From humble bread round to top courier

A cut throat business!
A cut throat business!
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WARD’S WORLD: By madcap inventor John Ward

Sometimes I can go for ages, well almost, and not see folk I have grown up with or at about the same time, but in this instance it was Ron who I bumped into, in a manner of speaking, only seeing him in a side profile from the start as we went through the revolving doors of a well-known shopping emporium. Both of us collided at the very same time or, to be technical, at just gone quarter past ten in the morning mode, not the night one, as they close at six o’clock anyway.

I looked twice at him as he appeared to have half his head shaven rather close to the head bone, or skull bit as it’s sometimes called. His opening line of “Don’t even ask” gave me a slight inkling that things were not as they should be and the saga unfolded thus:

It seems he was in the barber’s chair having one of his twice-yearly trim-ups, and it was going rather well – until a large, fast-moving, European-made vehicle of the four-wheeled breed had a slight set-to with the vehicle in front and they collided and, at this point, Ron quickly turned his head on hearing the crash, as it was dead outside the shop. In the process, his barber did not straightaway notice, and, more to the point, nor did the electric trimmer – it was going East trimming his hair as Ron’s head suddenly swung round going West, and thus it took a hefty chunk of his hair away due to the trimmer being all but stationary.

I said that he was lucky that it didn’t take his right earhole off in the process and he said he was glad as well, as he was waiting for his new hearing-aid to be delivered and not only that, how would he manage to wear his glasses as he relies on both earholes to hold them up? Give Ron his due; he knows what he needs to keep him going.

Ron was looking to buy a hat or similar covering to partly hide the suddenly-acquired, rather trendy hairdo and I tactfully pointed out that perhaps a Balaclava might be the ideal model, at which I had a rather blank stare back.

As I don’t really see a lot of him these days and I won’t crack the one about he works in a camouflage clothing factory either, so to sort of take the heat away from his current predicament I enquired about his brother, ‘Getaway Car Ray’ as he was known in our circle, but before your mind runs riot – or not – I will point out that he was not in the bank robbery malarkey or similar line of cash-repatriation business, but a mere dispatch or courier type driver of the small but valuable sort of important items that were perhaps too large for a motorcycle courier to deliver. Family history bit now unfolds, so yawn as you will at this point.

He was for some years a bread man, who went out in his van delivering loaves, rolls and suchlike in those not-so-far-off days before the onslaught of supermarkets, etc. Ray was there with the personal touch as he delivered in-town and to outlying villages around our area and his banter was quite good: “Our French sticks are freshly made locally” or “the Swiss rolls are so fresh you can see the ski marks still on ’em” and “the baker slipped this morning getting stuff out the oven, so he’s re-labelled it all as ‘Upside Down cake’ ” and so on. But as with all good things, it came to an abrupt end due to the march of the big retailers and Ray and his fellow bakery workers were made redundant in the process.

On hearing of his plight and with an impeccable record – think it was a Frank Sinatra one, although he also had cassettes as they fitted the car radio better – in what would be now called Customer Services, word reached the ear (which is the best way to receive such things) of a firm looking for a reliable driver who specialised in direct delivery of small but important items by car or light van. This is how Ray came to be called Getaway Car Ray: his humble but happy background in dealing with delivery of bread, excitement amounted to some folk kicking up that there was not enough sugar on the doughnuts (nowadays this would be a case for a possible custodial sentence with the dreaded, nearly outlawed sugar substance, of course) or “those French sticks you sold me were not French enough”, (yes, really), or on the odd occasion running out of petrol – the van, not Ray, as he drank tea if he was driving ... and that was about it, really.

So the move from delivering humble loaves of bread and cakes to everyday addresses, to delivering expensive items to exclusive dwellings and swish residences, even on occasion to places with a Royal connection – and by this I don’t mean the Duke of Wellington pub or similar boozing establishments – meant that on hearing where his next assignment would be taking him, Ray’s response would mostly be “Geddaway! What? In my car?” as his eyes bulged in their sockets. Some of these locations were hundreds of miles away and he only knew of them as places he had read about or seen on television; hence after the first few jobs, he gained the name of Getaway Car Ray.

So if any of you are even thinking of ringing Crimestoppers based on the above, forget it.

Back to Ron then, as it seems Ray has now retired and given up the driving lark and all he does now is drive his “significant other half” mad, as he has now taken up a hobby…wait for it, wait for it…baking. Yes, baking, the very thing he started out by delivering the proceeds from. I jokingly asked him if we were alright for the occasional fruit cake, and he said he hadn’t seen his cousin Eddie for some time now, but he still sends a Christmas card every year. Geddaway, I thought.