Vincent's Vroom at the Top; ANSWERS TO CORRESPONDENTS
My mother, now in her 80s, often talks about the hand-built HRD motorbikes she and her husband had. She says they were the best available. Is this true?
IN THE opinion of most of the motorcycling public, and of the company's competitors at the time, HRD machines were indeed the best available.
In the 20 years during which the HRD monogram appeared on machines, most were products of the Vincent-HRD factory at Stevenage, Hertfordshire.
The insignia originated with Howard R. Davies on the bikes he rode in Isle of Man TT races in the early Twenties.
Capitalising on his racing success, he founded the HRD motorcycle company, but it failed within four years. The enterprising Philip Vincent acquired the HRD name and used its reputation to overcome motorcyclists' disinclination to try a new model.
In the drive to produce the best machine possible, the company developed its own engines during the Thirties, and by the outbreak of war the high-speed Series A Rapide V-Twin was selling well to wealthy enthusiasts, its advanced suspension and clever design features putting it ahead of its famous rival, the Brough Superior SS100.
Quality was still the major consideration when civilian production resumed in 1945 and HRDs were expensive to build and buy. Motorcycle sales dropped in the Fifties and by 1956 the struggling Vincent-HRD company had ceased trading.
We have several examples of these machines at the National Motorcycle Museum alongside 700 other beautifully restored British motorcycles.
Ken Wilson, National Motorbike Museum, West Midlands.
Do the Scots eat more porridge oats than the English and the Welsh?
OATS, one of the oldest known cereals, have been traced to around 3000 BC in Asia. The Ancient Greeks are thought to have been the first to make oatmeal, and by the Middle Ages oatmeal and cheese was a staple part of the British diet. Our word `porridge' comes from poree, old French for vegetable stew.
The market research organisation AGB Superpanel says that human consumption of porridge, or hot oat cereals, in Britain for the year to February 9 was 40,925 tonnes, of which 4,139 tons were eaten in Scotland and 36,684 in England and Wales. This is an average of 0.81kg per person in Scotland, compared with 0.71kg in England and Wales.
Demand for oat-based cereals is expected to rise after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the claim that oats can be beneficial against heart disease.
Priti Parmar, Quaker Oats Ltd, Southall, Middlesex.
What is the greatest number of people to have supposedly seen a UFO all at the same time?
FURTHER to an earlier answer, the phenomenon at Fatima, Portugal, in May, 1917 was later identified as a solar phenomenon. But the interesting point about the sighting was that it was predicted six months previously.
Jesus, as a child, and his mother and Joseph were seen as a vision near the Sun, which was not difficult to look at because it appeared as a dull silver plate. Hallucination can be discounted because the vision was witnessed from 25km away. There has been no such occurrence with other UFO sightings.
C.J. Stober, Manchester.
We are told that when Lucifer led the revolt in Heaven, a third of the angels joined God's side, a third the Devil's and a third sat on the fence. …