Tuesday, 14 December 2010

A short life but a happy one

 I had no money, no job and no wheels, and was suffering severe case of heartbreak.
Things were desperate.
What I did have, however, was a few top mates who got me drunk and, fortunately, the £300 payout for the CB250RS arrived through the post.
Most of it got quickly swallowed up paying off bank debts, but a quick scan of the classifieds revealed a  1972 Honda CD175  for sale.
It was the in gardening equipment section marked at £75ono.

The CD175 had once been red, but had faded to a sort of pink, and the ancient (i.e. over 40) owner had chugged around on it for most of its life in an undemanding fashion. I offered him fifty quid and he pretty much snapped my hand off shaking on the deal.

A CD175. Not mine, but you get the general idea...

This machine was almost identical mechanically to the CB200 I had passed my test on, but while the CB had no soul whatsoever, the CD had it by the bucket load.
Honda had made huge quantities of them, and they worked. It was the sort of motorcycle that died out in the early eighties and has never really returned.
It had one carb rather than two, big deeply valanced mudguards, chrome panels on the tank, shrouds and nacelles everywhere and ancient Speedmaster tyres with cracked sidewalls.
I thought it looked fab.
I'd started to judge vehicles not by what they looked like parked next to other people bikes,  but by what it made me feel like.
The little CD made me feel bullet proof. While noisier chums with loud exhausts, denim cut-offs and bad attitudes rapidly saw the points mount up on their licences, on the CD in my battered wax cotton Belstaffs I was invisible to the law.

In those halcyon days  you could just sign on and pick a bit of work here and there cash in hand. I'll never forget going to the dole office one day to sign on and seeing a bloke pull up outside in a van, jump out in paint covered overalls, run in, sign on and run out again to get back to work.
With the odd days work and with nothing better to do with my time I chugged around in the glorious spring and early summer of 1984.
A chum introduced me to a friend of his girlfriend. Roberta was a 17 year old posh horsey girl with a double-barrelled name and a naughty glint in her eye who fell for my devil-may-care charm and rakish good looks (ahem), and I would hack out to Sidmouth of an afternoon and pick her up from sixth-form on it.

Her parents decided I was a bad influence on her, and they were dead right.

Though to be fair, she was a pretty bad influence on me as well.
Her father banned me from the house so I'd ride the CD out on warm June evenings, to a farm gate near the tumble down small mansion she lived in and she'd leave by the bedroom window and leg it down the drive.
Many a close call was had getting her back home from secret trysts and young farmers discos, her pissed on cider and black, me with a sore neck from the headbanging to the Quo and also from the copious love bites.

Ah, dear dead days, beyond recall.

I think all this excitement was bit much for the CD, and in the end after just three months the little beggars heart gave out.
The posh girl was doing her A levels, and so at the end of June I hammered up the A303 alone to spend a few days at what turned out to be the very last Stonehenge Free Festival.

"I'm in the brown tent,  next to the transit"

This isn't me, and its not my CD175. But if the CD had been pinky-red, I expect I looked like this at some point.

Pictures from the very wonderful http://www.ukrockfestivals.com/

I had a great time, saw The Enid and Here and Now and some fabulous dub acts and was bored by Roy Harper.
But it was my third Stonehenge and I could see that sadly it had been getting out of hand. That year had seen heroin on sale openly for the first time and got the feeling that this particular game was up, a year before The Battle of the  Beanfield.

All things must pass.

After three days I headed for home and was just outside Ilminster when there was a big BANG. Suddenly the air was filled with a cloud of white smoke from the left hand exhaust.

The engine kept running, but performance was halved, so I chugged home at 30mph, stopped at my local for a reviving ale, got back on it and rode it the quarter of a mile home,  parking it up outside my flat. It never ran again I took the cylinder head off and found that the middle of the left hand piston had completely disintegrated, but despite the chunks of broken alloy rattling round in the engine, the CD still got me home.
Probably the second best fifty quid I've ever spent.

I still feel a bit guilty about treating it so badly.

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