Nana Nana 19

This week I broke off from not writing the novel of the year and got chatting to a chap in his 70’s who used to ride very high-powered motorcycles all over Cumbria.

This week I broke off from not writing the novel of the year and got chatting to a chap in his 70’s who used to ride very high-powered motorcycles all over Cumbria.

One summer in the 1980s, in a foolhardy attempt to impress a new love interest, he took her out for a quiet Sunday run.

Hitting a personal best of 135 mph on one stretch of road, when they stopped, his pillion passenger got off the back and said: ‘I don’t know whether I’ve just wet myself or had a multiple orgasm.’

It’s not a complaint I’ve ever heard on a first date.

The fastest motorcycle I’ve ever ridden was a rent-a-hairdryer on the Greek island of Crete.

On our first holiday abroad without parents, myself and a friend hired scooters and fearlessly flogged them up and down the stunning E75 coastal road.

That was 31 years ago now, but rave on Ag Nik 91.

We never gave much thought to helmets and while my memory is hazy, I recall that every mosquito-infested taverna we passed along the shady portside bars of Aghios Nikolaos seemed to be stomping to the Euro Discopop of Heavy D’s Now That We Found Love.

I never found love as I was 19-years-old and more interested in finding an air-conditioned room for the night, ideally with a young woman in it.

Looking back, we were just fortunate to find Greece.

Due to a pile-up on the M6, we missed the plane out of Manchester Airport which incurred the wrath of the big sister who was working out of Ag Nik as a holiday rep and had expected us off the flight and had held the coach transfer for us – much to the ire of her passengers.

We consoled ourselves sitting on our cases in Manchester, swigging Duty Free Bacardi before catching a late-night flight to Athens where we arrived in the early hours.

There, my cousin negotiated an internal transfer flight out to Crete’s Heraklion airport, where we chinked glasses of Bucks Fizz at dawn as sunlight filled the cabin.

Having landed, we then lost a Drachma argument with a rip-off taxi driver and finally staggered into our blistering resort 19 and half hours late – half broke, hungry and hungover – to be met by the Mother of all Bollockings.

The big sister was only 24 herself and she spent the rest of the fortnight openly and loudly introducing us to all her friends as: ‘The Malakas’ before ordering us to down terribly tall glasses of straight Ouzo by way of recompense for frying her nerves.

I’ve hated Ouzo ever since.

But back to my old biker friend. As he told me his tale of his long-gone pillion passenger, the bright headlights of the past appeared briefly in his eyes before they quickly dimmed again.

All I could wonder was what became of his female pillion passenger?

Did she go on to settle down with a reliable Mr Right? The kind of sensible upright fella who obeyed all his speed limits and spent his Sundays revving nothing more powerful than a lawnmower?

Sadly, dear reader, we shall never know, but the story of a lost love, and the horrific news and scenes out of Ukraine this week, brought to mind two songs by Elvis Costello.

Oliver’s Army (1979), followed later by A Good Year For The Roses (1981).

Back in 1984, there was a large anti-Trident demonstration in Barrow-in-Furness which featured a mass die-in on Michaelson Road Bridge.

The late Mam dragged the 12-year-old me along.

After it was over, a rumour went round that Elvis Costello was heading to Barrovia to put on a benefit gig and there was a mass exodus to a local club where his songs were played on repeat.

As the parents swilled cold lagers and limes all afternoon, me and a gang of other urchins kicked a popped football around Forshaw Street to act as lookouts.

Not only did Elvis never leave the building, he never entered it.

Why doesn’t the pop world still produce musicians who write profound and popular anti-war songs? Where’s a Paul Hardcastle when you need one?

Are they all too busy counting their followers, updating their Instagrams and cultivating their best duck face?

I suppose the bean counters in charge of creative output can’t be certain there’s enough moolah in it.

A good anti-war song that takes hold can be as effective as any missile in winning hearts and minds in the propaganda war.

But we will need a lot more than music in our locker to stop ‘Sadimir’ than cancelling his pin numbers or locking him out of internet banking.

What’s next, a mass bombardment of MI5 stinger pronouns? Powerless to do anything, I shall be imposing my own humble economic sanction of boycotting Smirnoff.

And please God, can I be 19 again.

Ideally driving a moped around the cicada-chirping countryside of Crete, blissfully oblivious to everything save the next girl walking by in a spaghetti string bikini.

*RIP to Gary Brooker of Procul Harum.

Moonlight Shadow

To be honest, I would rather not write anything this week and there are a hundred places I would rather be than my own skin.

To be honest, I would rather not write anything this week and there are a hundred places I would rather be than my own skin.

I think my eyesight is on the way out. At silly o’clock yesterday morning, I was hoovering in preparation for a flying visit from the kids.

I spent a good minute on a mysterious dark patch that had suddenly appeared on the living room floor, yet it was only when I got on my hands and knees that I realised it was my own shadow.

I had a good laugh at that one and so did Henry the Hoover. I sometimes look across the room at little Henry’s annoying grin.

It reminds me of that film, Castaway, with Tom Hanks, where all he has to keep him company on a desert island is a volleyball called Wilson.

But while the Butchelor Pad may indeed be deserted, this is no desert island.

I have both lukewarm and cold running water.

To prove it I got a massive water bill through the letterbox this week which made the old eyes water.

Then Vodafone texted with a grossly offensive bill from last month – three times my usual amount.

Readers will remember that when I moved in here, I racked up hours on hold to the various utility companies – burning through my monthly data allowance.

The irony of getting a massive bill from the water company for telling them I exist and a massive bill from the telephone company for doing so, made my neck twitch.

I had to sit down for a while with a stiff eye-opener having felt another stabbing pain in the chest (pocket).

I’m glad to report though that the big sister is back – safe, sound and bronzed from a week in balmy Madeira.

Despite me having taken charge of all three of her delinquent dogs, there has been no phone call from her to ‘touch base’.

Like many now, she communicates entirely via Facebook where I notice she apparently went on a Jeep Safari.

I’m just relieved nobody shot her – easy as she is to mistake for a Gazelle.

I also read this week that Liam Gallagher from Oasis has packed in the drink and the smokes – yet still manages to sing like he is shouting up a drainpipe.

And on YouTube, I saw a clip of Bez from the Happy Mondays who has been ruining a ruined reputation by taking the shilling from dancing on ice.

Even the hell-raisers of my youth are handing over their badges and guns, and it pains me to watch.

Apparently, it is the winter Olympics somewhere in the world and given how cold the Butchelor Pad has been, I know how the competitors feel.

So I was dutybound to pull on my winter coat and go in search of a real roaring fire.

I met a young man at a bar who told me he peels potatoes for a living – starting at 6am, finishing at 2pm.

He philosophically shrugged it off as “a job’s a job at the end of the day,” and when I looked, it was a relief to see no chips on his shoulders.

At another establishment, I heard someone else say the exact same expression as they bemoaned their own nine to five.

But what about the start of the day? Or is making money to meet the bills all we are here for?

On my travels, I got talking to a bar maid who was telling me in vivid detail where she plans to put everything in her new house.

She was very excited and I suppose saying it aloud helps her visualise where things might go.

But by the time she finished, I felt like I personally had moved in every stick of furniture and put up every shelf, which was quite exhausting.

It has been quiet this week on the old music front, and I could bore you with Luke Kelly of The Dubliners and a song called the Bonny Shoals of Herring.

It reminds me of going off shore with a rum bunch of fishermen from Maryport for a feature I wrote for a magazine a lifetime ago.

It’s probably better you watch it yourself and make your own mind up.

Having just waved both girls off on the night train, I have returned to the chiller to find a half-nibbled chocolate heart lolly that I bought one of them for Valentine’s Day.

It breaks mine to even contemplate throwing it away.