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Nip/Tuck

I went to a poetry event last night. Now that I work in a bastion of intellectual elitism, I thought I’d better try and adopt some of the habits of my academic betters.

On a rather sultry evening, 5 student poets performed their compositions and Isabella Shaw was declared the winner by the extremely fabulous Benjamin Zephaniah.

Her winning poem, “Variations on the Westron Wind*,” opens like this:

“The stones remember me
Ay, in the pale and deathless hour
Between the sun’s setting forth and the sun’s return
They recall
The shape of my long hand
The taste of my heart interred.”

In the pale and deathless hour between the sun’s setting forth this morning, and about 45 minutes later than intended on account of not being able to find the paper part of my driving licence, I went to Norwich and the lovely people at Lind lent me this younger, fitter, and healthier version of Ruby to use while they check her over for damage. She’s taller, because after 36,000 miles Ruby’s back end is saggier than Winifred Hathi’s. The gearbox moves with a snick, not a kick. And she’s had a bit of lipo around the front.

Younger, fitter – but better? Well, the thing is that after all those miles Ruby remembers not so much the shape of my long hand – though I seem to have worn the handgrips smooth – but the shape of my lard-arse. Which is not quite so poetic. But it does prove that Ruby is the most Important, the most Beautiful, the most Magical Saggy old GS in the whole wide world. And I hope that she’s going to get a clean bill of health in the morning.

*The Westron Wind is a medieval fragment which is mostly about sex.

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Rhythm and Blues


Ruby and I are struggling to find our rhythm. If this was a new relationship we’d be at the stage where, instead of locking lips you bump noses, and instead of sliding elegantly under the sheets for some well-deserved Sherlocking you accidentally knee your partner in the gnarly parts, but those few, elusive moments when it all comes together make it worth persevering.

Today has been a classic demonstration that my mood affects my motor skills. Under the blue, if baltic, skies in the morning we had a fantastic time dodging the hazards in Hackney, doing an (almost feet up) u-ey to go south instead of north on the A10 having got turned round in the Home Zone, and cruising the deserted City. In the evening, large parts of North London snarled to a halt (I think Arsenal are playing). Every gap closed as I headed into it, the gearbox refused to slip into first and we kangarooed our way away from the lights in 2nd gear to the smell of burning clutch. Particular curses and opprobium on the Arthur Daley impersonator, who, when I backed away from attempting to squeeze between his beat-up Jag and a white van to my right, opened his door and ostentatiously checked for scratches on his paintwork. Both barrels of the Touratech spots to you, mate!

Then on the last corner before home we had a lairy moment on a manhole cover. Three cheers to the off-road day: I stuck my foot out, gave it some throttle (probably exceeding my 4k run-in ceiling) and we fishtailed our way back to balance.

The indicators are still giving me grief. A warning to London GS riders – if you see someone staring intently at your right hand, they’re not mistakenly trying to work out your marital status, it’s me, trying to see how other people approach this Gordian knot.

And I had forgotten how damn hard it is to attach a Baglux tank harness – hence the undignified lash-up shown in the pic! At least the duffel is colour-co-ordinated. If anyone’s done this for a 2007 GS, please send me some tips!

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