March 03, 2007

He had no halo

An angel visited me the other night. I think it was Ogri but can't be too sure. He was definitely a wise old biker. Dreams normally pass me by but this one has lodged itself firmly in a fried old crack in my mind. It was a bit like when Jim Morrison visited Wayne in Wayne's World II. I think he appeared to me because I've been thinking about ditching the bike in my parents' garage until the weather looks up. Here goes:
"Shivering Monk, I am a wise biker and I am here to stop you ditching your bike at your Mum and Dad's for the Winter."
"Go away. I'd rather be dreaming about fit women."
"Shut up Shivering Monk, this will only take a minute. I have a mission and it is to make sure you ride all year round."
"But it always pisses down. At first I thought it was bad luck but I'm beginning to think it's me. Take this morning for example. I got up just to wash my bike not ride it. The Sun was shining right up until I touched the bike then it started pissing down. I finished washing the bike, went back inside and the Sun came out. This happens all the time. Some bastard's playing a cruel game with me. I swear I'm cursed. It happens on holidays too. When I go away I deliberately seek places where it doesn't rain. Take the Mojave Desert for example. It hadn't rained there for years until I visited. Pissed down mate."
"Stop whinging. You are the numpty who, afterall, bought a motorbike in Scotland in January. Anyway, you are from Fort William. Rain follows you."
"I knew it."
"But look on the bright side Shivering Monk, for although riding in the Winter can have a long-term detrimental effect on your machine, mainly corrosion, there are also benefits."
"Such as."
"There are no bugs at this time of year. Honestly. Stop moaning for a minute and look at your visor."
"It's in the shed."
"Well when you get a chance, have a look. Clean as a whistle I'll bet. For all the bugs stay in bed during Winter.
"Also, young warrior, there are no German caravans driving down the wrong side of the road at this time of year for German caravans also stay in bed for the Winter."
"But the road's slippy enough with or without German caravans."
"Just remember your basics Shivering Monk. When the vanishing point gets closer you must ease off but when it recedes put the power on.
"Dominate the road by occupying a right-of-centre road position but use the whole road for cornering.
"Remember, 50/50 braking in the wet and don't be scared of the back brake, young warrior, for you have ABS.
"Keep your light on all the time and put yourself in car drivers' mirrors because 'sorry mate, didn't see you' won't matter a toss when you are in traction with 16 broken bones.
"Blind-spot, blind-spot, blind-spot. Check it all the time.
"Most importantly, Shivering Monk, think about car drivers. Remember that they are not as clever as us. Treat a car driver like you would a child or a lover - always letting them know you are there. For them the journey is all about the destination rather than how they got there. This means they don't think about the road like we do. They will be listening to music or that annoying prick Humphreys on Radio 4. They will be doing their make-up and chatting to friends on their mobile phones. You, young warrior, must always be aware of this and keep a safe distance for the biggest danger a biker faces is not his bike but other people.
"You must be like a Gazelle at the watering hole. The Gazelle knows there are crocodiles in the watering hole but he is thirsty and must drink. You are thirsty and must ride.
"Finally, watch out for man-hole covers for they are slippy as fuck in Winter."
"It'll still be fucking freezing."
"Just remember what the great prophet Billy Connelly once said: 'There is no such thing as bad weather; only bad clothes."
"Any questions?"
"Go on."
"Is it wrong that I was dreaming about Take That before you turned up?"
"Very wrong. Good night."

February 27, 2007

Luddites Unite

Why don't things just work? I'm loaded up on new gadgets and every last one is useless.
Some may have noticed that I like to write from time to time but, being a long distance lorry driver, don't get the chance as often as I'd like. With this in mind I got myself a Nokia E61 mobile phone. More powerful, I'm told, than NASA's entire computing capacity at the time of the moon landings. More powerful than the bomber pilot training simulator I had a shot on when I was a sprightly young air cadet. Our guide, a trainee pilot, was quite proud of the fact that a large part of the RAF's training infrastructure for it's late cold-war ground attack capability was run by an old 386 PC. I vaguely remember being sworn to secrecy as well but that's another story.
Anyway, back to the Nokia. It arrived in several boxes a few days ago. Enough time, you'd think, to figure out how to work it. It's supposed to send emails, browse the internet and pinpoint my location anywhere in the world to within a few metres courtesy of a trick network of spy satellites owned by the US government. It has no fewer than 49 buttons, one joystick, two memory cards, an auxilliary GPS receiver, umpteen cables and connectors and a dinky little cradle for sticking it to your windscreen.
Three days in and I've just learnt how to make a phone call.
I give up. I quit. Take your 'Pop3', mobile LAN, SatNav and all the rest of it and stick it where the sun don't shine. And while you're at it, stick me in a place where the sun does shine. Where the roads are long, dry and empty except for me and my bike. Some place where there's no signal.