Why so serious?


Just thought I’d better clear something up.  We were on about bikes and such the other day, when Wendy said “they think it’s cute, your bike deathwish…” or words to that effect.

I don’t have a bike deathwish. I accept that the laws of statistics say that’s probably how I’m going to die and I still give it beans, but that’s not the same thing.

I’m not sure I treat death with the same gravity as most, for a start.

I remember when we were burning captured enemy weapons and ammo magazines in the Gulf. We were all sat around the fire, suddenly a load of sharp cracks sounded. I said, conversationally, “sounds like there’s live rounds in there, lads.”


They’d all ran off and were sheltering behind our gun. It hadn’t occurred to me to be worried about getting shot.

Which is not to say I am without fear, I get a bad, bad, feeling in the second or two between realising you’ve lost it, and the impact. But it is a distant thing. Your stomach can knot up, and you can think, “this is going to hurt” but it’s not the same dread and panic as seriously contemplating the personal cessation of being. I’ve been loony on that trip twice. It’s a horrible and nihilistic obsession that renders everything pointless. The bike thing, or other times when you are actually facing death, is less scary.

It just is. I either make that gap or I die.

That sounds melodramatic, but if I ever get around to getting an onboard cam, and can upload it anonymously, you’d see it’s just a daily occurrence. 

Some van driver leaned out of the window the other day to tell me off.

“What was that about? You’ll give us all a bad name!”

This confused me as I hadn’t done anything dodgy, I’d just overtaken him at a fair clip on the motorway off slip, and he was in a van. It took me a second to realise the ‘us’,  must have been referring to bikers. 

It took me by surprise, and it was confusing, so all I managed was “Why not?”

My reply, having time to realise what was going on, would have been “Well, duh! Why aren’t you?”

I have on the back of my helmet, “It’s this sort of behaviour that will ruin motorcycling for everyone.”

If you are going to ride like a car, get a car. You can’t fall off and you don’t get wet and cold.

As a lorry driver I practise defensive driving and try to remain patient in the face of myopic, somnambulant car drivers and constant traffic jams. As a biker I am aware of the concept of queuing and treat it with the contempt it deserves.

Bikes are more than just a mode of transport. They are thrilling, liberating, somewhat dangerous, fun.

I could spend every day chugging back and to to work in the car. 50 minutes of my day lost to a soul destroying commute every day. I might live to be 100 and never have another interesting moment. And still die at the end of it.

I choose life.

I might die tomorrow, and that would be unfortunate, but at least I’ve lived. As the philosopher Prince said, “life is just a party, and parties aren’t meant to last.

I don’t know, this might just be a waste of virtual ink. It might be like the blindman’s rainbow. Not something you can explain to those who don’t already understand.

Let me know if you ‘get’ it. Or don’t. Wendy totally doesn’t.