I think of myself as a very risk-averse person. I don’t drink G & T in tropical countries in case the ice is made from unclean water. I don’t walk under ladders. I don’t like PB going into the loft on his own in case he falls out and I’m not there to call 999. But I must be labouring under a misconception, because it seems that I put my life in danger on a more-or-less daily basis.
For reasons connected to work, disclaimers and their legal force are on my mind at the moment, so I read the declaration on the back of the entry form for the National Rally with more than usual interest. I am required to agree that “the dominant cause of any serious injury will always be my voluntary decision to take part in a high risk activity.” Perhaps I’m deluding myself, but I don’t agree that riding a motorcycle is inherently a risky thing to do. I think it’s a highly-skilled activity demanding better training and higher mental focus than driving a car – and that’s what makes it worth doing.
Before an extremely long and boring meeting last week, while chatting to the bloke opposite, we discovered that as children we’d both wanted to be fighter pilots. Sadly, being in possession of a pair of ovaries knocked that ambition on the head for me, but we agreed there were strong parallels between wanting to be in command of the best and coolest thing in the sky and being able to ride the engineering miracle which is god’s humble motorcycle without dying.
But perhaps that just confirms me as a speed-addicted maniac. If I’d actually passed my IAM test, I’d be thinking about starting a campaign to send our green badges back in – unless of course Victor L Harman is simply a made-up name to encourage more correspondents to write to Advanced Driving magazine. Mr Harman avers that “motorcycling is over-glorified” and is incompatible with the “base princples” of the IAM (I like the thought of an organisation having base principles, mainly because it reminds me of the time Nicholas Parsons put down my Rocky Horror Show heckle with a withering “How base,”) “which are about avoiding unnecessary risks rather than inviting them, as motorcyclists regularly do.” I don’t think I invite unnecessary risks – but perhaps I do simply by leaving the house in the morning. Maybe I should take Felix Dennis’s advice:
Brake pads fail;
Seat belts strangle;
And trains derail.
Motorbikes maim you;
New boots lame you;