So I got out Sunday. I woke up on monday just in time for the plumber and then went back to bed for another 4 hours before making it out to the monday game. No milk and no butter today. In fact pretty much no anything. Out of meds as well. Got my kit on, got to the chemist, collected prescription, check phone for traffic, google says says traffic towards the small asda is awful so I head towards morrisons. Everything comes to a standstill and the cars in front start pulling u-turns. Looks like an accident ahead. Tesco then. Biiiiiiig Tesco.

I hate this particular Tesco. At least it’s on two floors and I don’t need to go upstairs. But the closet parking is parent and child, blue badge parking runs on one row from just opposite the door all the way down the carpark. I get close by parking in between two 4x4s on a different row. Whilst they have accommodated the wide bays for ease of access aspect of disability access, I don’t think they have considered the criteria for getting a blue badge. Can’t walk is obvious. Can’t walk very far is more nuanced. Walks excessively slowly, yep that’s one of the criteria. Can’t walk very far without excessive pain, well there you go.

At least this place has scan and shop so I don’t have to load my shopping onto the conveyor and back into the trolley with a checkout jockey tutting at me for being slow and me fuming because they didn’t stick to the script they’re supposed to about helping to pack bags.

Milk, butter, yogurt. There’s something about Tesco in particular that induces a wave of existential dread. I think it’s supposed to encourage the buying of comfort food. But I don’t want to eat any of the ready made stuff they have, everything tasty means doing more things  and I WANT TO GO HOME.

Hot. Cross. Buns. Small currant filled bread products of barely concealed hatred for everyone in here. Two packets for a pound. I keep buying these. My freezer is full of them. I’ll be eating them to Halloween. They’ll be on sale again by bonfire night.  If another person accidentally rams me with a trolley as a not-so-subtle hint that I’m not moving fast enough, I will find out if it’s possible to bludgeon someone to death dual wielding tiger bread baguettes. For science, obviously.

Turn LEFT. Walk away from the rum. Each bottle is 200 miles on the bike. And it doesn’t stop the relentless pain as much as it used to, I just fall over more and feel worse the next day. Ignore the “daily helps” signs next to what is optimistically described as heavily discounted wine. You don’t need the flavorings and sugar in a bottle that makes water taste of something that they hide on the other side of the aisle that will double your shopping bill in an instant,

Where the hell is the loo roll? They usually have an aisle dedicated to far more options than there needs to be. It’s signed “Home Baking” of course it is. It’s just the ingredient you need for a perfect pie crust. Maybe that’s the secret of why tesco pies are so bad. Oh, No, there are food products on this aisle too, a whole two metre section of shelving filled with single serving sponge puddings. I just found a bag full of those from my last aldi shop. I think they’d been left in my car for two months. Not a problem, they expire in 2021.

I have a car now. Did I mention that? Well not right this second as I loaned it to a friend for a few days. It’s small and bouncy, tiring to drive and harder to get out of than it is to get on my bike. And waaaaay shakier and bumpier at 40 than my bike is at 60. But it works when I’d otherwise be snowed in.

All the freezers are just marked Frozen Food. The ready meals take some finding. And they’ve gone up in price again. Grab 5 different ones before anyone notices and tuts. Time to go. Scan the barcode on the self-service checkout. Great, random check time. I can see 6 members of staff having a giggle about something. Don’t mind me standing by this big red light whilst I contemplate the paradox that is the U-shaped curve of staff count to wait time. Don’t worry I think it’s hilarious your job has been replaced by a robot and now you have to scan 5 random items from my shopping to justify your existance. That’s 5 different random items. You already scanned my milk once. How hard can this be? How can you be a scan and shop supervisor when you don’t seem to be able to function without adult supervision? Maybe it’s best the robots take over. As long as it’s these robots and not the malcalibrated walmart abominations that chant unexpected item in the bagging area like a faux middle class shopping-dalek.

Card. Pin. Glare at the huddle of staff ignoring the myriad of red lights at the self service checkouts. Leave. Reach bike in time to catch someone trying to squeeze back into a car they parked so far over the line it’s not funny. Yeah, that’s their door rubbing on my luggage. It’s near-indestructible plastic unlike car paint. The alarm goes off. I squeeze my keyfob and silence it.  How she got out in the first place I don’t know as that’s a ford ka not the oversize 4×4 that was there before. “I’m sorry, did I park too close? It’s a good thing these detatch.” not. sarcastic. at. all. I should have bought bread. Tiger bread. Baguettes. One would suffice.

Home. Cold stuff in the fridge. Sofa. Become heap. Not hungry. Food can wait until tomorrow. There’s milk for coffee in the morning. Who am I kidding. It’ll be afternoon. I’m going to bed.



I’m still alive

In spite of everything, I’m still here and not dead yet. I meant to do and say so many things to nobody in particular. Facing the #deletefacebook movement I thought I’d poke this. A presence somewhere is important. Telling the world I’m still here, still waving a middle finger at my health and surviving the first sunny spring Sunday when so many didn’t. Saw the aftermath of a likely fatal bike crash and a very messy car crash. Thought I was first on scene to a badly wrecked car on it’s roof on monday night only to find a 6 inch stripe of police tape. Was not the first to make that mistake and apparently a panda car was on it’s way to make vehicle more obvious. Upset me some though.

There is nothing like being on a bike to remind me I don’t want do die on a very primal level. I almost didn’t make it through the winter. I could be cynical and blame it on focusing all my energies on having a car. The truth of the matter is more complicated and with the state of the weather i would have been more housebound than usual if I only had the bike.

I felt quite rusty going for a long ride on sunday. And weekend warriors blasting past on sportsbikes, only to wobble through corners all crossed up didn’t make me feel much better. I nearly came a cropper once or twice going for an overtake when the twat behind me must have seen my head move to check mirror and blindspot before commencing overtake, yet was alongside and dangerously close by the time I was committed to the manoeuvre, having made no such checks himself or bothered to indicate. And that’s not poor obs on my part, I checked my cameras after. I spent most of my homewards leg trying to stay off the main biker routes as I wanted to stay out of the stupidity.

Sleep, Dreams and Lullabies

So i came home, locked the bike up, made a coffee, played guitar for a little while and then put the racing on. I don’t know whether it is the comforting sound of engines or the sound of the voices but very sleepy. To far gone to get off the sofa. Attempt snooze, can’t, too quiet. Thumb remote until there is prog metal playing, Dream Theatre  to be precise. Out like a light. Now it’s 2am, I’m hungry, mobile and can’t sleep. Frozen lasagne and racing it is.



I’m in the bath. I won’t burn your minds with a photo of my hairy body covered in tesco value bubbles, you’ll just have to use your imagination. This is a rarity. I think i clean a piece of bike or riding kit in here more often than i clean myself. It’s not a problem if I leave a fender or my boots in the bath. I’m a bit boned if i can’t get myself out.

Of course it makes perfect sense to get in the bath after a longer journey as the warm water stops things hurting. I had a busy weekend on the bike, Monday and Tuesday mostly disappeared and this is late on Wednesday.

My bath is not even particularly difficult to get out of. In addition to the little and pointless handles built in to the side, there are some nice big rails i had put in. Still doesn’t stop me being a smelly biker though.

The failure of the XV535

The venerable twin was doing well. I had been racking up the miles having moved out of the city into a small town in the sticks. I’d been changing the oil every 2000 miles. Fresh filter every time. No surprises in there. Using Motul 5000 or 5100 as it is a reasonably good quality semi-synthetic at a price i didn’t mind paying for frequent oil changes. I think i’d changed the oil about 1000 miles previously.

I was on my way back from the dentist, which is in a village on the other side of the city. There is a dual carriageway that is mostly traffic lights. I accelerate away from the lights, into second, accelerate up to 40 (that being the speed limit) change up into 3rd and then there’s a loud clonk and and the back and starts to snake like i jumped on the back brake. I pull clutch in and the bike stops snaking. It’s also not running. I thumb the starter. Clonk! Not good. I throw a left indicator on and let the bike coast.

There are railings along both sides of the road so i can’t pull up safely. I toe the gear lever around until i have neutral. The bike comes to a halt just before a big roundabout that i dont like. I hop off and push the bike off the left exit. More railings each side, single carriageway and now an imparient bus behind me. I finally take refuge in the corner of a bus stop.

I call my local bike shop. They advise me that it’s at least a dropped valve if not a completely lunched engine, but bring it in and they will have a look. I call the RAC, describe problem. They have a patrol out quickly. Apparently their phone monkey understood the symptoms to be a flat battery. Facepalm. Patrolman summons a recovery truck for me. I have much fun with optional RAC survey asking patrolman to check the oil on my bike. He can’t find the dipstick. There isn’t one. I explain the procedure.

There’s a little window there, hold bike upright and look at the oil level. As the bike has been stopped for a while it should be dark which means it’s safe to start the bike. Do so and bring the engine up to temperature, turn off bike and leave for 3 minutes, then check level is between the upper and lower marks next to the window.

He tries to hold bike upright and look in the window which is just in front of the left footpeg. He can’t do both so I hold the bike. He gets a flashlight out and declares the window dark, and the whole procedure insane. He asks me how i manage. I tell him i have a mirror on a stick with a light on it, and that if the window is dark there’s enough oil so long as i haven’t just done an oil filter change, which requires the second check.

The RAC man departs and the recovery contractor arrives, we drop the bike at the shop and he gives me a ride home. I get a phone call the next day. Engine is full of metal fragments as the big end bearing has failed and at the very least it’s new pistons, com rods and cranshaft as it’s a proper mess. Beyond economical repair.

I begin bike hunting. I sold the remains through a web forum. I got more than salvage value, but little more than the new exhaust i’d fitted 12 months previously had cost me. I could have made a little more parting it out on ebay, but my housing contract forbids me from keeping motorcycles indoors and i had nowhere to work outdoors.



Pirates vs Hipsters

In a land of offensive stereotypes about power rangers and hipsters, I thought I would do my own little anti-type.

Bike: Japanese Retro, shaft drive a bonus, low seat and lightweight. Old and well used. Currently a scruffy 1992 XV535.

Custom Work: Luggage rack, topbox with extra reflective tape. Heated Grips, wider mirrors, fender extensions.

Helmet: White HJC Ben Spies race rep, because animal skulls and damask patterns are cool. And it’s light, cheap, and exhibits Sharp stars.

Eyewear: Black plastic glasses, ironic that they came from specsavers bottom shelf and have a real proscription. Pinlock and Yamaha race rep sunstrip on clear or smoke tint visor.

Facial Expression: Hidden behind chinbar and foggy mask.

Facial Hair: Apathy beard, shaving is time I could be fixing bike or drinking coffee.

Clothing: Black, mostly gore-tex or equivalent, mix of textiles and leather. Occasional stick-on retro-reflective star. Tough and utilitarian touring kit.

Footwear: Retro high-leg motorcycle boots, from Altberg so fully armoured and CE certified

Accessories: flame pattern buff, spare visor

Tattoos: None, due to chronic indecisiveness.

Bitch: Filthy redhead, has battlecry of ATGATT, missing some kit…

Average ride: Twenty miles down back lanes because through town is being dug up / full of traffic / infested with imbeciles, inevitably a social call or to the supermarket.