Thursday, 30 April 2009

On yer bike

They don't produce catalogues like this any more. A seductive drawing by Sydney R.Jones sets the scene for life in BSA land. No rain here, just a blustery day, and the countryside of England and Arthur Rackham woods within easy reach. The 1920's when a working man could buy (on easy terms) a motorcycle to liberate him and his family - should he attach a sidecar - to explore the open road. Cap reversed, a pair of Gamages shatterproof goggles a pair of stout boots and waders, and father was ready for whatever the elements could throw at him. A seaside trip to Dungeness or Camber Sands maybe, or a run over to Ashdown Forest for a picnic, the missus on the pillion (or 'tart tray' as it was unkindly known), accompanied by a couple of kids safely swathed in tartan rugs in 'the chair' - what fun! what an adventure! A stop for petroleum at the wayside garage where the kindly attendant, quite often a superannuated blacksmith, would hand crank the pump up and down its ratchet, delivering half a gallon a time of R.O.P. or 'the cheapest'. Top up with Castrol served in a thick glass bottle, maybe buy half an ounce of St.Julien and a packet of green papers and we're off again. The trusty BSA thumping away until the destination is finally reached. Buckets and spades are distributed and the kids charge over the Camber sand whilst father pricks the jet of his brass Primus stove and sets the kettle to boil for the ritual mug of tea. Mother, her Marcel Wave seemingly set in stone elegantly stretches out her legs as she reclines on fathers mackintosh. By lunchtime the kids are starving and the Shipham's paste sandwiches are dispensed from their greaseproof paper wrapping washed down with Fryco lemonade, the meal concluding with a giant Arrowroot biscuit. A post prandial nap for mother and father and a contemplative cigarette heralds an all-too-soon departure. The nights are drawing in and they've stolen a beautiful Autumn day. It's only wise to prepare for the final few miles home in the dark so dad tops up the carbide container on the acetylene lighting generator. This time he's remembered to bring a bottle of water from home but many's the time, 'in extremis' he's had to use his own, and a pretty precarious and difficult operation it's been. All aboard!, and one long swinging kick brings the BSA back to life, settling down to a steady rhythmic beat, push the hand change gear lever through the gate to first and we're homeward bound. Just another great day in Beeza - land.