Sunday, 23 January 2011
Looks like some melancholy bluesy jazz but I was in fact slappling the hell out of it with the Rock and Roll band. We're now on to our sixth drummer in about three years and this one is more sturdy than the previous ones so hopefully we'll get a head of steam up and do a few gigs.
This picture was one of a set that was taken by Johnny testing his new works camera out. Tres Noir.
Wednesday, 19 January 2011
Monday was the best of bad days as friends and family joined to send Johnny off. We gathered a motley crew of bikes and rods at a staging point ahead of time to be sure we met the corsage but, by the time the corsage appeared from around the corner, the heat off the 45s engine was starting to bake the back of my thigh. The police outriders blocked traffic to let everyone waiting on bikes to join and we set off on our respectful 50 mile an hour procession, a speed that let the cold take hold of my bones. The reality ate away at me that this was the final ride out with a friend. I was thankful for the wind whistling behind my KDs making my eyes stream in a proper manly fashion. We picked up more bikes as we got closer to the crematorium and, as I later found out, the 300 strong crowd fell silent on hearing the distant rumble of the honour guard. Most of them will never know the feeling of riding in a pack but I think they were a bit awed by our arrival.
The humanist ceremony centered on the man and his life rather than a religion he himself did not subscribe to. I faltered and wobbled through words I previously wrote here as a blog entry. It was hard to do but I was glad I did it. We listened to music he listened to and then filed out. The ride home was more the speed we used to ride together as I chased a hotrod part way back to the wake; the part that he was stuck behind traffic that is.
The wake was busy and up-beat with biking friends from England and Europe meeting family, colleagues and school friends to share happy tales of a man that was obviously much loved. I made a play list of music he listened to and played it loud enough so that it wasn't totally lost in the background. And then we drank and talked, talked and drank, drank and talked a little more. It felt good, it felt healthy. When the wake finished we went for a drink and a talk followed by an Indian and then we went down the local for a bit of a talk over a drink- or was it the other way round.
To a man everyone agreed that if there was such a thing as a good funeral this had been it.
Saturday, 8 January 2011
Some time in the 10 or so years I've known Johnny he became a brother to me. He made me mad and he made me happy just like a brother would. When I tried to quantify how I knew Johnny I thought I'd try equate it to how many miles we rode together. Within less than a minute I'd tallied well into the thousands and that doesn't include going out for local jaunts. We rode in England, Holland and France and we made the sort of friends you can only make by riding together. And these friends all speak of Johnny with the greatest love and the highest respect.
When I first knew him he argued that fast bikes were better than old bikes because you could live life at the edge at 120 miles an hour. I argued back that old bikes were better than fast bikes because you could find the same edge he spoke about at about 50 miles an hour. Soon enough we both had old Harleys and we spent many miles lurching and bouncing through corners on bikes that barked and farted as they eventually got to 60mph. We stood outside his garage smoking, drinking good coffee and standing back from bikes to take a proper look at them. We could tell when a bike was built in a small shed and the builder never stepped back far enough to look at the bike. Johnny loved the engineering and mechanics of bikes, the fumes, the metal, the grease and the spark.
We would laugh til we cried on more occasions than I can remember following some lunacy or other at some party or other. He had a fantastic singing voice so we formed a couple of bands together. The best of them, the only one we ever gigged, lasted about 7 songs but what songs they were.
I'll remember Johnny in the taste of tobacco and coffee, I'll remember him in the smell of hot engines, I'll remember him in a specific exhaust note, I'll remember him in the heat of the camp fire and the grime of the road.
As spring makes the roads open out towards summer I will start to venture out on my bike and I will ride with Johnny in my heart and my mind.