Tuesday 27 June 2017


I remember in the early days when I was happy and excited. We'd take long journeys just to spend more time together, and I wanted to show off to everybody. Over the years the excitement faded to co-operative indifference, but recently my motorbike does nothing but infuriate me.

We're like a couple who now hate each other but have too expensive a mortgage and too many children to be able to split up. This weekend I bought an endoscope and spent about 18 hours working on the bike. I changed the fuel pump, did a V-belt service, and rebuilt the clutch for the second time in as many months.

I know exactly what I'd like to chop it in for (a 750cc super-scooter with a 6 speed dual-clutch semi-automatic sequential gearbox) but it's expensive and my current bike is worthless. A load of the plastic fairings were broken when I pushed it off its stand, more were broken when I ran over a deer. The clutch bearings, the clutch springs and the plate separators are all worn out and that is glaringly obvious if you take it for a test ride.

This is how much work you have to do to get the fuel pump out of a TMAX.

The clutch is completely shot after 26,000m, it demands a V-belt that costs over £100 every 12,000m, engine oil every 4,000m and a complete top end engine rebuild every 24,000m. Would not buy again.

Richard "divorce" B

Tuesday 20 June 2017

Home of the trouser press

This weekend I drove my kit car to Guildford, picked up one of my old schoolfriends and we drove to Leicester to visit another schoolfriend whom we haven't seen for 20 years. We went to two different beer festivals, a curry house, a Turkish café and a track day at Mallory Park. It was a fantastic weekend.

My new hobby is driving my kit car to racing circuits, but luggage space is sorely limited. At the absolute most I can take: A friend, two crash helmets, two coats, a small "greatest hits" toolkit, footpump, pressure gauge, 2l of service fluids, drinks, biscuits and 18l of personal effects.

Almost everybody I meet at track days has a similar but more luxurious hobby. They tow a fast car to a circuit behind a larger and more comfortable vehicle. At Snetterton last year I thought I had seen the height of luxury when there was a man making cups of tea from his track-day-kettle. At Mallory Park one of the towing vehicles was a large builders' van and the occupant was sitting around on his own track-day-patio-furniture and listening to his own track-day-ruggedised-radio!

Just in case you're interested in the driving:
The hairpin is very difficult to find a good line around and very difficult to drive neatly. I was black flagged and had to temporarily leave the circuit because I was making too much tyre noise trying to accelerate away from it. "Gerrards" is a 180degree constant radius right hander. We found that as long as you were going fast enough for 4th gear (65mph or so) then my car is gutless enough that you can't spin or lock the rear wheels and it would flatter your driving by taking you all the way round almost as fast the racing machinery.

Richard "luggage space" B

Tuesday 13 June 2017


I thought that this blog was only read by my colleagues, family and close friends. This time last year I wrote about my experience running sound at a small festival. I was wildly disparaging and insulting about some of the musicians and the organisation. It was interesting to learn that the article was actually widely read and I upset a good number of people. Better yet I must be so competent or so cheap that they hired me again this year nonetheless. It was politely suggested to me that this year I be more circumspect in my review... It was great!

I normally write about boring little things that have happened to me, but I want to tell you about a boring little adventure that I'm about to have. I'm a great fan of the Renault 4.  Many months ago I saw somebody restoring one and barged into his garage, introduced myself and helped him a little, I also lent him the workshop manuals for it. Tonight he's bringing the fully restored car to my house so that we can go out for a drive. I can't wait.

Richard "How to win friends and influence people" B

Tuesday 6 June 2017


At the weekend my friends and I were glared at by an 8 year old. One of her favourite toys is a very cute cuddly cat. It was sitting on her father's lap when he got up in a hurry to answer the door. Something about the awkward way he balanced himself and the light weight of the toy meant that it was actually flung (accidentally) across the room and into a wall. The daughter was visibly upset and went to rescue/comfort the toy. Unfortunately it was so funny that all the adults laughed at her. We all received the frowning of a lifetime – which only made it funnier.

I regularly receive an even more harsh staring.

I rehearse every week in a band that never performs, so we just play for fun. Most of the songs don't have well defined endings, we just sort of carry on until they reach a natural conclusion. During one of these songs another guitarist and I enjoy improvising throwaway lead lines and playing silly call and response games.  The best musician amongst us is the de-facto musical director, she'll be playing bass while this is going on and will try to cut short the messing around. She used to slow down the bass line to bring the song to an end. It's easy to recognise and it's about the musical equivalent of your mum shouting "Time to come in now lads, your tea's getting cold". However we often ignore her and keep playing. In retaliation she has started playing a chromatic run up to the tonic that is an absolutely unmistakable "THIS IS THE LAST ONE". Although with practice you can still ignore her and keep playing. The song now ends when the bass is playing a rallentando chromatic cadence, and the bass player is giving you a harsh stare.

Richard "D.S. Al Fine" B