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Michael Steer

Trevor Wedlake wrote this piece after the passing of Michael Steer in July, 2002

Michael Steer

Michael (Micky) Steer, who has died near Leckhampstead, aged 82, lived all his early years in Aldwick, where his father worked for the Bridson family at Aldwick Court.

As a small boy he cycled every day, winter and summer, to school in Wrington. He and his parents (he was an only child) were all involved at All Saints' in the 1920s and 30s: his father rang the Tenor for some years; his mother, whose voice was highly acclaimed, sang in the church choir; and Michael was a chorister in the incumbency of Canon Holland.

At 14 Mick left school and went to learn the motor trade with Mr S.O. Kingcott, here he worked until the outbreak of war.

He served in the army throughout the war, afterward returning to Wrington and Kingcott's. Later he made an abrupt career change, and left the village for forestry work in Wiltshire. He married, and for some years he and his wife, Margaret, became breeders of Shetland sheepdogs. Margaret pre-deceased him.

The long post-war era was an enjoyable time in Wrington, for Mick and all the young fellows now free from military restraints and directions, and not yet laden with the responsibilities and liabilities of later maturity.

Mick and many of his demobbed friends centred much of their evening leisure time on the many pubs round about; the back room of the Bell Inn had acoustics and piano much approved of. Mick would liven up these gatherings reciting Stanley Holloway monologues.

Motor-cycling was a major interest in Mick's life; by this time he had a special relationship with a 1,000cc Ariel Square Four. People still talk of the quality kippers he sent back from visits to the Isle of Man TT races.

Drivers of that era had very few road markings to observe, and absolutely no yellow lines. But Bristol had adopted a unilateral parking system (left side this week, right side next). Although it seemed PCs spent much of their time trying to entrap some villains drinking ½ a pint of George's after the forbidden hour of 10pm behind locked pub doors, or waylaying a lone cyclist proceeding down Long Lane after dark without rear reflector, one member of the Force apprehended me when I breached this new city regulation.

The magistrate fined all the minor motoring offenders the flat rate of £1/10- (£1.50) that day - in my case 30% of a week's wages. When he heard, Micky Steer split his sides. He had recently been caught and fined for marginally exceeding the 30mph limit on the Ariel. "At least I was moving", he laughed, "and if I'd known they were about, they'd never have caught me !"

Once you had by-passed Michael's reserve and shyness, he was great company and a lot of fun.

He died very swiftly and peacefully on 15th July, thus escaping all the manifold indignities and anxieties that all too often afflict old age. All his old friends, so sorry to learn of his passing, will have their sadness tempered in that sombre truth.

Trevor Wedlake