Pillock On A Pillion
I hate motorbikes. I bloody hate them.
This outburst is provoked by the fact that a lot of the teenagers in the village have now got their first motorbikes and noisily roar past Lupin Towers when I'm trying to blog or listen to Mahler's 2nd, or do both as I am at the moment.
I can be quite blokeish about cars and once, in a moment of extreme folly, bought a BMW that I couldn't afford to run.
But there's never been any risk of me joining the Gay Chapter of the Hells Angels.
I've only ridden on a motorbike once.
It was a rather humiliating experience.
When I was 16, a fellow college student offered me a lift to a party about 15 miles away. We hadn't gone far when he pulled into a layby.
"Willie", he said, "I'm not being funny or anything but would you mind not putting your arms round me? You're meant to hold onto the pillion behind you."
"Sorrry mate", I said, reflecting that if he hadn't been so nerdish looking, with as much erotic allure as old Mrs Froggatt who taught us French, I wouldn't have had the courage to put my arms round him and would have risked falling under a truck instead.
A few miles later he pulled into another layby and again removed his helmet.
"There's no need to lean over in the opposite direction when we go round bends. This is the B69749, not the fucking Grand Prix. And I'm not doing more than 35 mph. You're making us look a right pair of twats."
I lost him at the party, which was outdoors in remote woodland. Or, more likely, he managed to lose me, fearing more embarrassment on the homeward journey.
I was forced to get a lift to the nearest town with two boys in a Ford Capri who were smoking dope and told me they'd stolen the car that morning. From there, I got a taxi but I had no money so I had to wake my parents to borrow some money to pay the taxi driver.
It was 1969.
In London, people in flowery shirts from Carnaby Street were snogging on bean bags while listening to Jimmi Hendrix. People were making love not war underneath posters of Che Guevara.
And somewhere in Middle England I was too inept to ride pillion on a motorbike, too skint to pay a taxi fare and with no opportunity of getting laid.
I was also lying awake wondering if the police would find my fingerprints on a stolen Ford Capri.
Like they say, if you can remember the sixties you were a teenager in Middle England.