I will always reply to comments and always re-reply to re-replies.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

BICYCLES

( Click to enlarge)
Life is not all motorcycling. Here is a picture of my favourite bicycle ( I have three).

This one has been with me in various guises since 1957, when I bought it whilst in the army, wanting something to ride. It was then 10 years old, a 1947 Raleigh
Record Ace and belonged to the owner of a little back street bike shop in Canterbury who sold it to me for £10 (2 weeks army pay then!). In the 50 years I have owned it, it had one complete recondition in 1976 and that is how you see it now, 30 years later.

I was a club cyclist when younger (still a member of C.T.C. but ride solo now) and have ridden and owned many bicycles, but this old faithful has stayed with me because I have never found one so responsive - other bikes you need to pedal along, for some reason on this one I feel I need to pedal to keep up with it! It gets used regularly for cycle rides and for meets of the Veteran Cycle Club, where it is much admired (which is more than can be said for its rider!).

Motor Cycling is exhilarating ("detail is lost, but sensation is enhanced" as T. E. Lawrence remarked) - cycling is relaxing, good exercise and gives one the chance to see more, stop to examine things and meditate on it all whilst twiddling along.

All this is by way of an introduction so that my next posting will not come as too much of a surprise to those who know my lifelong love of motor cycles!

Monday, November 06, 2006

NOVEMBER 11th



(click above link for background with a difference)
IN FLANDERS FIELDS
By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918) Canadian Army

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

TOMMY

I went into a public 'ouse to get a pint o'beer,
The publican 'e up an' sez, ``We serve no red-coats here.''
The girls be'ind the bar they laughed an' giggled fit to die,
I outs into the street again an' to myself sez I:

O it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' ``Tommy, go away'';
But it's ``Thank you, Mister Atkins,'' when the band begins to play,
The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,
O it's ``Thank you, Mr. Atkins,'' when the band begins to play.

I went into a theatre as sober as could be,
They gave a drunk civilian room, but 'adn't none for me;
They sent me to the gallery or round the music 'alls,
But when it comes to fightin', Lord! they'll shove me in the stalls!

For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' ``Tommy, wait outside'';
But it's ``Special train for Atkins'' when the trooper's on the tide,
The troopship's on the tide, my boys, the troopship's on the tide,
O it's ``Special train for Atkins'' when the trooper's on the tide.

Yes, makin' mock o' uniforms that guard you while you sleep
Is cheaper than them uniforms, an' they're starvation cheap;
An' hustlin' drunken soldiers when they're goin' large a bit
Is five times better business than paradin' in full kit.

Then it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' ``Tommy how's yer soul?''
But it's ``Thin red line of 'eroes'' when the drums begin to roll,
The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
O it's ``Thin red line of 'eroes'' when the drums begin to roll.

We aren't no thin red 'eroes, nor we aren't no blackguards too,
But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
An' if sometimes our conduck isn't all your fancy paints:
Why, single men in barricks don't grow into plaster saints;

While it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an ``Tommy, fall be'ind,''
But it's ``Please to walk in front, sir,'' when there's trouble in the wind,
There's trouble in the wind, my boys, there's trouble in the wind,
O it's ``Please to walk in front, sir,'' when there's trouble in the wind.

You talk o' better food for us, an'schools, an' fires an' all:
We'll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
Don't mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
The Widow's Uniform is not the soldier-man's disgrace.

For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' ``Chuck him out, the brute!''
But it's ``Saviour of 'is country,'' when the guns begin to shoot;
Yes it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' anything you please;
But Tommy ain't a bloomin' fool--you bet that Tommy sees!
Rudyard Kipling

Can I also recommend Kipling's short story "The Gardener" (the whole of which can be read at this site) which is appropriate to this time and is one of his greatest short stories - full of allusions and hidden meanings. (And, of course, he lost his only son at the battle of Loos in WW1)

This is dedicated to all those who died then and those still fighting, wounded and dying in Afghanistan and Iraq now. We will have our own opinions and politics on these matters. Servicemen and women do not have that luxury, but still get on with the job they are given to do, as they have always done.