“Have you got ‘Trapped on a Small Island by a Huge Volcanic Dust Cloud?'” – I asked the assistant at Daunts bookshop.
“Who’s it by?” ..she asked.-“I’ll look it up.”
I got back on my red Vespa scooter ,and drove 10 yards down the street, and parked outside Strada to have a single espresso.
“Got any spare change mate?”A very overweight youth in his late teens asked, waving a lager can in one hand.
“How can I possibly know?” I said.
“I haven’t lived the rest of my life yet.” I replied.
I took to two wheels almost two yrs ago, and I can honestly say that… 3 stolen scooters, one hit and run driver,and 3 months of not being able to raise my right arm above my head, later, (I never was big on Hitler salutes in the first place) ..it has really transformed my life.
Ive discovered I’m a member of the band of biker brothers. I’d never have known this if I hadn’t been knocked off in Ladbroke Grove one dark and stormy November night by a young hit and run Porsche driver, who’d suddenly turned right without signalling.
As I picked myself up off the ground, out of the darkness , through the pouring rain, a man appeared, dressed from head to toe in black leathers, with a full face black helmet and driving a 25000 cc Yakakomoshoka ( don’t ask, I haven’t a clue about real bikes ); he was dragging by the scruff of the neck a frightened looking soaked young man .
He looked like the sheriff who’d just lassoed and rounded up a rustler in Bonanza.
“Who are you ” I asked.
Graef mej De lag..folded yap his.” He replied.
“I’m sorry I can’t understand you.. ..can you take your helmet off.”
” I see what happened.. I chase ..-I catch him -I bring him to you ..we band of brothers ..you know that?” He said.
What’s your name?” I asked
” I Vassi” he said.
“I Peter.” I said shaking his wet leather gauntlet Vassi told me he was a courier by day and pizza delivery driver by night. “You biker..me biker..We look after other.” he told me.
Naturally we kept in touch; And still go out for the odd Bulgarian meals together.
I must admit people do give me funny looks at traffic lights; I don’t know why..- I always wear my suit, and tie. Maybe it because with a cigar clenched between my teeth. I look like a cross between a Jewish Viking and Groucho Marx..
I went into an office on Monday morning, with my crash helmet under my arm.
“Oh, have you got a motorbike ?” the receptionist asked looking at my helmet.
“No,… what makes you think that?” I asked…
“I’m just a little nervous on the tube since the bombings.” There’s nothing quite so exhilarating than narrowly avoiding being crushed to death by a bendy bus on the Edgware road at Marble Arch in the morning rush hour; or only just missing sliding under the huge wheels of a giant Westminster rubbish truck on Baker Street.
Last Wednesday evening I left the bike at home and used the Central line to get to the City. I was just going into see a client at Merrill Lynch’s offices when my mobile rang.
“PC Broadbottom here sir. .we’ve found your bike.”
“That’s wonderful news PC Broadbottom ” I said..but I didn’t know it had been stolen.”
“What? You didn’t know it had been stolen? Well it has Sir.”he said.
“if you tell me where you left it Sir, I’ll tell you where it is now.”
“Why don’t you just tell me where it is now?” l asked him.
“Look sir, this is how we do it. You tell me where you left it? And then I’ll tell you where we found it.”
In the end he finally told me it was in Kilburn High Road, parked behind a carpet shop. And no he couldn’t deliver it to me.
“Don’t worry sir it’s quite safe.” I’ve put a chain round the front wheel.” he said. “You can pick it up tomorrow morning.”
Next morning I went in a taxi to collect it.
It wasn’t there.
It had been stolen again. My bike had been stolen from the police who’d found it!
I am not making this up. I bought a new scooter the next day. .At the zebra crossing at Grosvenor Square yesterday morning, a man stopped and shouted at me.. I prepared myself for trouble. “You found my piglet.” he said and walked off.
April 20th, 2010.