You see, I don't do selfish very often, not where large sums of money are concerned at least, I mean, I'll buy myself a magazine maybe, or something from the supermarket's own 'Frighteningly Middle Class' range of sandwiches - Which are essentially the same as the normal sandwiches except they have a cranberry compote and perhaps rocket in them, and there's a greater than average chance that the Eastern European gentleman who's stuffing them into the box at the one factory that makes all of the supermarket's own-brand sandwiches will have washed his hands last time he visited the latrines.
There are usually bills to pay, or vegetables to buy, or brown envelopes with red writing inside to panic about... But last weekend I thought NO! and put my foot down with a firm hand. I decided to drag the entire Dandy Clan to BSH Xtreme the Custom Motorcycle show at Donington Park in Leicestershire - A venue that I have mentioned many times in the past.
It was the smaller Dandies first show and I figured that the 30th Anniversary of Back Street Heroes magazine was as good a time as any to get them used to the smell of Castrol R and shredding rear tyres.
As we only live about 15 minutes from the site, I envisioned a fairly pain-free trip - It was a bit drizzly though first thing, so we took a detour via McDonalds (Other purveyors of pre-chewed, cardboard based breakfast products are available) and availed ourselves of four of their finest Double Sawdust McMuffin meals and Bathwater Coffees (TM). Within minutes of finishing our 'meals' the sun poked its way through the clouds like a huge, four billion year old, self-sustaining thermo-nuclear reaction and we were off.
Arriving at site, we were greeted by some very friendly marshals, one of whom suggested that I should 'Aim for the chap in the Hi-Vis' but advised me not to actually hit him, as he was likely to sulk. We parked, and joined the stream of people making their way to the gate. And for once, it seemed that we timed it just right, as the nice chap with the screwdriver had just managed to get the card-machine working, so I saved myself about £30 in cash, which I could then fritter away on baubles and gewgaws once we got inside.
We had just got into the compound when I heard a bellow from behind me, A resounding 'Aren't you a bit old to be wearing New-Rocks?' - It was my great friend and professional Chorlton from Chorlton and the Wheelies impersonator, Brother Lee. (He's not religious, I just happened to meet him when the Kenny Everett Television Show was popular...)
(Spot the difference if you can)
He's right of course, at 45 I am definitely too old to wear New-Rocks, but Meh!, because: also old enough not to give a toss too.
Wandering around the hall, looking at some frankly amazing bikes and trikes took a good couple of hours. There were an awful lot of bikes that I would have happily stuck in my pocket and taken home on show (There was also a fair old selection of vehicles made by people who had altogether too much talent and/or money for my liking - but that's obviously just petty jealousy on my part because I have very meager amounts of both) Some of my favourites included:
An inspired, 70's style Harley Panhead - Encapsulates everything that was great about that time. Springers, pawn tail-lights, king & queen seat, fat back wheel and skinny front... Admittedly, I'd probably put apes on it, rather than the pullbacks that it has here, for the full flying starfish experience, but that's just me I guess.
I spied this from a hundred yards or so away and thought 'Indian Four... Nice.' Then I got a bit closer, and had a squint and thought 'Errmm...?' And then Mrs Dandy said 'It's a Reliant' And then I saw the gearbox under the seat, and had to agree - What a brilliant bit of kit. I'd be on this like a tramp on chips should the opportunity arise.
Now this, this is getting on for perfect, black springers, fat front wheel, ribbed primary cover, tattoo inspired paintwork... Everything that the right-thinking gentleman motorcyclist could wish for. To the owner: The suspect marks on your seat are slobber, nothing more... Honest...
I was with The Mini Dandy when I saw this, and I went off on one about Bantam Chops and the good old days and jumpers for goalposts and all that kind of stuff. She suffered this for a while with that 'Arms crossed, head on one side.' look that you get from blonde teenage cheerleaders who think they know it all and said, 'Dad, it's a Harley.' I said, 'Don't be silly, Harley's are huge V-Twins, look, THAT's a Harley.' And pointed to a 1340 Harley Evo that was 'over there' somewhere. She then grabbed me by the earlobe and pointed at the spec-sheet that was on the floor next to it... Turns out that it's a 125 Harley - And she wants one just like it.
And last, but by no means least, there's this here motorcycle, it's a performance V-Twin (The chap who owns it did say exactly what, but in fairness I can't remember what he said) But you could probably get away with calling it a Harley if you didn't mind the great and the good tutting at you and shaking their heads. It belongs to a guy I know from what I regularly insist on calling the 'Good Old Days' - His name's Speed and he's a member of the National Chopper Club - A group renowned for turning out some seriously A1 - Top Class machinery. This is no exception, it's cracking, and also for sale - If you find yourself with £16,000 burning a hole in your leather chaps, then feel free to get in touch, operators are waiting for your call.
Other highpoints involved an in-depth discussion with the guys from Rebellion Jewellery - (Who you should all buy lots of things from right now) about 'image' and what your jewellery says about you. And the look of unashamed glee on the face of Mrs Dandy when I introduced her to legendary motorcycle artist, BSH regular and generally nice sort, Louise Limb. Who very kindly autographed a print for her - (Which she is now still having trouble finding an impressive enough frame for) She also hasn't let it out of her sight since, but the dog is a bit of a 'chewer' so we should let her off.
We went outside and watched a chap doing his best to break the laws of physics and stiction by riding his motorcycle way too fast at some very improbable angles. The smaller Dandies were introduced to two new smells here: Cooked front brake pads and fear, as the gentleman concerned lost his stopping power momentarily and the the young chap in front of me thought he was coming through the barrier - Thank heaven for leather jeans that tuck into your boots, that's what I say.
Anywho? I suppose I can't just go on about the good things... The bad points were very few and far between - Really just niggles, and probably a lot more to do with the management of venue itself rather that the guys at BSH (although I'm guessing, I'll be the first person to admit that I don't really know) - The one thing that I heard most of the day visitors complain about was the lack of greasy burger vans, people like their greasy burgers (and hot dogs, and Schwarma) but all I, and a number of other people, saw was a single donut wagon that charged £4 for five small donuts... lotta people a bit grumpy about that. I heard a few people being confused about entrance prices (you had to pay for getting into the show, and pay about the same again if you wanted to camp in the other compound with the beer tent etc.) - But I put that down to not reading the literature closely enough.
All in all, not a bad way to spend a few hours on a sunny Saturday. I will definitely be attending again if it becomes a regular event, and I suggest that you should too.
As ever, I leave you with a quote that sums up the day, this was from the Micro Dandy, when I asked him if he'd enjoyed the day... 'Yeah Dad, McDonalds was great!'