.

Keith was surprised when he saw me, he said I did not look like he thought I would look being a tow truck driver. Keith ask if I would mind telling him what really happened, he said ‘You don’t have to if you don’t want to’. I said ‘I have nothing to hide, the newspaper got it wrong. He was NOT shot in the back of the head as he was running away, I am not that sort of person’. Keith told me the association use a lawyer named Gary Coppolla, he is also a pistol shooter.

Keith told me to bring all my other firearms in, just in the event they charge me for taking my pistol to show Margaret.

Later the same day I went into Gary Coppolla’s legal office on the 17 floor of the State Bank Building in Currie St. Adelaide.

I meet Gary and talked about what happened at the service station, I said I did not remember all that happened, I was in shock after having the knife held up to my chest. I told Gary that when the robber got back near the exit he did something that made me shoot. Gary said there was nothing we could do until the police made there move, then he would get back to me.

At this time the robber Milsom was still in Royal Adelaide Hospital, I thought I might only be charged for taking my pistol in to show Margaret. Under our tough firearms laws you cannot take your own pistol to another place unless it is a pistol range to shoot it, you cannot take it to show your friends, so I thought I might be charged with this only.

I could not go back to the depot to work, the media were still trying to find me, there were TV news crews and newspaper reporters all over the Richmond Towing depot trying to find out my name. They offered $500.00 to the drivers for my name, none of the drivers gave them my name. I went home to wait to find out what was going happen next.

Tuesday afternoon I decided I would go to work and see what was happening, I drove my Mum’s Honda Civic to the depot. I knew the media would be looking for me so I didn’t ware my blue uniform or my blue cap, I went the South Road way and drove Mum’s car straight into the truck workshop at Richmond Towing, past all the cameras and newspaper reporters. I went up to the despatch room where Bob Sincock, the boss was doing the phones, it worked out well, he was in one place and not moving for a change and I was able to talk to him. Is I entered the room Bob said ‘G’Day, you don’t muck around when you do something, do you’. I said ‘I bet the R.A.A. (Royal Automobile Association) are not too happy with me’. Bob then told me the R.A.A were the first of many to call and ask about what had happened, he said ‘But even the Towing Inspector said the robber had a knife and a pistol and what where you expected to do. Rob Thorpe from the R.A.A. is cool about it, although out of all the trucks I run yours is the only one with the R.A.A. sticker on the door that glows in the dark!’

Bob went on to tell me he had a visit from a couple of his old police mates, who were now "High ranking officers". They had told him they thought it was bad luck the robber was so young, they believed if he was older there would be less pressure on the Department of Public Prosecutions to charge me. They went on to tell Bob that I was responsible for bringing down the crime rate, there had not been another hold up anywhere in the state since I shot the robber. Bob told me both officers agreed that I had done the right thing, but it was now up to the D.P.P to decide if charges would be laid.

Paul Rofe QC. was head of the D.P.P. at the time, he would be the one who makes the decision on my future, but I believe he would have a lot of pressure on him from the government, I know the detectives told me that on the night of the shooting. Later Michael David QC. told me that Paul Rofe had said to him, ‘I charged your client with murder, but everyone says he should get a medal’. Later it turned out that Paul Rolf was unable to lead for the Crown, he had been charged with drink driving and had to step down until he appeared in court to answer the charge. The bit I found ironic was that he had retained the services of Mr Michael David to defend him on the drink driving charge, the same person his department were fighting with in my case.

At Richmond Towing, in the phone room talking to Bob, he asked me if I knew much about the robber. I said I didn’t, only what I had read in the papers. Bob then pointed out the window and told me the robber was staying in the house just down the street, I almost fell over and asked, ‘ That house four houses down?’ Bob said ‘Yes". Ellis one of Bob’s drivers had come into the phone room with us, Ellis told me he went to school with Andrew who lived in the house, the robber was his latest boyfriend, and he had seen them walking around during the past week. I said ‘That’s all I need to know, the papers said he was living in Richmond, but I had no idea he lived so close to the depot’. "What if the detectives think I knew him and think maybe we had an argument of fight, and when he robbed the service station I took the opportunity to shoot him. I will admit that every time I drove past that house in Albert Street I would sink down in the cab, just in case they took a shot at me. Later when I was taken off the road to man the phones at night I spent most of the time thinking what I would do if the robbers family, or his boyfriend came in after me with a shot gun.

I was not aloud to have any of the firearms that I owned, I also made the mistake of telling some of the drivers of my fears. They took great delight is sneaking up the stairs at night and trying to scare me. They did not know how sick I was, my doctor told me to give away working but I had been working for so long and had no other interests except my club shooting, (and the law had stopped me from that). I kept going as long as I could, I also didn’t want the "Tax payers" to look after me.

Bob had also told me that the TV news coverage was the top news story all around Australia, and that he had calls of support from towing companies from all states. I had a call from a friend who at the time was working in a service station in England, he had see the story on the BBC and sent a postcard of support. Richmond Towing also received calls from my fellow sporting shooters, who wanted to donate money to help with my legal costs. At that stage I thought the worst thing I would be charged with was firearm offences, so the phone operators at the depot did not take their details. At least one of the talk back radio stations told their callers who offered to give money to send it to the local Sporting Shooters Association.

On the Tuesday or Wednesday evening about 8:30pm the two detectives from Darlington CIB who did the interview with me on the night of the shooting knocked on my door at home, they asked if they could come in for a chat.

I led them to the kitchen table and we all sat down, one of them said ‘This is just a chat to see how you are coping with all the stress’.

They did not read me my right this time, then they told me the reason for the visit, it was a surprises why they were there, they said ‘Milson has taken a turn for the worse and we think he might die’.

‘I will recommend that only firearms charges are laid, but it is not up to us, it will be up to the D.P.P. and if he dies there will be more pressure on them to charge you’.

The next day I heard on the TV news that Milsom had died, and that it had become a major crime, that meant the major crime squad took over the case.

It was some days later that I got a phone call from Gary Coppolla my lawyer, he said ‘I have some news but it is not good’.

‘First they are looking at serious charges being laid, second the tapes of your interview did not turn out’. ‘I said what do you mean Gary?’ he said ‘They went to play them and nothing had been recorded on them’. I ask if that good or bad for me, he said ‘Can’t do you any harm’.

Now I was really getting worried, did the tape not work on purpose so they could fit me up. They could say I said anything on the night of the shooting and I have no chance of disproving it. There was that much media attention, TV and radio plus newspapers about this tow-truck driver having a pistol at a service station. It would HAVE to make it more likely that I would be charged.

I could still not go to work, the media had people around Richmond Towing depot 24 hours a day trying to get to me. I got sick of seeing my truck on TV, and hearing about the "unnamed tow-truck driver who shot and killed the young armed robber at the Caltex Keswick". The next day, I think it was I got a phone call from my lawyer again, Gary said he would like me to met him at a office in Angus St. in the city. He had arrange for me to met a leading Adelaide Q.C. (Queen’s Council), that means he or she is as high up as a lawyer can get (top of their profession), Mr Michael David QC.

Gary said if I was lucky he will take my case, and there was a chance he would ‘It was the hottest thing in town and he likes all the media attention’. I met him in his chambers, he seemed like a down to earth sort of person, I new straight away he was the one I needed. The only thing is he would cost me my life savings in the end.

They say that justice is blind but let me tell you the Magistrates look up quick when you have a QC alongside you. Sometime passed, I think a week or more before I heard from Gary again.

No news is good news, then one day (I am no good at remembering dates)

Gary rang. He asked me to come straight into his office in the State Bank Building and bring my firearms licence with me. On my way in to the city in mum’s car I had a horrible feeling in my stomach, I knew it was not going to be good. When I meet Gary he was on the phone and I heard him say ‘He’s here now’, then he hung up. Gary said to me ‘Well we know now, I just been talking to Michael David, their going to charge you with murder’. I said ‘WHAT MURDER’, Gary said ‘Yep, murder’. I said to Gary I thought I worst would be Manslaughter, Gary said "No murder". I said again ‘murder’, I would have liked to have seen the look on my face at that time.

Gary said ‘We don’t have much time we have to get maybe three people who can put up your bail’. I Rang my sister or it might have her husband Daryl, I can not remember, I asked them to go straight into the court.

I also rang Bob at Richmond Towing and asked him if he could help me as well, he jump in to the first tow-truck and raced into the city.

Gary said ‘We will walk down to Angus Street police station, major crime detectives will be waiting to interview you, let’s go’.

That was the hardest walk of my life, knowing I was going to be charged with murder and go straight into a cell. On the way down King William St Gary did his consulting ,‘When we get into the room watch my head, just answer yes or no, just watch my head I will let you know’.

As we enter the door of the Angus St. police station I could see the TV news crew rolling up to the court building already, someone must have tipped then off about me being charged.

There was two detectives from the major crime squad were waiting for us, they shook my hand ‘Good day Mr Foreman, would you mind coming this way’. We then went into the interview room, they read me my rights. ‘You can watch this video tape of the shooting for us’. Gary leant over and had a real good look at it, then one of the detectives said, ‘would you like to comment Mr Foreman’.

Gary shook his head and I said ‘No’ then the detective asked ‘Do you have a mobile phone Mr Foreman ?’. Gary was about to move his head and my phone rang, it was my sister, I said ‘I can not speak now I will talk to you later’. Gary said ‘You can say yes to that one’.

They asked some other question, I can not remember them now but I said no to them all. Then one of them said "Mr Foreman I am charging you with the murder of Dallas Milsom, at the Caltex Keswick on October 14 1995. After they had finished the interview one said to Gary ‘You can have five minutes with Mr Foreman’, after they left the room I said to Gary ‘I don’t like the look of the Video’. Gary said to me ‘I had a good look, it looks OK to me. Milsom is way out of the camera view when he is shot, he could have been doing anything, the reason you don’t like it is you can see yourself shoot someone’.

The two detectives took me down to the cells in the basement so I could be booked in before I went before a bail hearing. It was quite strange to be charged with murder, and yet I was treated like I was one of boys, I would have been the best treated murder suspect they ever had. The officer who was taking my finger prints said, ‘Don’t worry you will be OK, this charge won’t stick’. Then the custody officer said, ‘It’s too late in the day to go over to the court. Looks like you have to spend the night in the cells’. So he ask one of his men to put me in a cell. He said ‘This one will do, they are only holding cells, but it’s better than going to the Remand Centre for the night. So we will leave you here, if you want us just give me a yell’. I said to myself a night here is not too bad it’s heated, and better than a night in a truck.. It was the about half an hour later when the police officer came back and said ‘Your in luck, their taking you across to the court now’

He lead me out to a police van and told the driver take me across to the court, the van driver replied ‘This late?’, ‘Yes I know, but one of the Magistrates is staying back, this is the man who shot the armed robber’, the driver said ‘Good’ and called his female partner .The young female officer said ‘I’m sorry I have to put handcuffs on you to go across the road to the court’.

I was in the back of the police van handcuffed, as we crossed the road into the court I could see TV news crews and newspaper reporters everywhere. One took still photos of me in the police van as we drove into the Court. They led me out of the back of the van into the cells of the court, this is where I meet my lawyer Gary and Michael David QC. Michael said ‘That was close I had to grab the Magistrate as he was getting into his car, we don’t want you to spend the night here’. I like Michael’s sense of humour, he said ‘That bloody Rofe (the public prosecutor) did this late so you have to spend at least one night in goal, the gutless bastard should not have charged you at all’. He then said to me ‘Don’t panic if he refuses bail, I will get a hearing in the Supreme Court in a few days’.

When they were ready for me in the court the older sergeant said, ‘You have to put those cuff on him’. They led me out into the dock, the public gallery was full of reporters, Paul Rolf read out the charge. ‘Mr Foreman you are charged that on the 14 day of……….’ you know the rest, ‘How do you plead ?’, every eye in the court was on me, ‘NOT GUILTY’ I said in a load voice. Then Michael David got up and said ‘Your Honour, my client will be pleading strongly against these ridicules charges. My client has no criminal record, and as several people to go guarantor, including a well respected company director, he has stable family ties here in Adelaide, and knowing he may face charges he refused to go to Darwin on a planed trip’. Paul Rolf took one look at me, and I think he realised I did not look the way he thought I would, he didn’t oppose bail.

I was granted bail on three conditions, of $10,000-00, that I not to leave the state and not go to the Caltex Keswick service station. The newspaper said it was $80,000-00 bail, but why let the facts spoil a good story.

Back in the cells of the magistrates court, Michael David said ‘Rolf took one look at you and nearly choked, you don’t look like a tow truck driver’. Then he said ‘They will take you back across to the station to release you, Gary and I will be waiting for you outside the door’. I was put back in to the police van and driven through the media crush into the basement of Angas Street police headquarters. A police officer did the paper work for my release on bail, he lead me to a stairway leading up to street level, he said ‘They will all be out there waiting for you’. I thought he meant Gary and Michael, as I got about halfway up he wished me good luck. As I opened the door and walked free I could see Gary and Michael waiting along with about four TV news crews, newspaper reporters and radio reporters as well.

Michael David said to me, ‘You didn’t think you were coming out of there did you ?’ We will walked down Angas street to my chambers ’. I think he did that so he could be on TV with his client, so off we went with Gary on one side of me and Michael on the other, and my brother in law Daryl behind. As we were walking down to Michael’s chambers the TV news crews were walking backwards so they could film us, there were so many of them pushing each other that one poor bugger fell flat on the ground. I had to stop myself from smiling because it would not look too good on TV, me just released after being charger with murder, smiling leaving the police station.

We were in Michael’s chambers, it was just like you think a QCs chambers would be like in England, a very old building with 10 foot high ceilings and big wooden skirting boards, walls of books and leather sofas and a lovely antique desk. Michael said jokingly ‘You will be OK now till the trial starts, so long as you don’t shoot anyone else, and don’t do a runner’. I said to Michael ‘Don’t worry about me doing a runner, it’s not that I’m worried about the police finding me. It’s that Bob Sincock the boss of Richmond Towing put up the ten grand for my bail, and you can bet he would find me. Now I was out on bail I must admit I was glad to be out of the cells, I was not keen on the idea of maybe having to do a mandatary 25 years sentence for murder.

My next hassle was, now that I had been charged the media knew my name and address, I was not surprised that the newspapers had my home staked out when I got there. I figured that there’s no point in trying to cover my face, that just makes you look like a crook and I’m to big to run from them.

It was about a month before my next court hearing, that where you have to stand up in the court and formerly answer the charge of murder. That is just the first court appearance before the full trial begins, it could be between six and twelve months before the main trial starts .

So what do I do till then ? I suppose I go back to work driving my old tow-truck.

There was huge media attention, lead story on the nightly news on all channels,

it was lead story on the ABC TV news ,I thought a story had to be about politics to lead the news on ABC. I received a phone call from my sister in law from Darwin, it was on the TV news up there too, I got a call from an old work mate from Melbourne as well. It has been nearly four years and I have not seen a dollar yet....

I went back to work driving my tow-truck towing on contract with Richmond Towing ,it was bit embarrassing. I had been seen that many times on TV that when I rolled up to tow some persons car, most of them recognised me from the TV news. I could no believe that people were still recognising me weeks after I had been on TV. I was a bit worried that I may come across someone who thought I was guilty, out of all the cars I towed (about six a day ) no one said anything negative about what I did, in fact I was surprised by the number of people who thought I had been treated unfairly by being charged and hoped that it worked out OK. I would say ‘You don’t mind being in a tow-truck with someone who is on bail for Murder?’ The range of people was surprising, from little old ladies to young people and from working class Elizabeth to leafy Wattle Park.

The next court appearance was the committal hearing, that is were a Magistrate has to decide if the D.P.P. has a enough evidence to go for trial. On the day of the committal hearing I meet Gary Coppolla in the lobby of his office on the 17 floor of the State bank building, as usual we did all our talking while we walked from his office to the court in Victoria Square.

I asked him if he thought they would have enough evidence to get through the committal, Gary said ‘Yes it is just a formality, the fact that someone is dead and you fired a gun is enough’. When we arrived at the court Michael David was already there, and also my brother and sister in law from Darwin, they had come down for business reasons.

Michael David said it would give him the chance to ask in public coroner, Doctor James who had done the autopsy on the robber, the question ‘Could the robber have been turning back towards the direction of the shot?’

As I was sitting there with my legal team waiting for our case to come up, a woman in the public gallery yelled at the top of her voice ‘HANG THE BASTARD’. I almost had a heart attack, I thought she was talking about me, but it was a video link from the remand centre about another murder case. They called out ‘The Crown verses Foreman, the charge is murder’, then Michael David called Doctor James to the stand, Michael David ask, ‘From the autopsy you did on the deceased ,were you able to work out from the path of the bullet through the body, the position of the deceased when the bullet was fired ?’ Doctor James said ‘Yes’ Then Michael David asked, ‘You know the path of the bullet, and you know from were the bullet was fired. Could what my client told the police the night of the shooting be consistent’? Doctor James said ‘Yes’.

It was no surprise to Michael and Gary that the Magistrate committed me to the Supreme court for trial ,I said to Michael ‘What happens now’?. Michael said ‘Now we go to the real court with the wigs and gowns’ ....`

Now I had been committed to trial for murder in the Supreme court we started all over again and I had to attend a court appearance to plead to the charges .

So all those hearings in the Magistrate court were just a formality, so all the fees I had paid Gary and Michael David, thousands of dollars was really for a "formality". It would have been nice to skip the Magistrate court and come straight to the Supreme court, but you can not do it that way.

Well it’s back to work driving my 1978 Inter tow truck, I’ve been working since I was 14 years old, most of that time I have been working as a contractor. I had no employer to pay into a super fund, so I had been putting money into high interest accounts for my old age, but I’ve used all of that now. To get the money I needed for my trial in the Supreme court I had to turn to my 70 year old Mother. Mum had to take out a loan on here house, the house she has owned since 1946 . I have been paying her back on time, I would not do her wrong.

There were a number of pre trial hearings I had to attend, I still have not worked out what they where all about, there was the lawyer for the D.P.P. and my legal team in front of a judge. At one of these "hearings" all they talked about was how Australia was going in the West Indies, that’s all right, I did not mind paying for my legal team to talk about Cricket.

Well a month or so later it was time to plead again, this time in the supreme court .So it was up to the 17 floor of the State bank Building to Gary’s office again. I have forgotten to say that my brother in law Daryl came and pick me up from home and drove me into town then came into court with me ,THANK YOU Daryl. I wish Gary and Daryl did not walk so fast , but we did our usual walk down to the court. We meet Michael in front of the Sir Samuel Way Building, the Supreme Court . This time we were a bit early so Michael said ‘Lets go and have a coffee’, so we went to a cafe next to the court.

We are in the cafe and Michael orders coffee for us all, the girl brings the coffee and she says to Michael ‘That will be $10.00’, or whatever it was. Michael slaps his pockets and says to Gary ‘Sorry mate I’ve got no cash on me you have to pay for this one’. Then Gary does the same he slaps his pockets and says ‘I have no money on me, you have to pay Kingsley’.

As I said to Daryl ‘If I have to have Lawyers, these are the ones for me’. That hearing took less than half an hour, cost me $3300.00, and I paid for the coffee. It’s strange, if a young person wears a strange hair style we say how mad is he, but it’s OK for a QC ( Queen’s Counsels) to wear one of those curly wigs, and the higher there status the longer the wig, and the more rows of curls .

The period before the main trial, when I was on bail for murder was worse than the robbery and shooting. In some ways it may have been better to go to goal, I had to try and live my life the same way, but had no idea what was going to happen to me. I just could not get my mind around the fact that, here I am on bail for murder.

How could the Department of Public Prosecution come up with the idea that I would murder someone without a justifiable reason. It was only a few months earlier that I was punched around the head by a boyfriend of an unhappy customer. One night about 6:30 p.m. in the middle of our peak hour traffic period, a young lady (this mans girlfriend) had broken down in the middle of Light Square in the middle of the city. She was a member of the R.A.A. our auto club in South Australia, they had sent out a patrol van but were unable to fix her car so a tow truck was called for. We were flat out at the time so we were a while before we got to her and her boyfriend had rung the R.A.A. to complain about the delay, the R.A.A. in their wisdom had given him our phone number so he rang to see what was going on. The boss was doing the phones himself, we were so flat out, the boyfriend told Bob he was coming down to ‘Punch your head in, because you have left my girlfriend waiting for so long’. Bob told me later he thought the guy was ‘Just mouthing off’. Meanwhile I had picked the car up and was taking it to the address the girl had asked to be taken to, not knowing Bob had just had a run in with the boyfriend. In the truck the girl was as quiet as a mouse, and I did not know she had been waiting for us for so long. When we got to the house I started to unhook the car, still not knowing what had happened, I was down on one knee when the boyfriend came out of the house and started punching me in the head. I grabbed a steel bar off the back of my truck and said to him ‘What’s that all about?’ he said ‘ The man on the phone told me it’s your fault it’s taken so long to get the car picked up’. I asked him if he had finished impressing his girlfriend, and if he had I would put down the steel bar and ‘Leave it at that’, all this time I had blood coming from my nose and running over my clothes. The next day he made a complaint to the R.A.A. that I had broken his wrist with the bar, but I think he must have broken it on my head.

During this time on bail waiting for my trial the time days seemed to last twice as long as they were, I remember every time I had to drive past the goal I said to myself, ‘This will be my new home’. It was a quiet time in the towing business, I would sit in my truck waiting for the next job, and sometimes I would wonder how bad goal could be. It couldn’t be much worse than sitting around for hours in the city waiting for the next job. Some nights I would sit there for three hours or more, that’s the reason I was at the service station the night of the robbery, just to fill in time and wait for my next job. Now that I am too sick to work Richmond Towing have found it hard to find someone who will sit around waiting for jobs, they now keep the depot open at night so the drivers. Yes that’s right there are two drivers now to do what I used to do, and the depot is left open so they don’t have to sit in their trucks. They now have colour TV and the office is heated in the winter and cooled in the summer, and they still find it hard to get drivers to put in the hours that us old drivers took for granted.

Well here I am, at last sitting in the dock of the South Australia Supreme Court charged with murder, not even manslaughter but, murder ONE as they would say in the U.S. All I did was stop off for a coffee with a friend, and show off with my gold plated pistol. Michael David QC and Garry Coppolla are for the defence, on the other side there is Ms Ann Vanstone QC and Ms C.Mealor for the Crown. I hope Ms Mealor does not mind but we gave her the nickname sexy legs, when she was dressed for court in the black silk rob and seated all you could see was her legs.

Michael started his legal fight with Ms Vanstone, and he was right, I had no idea what they were talking about, they were speaking in English but I could not understand it. They went at it for about half an hour then Justice Lander call an adjournment, or was it a cease fire. In the break I went up to Michael and said ‘How did it go?’ Michael seemed happy with what happened, he said ‘We already have enough for an appeal if we needed one’. ‘So what happens now ?’ I ask Michael, he replied ‘They will call up, and pick a jury’.

It is a lot different than I was used of seeing on the TV shows, were it takes two weeks to pick a jury, and your lawyers get to ask them lot of questions. Here in my trial they called in 30 people from the pool and give them a number, then my lawyers had a list with their names and occupations on it, the crown has the same information. One of the court staff brings out their bingo machine and starts turning the handle, another staff member pulls out one of the little balls with a number on it, I’m not joking, they do it that way. Then the person who has that number walks from the public gallery to the jury box, both lots of lawyers can object to only three members of the jury, and they only have until that person is seated in the jury box, that’s it! After the jury is picked they read the charge again, by now I know I have to say "not guilty" off by heart. Then to my surprised the judge says that the bail is revoked. So for a time I thought I would be in gaol until the end of the trial, to my relief Michael David ask the judge for a continuance and the crown did not object.

Now it was time for Ms Vanstone’s (QC) opening address to the Jury, Ms Vanstone is a very good and experience Queen’s Council, you only have to look at what happened to the former leader of the government in the state of Western Australia. Ms Vanstone pushed the firearms angle very hard of course, she had summoned to appear one of my pistol club committee members. He told me later that after talking to him they decided I did not fit the stereotype of a crazy gun owner, so he was never called.

I was told that she was going to open with a recording from a radio talk back show were I was talking to Mr Christopher Cordeaux about my views on firearms. I was a caller on many subjects, but the media went through all the recording to find something sensational they could use on the news. Michael David said ‘That is not a problem, I will just summon Mr C. Cordeaux to appear, I know that Mr Foreman has been, in the past invited personally by Mr Cordeaux to go into the radio station and appear on his show’. They changed there mind and did not play the tape.

Ms Vanstone did a very good job I thought, I almost voted myself guilty after hearing her opening address, but I don’t think my old Mum liked her opening much.

Ms Vanstone called her first witness, a police draftsman from the technical section, who had made detailed plans of the service station and the inside of the shop. Then she called the officer who had taken photos of the shooting scene, he had also taken the photos of the robbers autopsy. He had taken photos of a reenactment, where police cadets were used to take the place of us. I was told later by the man who was working at the Caltex service station where they did there acting that day, he said that it worked out just like I said on the night of the shooting. That’s why Ms Vanstone did not use it. I may be wrong but the defence should have been shown the photos and the video they made of the reenactment.

Ms Vanstone then called Mrs Margaret Rowe, the lady who was working the night of the robbery. All the attention is on what happened to the robber, what about poor Margaret. Who was working on Saturday night just doing her job to make a bit of money, to raise her kids single handed (not by choice). When some young man comes in to get money the easy way, not by working on a Saturday night like Margaret.

So here she is now just days after her mother had died, having to testify in the Supreme Court, because this young man decided to rob her for some quick cash.

The basis of her testimony was that she was working and talking to me when this man sticks a large knife to her chest, demanded money and started to leave. She turns to ring for the police as she has been taught to do, so she did not see what the robber did near the door. Margaret had rang me long before, only days after the shooting, she did not know what to do. The police wanted her to give another statement, she said she did not know what had happened that night. Margaret said ‘Tell me what to tell them’, I said ‘If I tell you what to say, they will be able to work out that it’s the same story as mine, and they will know you are not tell the truth’. ‘But they say on the radio you may be charged with something, I don’t want you to get in to trouble’.

I said ‘Don’t lie if you can not remember just say that, I will be OK just don’t lie’. With hindsight, I should have told her what to say and then she could have been my witness and I would not have been charged. I think Margaret was the last witness that day they arranged for the jury to visit the Caltex service station the next day, to view the scene of the robbery and shooting. Michael David did not want me to go to the viewing, I don’t know why, so I did not have to go to the court until after lunch.

The next day my brother in law and my sister pick up Mum and me and into town went. Through the media crush again, into the supreme court, we were a bit early so we just sat down in the lobby . It was not long before the lift opened and Michael and Gary stepped out, Michael spotted me and headed over to us, he looked like he just won the lottery. I said ‘How did it go?’ Michael said ‘We have got them thinking our way’. Michael said ‘I was able to show them that if the little bastard had turned like Dr James said he would have run into the wall so why did he turn that way?’ Michael went on to say that this afternoon would be make or break time for us. Dr James testimony would be crucial to their case.

‘My "friend" is trying to get Milsom as close to the door as she can, so I want to get Dr James just to stick to the facts on the angle of the bullet and keep off the word door, with what I pointed out at the shop today we should be OK’.

I went back in the dock, it was reasonably comfy, it had a padded seat and back. I notice just under the shelf was long strong metal rail, that would be for handcuffing the bad boys to, I think. Ms Vanstone next witness was a police officer from the Ballistic Section, who had test fired and checked the safety of my Berretta pistol I had that night. I think he did more for my defence than he did for Ms Vanstone’s case, by the time he described my little pistol as a ‘last century design, small calibre, no sights on it. With a barrel too short for target work, and being gold plated it was clearly a collectors piece’. Then he went on to describe what type of pistol the replica would have been. It was a 9 mm. Smith & Wesson, auto pistol with a capacity of 14 rounds at the high end of the calibre scale and was the preferred weapon of our Star Force, the police response squad. Well so far all the witness that Ms Vanston QC had called for the Crown have only conferred what we are not disputing. It is agreed that I was there, I had the pistol, and that I fired that pistol. The fact is, most of the event is caught on security video for all to see. The police had used the video to take still photos off for the jury to study at there leisure, some one hundred single shots. Out of thirty four seconds, that is what they said the whole robbery and shooting took, what both the Crown and the defence are arguing over is about two or three seconds.

The time had come for Dr James to take the stand, as soon as he was sworn Michael David asked for the jury to retire, as there was a legal point he had to discuss. That is different to what you see on the TV shows, were the lawyers say something, then the judge asked the jury to disregard what they have just heard.

Michael David wanted the judge to restrict Ms Vanstone from referring to the door, but Ms Vanstone argued that she can not be restricted from using one word. The defence argued that, by the Crown using the word door, it would put the idea in the jury’s mind that someone was leaving the building, when they could have been doing something else. The judge asked Michael David ‘What do you mean?’ Michael said, ‘If my learned friend tells the jury, the deceased turned near the door, the jury would automatically infer from that, he was leaving the shop. But if my friend says the deceased turned after he leaves the cameras view, this does not automatically mean he is going out of the shop, he could be doing anything’.

Michael did not win that one, so they recalled the jury and Ms Vanstone questioned Dr James as to were the bullet hit the deceased, he answered ‘The projectile hit the top of shoulder an inch toward the back’. This is how Vanstone used the word BACK like she used the word DOOR.

Michael got a win when he got to cross-examined Dr James. Michael pointed out that from the autopsy, he knew the angle from were the shot was fired, and the position of the deceased, and asked. ‘Could he have not have been turning back to face Mrs Rowe and my client, with the replica pistol in his hand? And if you look at the video, can you see the deceased lifting his hand with the pistol in it just before he goes out of view? ‘Dr James said ‘Yes’.

Dr James was the last witness for the Crown. So now it was time for

Ms Vanstone to close for Crown, she was very good and delivered the government message very well, I thought. She said ‘We do not arm the bank tellers, we do not arm our shop workers. We rely on the police to capture offenders, we don’t want people taking the law in to there own hands. Mr Foreman said to himself here’s my chance to shoot somebody, as the deceased ran out of the DOOR’. Ms Vanstone then went on to say ‘Nothing can change the fact that the deceased was shot in the BACK’.

After this statement, Justice Lander adjourned for the day, the trial would resume at 10:00am the next day. Michael wanted all of us to meet at his chambers in Angas Street in an hour. We all went around to the cafe in the market next to the courts for a coffee and something to eat. About an hour later we all walked down Angas Street to Michael’s chambers. Inside his chambers he said ‘We have to decide what we will do tomorrow with the defence’. Michael said ‘I think our best defence is no defence, I have decided not to call any witness. The only question is will Kingsley take the stand, but only Kingsley can make that decision’. I said ‘If I’m going to go down, I not going to make it easy for them by going on the stand and have a highly paid QC like Vanstone make me look like a gibbering idiot, and make me look bad in font of the jury. Michael and Gary said ‘We think you have made the right decision, but you have to sign a paper to say it was your choice in case it all goes wrong at the end’. The lawyers know how to cover themselves.

‘So the next day is do or die, my sister said, Michael called it ‘The nasty day’.

It’s the last day of the trial, I got dressed had my usual can of Coke for breakfast. My sister and brother in law were down early sitting around the table in the kitchen, as we were getting ready to leave I left my wallet and house key on the kitchen table because I did not know if I would be home again. So it was off to town, same old thing the media was there again so we pushed through the crush into the court. We meet up with Michael and Gary in the lobby, they had moved us to a another room today, it was on the other side of the building. Gary asked ‘Have you changed your mind about testifying?’ ‘No when I say I will do some thing I stick to it" I said. Gary said ‘I think you have done the right thing, look what Vanstone did to Carmen Lawrence’.

The court resumed and Michael David started his address to the jury, he must be know for this as the public gallery filled up with wigs and black gowns. I must admit it cost me a fortune but it was worth every cent, there were some great lines like. ‘He was dammed if he did, and dammed if didn’t, and ‘What was Mr Foreman supposed to do? skulk in the corner and wait until she was stabbed to death’. I loved the fact Ms Vanstone in her closing to the jury said, ‘Nothing can change the fact that the deceased was shot in the BACK’. As she was saying that she took her right hand and for all her worth she reached as far as she could over her shoulder and down her back. I thought she would do herself an injury. The bullet hit him on top of the shoulder an inch towards his back, that how she get the word BACK. The bullet hit on top of the shoulder and ran along his shoulder into the side of his neck, severing the main artery in his neck.

It was getting darker and darker, still no news on the jury, we were on one side of the lobby and all the media were on the other. From the level we were on I could just see through the top window, I could see the tops of the trees in Victoria Square, it was the start of winter but there were still some leave on the trees. My sister in law was standing next to my sister and looking over the rail into the centre of the court building, I never thought I would ever see Chris (my sister in law), so quiet, for so long.

Mum was sitting next to me and I could see her smouldering away slowly, poor mum did not understand that Ms Vanstone was just doing her job, I don’t think she was going to be on mum’s Christmas list.

There was one good thing, I saw "Sexy Legs" walk up the stairs, I saw Michael walk outside then he came back in, then Vanstone did the same. I thought maybe they were smokers, then Gary went outside and then he came back in. Michael went outside again, I though what ! not another smoke. I know why now, the TV news crews were outside waiting to do a live broadcast of the verdict.

I am not sure now, but it was three or four hours after the jury went out that we heard that they had reached a verdict. So everyone piled back in to the court room, I can honestly say I was not nervous, I was way beyond that, I was in shock. When I got back into the dock I noticed a few more security staff in the room, there had been one at my side all the time I was in dock, but most of them were dozing off. They were good, they kept getting me drinks of water, one of them, a lady about my age said to me ‘It’s nice to sit next to someone nice for a change’.

Well this is it, the judge came in, he ask for the jury to file in then he ask me to ‘Please stand up’. As I was standing there, one of the court staff (Tipstaff) walked from were the judge comes in, he walked down to "Sexy Leg". I am sure I heard him say to her ‘We think it’s a guilty’. The Foreman of the jury stood up to give there verdict, with a murder charge the jury can give a manslaughter verdict, so the judge ask for a verdict on the charge of murder, the Foreman said ‘Not Guilty’. This did not make me feel good, I knew murder was out but manslaughter, that was the one that had me worried. I waited for the Foreman to read the verdict on manslaughter, (and after what I thought I heard the Tipstaff say), I bit my lip and waited, then the Foreman said ‘Not Guilty’

I was still numb at that stage, but the judge looking happier, and said ‘Mr Foreman you are free to go’. That was the first time I was referred to as Mr Foreman, rather than "The Accused" or "The Prisoner", after the Judge said ‘Mr Foreman you are free to go’, I turned to leave the dock. The security officer next to me said ‘Good luck mate’, I was going out the way I walked in. All week I had been wondering were the door behind me led to. The security staff used it to come and go, so I imagine in goes down to the cells, it must be a bit like a ant’s tunnel. Before I could get out of the dock my sister had somehow, (I still don’t now how), she was sitting in the public gallery on one of the wooden benches, on the far side of Michael and Gary and her husband Daryl). Somehow she flew over all of them and run over to me, she hugged me so tight I thought I would stop breathing. Gary had to take us outside so the court could continue, the judge still had to thank and dismiss the jury.

Out in the lobby of the supreme court reports were all go, they were onto there news room ringing the verdict through. To say my family was happy is an understatement, it was only minuets after the jury’s decision, Daryl said ‘Your mobile phone is here, and there’s a call for you. It was Margaret from the Caltex service station, she was happy, and glad that it was over, and happy it had turned out the right way. I asked ‘How did you find out so fast ? she said ‘The TV station had broken into their normal program to do a live cross to the court for the verdict’. Then Gary said ‘The TV and other media out the front, and they want you to say something to them’. He said ‘I will do most of the talking for you, don’t worry about it’. I had got used to the TV cameras in my face during the day. They really do get close to you with the cameras and microphones, but I had not been in front of the cameras at night with their bright lights. Gary had the right idea, he had sun glasses on, I feel like a moth, stunned by the lights. There were TV reporters and radio reporters plus the newspapers as well, all shouting different question at me at she same time.

I had just waited four hours for twelve men and women to decide my future, I was in no state to even know what day of the week it was. So with my family I left the supreme court for the last time, with all the media behind me with their lights and cameras.

I had played the legal game, the jury had given me a unanimous ‘Not Guilty’ of anything, but here it is eight years later and I still have nightmares every night, and my post traumatic shock is so bad, that bad that my doctors have me on a disability pension.

We all went down to Mum’s house, and sat around the big kitchen table, we were all there except my brother who could not get time off from his job and was also looking after their kids while Chris was in Adelaide. Chris said ‘I need a drink’, she went to the fridge and got out the bottle of Ben Ene wine she had bought earlier. I said ‘I need one too’, so we all ended up with a glass. Daryl said’ I think we need some more wine’, I was starting to shake all over now, I only drink beer as a rule, but I said ‘ You better get a couple of those’. Daryl went off, up to the local hotel, the Ramsgate in Henley Square. While he was away Mum and the girls were making some light snacks for us all, when he got back we all topped up our glasses. Including my seventy two year old Mum, then my sister said, ‘We should toast the jury, they have done their job correctly, so we toasted the jury. Then someone suggested we should toast judge Lander, so we did, then we toasted Michael David QC. By now the wine was getting low so good old Daryl went off with Chris back to the Ramsgate Hotel. When Darly and Chris got back they were giggling, they told us the barman at the hotel had asked it they had won the Lotto or something.

Now it was Gary Cappola’s turn for the toast, by the end we were toasting every man and his dog, that was the best night in eight months.

I had to face the firearms charges after the murder trial, the thing that gets me is that while I was charged with a breech of my firearms licence, for having my registered Berretta pistol (unloaded) with me on the night of the robbery. (I later pleaded guilty to this charge in the Magistrates court and was fined fifteen hundred dollars and had a life ban imposed on me, I am now not able to own or use a firearm). However Ms Vanstone QC. for the Crown had in her possession the pistol and the bullets, as evidence. My sister told me she had seen the pistol in Ms Vanstone’s bag, as she sat in court. That means when she walked outside into Victoria Square in the middle of the city of Adelaide to have a smoke, in her handbag was a Berretta semi-auto with live rounds. If her handbag was snatched by some criminal they would have had themselves a new and better weapon to use in their next crime.

If you think that is bad, is it true that Ms Vanstone would walk down one of the main streets of Adelaide with my little Berretta in her bag.

After the murder verdict Chris went back to Darwin, about a month later I talked my sister into going up to Darwin to have a holiday with Chris, Garry and the kids. On the plane to Darwin I told Jen I was not going back to Adelaide, I told her I had worked all my life since I was fourteen and the trial had cleaned out all my bank books, I decided there was no reason to go back, I would stay in Darwin. Jen said ‘Are you sure ? ’ I said ‘Yes, I have thought about it a lot’. When we got to Darwin I told Chris I would like to stay with them for a year or so, this way I could find a job, somewhere to live and I would just be able to take my time doing it.

My sister Jen stayed for just one week, I had never seen her look so relaxed, away from the stress of a growing family. I enjoyed driving her around Darwin in a car Chris had that she wasn’t using at the time, I made a good tour guide. After my sister went back to Adelaide I just took it easy, lazing around the house and taking the odd swim in their pool. I got a part time job as a filler in a supermarket, I worked a few nights a week, it was good for me at the supermarket. They had air-conditioning and I got to have a paid break half way through the shift, I was the oldest one there, most were uni students, not a bad bunch of people but. as well as working in the supermarket my sister in law, Chris gave me some work with her company. She has a merchandising business covering Darwin and the other areas in the "TOP End", most of the time she had me filling Pepsi, who are one of her clients.

Just before midnight one night I received a phone call from my sister back in Adelaide. She told me Mum had been taken to hospital with a suspected heart attack, she hold me they had taken mum to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. I said to her firmly ‘ That’s the hospital where Dad died, Mum can not stand the place, she has private health cover, get her out of there’. Jen rang again about 2 am to tell me she had been told the doctors had worked out Mum WAS having a heart attack, and they would be moving her to Ashford Private Hospital, there was some problem with some piece of equipment they needed that was not working at Q.E.H. but they would have the gear they needed at Ashford. After I hung up the phone I sat down in Garry’s lounge room in Darwin and said to myself, ‘If mum dies I will stay in Darwin, if she lives she will need someone to look after her, so I will go back to Adelaide’. I had lived with her for so long it would not be right to stay in Darwin, now she is not well.

I had bought a cheap airline ticket so I would have to wait a week to get a flight back to Adelaide, I just had to wait to see what would happen with mum. My sister phoned the following night to tell us the doctors had operated on Mum, and ‘It had gone well", the doctors had said it would be a week or so before we knew if she would be OK. So I said goodbye to Darwin, my brother and his family, and walked onto the aeroplane to head back to Adelaide.

Daryl picked me up at the airport in Adelaide and took me home, to my surprise Mum was up and about like nothing had happened. Of cause I was happy that she was OK, but unhappy to be back in Adelaide again. I went back to my old tow truck again, after a month or so I thought I had picked up Ross River virus from the Tropical city of Darwin. I started to become physically weaker, I was finding it harder to push the cars onto my truck. I even replaced the steering box on the truck because I was finding it harder and harder to turn the wheel, when I looked at the old box it was OK , nothing wrong with it. I went to my local doctor and told him my symptoms, he said it sounded like post traumatic shock. I said ‘What a lot of rubbish!, I’m sick it’s not shock’. So the doctor said he would take some blood and have it ‘Checked for the lot’, ‘Come back and see me next week, I will have the results by then’. A week later I went back expecting him to tell me I had Ross River or some such thing, to my surprise he told me the test results showed no virus, all my cholesterol was good , no diabetes and no sign of cancer. He told me he still believed it was post traumatic shock, he said that with the shooting and then eight months of waiting to see if I would get life in goal was too much for my system. He then told me I should give up work to let my body heal itself, I told him I did not believe him. ‘It’s not post traumatic shock, I am sick!’ then I left his office in a huff.

I went back to work but it was no good, I remember one day in the middle of winter I had a flat tyre on the truck, it was one of the back inside duel tyres so I drove back to the depot to change it. I was half way through changing it when the boss, seeing how bad I looked got one of his drivers to do it for me. I was sweating like a horse, and it was a very cold day. After that Bob asked me to work in the phone room instead of driving, I was stuck in to the phones for about fourteen months, but in the end I could not handle the stress. I have not had a good nights sleep in four years, although I did what I had to do that night I can not change the fact the little bastard is dead. I am a hard man, but I am not a mean man. Despite the hell I am still going through, if I was there again I would do the same thing, I guess. It seams to me the only ones to loose are Margaret and myself, my lawyers got all the money.

Michael David QC. is now Justice David of the supreme court, my barrister, Gary Capolla has better chambers, the Channel 9 news crew who took the footage at the service station that night received an award for the coverage. The woman reporter from the Advertiser received an award for her coverage of my trial and the newspaper received an award as well, and the government got the message through to the people of South Australia, that you don’t arm yourself to defend yourself. Going back after the shooting but before I was charged with murder I had a meeting with Keith Tidswell and Gary Coppolla in Keith’s office were Gary said that my QC. Mr David told him at that time before I was charged that he did not won’t me to be seen to have the public backing of the Sporting Shooters. Mr David said that it might have a influence on the D.P.P to charge me. But the day after my trial on the nightly news there was footage of Sporting Shooters staff on the phones taking donations for my defence cost, I have never received any money from the Sporting shooters.
Reply With Quote
Old 02-22-2016, 07:38 PM
Join Date: Feb 2016
Posts: 134

California Dreamin' A long distance diary

It had always being my ambition since first arriving in Canada in May 2009 to travel to all of the lower 48 US states and for the past year I've had 46 of them but the last two remaining seemed stubbornly out of reach, namely Nevada and California. This however was about to change.

The route to California.

Day 1. Tuesday 11th June 2013. Jacksonville, New Brunswick (Canada) to St. Libore, Quebec (Canada) 656km.

Having returned home the Sunday before from Virginia and South Carolina and knowing that work was slack and the only trailer in the yard to my knowledge was a short trip down to Pennsylvania, I phoned the office with some reluctance, mainly due to the 5 missed calls on my phone, all from 20-30 minutes previous. They obviously had urgent plans for me and to be honest I was cringing at the thought of a short run with no miles, because in North America we get paid by the mile, not by the hour and not by the day.

The call was duly made and to my complete shock, surprise and delight the voice at the other end announced "We've got you a load going to.....California" followed by "You've got to drop a few pallets off tonight in Quebec though, you've got to be there before 3am, can you do that?"....of course I can bloody do that, its only 600km away, I responded, still in shock.

The only problem was that my truck was still up at the Freightliner dealer having a whole list of defects repaired due to a less than satisfactory DOT inspection the week before, that saw me put out of service for 6 hours while more pressing repairs were carried out in the inspection station. The work had fortunately been carried out and by 2pm my truck was ready to roll. Someone from the office gave my a lift to collect the truck, I promptly bobtailed home to stock on up 3 weeks worth of clothes, bottled water (I refill my water bottles at home as bottled drinking water in Canada/USA is about 7 times the price of the UK) and some food, though I'd buy most of my food on the road in Walmarts in the US where prices are much cheaper than Canada, and certainly cheaper than eating out in truckstops.

After stocking up the truck I nipped back to the yard about 4km away and hooked up at en empty trailer that I'd take to Grand Falls, drop on a bay and hook up to my loaded one, before proceeding to Saint Germain de Grantham (a bizarre mix of French and English, often common in Quebec.) to unload 4 pallets where I arrived at just after 9pm and had barely backed on to the bay and they'd taken their stuff off. I had planned on pushing on further that night to miss the Montreal traffic that I'd surely hit in the morning but couldn't be bothered so called it a night just 30 minutes further up the road in the much used Irving truckstop in Saint Liboire about 45 minutes short of Montreal

Day 2. Wednesday 12th June 2013. St.Liboire, Quebec (Canada) to Perry, Michigan (USA) 1056km.

What seemed like a good idea due to laziness the night before soon turned out to be a dire mistake as the predicted traffic was even worse than imagined. So much so that the queue of traffic in the right lane for the ring road was over 2km long and due to overtaking a slower vehicle and getting caught by surprise by this fact, I decided not to try and push in for a long wait and equally congested ring road but to continue straight on and through the middle. I don't think I lost any time, both ways were just as bad.
Soon enough I was out the other end of Montreal and heading towards Ontario where English would be the spoken language again. I have to say though that I've always found Quebec and interesting and refreshing place to be as its different culture, language and even architecture make for a welcome break in the bland uniformity of North America where everything looks the same from one town to another, one state to another or one province to another.

After crossing in to Ontario its a long and very boring 800km drive down Highway 401 to the US border, with the only interruption being the huge metropolis of Toronto, which can be soul destroying congested and getting more and more so all the time. Today however I only had to lift off the limiter once, which is more than what can be said for the poor souls going the opposite way who had to endure 65km of slow moving, stop-start congestion.

After several hours of abject boredom I finally made it to the US border at Sarnia, Ontario / Port Huron, Michigan. As all paperwork is faxed ahead and cleared well before arrival at the border its usually a very painless process. Today there was not even a queue and I ran straight up to the US customs window and admitted to the country after less than 90 seconds.

After crossing the border I usually stop at the Pilot truckstop just outside of Port Huron for diesel and a free shower before pressing on, today was no exception.

Time to hit the road and use up the rest of my driving time. In the US we're allowed 11 hours driving per day and for the first few days on a long run I always like to do as much as possible so that I can wind down a bit towards the end, or if something goes wrong I've got some leeway to play with. About an hour inland from the border there is a Walmart in the town of Burton that's right by the interstate and handy for truck access so a visit is always on the cards

Day 3. Thursday 13th June 2013. Perry, Michigan to Underwood, Iowa. 1066km.

Today is to be a rather boring day of flat land driving with only a bit of excitement on the way past the southern suburbs of Chicago. After that and the dreary drive across Illinois comes the mighty Mississippi river and the symbolic start of the "West", although anything that resembles the West is still a long way off. Soon after crossing the Mississippi in to the state of Iowa is the Iowa 80 truckstop, apparently the largest in the world with almost 1000 parking spaces. I usually stop in but I've been there several times now and these days tend to just stop across the road in the Flying J to fill up with diesel and perhaps take a quick shower.
Iowa itself is the quintessential mid-west state with low rolling hills but generally a rather flat endless expanse of open corn fields. To be its always one of those states to be endured in the name of getting somewhere else. Finally I pull in to the last rest area in Iowa before the Nebraska state line and call it a day. I've done a few minutes short of 11 hours and after a boring day I'm ready for bed.

Day 4. Friday 14th June 2013. Underwood, Iowa to Rawlins, Wyoming. 1076km.

Today will be the last day of flat boring endless agriculture and the start of the American west and where things get more interesting.
I started the day shortly after 7am and passed through the sprawling city of Omaha, Nebraska without any issue, by now I'm in the Central time zone and two hours behind my own Atlantic time so 7am for me is 5am local time, hence a welcome lack of traffic.
Most of Nebraska is much the same as Iowa but the further west you go, the more rugged the landscape becomes and fields give way to cattle and eventually cattle gives way to a rugged landscape with very little on it.

stopped for diesel and a shower shortly before the interstate splits at Big Springs, Nebraska and the I80 continues west towards Wyoming, Utah and eventually northern California or you can swing off on to I76 and in to Colorado, Las Vegas and eventually Los Angles and southern California. Although a Flying J, it was part of the taken over Bosselman chain and as such has a much different look to the standard flying J so a few more photos of the facilities follow.

After another 11 hour drive I call it a day in Rawlins, Wyoming. Due to its high altitude its often the scene of much snow in winter and the interstate is often closed here. Even in mid June the temperature dropped to almost freezing during the night and necessitated the reaching down during the night to turn the night heater on.

Day 5. Saturday 15th June 2013. Rawlins, Wyoming to Winnemucca, Nevada. 1036km.

By now I'm in my 3rd time zone, namely Mountain time and my 8am start saw me entering the highway at 5am local time. Today would see the varied landscapes of highly elevated and rugged Wyoming, followed by the Great Salt Lake and Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah and finally the semi-desert/mountainous landscape of northern Nevada and a whole lot of open road to make good time over.

Arriving in the state of Utah. Some of the western states require that you physically stop at the border in these so called Port of Entry places and present your documents, permits and so on to show that you're legal for the state and have paid to be there. Its only an annoying procedure though and lasts no more than 5 minutes.

Arriving in Utah the terrain gets more mountainous as I enter the Rocky Mountains. The long drop down to Salt Lake City isn't to be taken lightly and there are several points to chain up and off during the winter months and a few emergency runaway lanes while heading down the hill.
I called it a night just outside the town of Winnemucca after 10 and a half hours driving. Apparently this towns claim to fame is that it was the scene of a bank robbery by Butch Cassidy in 1900.

Day 6. Sunday 16th June 2013. Winnemucca, Nevada to Lodi, California. 619km.

Today was to be the final day of the trip across to California. By now I'm on Pacific time, my 4th time zone and 4 hours behind Atlantic time.
I start the day at 9:45 my time as I'm now in now rush and can take it easy. Two hours down the road I pull in to the Pilot truckstop in Fernley to get the truck washed. The California DOT are apparently renowned for being keen on the slightest thing and hate to see a dirty truck, especially one with any sort of oil or grime coming off it. So to the truck wash it is for a full tractor unit and engine bay wash for $49, about £32 according to (other money conversion websites are available).
Time to hit the road again on the last stretch to the California state line. Finally, 48 out of 48 states! Ambition achieved with the mere passing of a sign, quite an anti-climax really.
Soon after the state line you hit the Donner Pass which isn't to be taken lightly with a heavy load. In the winter it must be a nightmare, proof if such were needed of that fact are the many snow chain retailers on each and every exit for about 30 or so miles and the numerous pull over points for trucks to chain up/off.

Not far to go now. Once at Sacramento its time to take Interstate 5 south towards Los Angles, though I'll only be going about an hour south to the town of Stockton.
Almost at my delivery now. I'm heading to a produce farm about 10 miles outside of Stockton.
Once empty I headed back to Stockton and then north again up Interstate 5 to the Flying J truckstop in Lodi. All being well and reload pending, I'm intending to take a 36 hour reset here and hire a car for some sight seeing.

Day 7. Monday 17th June 2013. Off Duty. Sight seeing in San Fransisco.

The day started with a call to the office to be informed that I'd be loading some 40 or so miles away tomorrow (Tuesday) in the Napa Valley. A full load of wine going back to Whitby, Ontario, a suburb of Toronto. This was the news I wanted as it gave me the whole day to do as I wished. A quick phone call to the local Enterprise car hire centre in Lodi, some 8 miles away soon saw a car booked and they came out to the truckstop to collect me. Within the hour I was making towards San Fransisco with all haste.
After crossing the impressive Bay Bridge in to the city of San Fransisco and just heading totally blind in the general direction of downtown and to the waterfront I found a car park to leave the Mazda 3 in. One thing I soon found out is that San Fransisco is a very expensive place and parking for the remainder of the day was something like $25 or $30.
Parking sorted and both camera's at the ready, I started to hoof it down the waterfront until I eventually came to the terminal of the bay cruise tours that take one under the Golden Gate Bridge and around Alcatraz. You can visit Alcatraz but unfortunately due to incredible demand it was booked out until 7 days time, so definitely something to book well in advance to any one thinking of visiting San Fransisco.
A superb hour on the boat ensued with amazing views of the Golden Gate Bridge as we sailed under and then did a full circle around Alcatraz. Afterwards I continued down the waterfront and found a preserved WWII Submarine that was open to the public so couldn't resist a look around that.
The day was now drawing to a close so I made my way back to the car to deposit the various souvenirs I'd purchased and as the traffic was horrendous I decided to spend a few hours walking in the other direction towards the skyscrapers of downtown and the famous China Town. This was well worth the walk, even in flip flops that turned out to be a rather stupid choice of footwear on my part. I never learn!
The visit would not have been complete without actually driving over the Golden Gate Bridge, so I took the long way back to Lodi, adding maybe 15-20 miles on to the journey but it was worth it just for the experience of driving over one of the most famous and iconic bridges in the world. I left San Fransisco feeling very pleased that I'd managed to visit, but also frustrated that I'd only had a limited time there and missed out on seeing so much on offer. But any visit was better than no visit and when you're doing this job I believe in taking what opportunities you have to visit places.
I arrived back at the truckstop at midnight local, so 4am my time, parked the car round the front and limped to my truck with very sore calve muscles due to my inappropriate footwear.

Day 8. Tuesday 18th June 2013. Lodi, California to Winnemucca, Nevada. 651km.

My return journey large mirrored by outward bound trip so I will try and be much briefer, especially with the photos.

After returning the hire car I made my way over to the town of American Canyon which is in the wine producing region of the Napa Valley just north of San Fransisco. Upon arrival I was immediately backed on to a door and loaded in just over an hour with a full load of wine destined for Canada. Not long after I was on my way eastwards and after crossing the first scale with a green light I made for Nevada with all haste. California is all well and good to visit but driving a truck there isn't very enjoyable. There is a 55mph truck speed limit, you have to have your trailer axles right forward and that can make it a pain to get your axle weights correct with a heavy load and so on so I breathed a sigh of relief when I crossed in to Nevada and could put my foot down without fear of over zealous police officers and proceeded to do a much more sensible 65mph while many of the other trucks were flying past on, or perhaps over the 75mph universal speed limit.
I called it a day in Winnemucca once again, just before 11pm. Only 7:45 driving today but I didn't have to be in Whitby, Ontario until the following Monday evening and all being well I'd be there Saturday afternoon so no rush. Getting loaded in American Canyon, California. I had the hood open out of boredom, this however was to become a common sight later in the trip!

Day 9. Wednesday 19th June 2013. Winnemucca, Nevada to Rawlins, Wyoming. 1034km.

An uneventful day heading east. Basically retracing my footsteps the same way I came.

Day 10. Thursday 20th June 2013. Rawlins, Wyoming to Underwood, Iowa. 1075km.

Another day without much to report that wasn't already covered in the outward journey. Apart from some grocery shopping in the Walmart in Laramie, Wyoming nothing much happened and by now I'm ready for home.

Day 11. Friday 21st June 2013. Underwood, Iowa to Altoona, Iowa. Only 258 due to breakdown.

Today was supposed to be another boring day with good millage. The plan was to motor over to Toronto as quickly as possible and have a few days off there, go sight seeing in Toronto and catch the train to Niagara Falls. My truck had other ideas unfortunately.

I'd left the engine running all night, not something I like to do but the heat was unbearable and at bed time was still well above 30'c. I awoke in the morning and pressed on, oblivious to the problems that would soon confront me. Two and a half hours down the road I pulled in to a rest area to use the toilet and without thinking turned the engine off after a minute or two. The moment I'd done so all sorts of beeps and alarms sounded and she wouldn't start again, and was only showing 9.8 volts on the dashboard instead of the normal 12.2 with the engine off. A nearby truck couldn't jump start me so help had to be called.
About two hours later a pickup truck arrived with a mechanic who obviously didn't want to be there. He hooked up his jump leads, started his generator with within seconds my power inverter was making loud popping sounds, smoke was bellowing out of the back of it, my front head light bulbs had blown and my dashboard was going absolutely haywire. He immediately turned off his generator and said "Oh, they sometimes don't like that, when I put 17 volts in to them". Now, I'm no mechanic but on a 12volt vehicle that receives 14 volts from the alternator, is putting 17 volts in to it a good idea? Obviously my truck didn't like it. He then declared my batteries were fine but it was my starter motor that was jammed. This was despite the fact that as soon as he removed his jump leads, my dash was reading 9.8 volts again. He couldn't get it started and as there was nothing he could do, he buggered off, not before leaving a bill with me for $247.
A few hours later two tow trucks turned up from a different company. In the state of Iowa its not legal to tow a truck and trailer together, they have to be moved separately. So a few hours later another bill for $1054 was left in my hand at a Flying J truckstop in Altoona, Iowa where they had onsite garage facilities and they were the only people within 250 miles who'd see to me that day. The local freightliner dealer wouldn't touch me for 3 and a half days!!
I then spent all night roaming the truckstop while they slowly worked away on my truck. I had a shower, I had a meal, I chatted with the people behind the workshop service desk, I walked around the truckstop several times, I tried laying down in my truck but the 35'c heat and workshop noise made that unbearable so I went back inside and had some bizarre conversations with some American drivers. I will never understand how half of these drivers manage to get dressed in the morning, let alone figure out how to turn a key and drive across the country. Finally by 7am I was fixed, and had another bill in my hand, this time for £1199. This was for a new alternator, apparently my original one had a faulty diode and was over charging the batteries and over time frying them and as a consequence I needed four new batteries. Upon asking about the starter motor, it turns out that was fine. So the first idiot who came out to me charged us $247 for the privilege of blowing up my inverter and head lights and completely mis-diagnosing the issue. Wonderful. All in all it came to about $2500.
By now I was nothing more than a walking zombie so I pulled out of the workshop, drove round to my trailer, connected and went to bed, not waking again until after midday.

Day 12. Saturday 22nd June 2013. Altoona, Iowa to Grand Ledge, Michigan. 842km.

Due to the above mentioned ordeal it wasn't until 13:30 that I pulled out of the truckstop in Altoona, Iowa. Still, I was in no hurry and had days to spare due to the delivery appointment so I'd just drive as far as I felt like and then call it a day.
Good progress was made across Iowa and Illinois, past Chicago and in to Michigan. I could have gone a few hours further but couldn't be bothered and the was really no need so after eight and a half hours of driving I called it a night in the Flying J in Grand Ledge, Michigan.

Day 13. Sunday 23rd June 2013. Grand Ledge, Michigan to Pickering, Ontario (Canada). 569km.

I didn't have much to do today apart from run the last part of Michigan to the Canadian border and then in to Toronto. An hour after starting I pulled in to the Walmart in Burton once again to stock up on supplies and then heading for the Pilot in Port Huron once more for diesel and a shower. Once those familiar routines were fulfilled I trundled up to the border a few miles away and re-entered Canada without issue.
I have friends in Kitchener, Ontario which is on route to Toronto so decided to go and visit them for a few hours. They came out to Canada at the same time as myself and he worked at the same company as me. Last year they made the decision to leave New Brunswick and start afresh in Ontario and now live in Kitchener. After a pleasant 3 hour stay there I headed through Toronto to the eastern suburbs and parked in the little Flying J truckstop in Pickering, only 10 miles from my delivery. It has to be said that while this truckstop is a recent takeover and leaves much to be desired compared to most Flying J's, they have superb wifi and as such I didn't use my Canadian dongle which costs a fortune in usage compared to my UK equivalent I use when back in England.

Day 14. Monday 24th June 2013. Pickering, Ontario. 0km!!!!

Well it all went wrong again today. My delivery that was supposed to be at 15:45 was wrong and I now couldn't go and unload for another 24 hours until the same time tomorrow. This is the major flaw of driving in North America. On mileage pay you don't earn unless you're moving. I'll now sit in Toronto for no money at all, through no fault of my own.

As I had nothing else to do I prepared a meal and indulged in some comfort eating. This time a stir fry.

Day 15. Tuesday 25th June 2013. Pickering, Ontario to Whitby, Ontario and back to Pickering. 38km!!!

After a long lay in I decided to go in and make use of the free showers banked on my loyalty card. They were nowhere near as good as the usual high standard but better than nothing and it was much needed.
I headed down to the Ontario Liquor Control Board warehouse to unload. In most provinces in Canada (perhaps all?) alcohol is a government monopoly and is only sold in provincial alcohol stores. After much BS and having to don a vis-vest and steel toe capped boots for the first time in several months I proceeded to back on to a door and start the long process of getting unloaded in a highly unionised and militant government enterprise. They had to be the most miserable bunch of jobsworths I've had the misfortune of encountering for a few years.
After a few hours in there I was finally empty and beated a retreat back to the Flying J truckstop in Pickering again. As my unloading had been delayed by 24 hours, I'd lost my reload and as such had to sit and wait until Wednesday and just hope they could find me something. So today I drove the grand total of 38km which is 23 miles. At .36 cents per mile I earned a grand total of $8.28 or £5.17 in proper money. This added to the fact that I earnt nothing the day before and had no idea of whether I'd even have a reload the next day was really starting to wind me up. Anyway, back to the truckstop it was.

Day 16. Wednesday 26th June 2013. Pickering, Ontario to Montreal, Quebec. 629km.

Having set no alarm, I awoke mid morning to my satellite computer beeping away to inform me of a reload. Excellent, I thought. Until that was I scrolled down and saw that it wasn't going to get me all the way home, but only half way, to Montreal to be exact. Obviously work is very slack at the moment and they got me anything they could to get me moving, but I still felt very annoyed none the less.
I proceeded back across Toronto to the north western suburb of Brampton, otherwise known as Bramladesh due to its similarity to the likes of London, Leicester or Bradford. Upon arriving at the Kuhne & Nagel warehouse the miserable Bramladeshi snapped that I was an hour early and to bugger off and come back in an hour! Charming.
I duly came back in an hour and was promptly loaded for Montreal for a midnight delivery...ffs.

I arrived just outside Montreal at about 11pm my time so 10pm local and wasted an hour in a small truckstop. I was delivering to a Sears RDC, basically a North American department store that sells practically everything. No point in turning up too early I thought as there would be nowhere to park nearby if turned away. Like always I'd google earth and street viewed the place. I arrived just before midnight local and to my delight only had to drop my trailer on a door, pull back outside and go to bed and they'd call me when it was done. At about 5am my phone rang to inform me the trailer was empty but rather hook up now and drive around looking for somewhere to park "off card" I'd just stay put until morning, they weren't happy about it but I didn't really give them a choice. Their shunter moves the trailers to a holding yard once they're empty any way, so it made no difference to them.

Day 17. Thursday 27th June 2013. Montreal, Quebec. to Oromocto, New Brunswick. 909km.

I awoke again at about 10:30 in the morning to the tune of my satellite going off again. They had a reload for me in Joliette, about 30 miles east of Montreal towards Quebec City, on the north side of the river. I've been there before, its all toilet paper and kitchen roll etc, very light but they can take ages to load it. This load was destined for Sobey's RDC in Oromocto, New Brunswick. Sobey's is a supermarket chain in Canada.
I made my way over to Joliette, leaving Montreal at about mid day and was given a door to back on to. On the door next to me was another New Brunswick truck from AYR Motor Express driven by a German driver, whom I chatted with for some time. After two and a half hours on the door I finally got a green light, went for my paperwork and hit the road. My delivery was for 5am the next morning and I wouldn't even get there until 2am. More day and night nonsense for little pay. The load would get me home so needs must and all that.
After loading I continued down Autoroute 40 to Quebec City and then cross the river to the southern side. This bridge is the lowest crossing of the Saint Lawrence. Continuing east bound down Autoroute 20 to Riviere du Loup (translates as River of wolves, or Wolf River) and then bear off south towards New Brunswick. Arriving in New Brunswick the scale was of course open as it almost always is but with a light load there was nothing to fear. It wouldn't have mattered anyway because the DOT officer inside was busy talking to a driver who had parked in the yard and had her back to me so I drove over and out without issue.
I stopped for a shower in a brand new Shell truckstop in Edmundston, the first town you come to in New Brunswick on the recommendation of a friend. The showers there were totally mind blowing. I regretted not taking my camera inside with me because they made the facilties earlier in the trip look like nothing. When I go back next time I'll be asking where they get their towels from, I've never felt such soft towels before and would like some for my home.

Another three hours would pass before I finally made it to Oromocto at just before 2am. Officially they don't start receiving until 5am but they will usually put you on a door when you arrive if they have one. Upon arrival it was almost deserted so I went inside to book in and was immediately given door # 20. Great I thought, I can back on now and go straight to bed. No such luck, door 20 had a bloody trailer on it, and they wouldn't let me back on to one of the 3 empty doors an either side but said I'd have to wait until 5am when the shunter would come in to work and move the trailer. Bloody marvelous, I was tired enough as it was and could do without that, but there was nothing I could do about it so went to sleep for 3 hours, woke up just before 5am to find the shunter in the process of moving the trailer and I then backed on and went to bed. In the UK this would have been impossible as I'd have been beyond my spread over, here on paper log books its a none issue. I could have being difficult and refused to move off card but that would only result in me sitting there 24 hours until a new booking was made the following day and that would definitely have been by far the worse of the two evils. After backing on to the door, I pulled the curtains around again and hit the bed.

Day 18. Friday 28th June 2013. Oromocto, New Brunswick to Woodstock, New Brusnwick (Home) 121km.

At about 7am I got a knock on the door with my signed paperwork. Officially I couldn't move until 10am with an 8hr break so I pulled out on to the road, closed my doors and went back to bed for a few hours. I had intended to set off for home at 10am as I already knew I was heading back to the yard empty but due to the messing about in the night had an extra two hours sleep and departed at mid day for the hour and a bit drive back to the yard.
This weekend see's Canada Day on Monday so its a long weekend and upon arriving in the yard, dropping the trailer and walking in to the office to hand in my paperwork they said it'd be at least Tuesday until they had something to go out with. Fine by me, the last week of the trip was a financial write off but that aside, I'm going home for a few days anyway. I was soon back in my truck for the quick 4km bobtail ride back home, where it all began 18 days earlier.

The End.
Reply With Quote
Old 02-24-2016, 01:33 PM
Join Date: Feb 2016
Posts: 134

Well worth a look, Flying Semi Truck Crash Caught On Camera In Indiana,
Reply With Quote
Old 02-24-2016, 03:10 PM
Join Date: Feb 2016
Posts: 134

From Trucknet, 1976

Its July 1976, It all happened as I was a diesel fitter, Working on Artics ect ect, How do you Fancy Driving a truck to Iran was the question from a mate of mine, How much said I ??? £500 for a couple of weeks work Graham replied, drive out, fly back, all expenses paid, as many as you want to do.. At that time I was working for the C.E.G.B at the new construction site for Grain power station, a good job taking home around £100 a week, did I really want to give it up, but £500 seemed to good to be true, so I agreed but only if I could get the time off work, so I went ahead and booked my 2 weeks holiday.

On the appointed Saturday, we met at East Peckham, Kent to pick up the truck, I arrived and found we were to deliver 12 new Ford D1000s, 6 chassis cabs and 6 tippers, now the guy who arranged it was a smart man, he had the Tippers mounted on the chassis cabs, welded RSJs across the chassis and fitted bottle screws on chains, It was not going to fall off, We were due to ship out Sunday afternoon, so off I went home with my truck, 1st time with a left hooker.

Sunday morning said my goodbyes and off to the blue yonder, well I was only 23 at the time, this was going to be the an adventure of a lifetime, arrived at Dover to find only 1 other of my new found buddies there, we waited and waited until at last they arrived. Our leader explained that when they came to go in the morning one of the trucks had,had the gearbox "nicked" overnight, They were aware who did it and it was returned and refitted, this was when I realised that these fellows did not mess around. On the ferry we went and off to Calais, we arrived and camped down for the night just outside the docks by the chemical plant, ( I can still remember the awfull smell. )

Not a good nights sleep, but I was ready to go, a quick brew on the Gaz burner and were away early the next morning, we got about 2ks down the road and were stopped, the dreaded French police, they wanted, documents, paperwork, permits, this I never knew about, but our leader seemed to pave the way with a handfull of Francs.

Now I was used to working an 8 hour day, with a couple of breaks and a lunch hour, we seemed to drive for ever Trucking now seemed not so rosy, We had no Tachos, no log books, and it seemed we ran on a wing and a prayer, apart from fuel stops and a couple of rolls and crappie French coffee, our first meal was to be at the "Bakehouse"., now memory fades with the years but I do recall leaving the Bakehouse after being fed and watered, the reason I recall this so clearly is I pulled out and drove of into the night, headlights coming in the opposite direction, They were heading straight for me, Stupid Frenchman I thought before realising I was on the wrong side of the road, ( only ever did this the one time ), We arrived at the Blonc, and for some reason I got seperated from the rest, not enough Francs to get through. as I was the "fitter" I was tail end charlie, where were the others for help, half way up the tunnel. I cabbed it on the French side and got some francs in the Morning and drove off to Italy, Arrived in Aosta ( told to give the customs man a carton of B&H ) where the 5 others had cleared customs, First shower in 2 days, this felt better, a good lunch, Irecall at Aosta one of the drivers was eating some canned Tuna, he said it tasted strange, I looked and noticed it was , wait for it, Tuna cat food, he had bought about 10 cans of it with him.he had eaten 2 before Aosta.

Again I can only write as remembered, We drove through northern Italy arrived just before the Italian/Yugo border near Trieste at the end of the Autostrada, I remember the truck in front being reversed into, this cracked his windscreen, small cracks all over the place. Into Yugo we went, more problems with customs, I was given £500 running money I think, how much "our leader" had was never known but he was always paying off someone, All I had to get was fuel and tolls, off we went to Zagrab, and again we were stopped, this time for driving at the wrong time of day, fined the the police, and told to stay until, whatever time, I do remember when the law left, there was a little fire where there car was, we looked and it was the copies of the fines receipts being burnt, another profitable back pocket days work for the Yugo police.

Across Yugoslavia I recall meeting a fellow brit with a TM Bedford with a swan neck low lowder and huge machine load, the swan neck had snapped from the floor of the trailer, he was stuck in a lay-by , we stopped at a Motel just before the Bulgi border, and walked to the local town that night, strange place, lots of young couples hand in hand, with both sets of parents in tow behind, they walked about 500 metres up main street crossed over and returned, this went on for about 3 hours, we drank very cheap beer and has some sort of stew, .

Next morning off to the border, cannot recall much, so assume not a problem, away we went, we arrived at the Bulgarian/ Turkish border at Kapicule, This is where the fun started, queues, more queues, then more queues, then onto a dirt compound, baking hot day, the customs post, this is where we were most of the day, Our leader went off in the morning and came back hours later,The Turks wanted some kind of huge bond paid for the tippers, big problems, we did not have enough cash. A deal was struck, when transiting Turkey the vehicle regisration number was written in your passport, when exiting, it was cancelled as transited through, we had to have another driver each for the tippers, If I remember correctly they were Albanians, they stayed with us to the Arch at Ararat, the Iranian border.

Into Turkey we went, and off to Istanbul, the end of Europe the beginning of Asia, I remember the terrible road on the Bosbrus bridge, it was full of ruts and potholes, on the Asian side of Istanbul the tarmac ended and the dust dirt road began, off we went direction Ankara, Ersiram, & Eriskan, and the dreaded
Tahir mountains, well we bounced, bumped, and found our way eastwards, met fallen brit trucks, ERFs, Ackkies, and a Guy warrior,.#

July at the Tahir pass was a scenic place, as long as you discounted the smashed up wrecks of various trucks, most been robbed of wheels and various other parts, over the top no problem, and down to Ararat, then head south to the Border, Through the border no problem, Tarmac roads on the Iranian side, drove through, down a slope and parked up in large lorry park on the left, customs was a 40ft container, by the border was large building and modern cafe,Twinings tea was had by all, back to the truck for the last leg to the compound at Tabriz, Small problem, truck broken into, my shoes stolen, on the floor was a very tatty old pair of shoes, mine were put into instant use.

We arrived at the compound that night, next morning we parked up "the fleet" and hung around for the next and only bus to Tehran that day, it was a night service, we arrived sometime in the morning, after a day in the Miami hotel we flew back to the UK via Pan Am.

I arrived back home 13 days 23 hours after leaving the UK.
Reply With Quote
Old 02-24-2016, 03:14 PM
Join Date: Feb 2016
Posts: 134

Something different. How they got to Mars. Very Cool
Reply With Quote
Old 02-24-2016, 05:06 PM
Join Date: Feb 2016
Posts: 134

Meeting the new boys on the snow covered mountain...Tahir
From Trucknet.

I was on my way to Ahwaz in the Persian gulf, once i had my compulsory 2 day rest at the Londra (in the hotel) i set off with a couple of other drivers however once we got to Ankara the road split, i took the left split and headed for Erzerum-Ercincan..the roads were terrible along the ho-chi-min-trail as we called it and often you could hear the sound of gunshots in the distance as the locals took pot-shots at our trailers and maybe the drivers and perhaps i was one of the lucky ones.

Although i never heard of a driver being shot the little kids would however show you a brick in one hand..whilst gesturing with the other hand asking for something to eat often sweets i always carried a bag beside me for this purpose after all its cheaper than the hassle of finding and replacing a windscreen, well a day or so after leaving Ankara i stumbled across a was a trailer parked on the other side of the road precariously leaning very very to one side the tractor unit was still attached and seeing as it was an Englishman i decided to stay.
The driver was no where to be seen but there was a Turkish army soldier standing guard there was a fire burning with the trailer boards thick snow was all around and the temperature was below zero about 20 degrees to be exact..i went and spoke to the young soldier who actually spoke a bit of English..he told me the driver would be back in a couple of hours i made a coffee and offered him one as well he was very grateful too, sure enough the driver returned after about 4 hours with a machine on a low loader the machine was going to be used to steady the trailer whilst the tractor and trailer was being pulled by another machine out of its predicament, it turns out that the driver was looking for somewhere to park and seeing the nice even parking space albeit covered with snow decided this was a good spot.

Wrong but it was too late this company was Simon International from wapping in London the trailers were always loaded top heavy..and grossing 40 tons on a spread axle tandem trailer however it wasn't painted in the normal simon paint job. blue and white .he had such a mixed fleet because he needed every unit and trailer he could lay his hands on in order to fulfil the contract with British Leyland, i thought the operation to recover the outfit was going reasonably well but then the trailer went over ripping the fifth wheel from its least the driver had his home in one piece.

its funny how we always offer advice after the event has happened and this was no exception why didn't they pull it out backwards for example, i left the next day with the driver having to sort out the mess a crane would be coming to off load the trailer righting it and sorting out the mechanics and customs etc and i bid him farewell, a days driving saw me parking close to Tahir a mountain that's had more fatalities than I've had hot dinners the Turks drive in a kamikaze style with `allah` to protect them, i decided to never attempt the drive over this mountain at night so i parked in a sensible spot cooked my meal and got the beers out.

I watched as the grader drivers (snow ploughs) tried to clear the huge snowfalls out of the way but it still left a very dangerous surface they rarely used any salt too expensive but at least we had snow chains, well most of us anyway 10am the next day saw me heading towards the first slope of this mountain my snow chains had been checked for tightness beforehand and off i set, often being met by crazy Turk drivers in their rigs coming straight for me expecting me to move, they would also have the same disregard on their way up the mountain and cutting in at the last minute you could see over the edge of the mountain where drivers have misjudged and the wrecks strewn all over the place some with their lights still visible where this has happened overnight, as i neared the top i saw a pair of `long vehicle` signs` in the distance as i approached i could see he had slipped into the gulley at the side of the mountain..i also noticed the lack of snow chains however i wasn't going to stop here and as i was almost at the top decided to pull into a service area where i dropped my trailer and ran back down to where he was, unit only with me pulling and a snow plough pushing we got him out and then i picked up his trailer and returned to the service area.

This was merely a stop for the many Turk buses that plied this route, after connecting up to our trailers again we made lunch, well i did for this driver must have been living on sandwiches he had no cooking equipment except what they call a Turkish bomb but no pots or pans, well as i talked to him further turned out he never had a licence either but was merely offered the job because of the money offered and through recommendation from a friend of his also at the firm

We eventually started the long climb down until we eventually reached a straight bit of road and yet another Simon international truck at the side of the road again with no snow chains and an inexperienced driver too, i started to shout at these pair of idiots and asked them if they thought this was a game, why hadn't they bought any snow chains this second driver said he`d been there all night and although he had offered the grader driver his newly bought radio/cassette player the grader never returned but gained a nice stereo system normal practice in turkey

We eventually all set off together in the direction of the Turk/Iran border, we parked for the night cooked a meal for three with what equipment we had and i awoke the next morning to find the other two drivers gone along with all my cooking equipment which we had left on the diesel tank for washing the next morning this is why whenever i eat anything now i always wash and store immediately afterwards, as they say once bitten twice shy but goes to show what lengths a driver will go to after being given assistance.

I had to buy a new cooker pots etc, but on my return to London i visited there company depot where i was re-imbursed not only for the utensils but for my help in getting his trucks out of trouble and he offered me a job anytime i wanted, this mountain had a very easy route around it whereby instead of climbing over the mountain you could drive around it but it was a military road and civilians were not allowed to use it something to do with the Russian territory being close by, i would like to travel this route see if there are any improvements but would have to be a summer job maybe with the war almost over in Iraq there could very well be a trade route overland opening up again who knows

I eventually arrived at my destination where the weather was nice and warm where camels roamed freely and the trailer was unloaded by poor people with a harness attached to their backs, sometimes it would take 2 people to lift a huge box onto this one mans back and he would walk down the ramp they had put in place from the trailer floor to the ground, often i would load hazel nuts from a town called Ordu and the destination was the mars factory in slough these huge sacks of nuts would be loaded in the same way and it would often take 3 people to lift a sack onto one mans back, thank god i never had to load or unload at either end but got a free goody bag of mars products anyway well worth the long journey home.
Reply With Quote
Old 08-17-2016, 12:17 AM
Jackrabbit379's Avatar
Board Icon
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Wichita Falls,Tx
Posts: 7,202

Hey is Dr Who still around? I used to enjoy the stories of the Wild West.
Or at least his stories 🤓
Reply With Quote
Old 11-12-2017, 02:48 AM
Join Date: Jan 2017
Posts: 6

Originally Posted by Jackrabbit379 View Post
Hey is Dr Who still around? I used to enjoy the stories of the Wild West.
Or at least his stories 🤓
Haven't heard from Doc Who in a long while!
Reply With Quote

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

All times are GMT. The time now is 10:31 PM.

User Alert System provided by Advanced User Tagging v3.3.0 (Lite) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2019 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.