Monday, November 07, 2005

Born to be Mild

In my younger days, I attended a fair few bike rallies. It was a familiar pattern - turn up, open a beer, open another one, smoke a spliff, open another beer, give up attempting to pitch the tent, head for the bar, drink, dance, laugh, drink, smoke, play silly games, drink, sit by the bonfire and sing songs, give up attempting to recall where you had given up pitching the tent, sleep by the bonfire, wake up cold, confused and hungover, ride bike home in a slow, ponderous fashion, sleep. Occasionally there would be even sillier games (dizzy sticks, the eating competition (in which a friend of mine triumphed on one memorable occasion by eating dry weetabix followed by lard, cockles and three giant spoons of golden syrup before heroically throwing up all over the bloke next to him), egg roulette, plank skiing), or a go on the wussy board (a square of wood tied to the back end of someone's bike - said bike would then be hammered round the field at 40+ mph while a hapless, stoned individual clung onto the rope for dear life and tried not to fall off the board). The diverting presence of Rally Virgins always piqued the imaginations of those who had attended before. If it was your first rally (no matter where you were, or who you knew) you'd do well to keep quiet and bribe your friends to do the same or it invariably ended in tears. I got off lightly - my boots ended up suspended from the rugby posts and I was drenched in cold filthy water the minute I changed into my remaining clean clothes. I have friends who have variously had their clothes stolen and burned, been forced into drinking contests (in which they were the only participant) or even been tied to marquee posts with flaming rolls of newspaper wedged into the cleft of their arse. I took a friend to a rally one year - it was a Hallowe'en one and it was his first time. He forgot the protocol and finished the evening jumping through the bonfire, dressed only in his socks and a pointy witches hat.

Of course a lot of the things that occurred at rallies were downright dangerous. The Ex once wrote off a friend's brand new bike - a very helpful friend who, on noticing that an extremely intoxicated Ex had erroneously fitted the ignition keys into the petrol cap (he had generously permitted the Ex to have a go round the rugby field), placed them into the ignition slot and sent them on their way. Witnesses report seeing the rear light flip end over end at least twice. Neither the Ex nor his pillion passenger split a drop of their cider. There were acid casualties, dancing injuries and no end of people who'd had one too many space cakes. One year the Rugby Club barman got so drunk during the silly games that he was unable to serve for the rest of the day, so we served ourselves that night. On a much more serious note, a good friend of mine was killed three years ago, popping home on a Saturday morning to see his fiancee and baby son. He was arguably over the limit and it gave a lot of people a very nasty shock. But somehow it seemed fitting for him. If that sounds crap I don't know how else to articulate it. The Hippy was a vibrant, party-loving all-round nice guy. He was far too young to die but you take your chances in life and he was never one to settle for a quiet life. His funeral was amazing - a Triumph Speed Triple with a hearse-sidecar carried him at the head of a procession of hundreds and hundreds of bikes through his hometown. When another friend had died of cancer two years previously, a member of the Hells Angels rode his missus behind the hearse on his beloved Harley. It's a weird sort of camaraderie in the biker world, but one I'm very glad I was part of for a while.

As with any activity that produces a "club" culture, politics invariably creep in. The bike club I was part of suddenly became very righteous; any female members were refused renewal of their membership on the basis that only the men could "run" the club. Leather waistocats with the club "colours" appeared (all MCC's in the UK are carefully vetted (or at least always used to be) by the Angels to ensure that their patches weren't copied in any way, down to the colours and any mottos). The club now had a "President", a "Secretary", assorted other henchmen and a fierce coterie of girlfriends protecting them. My friends and I began to lose interest. The last rally I attended with the old club was about ten years ago, at a pub just outside my home town. There was a bike show, a barbecue, and bands in the evening. The bike show was laughably pompous - lots of earnest "biker" handshaking and manly hugs, and the snakebite was rendering myself and my friends dangerously giggly. We were sitting at tables outside the back door of the pub. Directly in front of us was a large bouncy castle, and the first row of tents was in a regimented line alongside. As the club president's girlfriend (who took the whole thing very, very seriously and who hadn't cracked a smile all day) made her way between the inflatable and the campsite (a pathway only two feet wide), the ceremony concluded and eight to ten burly, half-pissed blokes leaped at the bouncy castle with a roar. They all ended up hitting the left hand side at the same time, and the look of astonishment on the face of El Presidente's missus as she was catapulted six feet into the air before landing unceremoniously on her arse in the middle of somebody's tent was almost worth being kicked off site and missing the barbie owing to our prolonged, shrieking hysterics and inability to get up off the floor.

Happy days.

26 Comments:

Blogger garfer chimed in with...

Bikers are pussycats. I used to go to a biker pub in Bristol. No trouble, no altercations with pool cues. Infinitely preferable to skinheads.
This post explains your antipathy towards mods. Cider is safer than pills.

07 November, 2005 21:25  
Blogger bedshaped chimed in with...

I really enjoyed this post.
Memories can never be changed, so the good ones are worth hanging onto.

07 November, 2005 21:58  
Blogger S.I.D. chimed in with...

There was a biker club in town with initiation rites such as doing an Evel Knievel over a wide sewer.If you fell in you got pissed on.Everybody did of course, and spitting on the newly washed floor of the local cafe,and shouting "Whiskey bitch, for me and my comrades!".
Charming

08 November, 2005 00:17  
Blogger Kellycat chimed in with...

Don't think we didn't notice the sly Robbie reference you sneaked in there SG...

08 November, 2005 10:31  
Blogger surly girl chimed in with...

so subtle i didn't even know i'd done it.

damn, i'm good...

08 November, 2005 11:07  
Anonymous Other Half chimed in with...

Oh God, subliminal Robbie references...where will it end...oh yes I know, with marriage !!!!

Just means you'll have to commit bigamy with me.

08 November, 2005 11:54  
Blogger Urban Chick chimed in with...

ok, call me stoopid: i missed the robbie reference

please enlighten me someone!

08 November, 2005 11:57  
Blogger funny thing chimed in with...

garfer, was that the Hatchet? Used to be my hang-out too.

I missed the Robbie reference - but I've checked myself over, and hey.. I'm still fine!

08 November, 2005 12:08  
Blogger Kellycat chimed in with...

"Born to be Mild" is one of Robbie's tattoos.

My knowledge of that must have been subliminally planted by SG at some point....

08 November, 2005 12:10  
Blogger Urban Chick chimed in with...

ah...

thanks, KC

finger on the pulse, me, erm...some of the time (try: never)

08 November, 2005 13:02  
Blogger surly girl chimed in with...

um, have i been proposed to? was that a subliminal proposal? did anyone else see that?

08 November, 2005 13:17  
Anonymous Lisa chimed in with...

I was thinking the same myself. Well, OH did you, did you???

08 November, 2005 13:35  
Blogger Lee chimed in with...

Goodness, you little hell raiser!

You've inspired me to start my own gang. Of shopping trolley pushers. We shall cause havoc in Harrods on a Saturday!

08 November, 2005 13:48  
Blogger surly girl chimed in with...

ooh, harrods? posh poofs then....

08 November, 2005 13:55  
Blogger Juggling Mother chimed in with...

Oh happy memories. my MCC left me with many happy memories. As the first female member I avoided many of the prospect initiations - claiming that I'd been hanging around long enough & gone to enough rallies to qualify for full membership. I also avoided "first rally" initiations by claiming to have been to loads:-)

I do remember some nasty clashes between the Angels & Outcasts, who were having a turf war at the time, but they kept it to themselves most of the time.

My bike is now a distant memory, and the club just two members drinking in the same pub every Weds night, but it was a good few years.

08 November, 2005 18:11  
Blogger elvira black chimed in with...

Ah, politics...they ruin everything, don't they?

08 November, 2005 20:47  
Blogger Donna chimed in with...

It sounded like one to me ....

08 November, 2005 21:44  
Blogger Sniffy chimed in with...

Well, I'll be there, riding with the Midlife Crisis MCC (Manchester)on the 10th of December. Oh yes, there's no stopping me now; raising hell dressed as a Christmas Elf or reindeer (or Beatrix Kiddo if I can get a set of yellow leathers and a samurai sword).

08 November, 2005 23:19  
Anonymous Other Half chimed in with...

Like to keep you all guessing......

09 November, 2005 09:36  
Blogger surly girl chimed in with...

i offended the president of the outcasts once - tell you later...

09 November, 2005 09:59  
Blogger mig bardsley chimed in with...

My god woman, You scare me!
when I think of the pony club and the wild times we had (????) I feel all small and tame :)

09 November, 2005 10:53  
Blogger Fifi chimed in with...

OH - you're a dark horse and no mistake.

09 November, 2005 12:42  
Anonymous Other Half chimed in with...

HAHAHA...SG has already found that out !!!

09 November, 2005 14:43  
Blogger surly girl chimed in with...

i couldn't possibly comment. horse. hmmmmm....

09 November, 2005 15:35  
Blogger Juggling Mother chimed in with...

Hmm, my sisters best friend's sister (it sounds complicated, but is actually quite a close relationship) used tyo date the president of the local Angels. Then she left him for the president of the Outcasts.

That was fun!

09 November, 2005 19:16  
Blogger surly girl chimed in with...

i can imagine...when was this? which year?

small world!

10 November, 2005 09:22  

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