I cadged a pillion ride into work with the Midnight Mud Wrestler this morning. Riding on the back is a rare treat, all the fun of the dice with none of the responsibility. And in all honesty he’s rather better than me at carving up the London traffic (even with the added benefit of (mumble mumble mutter) stone of Highwaylass on the back squishing up the suspension so that the bars no longer cleared the mirrors of the queueing cagisti) so I did my best to sit back, relax and enjoy the masterclass. Although I know that he does this every day, and hasn’t been squished yet, it remains slightly alarming to be heading for a closing gap between a large black artic and the kerb under acceleration, so I stopped looking at the gaps and started looking at the scenery. Not looking at the scary thing while closing on it rapidly being, in fact, my preferred coping technique for many challenges in life.
I love arriving in cities in the early hours of the morning. More years ago than I prefer to admit to I travelled round Europe for two weeks by train with an American JYA student called Lorie. Because we were cheapskates, our schedule was carefully designed so that we got on the train in the late evening, slept in our seats, and arrived in the new city the next morning as the sun broke over the chimney tops. Railways and preferred motorcycle roads bring you in the back way, allowing a frisson of voyeurism as the city staggers round in its underpants and dressing gown, coffee in one hand, ciggie in the other, gettingits bearings. The day is full of possibility. In Europe, those box-fresh days unfolded to reveal invitations to achieve eternal salvation by joining an evangelical Christian cult and propositions of undying love from two Brazilians who swore I was the most beautiful woman in Western Europe. Today mostly unfolded to reveal a computer that’s not quite working right, a stinking cold, and a strong chance of spilling coffee on my desk, but I suppose that’s known as progress.
If I’d had my walking stick with me I’d have stuck it in the spokes of Mr Rat Biker, who saw a gap between us and a taxi and attempted to put himself in it, shouting “who the f*** do you think you are, Ewan MacGregor?” (I’d rather be Claudio if it’s all the same to you, he seems to fall off a bit less often) as he tried. Things are getting bad out there if I’ve got to start looking not only for U-turning taxis, women using the rear-view mirror to fix their lippy, and Nissan-driving rubbish-tossers, but other bikers as well…
(PS – Do I get a prize for getting to the end without deploying my double entendre?)