Was this our local friendly ice cream man. It sort of was a long time ago....This however was the name of our scooter club.
we have near by the GRAVESEND SENTINELS and the MEDWAY ACES, the SITTINGBOURNE KNIGHTS and the SOUTH COAST PIRATES all strong fighting names and we had PAPA GELATO
Why the Fuck did we choose this I will never know, I joined the club in the early 80s after it had been going for a few years,
We never got free 99s or screwballs, It must came about after a few jars of strong cider in our local the White horse public house in Borstal Kent.
As a club we had our fair amount of loons, me included in that category, I had metal melting talents and could fix a few things as well.
So along with a couple of others our skills kept the club on the road.
If you had ridden a scooter in the past you will know that apart from the old T5 Vespa most were unreliable and if you were lucky enough to have a Lambretta then you spent more time pushing it than riding it,
The reliability of these have improved quite a bit now a days due to the improvement in ignition systems and carbration but back then they broke down more than I care to remember
My freezing cold shed / workshop was used on so many occasions to assist in the rebuilding or tuning of many a club members scoot...
I once had the job of welding some 18" extended forks to my mate steves Vespa and even though i told him it was going to be unreliable and possibly kill him he wanted it done,
This time we had planned to take a trip up north for the Great Yarmouth weekender, The day we had planned to leave Dans Malossi 166 engine had decided to melt itself and seize solid. So there we were all in my shed from late that evening pulling the Vespa apart.
With my mum bringing down the tea and biscuits every hour we stripped and rebuilt Dans scoot with a new big bore kit and racing exhaust pipe.
It was pitch black outside and I finished the job around 2 in the morning. It was no good going to bed now so the decision was made to set off to Great Yarmouth as this could be a long ride.
The night sky was clear and there was a crisp chill in the air, We were all packed, Tents and sleeping bags in bin liners and beer vouchers stuffed in our combats.
I pushed my old GP200 Lambretta quietly up the drive followed by dan on his newly built Vespa and steve on his extended fork Monster, The aim was to meet a few others on route and hopefully set up camp midday.
" Shhhh try not to make too much noise when we leave " I said
Might as well said lets get naked and run all the way there because my words fell on deaf ears.
The excitement of Dans rebuilt ride and the lack of common sense from Steve was just too much.
With a couple of kicks Dans Vespa fired up with a fucking ear splitting two stroke scream, He proceeded to rev the nuts out of this newly rebuilt engine with no mechanical compassion what so ever....Steve sat astride the monster and fired that into life
Bollox I thought, we have woken the dead now so i might as well bring the old Lammy to life
All three strokers were crackling away now and lights started to appear at the neighbors windows
Best we fuck off before the old bill turn up.
The head lights on our beasts were no more than a splash of yellow in front of the wheels, like a small illuminated puddle.
Riding at night was not recommended at best however we had to do this and took off along the road grinning from ear to ear.
The faster we went, the brighter the lights were, this is typical of an old bike or scooter, Youngsters dont know how lucky they are to have working lights and reliable engines on their rides today,
We had covered about 60 miles , we were across the Dartford tunnel and going well, It was still dark and the scoots were performing better than expected,
All of a sudden Steve vanished , like a scene from an alien abduction he was gone, I was following both Dan and Steve at the time, making sure they didn't break down and get left behind.
I pulled over and parked up.....this was spooky....No sign of Steve anywhere , Then just as I was giving up hope of ever finding him again the nutter came crawling out the hedge covered in shit and scratches dragging his Vespa behind him.
Bloody scoot had seized the engine causing all lights to turn off and thus sending him into a huge fucking black hole.
He panicked and hit the curb sending him crashing into the roadside field straight through a hedge and in doing so scattered his camping gear everywhere.
Me and Dan helped Steve drag his now very wobbly Vespa back onto the road and repacked as much of his kit as we could find in the hedge, We waited for a while to let our rides cool down and after half an hour fired them back to life and carried on our merry way reaching Yarmouth around 10am.
The weekend went well, lots of cider and beer passed our lips while we moon stomped the night away to the sounds of ska, northern soul and the who........Happy days
The return trip was pretty uneventful and there were quite a few of us on the way back.
We made frequent grub and tea stops which helped with our hangovers and gave time for the scoots to cool down,
Dans Vespa was thrashed to an inch of its life all the way home and never broke down, So that put a spanner in the works of running in a new engine before you can abuse it.
we all survived another weekender to live another day....THE PAPA GELATO scooter club