remembers Raharto, HSA’s agent in Indonesia during the Hawk campaign, and Bill Bedford, then our marketing executive resident in the Jakarta Hilton International hotel…
Raharto was always so generous and helpful to me whenever I went out to Jakarta to see Bill Bedford and promote the Hawk purchase, and I know Bill thought most highly of him; they always got on so well together.
Perhaps the most amusing episode occurred when Bill suggested we did a nightclub crawl around the higher class area of the city.
At an early hour in the morning we set off back to the hotel in a couple of pedal cycle becaks ( Editor’s note: a tricycle rickshaw with a passenger seat for two, propelled by the cyclist in front). Bill made the peddling lads sit in front while he and I fought out the battle of Britain in a dog fight between the two of us all the way back to the hotel.
On reaching it Bill used a bottle of brandy as fuel to set fire to the boys’ sweaty T-shirts and gave them each a sparkling clean replacement embellished with a red Hawk, as a promotion while they drove round town. The news of this reached Raharto and when the becak was condemned by the Government, much to my amazement a spanking new becak was delivered to my house in Sutton Coldfield, courtesy of Raharto.
I still have it reposing in my garden, somewhat dilapidated and in need of refurbishment, but it fills me with nostalgia every time I go near it. Soon after its arrival I sent Bill a photo of it, by coincidence covered in snow. Bill immediately forwarded it to the Jakarta Post editor for publication with the following letter:
“I was most interested to read in the Jakarta Post Monday March 10, 1986, about a historical transport vehicle being redesignated Sea becak. To match this I enclose a photo of a British development known as the Snow becak owned and driven by a famous Royal Air Force test pilot named Marshal (retd) Alan Merriman. He says that his becak is a pleasure to drive and that it stimulates immense interest in the UK and is popular with children and at local shows. It is at home in the snow in England, as it is in the sunshine of Indonesia, except the heating is not quite so effective. How about some enterprising young firm reconditioning becaks and exporting them abroad to help the economy rather than just ditching an interesting part of transport history in the sea. This would give pleasure to many people.”
Bill was completely irrepressible; what wonderful times we had together.