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Tights, Tear Gas & Timbuktu

Updated on June 27, 2015
Tight,teargas and Timbuktu. Memories of the teen years.
Tight,teargas and Timbuktu. Memories of the teen years. | Source

A tear gassed teenager - twice

I was brought up in what seemed to be a nice, suburban family in a small and sleepy town in Yorkshire. But my dad is the sort of bloke who seems to attract trouble wherever he goes. Always.

Mind you, some of the places he goes to are just a little unusual. In fact, he recently wrote a book all about it all. (See below or click here.)

His first overseas adventures were in post-war Berlin, Germany. Many demobbed soldiers, after WW2, decided they'd had enough of foreign lands but my dad went off to the States.

My mum managed to keep him at home for a couple of years but then he was off to Africa - attracting trouble and adventures wherever he went.

True, most of these bizarre happenings took place in far-flung places but whatever that aura was that attracted trouble his way, it tended to follow him everywhere he went, including home.

This, strangely, led to me as a young teenager being tear-gassed twice in the space of just a couple of months. Truly.

The image you see here is a copyright-free photograph from Wikimedia Commons. The images below are from my own collection.


My problems started when he went to Timbuktu

My dad decided to demonstrate that he could drive to Timbuktu and back in two weeks. (Actually it was a bet). In the meantime, I was being hauled up in front of the headmistress back at school in Yorkshire who was berating me for having holes in my tights. (Panty hose). I explained, rather feebly, that I had no money for new ones.

'Then ask your father for money' she said haughtily.

'I can't.' I replied.

'Why on earth not?' she demanded.

'Um .. well ... he's in Timbuktu' I explained.

Needless to say,I was now branded a liar as well as a scruffy little madam with holes in her tights. Cheers, Dad.

We certainly had some great holidays. That's me on a camel in Morocco.


Photographic evidence

Eric Jackson at Timbuktu
Eric Jackson at Timbuktu | Source

Unfortunately, I didn't then have the photograph you see above to prove to her that he really was in Timbuktu. What shame.

Tear gas number one

He hadn't been back from Timbuktu for long when he was asked by Ford Motor Company to be part of the team they were entering into the 1968 London to Sydney Rally. Ford, in their infinite wisdom, decided that the best way to get their drivers in shape was to send them on an army training course. See the image below.


My dad befriended the officers in charge, David Harrison and Martin Proudlock and invited them to our house in Yorkshire for dinner. My mum had laid out lovely buffet in the dining room and warned us kids to be on our best behaviour in front of such posh people.

She had not, unfortunately, issued the same directive to my dad who decided to show the officers his gun collection. (Which he kept hidden from my mum - she didn't even allow steak knives in the house, let alone real weapons).

One of these was a tear gas gun and yes, you guessed, it went off. Whether my dad did this deliberately for a bit of fun - I wouldn't put it past him - I don't know.

Spluttering and coughing we hadn't much idea what to do but the army lads came to the rescue. They threw open the double doors in the dining room and each grabbed one end of the dining table and manhandled it into the garden. With our eyes still watering, we had dinner outside in pleasant evening weather - which was just as well because we couldn't go back into the house for hours.

A nice family holiday

My dad decided (or more likely, my mum did) that we needed a nice, normal family vacation. So we borrowed a friend's caravan and headed for the south of France. We found a lovely campsite that was almost on the beach. It was a quick walk from the caravan, across some dunes and there was the beach and the ocean - lovely.

The approach to the campsite was a narrow dirt track and over a period of days, we noticed groups of what my mum called 'hippies' with backpacks walking along the track. Maybe, I hoped, there was going to be a music festival or something.

What we didn't know was that in 1968, French students were revolting. (You know what I mean.....)

Here's our happy family


I slept at the back of the caravan and at about six one morning, I woke and looked out of the window. On the dirt track,I was sure that I could see dozens of riot police heading up the track towards the 'hippies'. I decided I was hallucinating. What would police - in full riot gear - be doing in a quiet rural seaside area? I went back to sleep.

But we were soon awoken by a hell of a lot of noise and shouting. Yes, I had seen riot police and now, a student riot was taking place just yards away.

Suddenly, the caravan window broke and a small object came flying through. Tear gas - again.

My dad yelled to my mum to get the kids out and head for the beach. She grabbed by younger brother and sister and fled.(She only had two arms, after all).

She wore nice, demure nightgowns and insisted that the younger two wore nice, respectable pajamas. Me and my dad though ... we had to make ourselves decent before we could escape. But eventually, coughing, spluttering and crying, we got out of the caravan.

Our problems weren't over though

The ringleader of the student group was a medium sized bloke with shortish brown hair. He was wearing blue shorts and a blue and white striped t-shirt. So was my dad. To make matters worse, the ringleader's girlfriend (or co-ringleader) had long red hair and was wearing blue jeans and a white, flowing hippy-style top. Just take another look at that photograph of me on a camel above...

So when we ran in the direction of the beach, we had a bunch of riot police - dressed just like the ones in the photograph at the top of the page - in hot pursuit. Great.

Another tear gas canister exploded in front of us so now, we couldn't see where we were going.

Luckily, the riot police couldn't see us either. Equally luckily, we could move faster.They were encumbered with their clumsy riot gear whereas we weren't. My dad had just been on an army fitness course remember, and (when I couldn't get out of it) I played hockey and tennis and stuff at school.

Under the cover of the tear gas smoke, we ducked into an evacuated tent. No doubt its occupants had escaped to the beach. My dad turned his t-shirt inside out which made the stripes less evident and, using a leather thong bracelet that I always wore, I tied my hair into a tight bun.

We escaped.

What else did my dad get up to?


As you've seen,even having a quiet dinner with friends at home, or a normal family holiday weren't straightforward when my dad was around. So you can imagine (well, you probably can't) what he got up to when he drove around the world, or when he was in the Congo...

You can find out from his book though.Click here to find out more.


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    • profile image

      Lynn Klobuchar 

      5 years ago

      Tear gassed twice. You know you had me there. Another great read! All lives are stories, and you are brilliant in the telling.

    • Sir Daniel UK profile image

      Danny Gibson 

      5 years ago from Northampton

      So your old man was a famous rally driver, then... cool. And that's a Ford Corsair in the photo isn't it? Way before my time but I like old English cars like Stags and Rovers, etc.Interesting insight into your life here, comrade!

    • esmonaco profile image

      Eugene Samuel Monaco 

      5 years ago from Lakewood New York

      Sounds like you had a very exciting and interesting childhood!! Thanks for a truly wonderful read :)

    • amytrumpeter profile image

      Amy Trumpeter 

      5 years ago from Oxford

      Love these stories!

    • BritFlorida profile imageAUTHOR

      Jackie Jackson 

      5 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @Arachnea: I certainly will :)

    • Arachnea profile image

      Tanya Jones 

      5 years ago from Texas USA

      looks like you'll have stories to tell your great- and great-great- grandkids. exciting. entertaining read.

    • BritFlorida profile imageAUTHOR

      Jackie Jackson 

      5 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @AnonymousC831: Thanks for visiting!

    • AnonymousC831 profile image


      5 years ago from Kentucky

      Loved reading this, great lens.

    • BritFlorida profile imageAUTHOR

      Jackie Jackson 

      5 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @anonymous: That's true!!!

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      What a great title and snappy story full of wonders that you made it to adulthood!

    • BritFlorida profile imageAUTHOR

      Jackie Jackson 

      5 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @River_Rose: Thanks so much!

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Absolutely great! Thanks for sharing!

    • BritFlorida profile imageAUTHOR

      Jackie Jackson 

      5 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @evawrites1: Thank you!

    • Susan Zutautas profile image

      Susan Zutautas 

      5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      My parents always used Timbuktu when I asked where they were going. I really enjoyed reading about you, your family and your adventures.

    • BritFlorida profile imageAUTHOR

      Jackie Jackson 

      5 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @Susan Zutautas: Thank you Susan. I wonder why so many used to use it as a mystical (or even mythical) place? I remember that in those days, we used to spell it 'Timbucktoo'.

    • BritFlorida profile imageAUTHOR

      Jackie Jackson 

      5 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @Mickie Gee: Hi Mickie.The name doesn't ring a bell - I'll look him up. I wonder if your husband will remember my dad? It was a very long time ago :)

    • BritFlorida profile imageAUTHOR

      Jackie Jackson 

      5 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @Dave Lynch: Thank you David! Aren't you in South Africa? My dad drove from London to Cape Town in record time in 1963. He says that South Africa is a wonderful place.

    • BritFlorida profile imageAUTHOR

      Jackie Jackson 

      5 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @bdkz: Thanks so much! I had a great time writing it.

    • BritFlorida profile imageAUTHOR

      Jackie Jackson 

      5 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @Merrci: Thank you! The strange thing is that both incidents happened within a couple of months of each other. I can't remember exactly but the first time must have been in the summer because it was warm enough to have dinner outside - in England! The second one was during the school summer holidays so they could have both happened in the same month!

    • BritFlorida profile imageAUTHOR

      Jackie Jackson 

      5 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @Elsie Hagley: I think that's why my headmistress didn't believe me but it was true :) Not many people knew that it was a real place in those days.

    • evawrites1 profile image


      5 years ago

      Your father was... amazing! What a story!

    • Mickie Gee profile image

      Mickie Gee 

      5 years ago

      Have you ever heard of "Andy Vann The Race Car Man" who is from Trussville, AL? He is a personal friend of mine who has participated in many races on many continents. I am not sure he has been "gassed", though. My husband has "petrol in his blood", as well. I must ask him if he has heard of Eric Jackson.

    • Dave Lynch profile image

      David Edward Lynch 

      5 years ago from Port Elizabeth, South Africa

      I enjoyed reading your stories and the photos too.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Loved reading this! What an adventure!

    • Merrci profile image

      Merry Citarella 

      5 years ago from Oregon's Southern Coast

      Enjoyed reading your lens! It's not everyone who has tear gas in their past! Such memories now too. Still smiling.

    • Elsie Hagley profile image

      Elsie Hagley 

      5 years ago from New Zealand

      Enjoyed this very much, had to smile because when ever my father was going somewhere, if he was asked, were he was going? he would always say Timbuktu, I never believed that there was a place called that, but you just proved my wrong. You sure had some great adventures, thanks for sharing.

    • BritFlorida profile imageAUTHOR

      Jackie Jackson 

      5 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @aka-rms: Thank you so much, Robin. It was fun to write :)

    • aka-rms profile image

      Robin S 

      5 years ago from USA

      After reading this all I can say is... Wow! Thanks so much for sharing this.


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