Wednesday, June 11, 2008

There isn't a day in my life when I do not indulge in a bit of nostalgia, good or bad, although I try not to think of the bad times too much. I can't help re-living old memories, it's part of my genetic make-up which only a lobotomy could ever take away from me. My imagination has always been extremely potent and I have a unique ability to whisk myself back in time to any year I choose. Music is an extremely powerful stimulant for me and an old record played on the radio instantaneously regresses the old grey cells. I can not only pinpoint the year but also the month and what I was actually doing at the time. I can beat almost ANYBODY in a "guess-the-year" pop quiz and every tune brings forth a particular memory. I have also found music to be an invaluable aid in retaining certain pieces of handy information - it's just a matter of creating the right connection.
Deep-rooted in Thorolf's happy memories are the times he enjoyed at Praa Sands and Porthtowan, roaring along the Cornish lanes on a BSA C15SS 250cc motorcycle and on an excessively loud Triumph T25 Trophy. They were halcyon days when the County of Cornwall was less densely populated than it is now - life was more free and easy altogether. It's November 1975, the tune stuck in my head is "Sky-high" by an Australian group called JIGSAW and I have just prided myself on having built this BSA from scratch. It has been put together from assorted spares - and the only thing new about the whole project is a re-bore on the barrel and a brand new over-size piston. After a quick readjustment of the port inlet valve, she fires into life first kick and never gives me any trouble.
The Triumph is faster and possesses such a sweet exhaust note that people come to a complete halt with what they are doing just to get a look at this lovely beast. She is an eye-catcher, complete with white tank and matching side-panels and looks just like a police bike. Holiday-makers pause to take photographs when I park her under the lounge window on Beach Road. Thorolf is the envy of bikers everywhere, young and old, and he plays to the gallery! One day, I open her full throttle at the lights in Fore Street, Redruth, and gun her up the main drag where an elderley lady drops her shopping due to the thunderous roar and pedestrians are staring in jaw-dropping amazement. Over time, the silencer has slowly rotted away inside the exhaust pipe and she must easily be pumping out in excess of 200 decibels. I nudge her up into top as quickly as I can where the snarl of the engine levels out onto a more acceptable plateau and, although still very loud, Thorolf is extremely conscious of being stopped by the police. It is patently obvious to anyone, including all and any half-wits, that this bike is illegal in anybody's language, never mind the fact that she has recently passed her MOT. I wait until I get onto the new by-pass near Scorrier before I open her up again and head for open countryside.
Much, much later, during an oil-pump failure on the way to work one sunny October morning in 1979, I just about manage to limp her back to the house at Porthtowan. She is promptly stripped right down and the parts carefully catalogued and stored away in boxes ready for the coming rebuild. She is now resting in silence in my step-dad's garage, her throaty grunt no more. Alas, money shortages start to compound the rebuild problem and force Thorolf into a reluctant sale. The buyer lives near Portreath and as he loads her into a red transit van, I feel so sad because this is the last I will ever see of this lovely machine. The tune in my head? It's "Cruel to be kind" by NICK LOWE.
Coming soon: Thorolf's bizarre antics in Helston on a Lambretta Scooter. Don't miss it!

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