Tuesday, 26 May 2009


What has happened to responsibility? Do we not teach responsibility anymore? Do we not pass on to our children that actions have consequences? That we are all responsible for our own actions? Two phrases come to mind, the first is a little used phrase that used to be applied to young men (or women) who broke the law or maybe were a little rebellious, ‘juvenile delinquent’ this term has fallen out of use, it is a contradiction in terms I believe ‘juvenile’ means below the age of responsibility, and ‘delinquent’ failing in duty. How can anyone be both? The other phrase is well known but not many people really understand its meaning, ‘responsible for your own actions’ this phrase is normally negated by another one ‘it wasn’t my fault’ or even ‘I didn’t do it’
That last phrase is churned out almost by rote as a defence for almost any action.
This morning I was sitting on my bike at the traffic lights in Brixton, two youngsters (around 17 maybe a bit older) were eating Maccy D’s, they finished and just threw the rubbish on the floor about 10 foot from a litter bin. I flipped the front on my helmet up and asked why they couldn’t walk a few feet and put it in the bin. One turned and said, ‘Were’nt me…’ I was gobsmacked…. I replied that I had just seen him throw it on the floor, he shrugged his shoulders and just walked off with his mate and kicked the rubbish as they did so.
He just denied committing any anti-social crime as a matter of fact, he didn’t even have to think about it, his friends reaction was also interesting, now years ago if you were with a mate who was accused of … well anything, you either looked shifty because you knew he was guilty or you backed him up, this guy just looked bored, it was the look that said this is a regular occurrence and I’m bored with it now.

This cavalier attitude to responsibility seems to now pervade our whole lives, from not caring about anything around us, dropping litter etc to health and safety laws that have now absolved us of all responsibility, the more we are cosseted by the state the more our sense of responsibility is diminished. Yet; does this not go all the way back to parental discipline? How many parents actually teach their kids the difference between right and wrong? How many set them a good example. Last week a very large bloke walked out through the traffic into the path of my motorbike, I was not filtering just riding normally towards the lights, which were red, he appeared between two vans and walked straight out dragging his (3-4 year old?) daughter, I sounded the horn and moved to the left to avoid them, he started shouting at me, with language I certainly would not use in front of a little girl. As he got to the pavement he was still shouting abuse at me along the lines of ‘Come on then if you think you are hard enough’ I asked him if he thought abusing people like that, especially when he caused the problem was setting a good example for his little girl, this seemed to make things worse ‘Are you telling me how to bring my kid up’ etc. What was wrong with just holding up a hand and saying ‘sorry mate!’ he was in the wrong, he risked his little girls life to cross the road less than 20 feet from a crossing. Yet he has a go at me.
He obviously thought it was my fault for having a motorbike on the road. FFS.

Youngsters learn a lot from what they see around them, no matter how many times we emphasise to them about manners, morals, or common courtesy, if they see others behaving without such etiquette they will think it’s the norm.

We all need to think about our behaviour, even in the little things. But as things stand, I can see a very long slippery slope ahead, with no way back.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Safe, safer and safer still...

Has life passed you by? Do you feel that you have missed out on something?
A few days ago I was chatting to a bloke at work, he has spent his life working between Edinburgh and Kings cross, yet has never really gone outside of the stations. He is in his late 50's, he lives in Stevenage, goes on holiday to Torbay and thats it. He has never been out of the country! While seemingly happy, he did say he feels that he has missed out a bit, a bit?
When I suggested he try going abroad for his next holiday he changed the subject, muttering something about not like foreign food, so you wont be going on the curry night next week? Oh yes he will, he loves curry. Go figure. Ruths daughter Amy is 19, so far she has been to India, Germany, Australia and next week flies to Canada for 3 months, all on her own. She has seen more of the world than I had by the time I was 25 and I like travelling! We cant say that older people get set in their ways, I know loads of people of retirement age that travel all over the world. Many years ago I offered to take my father to Canada (he was Canadian) to see his fathers grave, he refused to go because my mother would not go, I know this upset him a lot, Mum totally refused to leave the shores of england, we never did find out why as she would not talk about it, I think it had something to do with the war. My dad was in the army and was one of the few who was abroad for almost the whole 6 years, he travelled everywhere ending up in Burma.
I do not understand why some people these days do not travel, its perfectly safe these days,
anywhere you want to go will have some sort of package deal

The downside of this is that there is no new lands to explore, where are the modern day explorers, 50-60 years ago the world was full of explorers, on this planet and the moon.
One of my ambitions was to set foot where no other human had stood, not much chance of that now, have we got to a point where it is easier to take a package holiday to lands which were once inaccessable to ordinary people, than make our own way? Health and safety has made places that were dangerous, nice and safe, we are wrapped in cotton wool and herded around in cosseted little groups, I hate that, I ride a big fast motorbike because I want excitement, I want adrenaline. I could not live in a closed off little world.

We are slowly being pushed into a world where rebellion is rare, where conformity is the norm, where to do something different is seen as unacceptable. And what a sad world it is.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Think before you vote!!!

I hear a lot of people getting very angry about the scandal of the MP's expense's, I hear a lot of rhetoric and very little substance though. Calls for parliament to be dissolved, sack them all and get new people in. Knee jerk reactions when you are angry are not the way to go, what if we did dissolve parliament? Where would we go from there?
One of two things will happen, either people will vote in the same people again, because they dont know who else to vote for, or, and this is the worrying bit, they vote in someone else just because they want someone different and its the local loonies or BNP candidate. This is a dangerous time, the BNP has a voice now with its party political broadcasts, the fact they they spout nonsense does not matter, they will pick up votes from the disaffected, the unhappy, the downright pissed off.
So if we call for a general election and it happens, who do you vote for? Gordon Brown is now so unpopular, I suspect that the votes for labour will just disappear, the Tories are in the same boat, the expense's scandal has tainted everyone in the house of commons and now the house of Lords.
People wil start looking for someone they can trust, and that's the problem, the taint has now spread so far that people see anyone running for office as a free loading scumbag. Trust has been lost, we used to trust our MP's to do what is right, to see the back-pedaling as they all claim "But we played by the rules..." is disgusting, they set the rules (or people under their control) and to have most of them flout them is not only morally wrong, its breaking the trust that people have in their MP's.

What can we do? I don't know to be honest, we cant let in a load of inexperienced newbies to take over, although there are 'advisor's' who run the country, don't forget that anyone you vote in will have a lot of power. Especially if they align themselves with others. If a load of new guys get in, then they could be advised and handled by the civil service (nothing new there) but, if they get together, they could be a destructive force that might be hard to control.
So before calling for the dissolution of parliament, think carefully about where we go from here, the cure could be worse than the disease.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

A few thought on MP's expense's

Nearly everyone fiddles their expenses, this is to try and claw back a bit of the extortionate amount that the government takes from our hard earned money, now most will snatch back a few quid, but some corporations have such big lawyers who know the tax system inside out, that they pay virutally no tax at all. The MP's that have 'fiddled' their expense statements are only playing the game, BUT they fixed the rules, THEY know the law and had probably passed on the info to each other on how to get what they can.
Most of the claims that have surfaced are indefensible, this means they have commited fraud in my eyes. So what should be done about this? We cant just sack every MP, chaos would reign and leave the door open for some even more unscrupulous demons to creep in.

Firstly any MP who has blantantly taken the piss should resign and put himself up for re-election, secondly we should take a long hard look at any MP who has been involved. Thirdlywe need a review of the tax laws/rules as they stand, I would suggest that we have a 10% single tax band across the board, EVERYONE pays 10%, companies, big corporations, no expections, you pay on any earned income. Then disallow any expenses, you cant claim for anything!
But then you are only paying 10% in tax, why would you need to claim anything back? Think about it, how much it simplify the tax system, take a look at how much tax some of the big corporations pay in tax after allowances, dont take my word for it, look it up some pay 0% tax.
I think this is a viable idea that should be looked at... and I'm sure some more knowledgable people will shoot me down if my figures dont add up, but maybe this or a similar way of dealing with taxes would simplify the issues.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

First impressions.

When you meet someone, do you make a snap judgement and then find it hard to shake that first impression? Would you assume all bikers wearing a denim cutoff are chicken raping lunatics who ride far too fast?
That everyone with dreadlocks smokes cannabis? All skinheads are racists?
We base our first impressions on what we have learnt through everyday experience, this is also modified by what we pick up from the media, the tendency is to lump people into recognisable groups, this gives us something to work from; when we evaluate those people we meet for the first time. Unless we have prior knowledge, i.e. have been told what to expect, we judge initally by appearance, as that is the first thing that makes an impact on our conciousness, next would usually be voice and then what people say and do.
Making snap judgements on what we see is a survival tactic, to evaluate any threat we need information and normally the only available information is what we see before us. This information is processed against what we have already filed away in our heads, when we acquire some input, this is compared to any available information stored in our minds, from there we draw a conclusion that provokes the appropriate response. All living things have done this since they first became aware of the world around them, the difference here is that humans can use intelligence to collate and refine the information to a higher degree. This allows us to modify our first impressions somewhat, we can draw on far more resources to make a much better judgement call on the person we are observing. Even so, until we have sufficient facts we are still guessing; and those guess's are based on experience and/or hearsay. This means most people are pre-judged before we have time to form a proper opinion, once that first impression is made it can be hard to shake off.

You might be the brighest bloke in the world, but if you turn up for an interview looking like an extra from Mad Max, then you are not going to make the sort of impression you need to make to get the job. We dress as we feel we need to match the occassion, or used to, I have noticed a marked change in the way people dress these days, mostly they dress down, now I'm not the best authority in the world, I have the dress sense of a deranged gibbon and tend to look like a reject from a 70's biker movie in my everyday clothes. When going out I rely on Ruth (my better half) to arrange the appropriate clothing, but I do make the effort, it is polite and courteous to dress for the occassion, this way people also get the wrong first impression of me. Many moons ago when I met my wifes parents for the first time, I remember the look of horror on her dads face, he was standing by his car outside and this leatherclad nutcase pulled up on a ratted out, matt black, CB750 Honda, with open pipes and rather tall apehangers. It didnt help that she was 17 and I was 27.....yet it was not long before we became mates, even though I have been divorced from his daughter for nearly 20 years, he stills calls me now and again.
He gave me a chance to prove myself and it worked out, thinking back, if I had been him; I would have chased me off with a big stick!

In this modern world, we seem to have so little time for others, we are constanly rushing around and making instant judgements on everything, should we not slow it down when making those judgements on fellow humans? Have you missed someone who could have been a new friend, lover or even soulmate, just because you didnt take the time to slow down and evaluate them properly.

Next time you meet someone new, take the time to talk to them, get to know them, you just never know......

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

The Plan

Buy camper - must be a VW T2 Bay window camper with a pop-top - travel around visiting everyone/everywhere we can think of in Europe, writing a daily blog and videoing the experience. Then if it all works out then head further afield for the next trip.

This is not going to happen straightaway, not for about 3-4 months, we have spoken to a couple of people about sponsorship, although I'm not sure about that at the moment, because they want to 'interfere' and we are going to do this our way and not anybody else's. (Same thing happened with a similar idea on motorbikes)

I have travelled and lived in a VW camper for up to 3 months before, having also done some very strange repairs to keep going. We want to visit places off the beaten track, there are loads of places in Europe that never get seen by the normal tourist. I discovered some weird and wonderful places travelling in campers before, we want to go back and see how they have changed, as well as discovering new places, I'm sure there are still loads of little out of the way places; that are just as fascinating as the main tourist attractions.

The way we look at this is this, we want to get out there and see the world from our own perspective, we also want to show that getting older does not mean you have to follow the boring old routes and package holidays, people are living longer and have more leisure time, we want to show that there is a big wide interesting world out there, one that is full of surprises even just a few miles away over the channel.

So next we will probably be looking for a good condition (not perfect but roadworthy) left-hand drive T2 with pop-top, reasonably well kitted out, decent awning, cooking facilities, power hook-up etc. It’s going to need a quite large lockable safe that will take a laptop and several cameras. I shall build my own anti-theft and security devices.

The whole trip from start (buying the camper and planning) to finish returning home, will be documented.

Anyone interested in becoming a sponsor can email me captainjake<@>gmail.com (remove anti-spam <>)


Friday, 1 May 2009

What is a biker?

What is a biker? (Taken from Motorsickle.com)
How would you class yourself in the world of bikes?
This has to be one of the most asked questions, after "How fast does it go mate?"
Defining exactly what a 'biker' is, is probably an impossible task, everyone has a different opinion and to try and lump them together to make a stab at what a biker really is could be very difficult, so guess what I'm going to do today…

Bikers or motorcyclists have quite a few diverse groups that you could belong to, everything from Rocker to Scooterist (different from Mods I'm told) to commuter, I know there are a lot more but I'm not going to list them, these are just examples to give us a feel for how we perceive ourselves. The way each of us sees each other is crucial to this debate, humans are notorious for fitting themselves into categories, different groups that either bind together or are constantly at war, human conflict has been going on since we discovered that bashing someone's brains in with a rock was fun and we have not really stopped since. We all like to belong to group of some kind, even the self proclaimed 'lone wolves' amongst us still like to be classified as bikers which therefore put them into a 'group', there is a kind of camaraderie and comfort to be found in belonging to like‑minded group, you can observe this in other groups as well. Anti‑vivisectionists, football supporters and Freemasons for example all work together for a common cause which they believe in, we are not any different, most of us ride bikes because we enjoy it, even the most hardened commuter will get some pleasure out of riding a bike and when push comes to shove people from the same group stick together and help each other.

Belonging to a group defines our boundaries which show where stand, we wear the uniform of our tribe to show where our loyalties lie, to show other tribes or groups that we are one of a particular band of brothers.
Bikers are one type of tribe that has within it various groups, just like football supporters are the main group that can be broken down into sub groups of the teams they support, bikers can also be categorised further into various sub‑groups. The word 'biker' can mean different things to different people, ask any typical man in the street what a 'biker' is and you will probably get an answer that is not far off from describing the average persons vision of a 'Hells Angel', ask a motorcyclist the same question and be prepared for a completely different answer depending on what he may ride. One will tell you that a biker is someone who rides everyday whatever the weather; another that it is someone who belongs to a club, maybe another view is that a biker should only ride British bikes. The viewpoints are many and varied, leading me to suspect that this question will never be answered to the satisfaction of all.

So I'm going to tell you what I think a biker is, a biker is someone with passion for two wheels, it does not matter to me if he rides a scooter or a Ducati, he may have owned the same RD250 since 1977, keep it polished and running and only take it out on Sundays, or he may like riding everyday whatever the weather, maybe not cleaning it but making sure it works and runs using anything that happens to do the job. It's the passion for the ride that in my humble opinion makes someone a biker, not what they ride, there are lots of riders out there who don't have the passion, they bimble along in their own little world treating their two wheels like an object and not a bike. The passion means they experience the thrill of the ride, whether it's a fast ride through the twisties or the thrill of taking a 30 year old bike on the road after restoring it for years, or maybe just the feeling that comes with going on a run with your mates, it's that adrenaline rush that keeps the passion alive and kicking within us.

Even after riding for over 35 years I still get that rush every time I get on a bike, it makes me feel alive and ready to take on the world, that first spin of the engine in the morning lets me know that I'm ready to rock and FTW!! It's my escape valve from work and the troubles that try to get me down, it lets me feel alive.

Do I class myself as a biker? Yes, because I feel I have a passion for bikes that has never left me ever since I first sat on one as a fifteen year old dreamer, motorbikes allowed me to be someone else, someone different from the small bullied youth that dreaded going out in the early 70's, that passion has never left me and I hope it never will.

At a funeral in January I met Rick, I have not seen Rick for 15 years, he is my ex‑wife's uncle, he had been a biker for years, not in the same sense as most of us, but still a man with passion for his bike, two years ago he T‑boned a car that did a U‑turn and has not ridden since, talking to him was quite sad as I could tell the passion had gone from his life, he asked me if I was still riding with a wistful look in his eye, I could also see that his wife was nervous about us talking about bikes. Such a shame that he has given up but once that spark has gone it's not the kind that can be rekindled, Rick is in his mid 60's and has had a good run though, I don't intend to give up until I am unable to get on a bike! Even then you might have trouble with me.

In my eyes bikes are my life, over the years they have got me into trouble and out of it, they have lost me partners and helped me find new loves and best of all I have met some great mates, mates who I would trust with my life, about how many other 'pastimes' could you say that. I class myself as a biker as I would anyone who has the passion for two wheelers, the rush is the best feeling in the world and I hope all of you who understand what I'm talking enjoy it too, and will do so for many more years.