As many of you will be aware, I tend to leave me editorial until the very last thing. This is partially to lend it a degree of immediacy in recognition of the up to the minute nature of the medium it will be appearing on – i.e. the Internet – but mostly it’s because I’m a bit of a space cadet who’s always had a tendency to leave everything until the last minute.
If I had a coat of arms it would have “Non differtur usquein crastinum diem differtur usque adid quod potestis” writ large across it. At least that’s what Google Translate came up with for “Never put off until tomorrow, what you can put off until the day after” (I probably could have got a better translation from Paddy or Jonathan but what can I tell you, I’m dashing this off at the eleventh hour).
I’d love to tell you how much better I am at doing things in a timely manner now that I’m sliding towards the Autumn of my life where there are considerably less tomorrows than there were when I first started work on this philosophy, sometime back in my mid teens;however, I try to be honest in these pages and the awful truth is, if anything, as I begin to believe that I know what I can get away with, I’m getting worse.
Over the years Spaniards, Italians, and even Jamaicans have claimed me as a kindred spirit (or should that be ‘kin-dread’ spirit’ in the latter case) because they have recognised my willingness to embrace the true meaning behind mañana, domani and nuff time – we are all brothers and sisters in one procrasti nation.
Hopefully I’ve established my credentials as someone who is unlikely to ever turn anything in early, so how can I be anything but empathetic when my contributors behave in a similar manner? It tends to make the last few days before the magazine goes live a bit hectic, but hey,I recognise that part of me responds best to the sense of urgency provided by a rapidly encroaching deadline.
However, this month I received a late sick note from one contributor, another couple failed to make it across the finish line, and then confusion with yet another meant, as I realised when I was sorting out the contents pages, that this issue was going to be considerably different from the the edition I’d planned only a week earlier. Looking through the list of features I was horrified to discover that there seemed to be a distinct shortage of articles about… well… bikes! Which some would consider to be something of a shortcoming in a motorcycle magazine.
Whereas I’d thought my funeral would be just one article in among the usual bonanza of biking tales, the TRD that lies ahead of you has turned into something else altogether. The front end kicks off exactly as you’ve come to expect and it’s very much business as usual up to the end of Paul & Maeve’s latest chapter in their ‘Two Wheels’ tour. However, right after them you have my piece, followed by one about three wheelers, another on Biker Down training, an interview (albeit with the creator of a motorcycling icon), and then some portraits from the TT – of people rather than bikes – so my worry is by the time we round the writing up with Martin’s tale of damp BMWs, a few of the real bikeophiles out there will have given up.
Hopefully most of our regular readers will see issue 177 for what it is –a curious blip – and they’ll recognise that the quality of the writing and the information it relates to, is right up there with the best the Digest has offered over the last twelve and a half years, it’s just that it’s even less like regular bike magazine fodder than it usually is.
I’m not planning to name and shame the missing contributors; I’ve never subscribed to a blame culture and I’m certainly not going to start now – shit happens. However, as he’s a regular, I feel I should point out that it was our book reviewer (or cultural correspondent to give him a more appropriate title) who gave me advance notice when both his mother and his computer became sick at the same time. As it happens the article he postponed would have been about an academic publication called the IJMS (International Journal of Motorcycle Studies), which, as fascinating as it sounds – and it honestly does –it was unlikely to add a lot to this month’s overall two-wheeled fun factor.
If I’m honest (and as I said above, I do try to be) I was within fingertips of missing the boat myself. The funeral I’ve reported on happened over a fortnight back but typically it wasn’t until a few days ago that I started to really put it all together. Although it still needed a fair bit of work and there was all the usual stuff to do with the rest of the magazine, I was sure everything was under control so, as they’re my fave band at the moment, I even took time out on Friday to attend the very late night launch of Missing Andy’s new album “Guerrilla Invasion” at Koko.
I had to leave the venue not long after I’d arrived to pop into the Sainsbury’s Local to buy some tissues, because it was quickly becoming apparent that there was more to the steady drip, drip, drip from my nose than the very rapid but bitterly cold ride from Hounslow to Mornington Crescent that I’d initially put it down to and it was about to turn into a steady trickle; which it did and sure enough by the time I’d finished the even colder ride home and pulled my lid off at around 02.45, I was confronted by a torrent of snot.
As I said on Facebook, when I woke too few hours later my brain felt so clogged up it had all the get up and go of an old Mercury GT250 after it had spent a couple of winter despatching days liberally coating its sparkplugs in unburned mixture. For the sake of anyone who has never known the utter frustration of twisting the throttle on a two-stroke twin that’s already down to one barely sparking cylinder, in the vain hope that you might just coax enough power out of it to get the cafe and out of the shitty weather before it finally dies – which of course it never did – I was attempting to describe a desperate situation.
I said it was impossible to tap into the old creative juices when you’ve got snot in your synapses, which was a pretty fair description of how I felt because I simply couldn’t string a thought together. I won’t dignify it by calling it Man Flu, particularly as its effects are already beginning to diminish, only a couple of days later, after being assaulted by a combination of Ibuprofen (Superdrug’s own), vitamin C (fresh squeezed orange juice from Lidl), and alcohol courtesy of Mr J Walker’s very own black label (some things are worth paying the extra for), but I couldn’t do a thing on Saturday except feel sorry for myself – and frankly I felt that I was doing that a bit too well for my own liking.
As you’ll see in the following pages, I took a wire brush to my metaphorical sparks plugs yesterday morning and managed to get my mojo working again, but I ended up cutting it a little bit too close for my own liking so you never know I might just adopt a more mature approach in the future – well you never know, I might.
When you get to Rod’s nuts on page 25, you’ll see that he suggests that it’s about time we had a slap up meal for all the contributors (with beer) paid for by the editor, which I thought sounded like a delightful idea until I worked out that that would be me and, on examining the TRD coffers, I realised that a KFC bucket and a couple of big bottles of white lightning cider would hardly constituted a feast, even for the trashiest TRD regulars (nope, still not naming names), so it would probably be more sensible to arrange a date when we can all get together at the Ace Cafe and invite the readership along too, in the hope that we might be able to bum a cuppa or two out of them.
So, with a bit of luck this ridiculously cold weather ought to be way behind us by May, so if you’re within reasonable range, why don’t aim for the Ace Cafe on the evening of Friday the 3rd after around 8pm and buy us a… And say hello; we’d love to meet you.