Devizes - Malta

Wednesday 15th July.

Awake rather late in extremely peaceful, comfortable surroundings. What’s left of midday spent chattering, gossiping and continuing catching up with Derry (another one of the most thoroughly decent and absolutely spot on blokes, man of integrity, friend, trusted confidant and fellow philostopher, a fella could hope to have).

Just in time for tea, Roz returns from the Big World and enlightens me, filling in gaps of family history, then speaking enthusiastically of her belief in tough love parenting, and the imperative of cutting the apron strings and allowing young adults to confidently enter the Big World to fend for themselves.

Roz obviously practicing what she preaches. She and Derry have brought up a bunch of kids who are easy-going and communicatively alright.

Ol & Susie. Roz & Derry. Both pairs of contemporaries have raised interesting children.

Impressed by their kids calm, confidence and politeness. What a gift to the future. Well Done Chums!

But time is passing, and if I’m to be polite, I’d better get a move on, as I’m expected in Lewisham for supper.

Re-attach my stuff to the 900. Say Goodbyes.

Set off along the long track back onto main road. For the helluvit, take the East Dean to Birling Gap to Beachy Head road. It’s a kind of cathartic, completing-the-circle sort of middle-aged-man-on-a-motorcycle-journey-through-his-past-thing, that eases me into the doing the along the seafront, for-old-times-sake checking out of Eastbourne.

Naturally, since my formative years of Eastbourne residency ceased in the mid 1970’s, one helluva lot has changed, and yet, stayed the same down there.

Where I used to live looks almost exactly the same.

Ride past Michael (VespaGS) Hayman’s house. Looks almost exactly the same.

Ride past Dougie (Honda something) Young’s house. Looks almost exactly the same.

Ride past Trevor (VespaGS) Catt’s house. Looks almost exactly the same.

Ride past Graham (Matchless) Cook’s house. Looks almost exactly the same.

Ride past Simon (Panther & sidecar; Ariel Square Four; Austin Cambridge; Mercury Monterey) Verrall’s house. Looks almost exactly the same.

Ride past Gloria’s house … that’s enough riding past the past.

Retracing the move north, it’s road north to London choosing time … which used to be the most fun?

A22 used to be good.

Choose the A22.

A22 starts off fun familiarly well enough, then rapidly deteriorates into a painfully slow and over sign posted, restricted road that takes ages to progress along to London.

A22. Big mistake (But would any of the other, old familiar routes from Sussex to London, have turned out to be as free flowing and fun as I remember them? I doubt it).


Eventually get into South London.

The place is plastered all over with cameras and restrictive road markings and rules and regulations gone mad, all flung about by a self perpetuating bureaucracy waving the Public Safety and Responsible Citizen banners, performing an escalating for-their-own-good public service that will soon make it mandatory to be at all times in any public space to be thoroughly, safely wrapped in a minimum one metre thickness of cotton wool ...

Hello, Nanny State Guys (and Gals) … It won’t work.

Intimidatingly aggressive driving of a young south London girlie around about south of Dulwich south circular way, barging up me inside, almost forcing me into traffic island railings. Blimey!

Change tactics. Ride like an Italian, accelerating briskly to 30, then meekly maintain restrained progress past the hundreds of cameras!

Eventually get safely into familiar/unfamiliar Lewisham and around the alterations to the house where Adrian & Mary live.

A greyer, but just as manic as ever looking Adrian appears at the sound of the 900, tells me to hurry up, cos the take-away curry is getting cold.

Rapid unloading, then locking and alarming of 900 to a convenient lamp-post.

Once 900 safe and secure - Stuff myself silly with curry.

Quench searing spice fires with red wine.


Then the interrogation starts in earnest. Adrian & Mary keen to know the who, the what, the why, the where and the when detail of the last seventeen years since ’92, when The Wife, Two Kids and I left London for Ireland.

Adrian and I were at the same art school together in the early 1970’s, independently gravitated to SE8, shared the same flat, girlfriends, wild parties and hedonistic we-are-all-doomed-for-tomorrow-we-die lifestyle, off and on through the 1980’s, as Adrian either moved out to share with his girlfriends or, one-time, moved out to avoid getting knifed by my girlfriend (not the Half-Italienne).

Ade re-introducing me to the delights of Motorcycling. 1981.

Adrian’s late-teen daughter laughs, delighted to hear dodgy stories of her respectable father’s disreputable yoof.Despite the dastardly doings of each other and Thatcher & Co., (spit) Ade & I both managed to hold down steady jobs between redundancies and eventually ended up working together in the same advertising production studio … until The Iron Lady’s boom & bust cycle finally caught up Big Time. Which was when I leapt from the sinking ship to land in a safe haven on the coast of Co.Cork.

Thirsty business this being interrogated and telling the tale, slurp, urp.

Q and A session about life in West Cork, continues until all is made plain and understood and I am at liberty to fall asleep peacefully on the sofa, absolved, guilt free.