Wednesday 25 January 2012

Bump Start

Nothing that I thought was funny happened this weekend, but I suspect that several hundred shoppers feel differently. On Sunday I stopped at Morrison's in Plymstock to buy a couple of things. When I got back to my bike the starter motor wouldn't run. There simply isn't a downhill from there. It's literally (and littorally) astride Pomphlet Creek, so it's at sea-level. I had to push the bike faster and faster across the car park until I was running, then leap onto it, then get it into 2nd (don't ask), and then let the clutch out with a bang. As if that procedure isn't difficult enough:

  • I was wearing big cumbersome boots, warm jacket, and thick gloves.
  • The car park was full and busy.
  • I had to avoid trolleys, cars, dithering old folk, and babies in pushchairs.
  • The car park is slightly corrugated, so there are several areas which are gently uphill.
I did get home, but I had built up a good sweat and a noble thirst before I did so.

Richard "No Kick Start" B

Tuesday 17 January 2012

Idiot Tax

Back when I was at college, my good friend David introduced me to the concept of "idiot tax". The government employs a huge army of spies, pickpockets, thieves, and unscrupulous businessmen, and they spend their time separating you from your money. Have you every come back from a night out with £20 or £30 less in your pocket than you thought you should have had? It's very easy to think that you must have spend more than you remember, but in fact you've been paying your idiot-tax. The bar staff short-changed you, the cab driver picked your pocket and the money goes straight to the Inland Revenue. If you've every bought something and then found it for sale cheaper, your merchant was a tax collector who paid the cheaper price, and sent the difference to the Inland Revenue. It's an excellent system because everbody feels too stupid to query their tax bill.

My transport related idiot-tax liability has become unsupportable. As I said last week I spent £50 on brake calliper pistons that I should never have damaged (by now they will have been stolen, refurbished, and sold on as new by the tax system). As soon as I had my motorbike working I needed to go out in my car and I promptly smashed the offside wing mirror off against an oncoming Inland Revenue car. The mirror is electrically heated and adjusted, so the parts are expensive. This morning my bike wouldn't start, I don't know what the fault is yet, but I bet there's another massive idiot-tax bill hidden in the repair costs.

Richard "Only stop the engine at the top of a hill" B

Tuesday 10 January 2012


My motorbike is off the road. The front brake has seized and it's neither off nor on. I have rebuilt a brake calliper before, and assumed that I'd be easily able to fix this one. I ordered a complete kit of seals, I've got brake fluid in stock, and I set aside Friday afternoon and Saturday to work on it. It's a 2-pot floating calliper which means that it has 2 pistons on one side of the disc and the whole calliper should be free to slide across the bike on 2 strong pins.

The calliper came off the bike after only a brief wrestling match, and by destroying the rubber boots and getting a punch and a heavy hammer behind the slide pins I was able to separate the calliper from the backplate. I was already congratulating myself on having fixed the problem. How wrong I was. I was expecting to clean, polish, and lubricate the pins. One of them still had a mirror finish, the other looked like it had been salvaged from the deck of the Titanic. I couldn't manufacture a replacement as I'm neither a skilled turner, nor have a screw cutting lathe. (I used to have a girlfriend who's dad is and does, it's funny what you miss sometimes.) I went back to Honda and yes it's sold separately, it is available, it costs less than a fiver, and no we can't get hold of one until at least this time next week.

Anyway back to the calliper. The piston seals don’t fit. The seals in the kit are 27mm the pistons on the bike are some bizarre archaic size just over 25mm. No matter, the spares company said they'll send the right size next week. Back to the pistons, when I cleaned them up I discovered that I had scored the hard chrome plating when I pulled them out and had effectively ruined them. No matter, the spares company can supply a pair which may or may not be the right size for a mere £50!

I've spent £85 on parts, none of which have arrived, I've wasted a whole afternoon, and I'm absolutely no closer to getting my bike going.

Richard "frustration and the art of motorcycle maintenance" B

Wednesday 4 January 2012

Phone Number

Redacted date my band played a private party. I was distracted by a very beautiful woman dancing near the stage, I'd never seen her before, but she seemed to know my friend Redacted. During our break I asked my friend who she was, and if I could be introduced to her. Redacted didn't introduce us because she was married.

I can only assume that Redacted told the woman that I'd asked about her because she spent most of the second half of the show dancing right at the front and frequently smiling at me. The girl singer in the band, who knows exactly how precarious is my ability to play some of the more complex pieces, and how easily distracted I am by the fairer sex, seemingly doesn't know how to put my at my ease. At the beginning of one of the more difficult songs, when the beautiful woman winked at me, she bellowed "F*cking Concentrate!" into my ear.

After the show I ended up talking to and flirting with the woman. I noticed that she wasn't wearing a ring, and I asked her outright whether she had a husband or a boyfriend. She didn't, so I asked if I could take her out, she acceded, and gave me her phone number.

How the rest of the story was revealed to me will remain between me, my conscience, and my bandmates but:

  1. She WAS married
  2. She was apparently "flustered" and gave me the HUSBAND's phone number.
Richard "Cuckolding" B