David travelled around the UK and the continent for many years and did his fair share of travelling in the US too. He was a man of simple tastes, however, and wherever the road took him he liked to travel in the company of friends, and meals were taken whenever it suited and were, for the greater part, very simple. Indeed, when setting off to the GPs in the early 1960s, his staple was baked beans, rice pudding and Coca Cola, which he bought in bulk from the village store. Of course, there was also plenty of bread and he did like a cup of tea, though as the following stories will attest, it wasn’t always a good cup!
Fellow East Anglian Freddie Mayes did a season of GPs with David in 1968 and remembers sampling a cup of tea which didn’t quite live up to his modest expectations. ‘In 1968 when we were doing the GPs, apart from the iron curtain rounds, David was towing his caravan behind and that was where we slept. But in Czecho, we stayed in a hotel along with Malcolm Davis and Fluff Brown. David made us all tea and we all spat it out - instead of adding powdered milk he was putting instant potato in the tea! Malcolm and Fluff had about three sips before they realised!’ I also heard that once, another travelling companion who’d been charged with making tea discovered that they had no milk or sugar. Without a moment’s hesitation David told him, “That don’t matter boy, we’ve got our creamed rice. Put a spoonful of that in each mug.”
On another occasion, David Cordle, who at the time was just a lad, took his first trip outside of the UK in company with David. ‘My first time abroad was with David in late February or early March and that was an experience. This was the year I left school and I’d got an engineering apprenticeship but couldn’t start until the following August. So, David said come and help me in the workshop. One day he said to me, “Have you got a passport?” and I said, “No.” So he said, “Well go and get one.” So, I got this paper passport that my mum had to sign, and he took me off to Belgium for the weekend, where he was racing.
‘What an experience that turned out to be! Our crossing to Zebrugge was really tough and this was my first time on a boat of any kind. I remember David saying, “It’s gonna be a long crossing. Let’s go and see the captain.” He knew them all because he made the crossing so many times! It helped as well, as once all the cabins were occupied, they checked and found us one that was free, so we got a couple of hours' kip. That night we slept over a disco, and he said to me, “Go and get my helmet bag.” I was expecting him to put ear plugs in, but when I brought the bag up, he takes this Bell jet helmet out, which he’d just brought back from America, puts it on and gets into bed. The music didn’t bother him! In the morning when I got up, he’d still got it on!
‘I remember being in the back of the van boiling a kettle of water on the gas heater to make tea, whilst David was in the front signing a contract for the next international meeting. We’d picked up Sten, David’s mechanic, in Brussels, and he was outside working on a brand-new single-port 250 and next thing I know the van is rocking from side to side and there’s water flying about and the gas heater going from side to side. David thought it was hilarious! Chris Lavery was hanging on for dear life, and when I eventually get out the back of the van, I discover it was Joel (Robert) and his mechanics with about 300 Belgians looking on and cheering and clapping!’