Anyone expending this amount of relentless energy inevitably suffers the consequences and Malcolm suffered in many different ways. Firstly, he had a wife and three children who could hardly remember what he looked like. As a consequence, he almost became a stranger in his own home. The home itself was owned by his father Dennis and used as intimidation. Security, that essential ingredient in a marriage had never existed in Malcolm's. His father had always seen to that. Every argument that Malcolm had with his father inevitably included the threat of eviction or the sack or both. His being away so often left Jenny and the children exposed to her father in law's ill feeling and she lived under a constant cloud of fear and loneliness. These were not good ingredients for stable family life and they both knew it.
Money was always short and what little appeared each week in the pay packet was usually minus at least one night's entertaining at the Blacksmith's. Jenny would not be allowed to collect the pay packet in its original form on payday because Joe always insisted that this was his brother's right and nobody else's. In fact, this was Joe's perverse nature imitating his father's. He knew that Malcolm would waste much of the wage in the pub and thus ensured that Jenny and the children suffered the consequences. Gradually, Jenny's stamina weakened, worn down by constant and seemingly endless confrontation. If she wasn't arguing her case with Joe or Dennis or other branches of the family, she was pleading with Malcolm to get them all away from this hopeless situation. The pressure of bringing up the children under such dire circumstances took its toll, and the short time Malcolm had between trips usually involved a row and a slamming of doors. Gradually, Malcolm was driving away every Sunday, not just from the pressures of his father, but the pressures of home as well. His behaviour became more and more excessive; almost manic at times. Every part of his effusive personality increased in intensity and it became obvious that something had to give somewhere.
It happened in Germany when the wagon developed intermittent fuel trouble on the autobahn near Cologne. Malcolm parked in a service area, rang for a taxi to the airport and flew home; leaving the wagon exactly where it was, fully loaded with important deliveries. It was only Tuesday morning when he arrived home and he went straight to the Blacksmith's Arms and set up court as if nothing had happened. Puzzled regulars suspected something was wrong. Apart from it being the wrong time of the week and the wrong time of day for him being there, his manner was verging on the bizarre. He was drinking spirits, something he rarely did, and buying for everyone on the premises whether he knew them or not. The landlord ran him home at closing time, concerned by his behaviour, and word soon reached the garage.
Dennis drove round to the house, more concerned with verifying the reports that he was home than by his state of mind. A major confrontation took place that afternoon that effectively altered their relationship. Malcolm was unusually subdued by a combination of alcohol and mental exhaustion. As his father shouted all the usual obscenities at him, he was met by the blank empty stare of a man retreating into himself for sanctuary. As a parting shot, Malcolm suddenly exploded with the ferocity of the insane and pinned his father against the kitchen wall, holding him by his jacket lapels two feet from the ground. With the strength of a lifetime’s abuse and without uttering a single word, he carried him across the room in the same levitated position, through the open door and into the back garden. Here he calmly lowered him to the ground and walked back into the house, closing the door behind him. With that one unexpected action, a lifetime of abuse came to an end and was replaced by muted recognition. Dennis had seen a fearsome strength within his son that frightened him and he responded to it in the only way he knew. Thirty minutes after the incident, and safely back in his office, he rang Malcolm and sacked him.
After sacking Malcolm some days earlier, Dennis had received calls from the German police demanding that he retrieve the vehicle abandoned at the autobahn service area. It had been removed to a compound somewhere within the city of Cologne and was accumulating heavy penalties on a daily basis. To illustrate to everyone that he was still the dominant male, Dennis decided that having sacked Malcolm, and in order to save face, he would retrieve the vehicle himself; and duly booked himself on the next flight from Manchester Airport. This was an act of bravado that caused great merriment amongst the drivers and provided material for much ribald comment on the theme of whether Dennis would manage to resume hostilities in Europe whilst attempting to retrieve the wagon. The last time he had been abroad was with the Army during the war twenty-five years earlier and under somewhat different circumstances. If he confronted German aggression in Cologne as he had done in France, life would become very interesting indeed. After much hilarity in the mess room, it was decided that if Dennis did manage to get back to Dover unscathed, at the very least, his cap would be classified as an alien life form and quarantined for six months by British customs officers.
In the event, the first problem he faced, having spent a fortune in taxi fares finding the police compound, was official intransigence and red tape. The result was a three-day battle between Teutonic officialdom and Yorkshire intransigence that was guaranteed to rekindle Dennis’s Dunkirk spirit. He could not understand the language and had neither the necessary cash to pay the huge fine nor the documents being demanded proving ownership of the vehicle. Nevertheless, a combination of anxious international phone calls, several telex messages, the transfer of the necessary cash and two nights B&B at a local hostelry eventually did the trick. All that was required now, was to deliver the loaded goods across Germany, pick up the return load and drive back to Huddersfield, a simple enough task as Dennis had frequently pointed out to Malcolm.
Five utterly exhausting days later, this allegedly simple excursion ground to a halt in a picnic area car park south of Calais. The gruelling schedule had been made ever more difficult by language problems, constantly getting lost, increasing tiredness and the fuel blockage problem with the engine; which was getting progressively worse. Sheer stubbornness and a desire not to be seen to have failed in this ‘simple’ task had kept Dennis going up to this point. His limited mechanical knowledge coupled with encroaching exhaustion had rendered his attempts at curing the fuel problems useless and he was running seriously short of money, ideas and energy. Eventually, after 48 fruitless and agonising hours in the car park he had no alternative but to commit the ultimate indignity and ring home for help. He was a beaten man and soon everybody would know it.