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Bernard Briggs, a powerful young fellow with a rugged face, was at work one evening in his yard at Slagton. He was loading up his lorry. Bernard was a general dealer, buying and selling scrap metal and suchlike.

Most of the scrap metal that he was loading at the moment came from a narrow-gauge locomotive that he had broken up. He picked up the trailing axle and wheels. "How do them weightlifters go about it?" muttered Bernard. Bernard decided to try a lift as used in the Iron Game, as weightlifting was called, of which he had seen a picture or two. Weightlifting was a sport he had not so far taken up. This summer Bernard had two interests. He had reached the finals of the Lorry Driver of the Year competition, which was to be held shortly at Birmingham and, bursting on the lawn tennis world like a bomb, was playing in the famous Wimbledon championships. He was due back there on the following afternoon. Bernard was tremendously agile. When he was a goalkeeper. Football fans called him Bouncing Briggs. He also had a very quick eye and a fine sense of anticipation. With a grunt, Bernard whirled the axle overhead. He swung it too far back, with the result he overbalanced. The axle and wheels dropped with a ponderous thud, and he sat down on the small brass dome of the locomotive. "Blooming Ada," gasped Bernard. "I'd better leave weightlifting to Magnus." He pushed himself up, seized the axle and slung it into the lorry, a two-ton Karter, painted bright yellow. Bernard intended to deliver the scrap to a firm near Slough on his way to Wimbledon. The dome had followed the axle into the lorry when Bernard heard shouts. They came from the piece of wasteland next to his yard. "That ball was in," roared a familiar voice. "What's wrong with you," retorted somebody else, "is that you're blind in one eye and can't see with the other." Bernard grinned. "Sounds as if they're having a game on my tennis court," he muttered. He climbed the fence and looked over. His tennis court had an old net, and the marking lines were scraped in the dirt. There were about two tussocks of grass, certainly insufficient to justify the name of lawn tennis. Bert Potter and Hank Dougan were disputing the point. They were both big fellows and worked in the foundry of a local firm. Bernard delivered a taunt, "Call yourselves tennis players?" he scoffed. "Hark at him," jeered Bert. "He thinks he can play tennis just because he's wangled his way in at Wimbledon." "They're a lot of cissies there!" exclaimed Dougan. Bernard sniffed fiercely. "It's no cissy game at Willesden," he snapped, as usual confusing Wimbledon and Willesden. "I'll come round in half a tick and beat both of you at once!" Bernard got down from the fence; in the next round at Wimbledon he was to meet a seeded player in the Men's Singles. Seeding means the keeping apart of strong players in early rounds to ensure good games later on. Bernard's opponent was Ramon Perago, a South American, who was considered a likely winner of the singles title. He was nicknamed the Panther. Bernard fetched his racket out of the cab of his lorry. It was a ponderous, old-fashioned racket with a fishtail handle. He had first seen the racket when it was being used to beat a carpet, and after some bargaining, had bought it for one and six. To save walking round, Bernard got over the fence and was ready to play. He was wearing a grimy shirt and an old pair of khaki pants.

The following episode of:

Bouncing Briggs - The Baseline Bombshell

is taken from The Wizard # 1811 – October 29th 1960 Bernard has taken up tennis.

"We'll play you for a fish and chips supper, Bernard," challenged Bert. "You can have what you like;" said Bernard, "but a couple of faggots will do me fine." Bernard was very fond of faggots - savoury rissoles. Hank Dougan served. He really belted the ball over the net. It struck a stone and broke at a sharp angle. Bernard went after the ball and whipped it back. Bert seemed to place the ball out of his reach, but Bernard jumped, got to the ball and belted it with a backhander to win the point. Hank served again. Bernard hit back a stinger. Bert got his racket to the ball which dropped out of Bernard's reach in the tramlines - the double lines at the side of the court. "Out," yelled Bernard. "In," retorted Bert. "Blooming Ada, you can't use the tramlines," declared Bernard. "You've got to play in the singles court." "Tired or something?" jeered Bert. Bernard scowled. "All right, use the tramlines," he snarled. "I'll still beat you!"


This was the kind of tennis that Bernard enjoyed. Bert and Hank were two strong fellows and fought hard for every point. Every doubtful point was the subject of argument. It was tennis with no holds barred. Bernard won the first set by eleven games to nine.

The match carried straight on. At five-five in the second set Bernard made a hard return and ran to the net. Bert, however, lobbed the ball high. Bernard turned to chase it. Hank, on the other side of the net, stuck a foot under it and tripped Bernard, who nose-dived, thus failing to get the ball. "Fifteen-love," Bert declared. Bernard scrambled up. "You tripped me," he snapped. "Crikey, can't we have a bit of fun?" said Hank. A rally started. The ball whizzed to and fro across the sagging net. Close to the net Bernard jumped and took a smash at the ball. In his follow-through he brought his racket down hard on Hank's head. "Fifteen-all," chortled Bernard. Hank glowered at Bernard. "You did that on purpose," he roared. "Crikey, can't we have a bit of fun?" said Bernard, getting his own back. The game was fast and furious before Bernard finally won it. However, aided by one or two lucky bounces, Bert and Hank won the set eight-six. "We'll have time for another set before it gets dark," Hank said breathlessly. "Well, I wanted to finish loading my lorry," Bernard remarked. "I'll be on the road early tomorrow." "You can load your lorry by the light of a lamp," declared Bert. "He doesn't want to pay for our fish and chip suppers, that's what it is," said Hank. Bernard gave him a loud razz. "I'll be getting them faggots for free," he retorted. Biff! Bernard served and Bert missed the ball altogether. "Net!" Hank shouted. "It touched the net!" A service which touches the net on its way over is taken again. "It was never near the net," roared Bernard, and scowled so fiercely that his opponents agreed. In actual fact, the ball had narrowly missed the net. He made as if he were going to hit the ball fiercely on the next service, but only patted it over the net. Bert ran desperately and spooned the ball back over. "You hit that on the second bounce," Bernard bellowed. "I never," Bert howled. "You're right," said Bernard. "It was the third bounce. Thirty-love." Bernard banged over a fast service. Bert got his racket to the ball. Seeing that it was travelling a bit low Hank put a hand on the net and pushed it down so that the ball just cleared it. Rather than argue, Bernard dived at the ball and flipped it as he fell. Hank pulled the net up. The struck it and dropped back on Bernard's side. "I saw you," roared Bernard. "Blooming Ada, you must think I'm daft. I'm claiming the point. Forty-love!" Bernard's last service was such a sizzler that Bert missed the ball. Hank claimed it had gone through a hole in the net, but it was a half-hearted claim and, anyhow, Bernard exclaimed, "Game!" Quite a number of spectators had drifted in. They included quite a few young lads. One of them, Nozzer Winkell, slipped a ball into his pocket when he thought nobody was watching him. But Bernard had seen him. When he saw Bernard coming for him Nozzer hurriedly dropped the ball and vamoosed. He was not fast enough to dodge a slap on the seat of his pants from Bernard's racket. Nozzer yelled as if he were on fire. No doubt it felt like it. It was ebb and flow tennis. Hank and Bert won the second game. Bernard took the third. The spectators shouted and barracked as if they were at a football match. "You're no use, Briggs," roared an onlooker after Bernard had put the ball in the net. Bernard's lip curved out angrily. "Go and stick a sausage in your mouth," he retorted. Darkness was falling fast when the score in the set was six-six. "I reckon we'll have to make this game the decider," Bernard said. "Not blooming likely," Hank declared. "It's your service. That gives you advantage." "O K, then," snapped Bernard. "We'll play to finish." He won the service game and then it was Hank who served. The ball was nearly invisible as it came over but Bernard managed to get a glimpse of it and gave it a terrific swipe. It cannoned back from Bert at the net. "Fifteen-love," Bert bawled. "Fifteen-love, my big toe," snarled Bernard. "You never hit it. It came back off your head. That's why it sounded like wood." Bernard won the argument. Hank served. Bernard lobbed the ball high. Hank and Bert ran about staring upwards. They sighted the ball simultaneously. "Mine!" both of them yelled. In striking at the ball, Bert hit Hank on the elbow and Hank struck Bert under the chin. "Ha, ha, ha," guffawed Bernard. "Love-thirty." Hank and Bert put up a strenuous fight to save the game and made the score thirty-all. Biff! Hank served and, in the twilight, Bernard missed the ball. "It was in," he growled. "That's their point." "Forty-thirty," chirped Bert. Hank served again. This time Bernard sighted the ball against the glow of a lamp-post in the street. "Deuce," he shouted while the ball was on it's way towards him. He slashed the ball back and Hank could not argue as it hit his foot. Now one side had to draw two points ahead of the other to win the match. Off the next service a rally started. Bernard won the point in rather an unusual manner. Noticing that Bert's shirt was hanging open, he managed to lob the ball into it. "My vantage," he chortled. Meaning he was one point ahead. "Where's the flipping ball?" Hank demanded. "Down Bert's neck," chuckled Bernard. "Match point! I'll beat you now." Hank served. The ball struck the net for a fault. "Buck your ideas up," Bernard called out. Hank took care and got the second service over well. Bernard got a mouthful of grit as he swallow-dived, but the ball cleared the net from his racket, beat his opponents and won him the game and the match. "Beat you," chortled Bernard. "It was a blooming good game. I wish they played this sort of tennis at Willesden."


 Bert and Hank remarked that they would like a wash before supper, so Bernard took them into his yard and filled a bucket from the nearby canal. Then they went along the street to the café kept by Percy Sharpe.

"I'm having a couple of your faggots, Perce," said Bernard cheerfully. "Bert and Hank are paying for them." Bernard had his faggots and peas and the others brought fish and chips. As they were eating them inside the café, the food was served on plates, Bernard's was so hot he nearly dropped it. Bert picked up an evening paper that somebody had left behind. "Crickey, there's a bit about you here, Bernard!" he exclaimed. "Oh, ah," said Bernard, his mouth full of faggot. "I'll read it out," Bert replied. "The singles match between Ramon Perago, the brilliant South American, and Bernard Briggs, the only undefeated Britisher, will take place on the Centre Court at Wimbledon. This is certain to be a win for Perago, though Briggs will down fighting. He just has not the tactical equipment to defeat Perago." Bernard swallowed a tasty mouthful and frowned. "What does tactical equipment mean?" he muttered. "I suppose it means you haven't got the ability to beat him," Hank remarked. "Blooming Ada, all the tactical equipment I need is my racket," growled Bernard. "We'll see how certain a win it is." Bernard enjoyed his supper, especially as he wasn't paying for it, and ambled back to his yard. He decided he could finish loading his lorry by the light from a lamp-post, and spent twenty minutes or so in clearing the pile of scrap. Then he pushed up the lorry's tailboard and secured the pegs. "Now I'm all set for an early start," he murmured. "I ought to reach Sluff by mid-day. The pronunciation of Slough always had Bernard guessing. He went into the hut by the weighbridge, that he used as his home. A slightly damp, soft object wrapped itself round his face in the darkness. Bernard was startled until he remembered his tennis togs, which he washed, were hanging from a string. His Wimbledon outfit consisted of a singlet with blue edging and a pair of khaki shorts. He slept on a mattress on the floor. Bernard woke with the dawn. "I won't hang about," he decided. "I'll stop at a caff for a bit of breakfast." Bernard was soon dressed. He put his tennis togs in a haversack. Then he looked round the hut. "Blooming Ada, where's my racket?" he exclaimed. "I must have left it outside." Bernard stepped out of the hut and an anxious expression appeared on his face when he failed to see his racket. He looked in the cab of the lorry, but it wasn't there. Bernard had an anxious look on his face. He was accustomed to the racket. It had served him well. The stout frame stood up to his big hitting, and he could gauge a shot to an inch with it. Still, he could not hang about and, with a frown, he switched on the lorry's ignition and spun the starting handle till the engine fired. "I'll have to borrow a racket when I get to Willesden," he decided. "maybe Ted Impleigh will lend me one of his." The Honourable Edward Impleigh had been knocked out of the singles in the first round, but Bernard had partnered him in the first round of the men's doubles, and they had won a sensational victory over a strongly fancied partnership. Bernard drove out into the road and pulled up. He had to get down from the lorry cab to shut the gates. Automatically he switched off the lorry's engine. While he was shutting the gates a young policeman came out of an alley opposite and with an important air, hurried across the street. He had recently reported several drivers for not stopping their engines when leaving their vehicles. He had expected Bernard would not have bothered to stop the engine for half-minute or so required to close the gates. Bernard grinned. "Anything on your mind, Superintendent?" he asked. "No," snapped the policeman. "Ha, ha," chortled Bernard. "I bet you thought you'd get me under Regulation Eighty Nine of the Motor Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1951. The constable could not have quoted the exact words himself, but Bernard knew the Highway Code and the laws governing driving off by heart. He had never been at a loss for the correct answer when questioned at the Lorry Driver of the Year contests.


Bernard stopped at a roadside café for a baked beans on toast breakfast. He then had a drive for over an hour before stopping. He was passing through the town of Aylestone when he spotted a second hand shop.

What particularly caught his eye were a number of tennis rackets placed on a shelf in the doorway. Bernard pulled up and ambled across the pavement. His eyebrows shot up. One of the racket bore a close resemblance to his. It was heavy, was dark with age, and had a fishtail handle. The proprietor shot out of the shop when he saw Bernard take the racket from the shelf. The shopkeeper's name was Becker, and he had a face like a ferret. "Can't you read?" Beeker snapped, and pointed to a notice - "Do not touch." Bernard scowled. "I came here with the idea of buying a blooming tennis racket," he said. Beeker's attitude changed immediately. "I beg your pardon," he spluttered. "I put that notice up because the kids are a nuisance. That's a really good racket, and I'm only asking seven and six, which is very reasonable considering the price of new rackets today." Bernard shut his left fist and smacked it with the racket by way of a test. The strings broke. His fist went through it. "It ain't worth a tanner," he said. "You'll have to pay for the damage," screeched Beeker. "Banana skins to you!" exclaimed Bernard. "Sell it for a necklace. Maybe that will teach you to be more polite to customers." He smacked the racket down over Beeker's head so that it encircled his neck, and ambled back to his lorry. Bernard drove on out of the town. After a couple more hours on the road, with a stop for petrol, Bernard took the turning that led to Slough. As he drove along he looked for a factory building that was being demolished. He had watched the work with an interested eye while using the road previously. It had been an old-fashioned factory of four storeys, and when Bernard sighted it again he saw that two-thirds of it had gone. A man stood on top of one of the remaining walls, silhouetted against the sky as he knocked bricks away with a pick. Bernard braked suddenly as, without warning, a section of the wall crumbled and fell with a thunderous roar. A great cloud of dust drifted up. Bernard held his breath. He thought the man must have gone with the wall. When the dust cleared a bit, Bernard saw the workman standing on a jagged finger of masonry. A great gap had opened and prevented him from moving. Bricks were still becoming detached from the top of the wall and falling into the yard where workmates of the marooned man were staring up in dismay. Bernard swung out of the lorry. An idea had come into his head. He stood on the hub of a back wheel and fetched the brass dome of the old engine off the top of his load. "It'll make a good helmet," he muttered. He stuck the dome on his head as he hurried into the yard. "Lummy, here's a fireman!" exclaimed the foreman of the demolition squad. "Find me a plank to stick across the gap and I'll soon have him down," Bernard retorted. "I've been stuck the same way myself." With a floorboard over his shoulder Bernard climbed the first of a series of ladders. Clang! A falling brick bounced off his helmet. Clang! Another brick dropped on the brass dome. A shower of plaster came down on him as he mounted the ladder. A piece of lead guttering missed him by inches. Two bricks still held together by mortar caught the helmet a glancing blow. Bernard continued to climb till he reached the top of the wall. It had a thickness of two bricks. Pushing the board ahead of him Bernard made his way along the wall on his knees. Len Pritchard, the man who had been marooned, watched him desperately. The gap was fully five feet wide at the top and formed a V-shape in the masonry. "You'll be O K, mate," Bernard shouted as he approached the gap. "I'll shove the board across for a bridge." A crowd had gathered below and there was tense silence as they watched the attempt at a mid-air rescue. Bernard, balanced precariously, pushed the board out across the gap until it rested on the fragment of brickwork where Pritchard was crouching. "Come on over," Bernard called. "I'll keep my weight on the plank to hold it down." It was an anxious moment as, very slowly, Pritchard began to crawl across the plank. Bernard kept it steady and at last was over. "Thanks, pal," Pritchard croaked. "We ain't down yet," muttered Bernard wondering now if the wall would stand the weight of both of them. He could not turn. He worked along backwards until he reached the angle with the main inner wall and the top of the ladder. The falls of loose bricks appeared to have stopped. He moved aside a bit to let Pritchard go down first. Bernard gave him plenty of room before following. Bernard was about two-thirds of the way down when he glanced towards his lorry. Numerous vehicles had pulled up behind it. "Blooming Ada," Bernard spluttered as he stared at the load in his lorry. "There's my racket!" With his bird's eye view he saw the handle of the racket sticking up out of the scrap metal close to the tailboard. "I know what I did," he muttered. "I must have put the racket down on the tailboard when I came in from playing Bert and Hank and then shut it in when I lifted the tailboard. It was dark by then which accounts for me not seeing it. I hope I haven't done it any harm."

The All-Round Roughneck 12 episodes appeared in The Wizard issues 1528 – 1539 (1955)

Bernard plays Cricket.


Bouncing Briggs 28 episodes appeared in The Wizard issues 1550 – 1577 (1955)

Bernard plays Football for Darbury Rangers. The best team in the league.


Bouncing Briggs 22 episodes appeared in The Wizard issues 1652 - 1673 (1957)

Bernard plays Football for Bradstoke Town. The worst team in the league.


Bernard Briggs 23 episodes appeared in The Wizard issues 1730 – 1752 (1959)

Bernard turns his hand to Boxing.


Bernard Briggs 23 episodes appeared in The Wizard issues 1792 - 1814 (1960)

Cricket, Football, Boxing, now Bernard takes up Tennis.


Bernard the Boot 16 episodes appeared in The Wizard issues 1928 - 1943 (1963)

Bernard takes up Rugby League Football.


Reprints etc.. are not listed.

© D. C. Thomson & Co Ltd 

Vic Whittle 2005