03 January 2005

Growing Up Fast

A memory recorded from age 14 when I was so very impressionable

Michael C mentioned nonchalantly he was riding his motor bike that evening in the woods behind Bournemouth School for Boys. I pedaled furiously to Charminster after tea, arriving in time to see him astride a lean speedway bike. He was rolling with the engine off down the slope of the school’s main entrance. I took in the blue bib of the Poole Pirates and the red cotton scarf knotted around his neck. There was no helmet to restrain his lank, unwashed locks. Scarcely able to believe my eyes I followed and watched him bump start the mighty steed and crackle off through the trees, the bike’s front wheel pawing the air in impressive style.

Raw, high-octane exhaust lingered in the close confines of the woods and thunder from the unsilenced pipe barked and echoed to such an alarming extent that surely everyone for miles around must have heard. He demonstrated consummate control over the machine, a single cylinder 500cc BSA and close cousin of the speedway bikes I saw each week at Poole Stadium. There were no brakes of course yet he roared fearlessly between the menacing trees, carving stylish broadsides. A group of envious hangers on had drifted by so when Mike suddenly offered the mount to me I had an audience. I swung my leg over the small brown leather seat and gripped the wide bars. I weaved unsteadily between the trees and moments later steered the throbbing beast back to him unscathed. He confided that he had a second identical bike at home, which he cannibalised for spare parts to keep this one running. What a man!

After that I often met him in the woods but nothing compared to that first exhilarating evening. Once the police arrived in response to complaints from residents. Mike took the interruption in his stride even having the temerity to engage one officer in conversation about the specifications of the bike! The slightly bemused constables made him push it home.


Excerpt from Memoirs Chapter 3 - 1969-1975, “In Verbo Tuo”

6 comments:

Marjory said...

Captures perfectly that youthful, fearless enthusiasm, the excitement of just being.......who you are ! Great stuff.

Den said...

Wow, I was just messing around and found your page!
Very nice.
If you are interested, go see my pocketbike related site.
It isnt anything fancy but you might still find something of interest.

Jane said...

Cannibalised! Did he use that word -or you?

Perfect Virgo said...

Jane - it was me who used that word, although Michael was ultra intelligent and would probably have used it if I hadn't. One motor cycle "eating" the other in order to prolong its own life! Sounds like "nature" in engineering.

Jane said...

Indeed! I thought it was you. It's such a raw, organic word. "Nature in engineering" -makes me think of a book I once read about motorcycles...

Perfect Virgo said...

Jane - hmmm, now which one would that be I wonder... :)