Celebrating another adventure in the life of the Vintage Lorry Hearse
When David Hall, of Vintage Lorry Funerals, was booked for a funeral in the centre of Coventry he undertook research using Google Street-view. It was evident that building the inner city ring road had dissected streets, splitting them into two distinct parts, similarly to the impact imposed by the creation of the Berlin Wall in August 1961. Also Coventry has a Medieval Centre like Berlin, however, David didn’t realise until he got there that the Berlin analogy should have a third strand as the Traffic Warden, who was responsible for the streets around the Funeral Director was known locally as ‘Little Hitler.’
On pulling up outside the Funeral Directors in Lower Holyhead Road, David noticed that the street was sectioned off into parking zones, which restricted parking to 2 hours with no return allowed for a further 2 hours. As the 1950 Leyland Beaver was envisaged to be outside the Funeral Directors for over 5 hours, the staff at the Funeral Director suggested that David should park the vintage vehicle on the paved area between the shop front and the footpath. It was explained that the street was patrolled by a most enthusiastic female Traffic Warden who booked any vehicle without a ticket, including a Hearse with a coffin that was due to depart. David could envisage the problem with the Traffic Warden, however, he elected to park on the street without a ticket and declined the offer to park on the paved area, due to the lorry’s 5.5 ton weight causing potential damage.
As David was sitting in his lorry, drinking his coffee and completing a So Doku puzzle he noticed in his wing mirror a small lady with a peaked cap who literally jumped for joy when she spotted a car parked illegally. Using her phone, she proceeded to take 4 pictures of the car, one from each corner, and then repeated the procedure once a prosecution notice had been positioned beneath the wind screen wipers. Working down the street the Traffic Warden came to the 1950 Leyland Beaver, walked around it and acknowledged David’s smile. As she moved to the next vehicle, the Funeral Director’s staff were flabbergasted that the Leyland Beaver received no parking prosecution notice.
Three hours later the Traffic Warden started to inspect cars at the bottom of the street and when she came to the 1950 Leyland Beaver she said, ‘You have been here for over 4 hours with no parking ticket.’ David replied, ‘I’m not parked, I’m waiting to load a coffin for a funeral due to depart within the hour.’ The Traffic Warden asked, ‘Can’t you reverse your lorry into the yard behind the Funeral Director?’ David replied, ‘The entrance is too narrow so I have no option but to wait here.’ The staff members, in the Funeral Directors office, were all standing at their window anticipating a parking prosecution notice to be given to David, however, to everyone’s amazement the Traffic Warden gave the Leyland Beaver a free pass.
Why did this Traffic Warden, who was renowned for never passing up an opportunity to book a vehicle, turn a blind eye to the Leyland Beaver being parked without a ticket for over 5 hours? Perhaps when walking around the vehicle she realised that her small frame would make it impossible for her to reach the Windscreen. In addition the Windscreen Wipers are fixed at the top of the screen and even if she had been taller and placed her document under a wiper, then there would be little to stop it blowing away.
Perhaps she noticed that David was wearing a Black Beret and she surmised wrongly that he was from a Military background, like her, and it is known that former personnel from the Armed Forces tend to stick together.
In between the visits from the Traffic Warden, David met a young boy, Joe Williams, and his Granddad, Stu Huffer, who were out for a walk. Apparently the 5 year old had spotted the 1950 Leyland Beaver’s wing embellishments catching the sunlight and pestered his Granddad to take him to see the lorry. The Granddad asked if the little lad could see inside the cab and David gave him a guided tour demonstrating the impact of putting down any switch that the young man pointed to.
A youth crossed the road to speak with David and told him about a relative who confessed on his deathbed to killing a Japanese prisoner in WWII who had committed atrocities on British troops and had shown no remorse. It is amazing what people tell David and sometimes the open cab window is like the grill between the priest and the person on the other side in a confessional box.
The events resulted in a win, win, win, win situation. The minimalistic display exceeded a Family’s expectations, 5 year old Joe had his day made, a youth got the world off his shoulders and a Traffic Warden showed compassion apparently for the first time.