Here she is! Isn't she BEAUTIFUL!
Sunday, 26 July 2009
Today's the day I take delivery of a bright red Vepsa with a Ferrari badge on the front. Would you believe this? There was not a new bright red vespa in the UK so Haywards in Cambridge ordered one from Italy but it never arrived when it should have so they got a silver one instead but they knew how important it was that it should be bright red, just like the one in the leaflet, so they are re-spraying the silver one and turning it into a red one! Ain't it good to know that you've got a friend! they're such nice people at Haywards and just crazy enough to find themselves supporting a madcap adventure like this. but they haven't stopped at resparing the scooter. Oh no! Tomorrow, if everything gets done on time then they're going to drive me and the scooter in a van to Peterborough in order to register the scooter with the DVLA office there. That makes me legal. (Guess who never got the insurance sorted out in time for all this to be done in the post? Yours truly has never bought a new vehicle before so this business about having to register a new vehicle has never happened to me before. That's my excuse.) Last thing is the weather forecast for July 27th. If I'm going to set off for Edinburgh (I'm leaving Edinburgh for Rome on August 4th so I've got to get to Edinburgh first and I've got 'A Funny Valentine' at The Byre Theatre in St. Andrews on July 29th and then again the Edinburgh Jazz Festival on July 31st, August 1st & 2nd - so I've got to leave tomorrow because it'll take two days to get to St Andrews. Anyway, if it all gets done in time and I get to set off from Peterborough sometime tomorrow afternoon on a scooter I have never sat on before - what'll I do if it's raining? At least it'll be legally registered and bright red with a Ferrari badge on the front! There will be no blog if I'm on the road. Oh I hope there will be no blog. But I'll blog you from St Andrews.
Sunday, 19 July 2009
I am writing this blog in Perugia. No I haven't set off yet on the bright red Vespa. I wouldn't set off without telling you. I'm just having a few days off at the Umbria Jazz Festival where I hope to present 'A Funny Valentine,' our Chet Baker, show next year. Anyway I noticed the hotel does laundry and I was just wondering how to carry enough luggge for a month on the back of a little red Vespa so here's the plan: leave my washing here and fly home from the Jazz Festival empty handed. And then come back to Perugia in three weeks on the Vespa - it's on the way to Rome. By the time I get here I'll have a bag of dirty washing which I'll swap for my laundered clothes. And I'll do the same on the way back. Any suggestions about how I get that last piece of luggage back home. I did suggest to the hotel receptionist that I might come to Italy and visit my clothes once a year. She looked blankly at me. Maybe my Italian is not so good?
Wednesday, 15 July 2009
Me and Ali host a garden partyto say thankyou to Addenbrooke's staff. The weather held and it a lovely sunny day. Our families came, and our friends, and doctors and nurses and the sun shone and we drank a lot of Prosecco and ate well. Me and ali performed a few bits and pieces and so did a delightful little girl called beth who is just starging out on the violin. Towards the end of the day I wasn't exactly sober and no one took up my offer of a pillion ride around the green outside my house! Ali had a great idea for a fundraising sweepstake. You have to guess how many miles I drive to Rome and back. Watch out for more details. I will be taking delivery of the bright red vespa on July 24th.
Wednesday, 8 July 2009
Ali came round to have a planning meeting. We're going to have a sweepstake and the winner is the person who correctly guesses how many miles Mike drives from Edinburgh to Rome. For you bloggies here's a clue - it'll be between 1,000 and 2,000 miles. Me and Ali are going to have a graden party and sell the tickets and the first prize is me and Ali! We'll come round your house and give you a private concert or play fo your in your local concert or anything you think! Still haven't got back on the bike since I failed the test. Will blog again when I do.
On the way to the Module 1 test - that's the one on the controlled environment where you demonstrate your control of the machine by riding slowly between the cones doing figures of eight and slaloms and U-turns etc... I have been practising all week - going around a hairpin bend I meet a lorry overtaking a dustbin lorry and it's about 25 yards in front of me and on my side of the road. I'm going slowly and the the gap is well within the stopping distance but this isn't a theory test - this is for real. I snatch at the front brake and over we go. Same side as the other two accidents. Skinned my left knee and a bit bruised and battered. Back on the bike and I turn up at the training centre. I'm getting a bit of a reputation. They're rather used to straightening out all the bent bits on the bike for me. It's getting more dented and scratched by the week. My ears are finely tuned for dark mutterings that someone who is 60 years old and doing chemotherapy should not be learning to ride a motorbike - but i can't hear anything like that. Everyone is very supportive. The weather is shocking. Tropical storms and torrential downpours. Secretly, I hope the test will be cancelled. But the rain eases off and so we go ahead with it. All the stuff I practised - oh you should have seen me - I was perfect. I never put my foot down, never touched a cone, I can ride that bike as slow as you like and the figures of eight - Oh I should be in the circus! And then it's the emergency stop. I have to get the bike up to 50 kph (any less and you fail) - that's 31.7 mph. The examiner signals for the emergency stop. I snatch at the front brake and over we go. This time it's a bad one. I've never come off the bike at speed before. I've got the mother and father of all bruises. See the photo. And a big lump on my hip. The doctor says I'm likely to have it for the rest of my life and she shows me hers. Maybe all bike riders have got one. The examiner, poor chap, he did everything that he was supposed to do and was careful and reassuring. The fact that I eventually got up off the ground soaked from head to foot has not escaped my notice. In the theory test your stopping distance is multiplied by ten in wet weather. I wish I had come off the bike in theory - but I came off it for real and it hurt. PS I failed.
Going round Mitcham's corner in Cambridge I loose control of the bike and hit the kerb. Over we go again. Same foot! Right in front of a police car. The policeman and policewoman were so sweet. When it was clear that I was't being arrested or the subject of some kind of process, I calmed down. They only wanted to know if I was all right and take me to hospital. I can't bear anymore hospitals. I'm doing chemotherapy every fortnight and having accidents every other week. Enough! I get back on my bike and keep going. It doesn't look brand new anymore!
I've got a few miles under my belt now and decide to go on long journey - training to go to Rome. I visit my friends in Embsay, a small village outside Skipton, North Yorks. It's 200 miles. I'm nearly there when I stop to ask directions. I've got to turn around and go back down hill. Ho Hum. Took a U-turn too tight and came off bike which fell on my left foot. Now there's an idea for a film! Limped into house in Embsay with swollen foot and it is swelling by the minute.
Me and Ali are really going to do it. We've deided to raise £100,000 for cancer charities and I'm going to ride a Vespa to Rome and Ali's going to manage the projct back home - so here we go! I spend today doing the CBT - Compulsory Basic Training - on a 125 motor bike. I spend the morning getting my balance and going up and down through the gears, trying the brakes, going round corners and then all afternoon on the open road. It's fun and I get a certificate at the end of it which las for two years. Now I am entitled to go round the world on a 125 with L plates. Crazy isn't it? All I need now is a motor bike.