I got home from a day at the Asphalt Industry Alliance conference yesterday (yes, I get all the glamorous gigs) to a wonderful sight - a garage stuffed to the gills with motorcycles. I"ve had one bike here since I moved in but the other 2 have been in Downham Market temporarily lodging with China Girl and a pair of Aprilias. Mel wants his garage back so he brought them over during the day while I was in Birmingham. Coming home was like coming down the stairs on Christmas morning to see what Father Christmas had left - but better, because there was no risk of disappointment! Next job - polishing :)
Friday, 29 October 2010
Sunday, 24 October 2010
I seem to have become a music promoter. I have the extravagant girth but haven't yet aquired the taste - or the finances - for Cuban cigars. But I did indulge in a rather good cheese omlette in Haverhill as a break from inviting the music shops, newsagents, kebab shop owners, tattoo parlours and corner shops of Haverhill, Clare and Hitchin to put up a poster promoting Steve Lockwood's harmonica workshops. I need to get better at resisting tempation, because I came home with a new tambourine, 13 china tea-cups and a glitter ball. And none of the posters - they all found homes, which I take as the universe rewarding me for a minor good deed. As the Keyboard Wizard and I headed into Haverhill I pointed out the rather fabulous shocking pink scooter which was waiting to turn right ahead of us into the roundabout. A scooter which promptly fishtailed on the damp road and dumped its teenage pilot sharp onto the tarmac. I jumped out to help her get the scooter back on its wheels - and turned out to be completely useless. By the time I'd got to her she'd already righted the scooter and was kicking it back into life. The only damage was one side of her visor flapping loose - which I confidently offered to fix and had to hand back 5 minutes later in defeat.
Fundametally all I managed to do was stop her jumping straight back on and riding off while the adrenalin was still spiking. Which I persuade myself was a useful service. Meanwhile I am heading off to book First Bike on Scene, so that if, god forbid, she'd been more badly hurt I would have actually had a clue what to do.
Meanwhile Miss Pink had figured out the most important thing she'd done that morning, and it wasn't the effort she'd put in to straightening her hair, and it wasn't her splendid eyeliner work - it was the big black jacket she was wearing and which hit the road first. "My mum was right," she said in some disbelief. Mrs Pink Scooter had insisted that daughter put her jacket on for her short ride to work even though the sky was blue because the roads were wet. So - Pink Scooter's Mum, wherever you are - you are a damn sensible woman. Here's to you!
Friday, 8 October 2010
About now 12 months ago you'd find me sitting in the Ace Cafe with Graham, Paul, and a host of other RBR-ers who'd come to a windswept and chilly Trafalgar Square at 5am to watch me play harmonica during my hour on the 4th Plinth. By strange coincidence I'm playing in public again tonight, at the Willingham Feast. I think I've got better but I find it very hard to tell, because the people I measure my self against are geniuses. A bit like my riding, where I'm comparing myself to Martin Hopp and the Nurburgring-meisters who step down from Asgard and lap Cadwell at less than one-tenth their usual level to shepherd numpties like me.
But I've resolved to stop being so hard on myself, because I've learnt an important lesson through the medium of chocolate cake. Delia Smith's All-in-One cake is a tasty though dangerous tutor, so, in the interests of saving other people from having to put on several pounds in order to discover the same thing, I'll share my discovery:-
Many years ago my mum died of ovarian cancer. One of the great sadnesses of my life is that I have almost no memories of her - what she sounded like, what perfume she used, what she thought about things. How she dressed. Which puzzles me, because it's not as if I was a toddler when she died - I was 17, and presumably have a full set of memories somewhere in my brain, just lost, or, in the manner of Zaphod Beeblebrox, securely locked away for the avoidance of distress.
This cake was the first I'd made for about 5 years. But I know exactly how to do it. I know what an ounce of butter looks like. I know how to scrape the sides of the mixing bowl down with a spatula. I know from how it moves under the beater whether the mix is too stiff because my eggs are too small, and I know how much water to put in to sort it out. I know how to fill the tins so that the cake will rise evenly, and I can tell by looking at it whether it's done or not.
And how is it that I am an instinctive (and rather good) cake maker? Because I was taught by an expert - for as Martin Hopp is to motorcycling, Liz Kiggins was to domestic arts - and because I got a lot of practice. And because these things happened so long ago that I've forgotten ever learning in the first place.
So I take comfort from the fact that, while I may not remember the person, I remember the skills that she taught me.
And I take reassurance from knowing that one day, I'll be able to tell by looking at it how fast to tip into a corner. One day, I'll know how much pressure to put in to bend a note without having to think about it. It's just going to take a lot more practice. And that's fine.