30 June 2020


The games are coming thick and fast as we try to get the 2019/20 season done and dusted so that we can get started with the 2020/21 season!

So tomorrow, July 1st, the Arsenal get a chance to bag some points against bottom of the table and relegation fodder Norwich City.

You would think this would be a bit of a stroll for Arsenal, but it will be far from it.  "Naardge" will be scrapping for their lives and looking to get the points they need to stave off the inevitable relegation back to the Championship. Arsenal need the points to push for one of the Europe League spots next year. 

Both of them look as though they will fail in those quests.

The kick off is early but as there are once again no fans in the ground it doesn't matter.  Fingers crossed I guess for both clubs.

An update tomorrow after the game!


No words. Good performance. Naadge played well at times but a few defensive errors cost them dearly.

Moved up to 7th in the table but 6 points shy of Wolves in 6th.

Bikers Gear Australia - Kevlar Lined Hoodie

Wow. Doesn't time fly.  I bought this item a few years ago and with one thing and another I have worn it twice - https://invictamoto.blogspot.com/2016/06/new-jacket.html

I bought it to wear on summer days when a thicker jacket might be too hot to wear. Except on both occasions it was too hot itself.  The material is quite thick and the kevlar does seem to retain the heat.

It wasn't all that expensive as it was in the 50% off sale at Bikers Gear Australia.  It was the second item I bought off them and it looks with my latest purchase, that the importer has changed to Luton from south Wales - that's Old South Wales not the new fangled one they have Down Under.

The gear is decent stuff and won't break the bank.

If our UK summer isn't over now as we head towards the school summer holidays I'l need to get it out and wear it.  

Talking of summer, we had the hottest and driest May on record and much of June has been hot and sunny as well.  SO much so that here on the south coast it has been gridlocked and I have been put off weekend riding. I am still working! Pandemic? What pandemic?

See how it goes!

Bikers Gear Australia - Men's Kevlar Cargo Jeans

I have been wearing a pair of cargo trousers lined with kevlar from arse to knee for a few years. They have been very comfortable.  They have the tag "RK Jeans" on the bach by one of the pockets.  They are comfortable and although I don't have the knee armour in them, I expect them to be pretty good at stopping my skin being worn off in the unlucky event of a slide on the road surface.

A few years is actually over six. I bought the RK jeans in March 2014.

Their only problem is that the black outer material has started to fade and look more brownish that black on the thighs that get the sun more than other parts of the body.

So after a look around eBay for some more, I have opted for the Australian Bikers Gear version.They look more like jeans at the top with two large patch cargo pockets.  I have had their gear before and it has always been value for money.  So why not give them a try?

Currently (and the link will disappear over time) they can be found at https://tinyurl.com/yce8nhrr.  I am expecting them in a week or so, although I don't think they are coming from the Land of Chunder itself.

Livin' in a land down under 
Where women glow and men plunder 
Can't you hear, can't you hear the thunder? 
(Ooh yeah) 
Then I run and then I take cover 
We are livin' in a land down under 
Where women glow and men plunder 
Can't you, can't you hear the thunder? 
Then I run then I take cover 
Livin' in a land down under 
(Livin' in a land down under). 

Men at Work.

Let's see how they perform.

29 June 2020


FA Cup Quarter Final away for the fourth game in a row since the restart of the season at Sheffield United.

The Blades having a great season but have tailed off after the lockdown and so we had a chance.

A pretty tame first half but a 1-0 lead courtesy of a penalty after what looked like a clumsy tackle on Lacazette. 

The second half was more in their favour and on 90 minutes another defensive cockup and they are level.

Extra time beckoned.

Then the drama. Finally a quick break with pace. Pepe closed down in the box, Ceballos takes it on. A break unchallenged by defenders.

The keeper comes off his line towards him. Dani slides the ball between him and the post and it's 2-1 in the final minute of added time.

At last the team showed some guts and determination.  They fought for the win as a team.  About bloody time!

Manchester City next in the Semi at Wembley.

25 June 2020


Alright, it's not my helmet.  

Claire had her bicycle serviced on Friday and plans to cycle more often.  We haven't done much cycling for a long time, in fact since we had Reggie in November 2014!

Rather than go to a multi-site place, we went to our local shop in Hythe. These guys need the business. Shop local. http://www.hythecycles.co.uk/

Both our bikes were in the back of the garage.  As the tyres were flat they needed new inner tubes and a good oiling and sorting out.  She preferred to get it done professionally rather than trust me.  I don't blame her.  Finding a spanner to take the front wheel off meant hunting about. Who has 15mm spanners? She also needed brake blocks for the front wheel.

She decided she needed a helmet and we searched locally and then fell back on Amazon Prime.  The Fischer helmet in a blue to natch the bike (it doesn't really!) arrived today and I adjusted it to fit her properly.  

What she does need now is a decent lock to make sure it, and her bike don't become a theft statistic?  Amazon again?

My bike goes in on Saturday 27th for the same job.  

Trying the Fischer for size...

Update 27th June 2020

After turning all the garage and toolboxes out I finally found a cycle spanner that has the right size opening to loosen the front wheel nuts.  Much easier to get in the car with the wheel off.

Cycle-Fix did the same as they did with Claire's bike but mine need brakes at both ends and also a replacement gear change cable as mine was frayed!

My first ride back was 14 minutes for the 2.6 miles.  And boy, did the muscles I don't use tell me that I need to do it more often.

So do I buy a helmet of my own or make do with a baseball cap?

23 June 2020


SOT = Soton, a quite usual abbreviation for Southampton. I guess people are simply quite lazy and abbreviate everything.

SOUARS is the Sky Sports version.

Anyway. Since the restart as lockdown is eased Arsenal get to play again and once again an away game. At least the grass at the Emirates isn't getting scuffed up.

In the rush to get the season done and dusted it will be played on a Thursday. Yes, aren't we lucky? Football on TV every bloody day and evening

Let's see how this one pans out without a first choice keeper after the incident at Brighton and other players injured in the first game.

So until Thursday it is then!.

Book Review: The Reversal by Michael Connelly

The Reversal (Harry Bosch, #16; Mickey Haller, #3; Harry Bosch Universe, #21)The Reversal by Michael Connelly

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

As I progressed through the book I had the feeling that the story was something I already knew. I checked my bookcase for paperbacks and then checked Amazon for my Kindle books and I hadn't bought it before in any format...... So.....

Was this used in the Amazon TV series?

Anyway. it was a good read and as I am working from home I have a bit of time to do more reading! I enjoyed it.

So much so I have bought the next Haller book.

View all my reviews

22 June 2020

MAG News - A big thank you and an important rally update

The Motorcycle Action Group has been overwhelmed by the generous donations of members and those that would have attended the Farmyard Party rally this weekend, and we wish to thank you all for your thoughtful contributions.  We are so grateful for the amazing support that will help enable us to continue fighting for riders’ rights.

We know that some of our members regularly take the opportunity to renew their membership at this event, so we warmly invite them to either contact the office on 01926 844 064, or go online to renew at www.mag-uk.org

For those who have not yet seen the various options available for this postponed event, and the cancelled Into The Valley rally, please see below for the latest update from the organisers, MAGic Action Promotions:

Earlier this year we made the difficult but sensible decision to cancel Into The Valley 2020 and to postpone the Farmyard Party, currently to a provisional date of September 25th-27th.

We still have some events that remain in our schedule at the present time, including Yorkshire Pudding Rally (although given its date of late July, it is likely that this too will have to be cancelled or postponed), and all events will continue to be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. So, if we are allowed gatherings, and it is safe to do so, and you buy tickets, we will see you at one of these events.

Please contact MAGic Action Promotions with regards to any rally related query please email enquiries@mapevents.co.uk.

For the latest information please check the website www.magicactiononline.co.uk or www.facebook.com/YorkshireMAGRalliesAndEvents/ as lockdown and social distancing is now changing on a weekly basis.

Tickets can be booked now at www.magicactiononline.co.uk or by calling 0800 988 3199.

Thanks to each and every one of you for your support. Take care till we see you in a field (hopefully sooner rather than later).

20 June 2020


No comment. Shite.

The bloke pictured pushes the keeper who is in the air, who falls and is severely injured. 

And then scores the winner.

19 June 2020


Arsenal away at Man City. What could possibly go wrong?

Given the last few years where City have scored three goals in most games, we couldn't expect much.

It looked like we might get away with it, then after two players off injured.

Enter David "Sideshow Bob" Luiz entered the game.

In 45 mins he misjudged a pass and deflected the ball to Sterling who scored.

TBH Leno had kept us in it that far. Save after save. Our Man of the Match.

Second half Bob was outpaced by Mahrez so he tugged him back. Mahrez went down like he stood on a massive spring. Penalty for sure. A red card for Bob.

De Bruyne scored. 

It was pretty much one way traffic for the rest of the game. 

A nasty collision between Ederson and Garcia held the game up. Hopefully the young defender is okay after being knocked unconscious.

In added time Foden scored the third.

Maybe without Luiz the score might have been kept down. I doubt it though.

Brighton away on Saturday. What could possibly go wrong?

17 June 2020

The Motorcycle Action Group demands immediate three-point Government action.

The Motorcycle Action Group are demanding immediate action by Government to include motorcycles in the COVID lockdown exit plan.  Amid press reports of rocketing demand for motorcycles and scooters, MAG is demanding that Government support this common-sense approach to commuting challenges.  MAG claims that three demands will cost not one penny of additional spending to implement yet will have a significant impact.

The demands are as follows:

  1. Specifically recognise and encourage the role of motorcycles and scooters as a socially distanced, congestion busting and sustainable transport mode for post-COVID transport in all Government transport messaging.
  2. Mandate all local authorities to immediately allow motorcycle and scooter access in all combined bus and cycle routes.
  3.  Mandate all local authorities to immediately provide emergency secure two-wheeler parking facilities that can be used by both motorcyclists and cyclists.

MAG’s Director of Campaigns & Political Engagement, Colin Brown, said, “The time has come to forget about asking politely, and start demanding.   None of these proposed measures will cost Government a penny more than they have already committed to spending, yet could provide a meaningful level of support for those who recognise the benefits of commuting by motorcycle.  I would defy any Government Minister to come up with a logical reason not to support these proposals to spend public money more wisely.  The time for procrastination is over.  We have an economy to rebuild and a transport solution whose time has come.”

MAG’s Chair, Selina Lavender, said “We have waited for engagement and polite debate for far too long.  These three simple proposals must be acted on now.”

Contact MAG at 01926 844 064 or central-office@mag-uk.org

15 June 2020

The Motorcycle Action Group invites you to enjoy Ride To Work Day 2020.

Today, Monday 15th June 2020, is International Ride To Work Day.  The Motorcycle Action Group, UK promoters of the campaign, invites everyone to enjoy the day and learn about the benefits of riding a motorcycle or scooter to work.

With the added benefit of a COVID transmission-safe trip, there are many other gains that can be made by an increased number of commuters choosing two wheels and a motor.

For those getting onto a motorcycle, they will personally save time and money on their commute, arrive in a better frame of mind, and will need less parking space than their car driving colleagues.  The benefits don’t end there, though.  For the wider population, a modal shift from cars to motorcycles will see significant reductions in congestion, pollution and emissions.  A study has shown that a 10% modal shift from cars to motorcycles would reduce congestion for all road users by 40%. Allied to that there would be a 5.5% reduction in Nox, 2.5% reduction in exhaust particulates and a 16% reduction in brake and tyre particulates.   The CO2 reduction would be 7.5%,  which is in the order of eight to nine million tonnes of Carbon emissions every year.

Making the choice to hop on a motorcycle or scooter is certainly worth considering.  As Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, said “Motorcycles are an enormously important way of getting around”.

Safety is a natural concern for many thinking about riding a motorcycle.   MAG has taken the initiative by launching their Filter Friendly campaign.  The campaign simply asks drivers to look out for - and give space to - filtering motorcyclists.  After all, every motorcycle that filters past you is one less car in the queue in front of you.  The awareness campaign clearly sets out the benefit of filtering motorcycles, thus giving drivers an incentive to look out for riders. The campaign video is being strongly supported by Bikesafe and Northamptonshire Police.

MAG’s Director of Campaigns & Political Engagement, Colin Brown, commented:

“Planning for this year’s event has inevitably been impacted by the virus.  But, equally, the need for social distancing has actually increased the need for this awareness day.  Motorcycles are a perfect solution for socially distanced commuting, particularly for those commuters displaced from public transport.  If cycling and walking are not viable, the scooter and motorcycle can provide a more environmentally sound option than the car for many.”

MAG has developed a campaign website.  The site includes a Blog with interesting articles explaining everything you could want to know about riding to work.  There is also a resources page with media and fact sheets to help explain to employers the benefits of supporting motorcycles as a travel choice for their staff.

Contact MAG at 01926 844 064 or central-office@mag-uk.org

Notes for editors

The Motorcycle Action Group is the leading riders’ rights organisation in the UK.  Since its inception in 1973, it has campaigned to protect riders’ rights and promoted the positive benefits of motorcycles and scooters as a transport solution.

Emissions figures come from the TM Leuven study “Commuting by Motorcycle: Impact Analysis”: https://wiki.mag-uk.org/images/1/15/TM_Leuven_Report.pdf

Details on motorcycle Carbon emissions can be found in MAG’s publication “Motorcycle Carbon Emissions”: https://wiki.mag-uk.org/images/3/39/Motorcycle_Carbon_Emissions_v1.pdf

Ride To Work Day Website can be found at: http://ride-to-work-day.mag-uk.org/

The Filter Friendly video can be found on YouTube: https://youtu.be/FQ_H2Qjp-P8

14 June 2020

"A man in a dress"?

Ben Roddy - Number One Dame!
It has to be the Marlowe Theatre Canterbury Pantomime!

A little later than usual I have bought our tickets.  When I looked earlier in the year they hadn't released the Circle tickets. I have booked for the matinee performance on Wednesday 23rd December.




12 June 2020

The Legion's Response to Racism

Problems viewing? Click to view online


Dear Mr Devall,

The email we sent earlier this week, from the Director General to our staff and from the Chair of Membership Council to members, on matters of race equality has generated important  conversations across our organisation but also some confusion and concern. We want to be sure that there is clarity about our position on these current issues.


The recent protests have shone a spotlight on painful truths about inequality in our society. The Royal British Legion will not tolerate racism, hatred, or discrimination in any form. There is more we can do to be the inclusive organisation we want to be, and we continue to explore how we bring about greater change for everyone in our community.

We must be clear that driving forward an inclusive and anti-racist organisation is not a political stance. We remain fully committed to being a non-partisan organisation.

We urge you to separate the issue of race equality from the desecration of war memorials during protests. War memorials and graves honour the memory of every member of the Armed Forces who has made the ultimate sacrifice and deserve to be treated with the utmost respect. While we recognise the right of all groups to protest within the law, the vandalism of war memorials and indeed any civic property, regardless of the intention, is a criminal act and a matter for the police. We understand and share the strength of feeling around the desecration of war memorials and we ask you to respect the role of the authorities in maintaining and protecting these.


The service and sacrifice of our Armed Forces has shaped the world we live in. People from many nations have served alongside and as part of our Armed Forces and have led to the diverse population of which we are all part. We will continue our work to ensure everything the Legion does is inclusive of all those who have served, and the whole of modern society whether individuals have links to the military or not. We haven't always got that right, and it is vital for the future of this organisation that we continually challenge ourselves to be more inclusive, reach out and connect with communities across the nations, and that we carry the torch of Remembrance not only with the next generation but also with our neighbours.

Kind regards

Una and Charles

Una Cleminson, National Chairman

Charles Byrne, Director General

11 June 2020

Football's coming home....

Or at least the Premier League and EFL Championship are restarting behind closed doors to finish off the 2019/20 Season.

Sadly all the lower tiers of the football pyramid in England were terminated "as is" weeks and weeks ago and this week. EFL Leagues One and Two voted to end as they are.  This means that league positions were decided on a points-per-game basis with I assume goal difference being applied where necessary.

For me that means that Oldham Athletic were placed 19th in League Two.

As for the Premier League. It means that games start again on June 17th with four clubs playing. This apparently is so that over the weekend of 19th to 21st June that all clubs start on the same number of games played.

Arsenal are one of the four teams and they play away at Manchester City, before entertaining Brighton & Hove Albion away at the Amex Stadium on Saturday.

It seems away games outnumber home games for the restart.

I guess money counts more at the top two levels of the pyramid and bollocks to the small clubs struggling to stay afloat with no income. 

How many of the small clubs will go to the wall due to the mismanagement of football by the FA and EFL, and the greed of the Premier League, both clubs and players?

10 June 2020

The Gardener - Rudyard Kipling

Every one in the village knew that Helen Turrell did her duty by all her world, and by none more honourably than by her only brother's unfortunate child. The village knew, too, that George Turrell had tried his family severely since early youth, and were not surprised to be told that, after many fresh starts given and thrown away he, an Inspector of Indian Police, had entangled himself with the daughter of a retired non-commissioned officer, and had died of a fall from a horse a few weeks before his child was born.

Mercifully, George's father and mother were both dead, and though Helen, thirtyfive and independent, might well have washed her hands of the whole disgraceful affair, she most nobly took charge, though she was, at the time, under threat of lung trouble which had driven her to the south of France. She arranged for the passage of the child and a nurse from Bombay, met them at Marseilles, nursed the baby through an attack of infantile dysentery due the carelessness of the nurse, whom she had had to dismiss, and at last, thin and worn but triumphant, brought the boy late in the autumn, wholly restored, to her Hampshire home.

All these details were public property, for Helen was as open as the day, and held that scandals are only increased by hushing then up. She admitted that George had always been rather a black sheep, but things might have been much worse if the mother had insisted on her right to keep the boy. Luckily, it seemed that people of that class would do almost anything for money, and, as George had always turned to her in his scrapes, she felt herself justified - her friends agreed with her - in cutting the whole non-commissioned officer connection, and giving the child every advantage. A christening, by the Rector, under the name of Michael, was the first step. So far as she knew herself, she was not, she said, a child-lover, but, for all her faults, she had been very fond of George, and she pointed out that little Michael had his father's mouth to a line; which made something to build upon.

As a matter of fact, it was the Turrell forehead, broad, low, and well-shaped, with the widely spaces eyes beneath it, that Michael had most faithfully reproduced. His mouth was somewhat better cut than the family type. But Helen, who would concede nothing good to his mother's side, vowed he was a Turrell all over, and, there being no one to contradict, the likeness was established.

In a few years Michael took his place, as accepted as Helen had always been - fearless, philosophical, and fairly good-looking. At six, he wished to know why he could not call her 'Mummy', as other boys called their mothers. She explained that she was only his auntie, and that aunties were not quite the same as mummies, but that, if it gave him pleasure, he might call her 'Mummy' at bedtime, for a pet-name between themselves.

Michael kept his secret most loyally, but Helen, as usual, explained the fact to her friends; which when Michael heard, he raged.

"Why did you tell? Why did you tell?" came at the end of the storm.

"Because it's always best to tell the truth", Helen answered, her arm round him as he shook in his cot.

"All right, but when the troof's ugly I don't think it's nice."

"Don't you, dear?"

"No, I don't and" - she felt the small body stiffen - "now you've told, I won't call you 'Mummy' any more - not even at bedtimes."

"But isn't that rather unkind?" said Helen softly.

"I don't care! I don't care! You have hurted me in my insides and I'll hurt you back. I'll hurt you as long as I live!"

"Don't, oh, don't talk like that, dear! You don't know what - "

"I will! And when I'm dead I'll hurt you worse!"

"Thank goodness, I shall be dead long before you, darling."

"Huh! Emma says, 'Never know your luck'." (Michael had been talking to Helen's elderly, flat-faces maid.) "Lots of little boys die quite soon. So'll I. Then you'll see!"

Helen caught her breath and moved towards the door, but the wail of 'Mummy! Mummy!' drew her back again, and the two wept together.

At ten years old, after two terms at a prep. school, something or somebody gave him the idea that his civil status was not quite regular. He attacked Helen on the subject, breaking down her stammered defences with the family directness.

"Don't believe a word of it", he said, cheerily, at the end. "People wouldn't have talked like they did if my people had been married. But don't you bother, Auntie. I've found out all about my sort in English Hist'ry and the Shakespeare bits. There was William the Conqueror to begin with, and - oh, heaps more, and they all got on first-rate. 'Twon't make any difference to you, by being that - will it?"

"As if anything could - " she began.

"All right. We won't talk about it any more if it makes you cry". He never mentioned the thing again of his own will, but when, two years later, he skilfully managed to have measles in the holidays, as his temperature went up tot the appointed one hundred and four he muttered of nothing else, till Helen's voice, piercing at last his delirium, reached him with assurance that nothing on earth or beyond could make any difference between them.

The terms at his public school and the wonderful Christmas, Easter, and Summer holidays followed each other, variegated and glorious as jewels on a string; and as jewels Helen treasured them. In due time Michael developed his own interests, which ran their courses and gave way to others; but his interest in Helen was constant and increasing throughout. She repaid it with all that she had of affection or could command of counsel and money; and since Michael was no fool, the War took him just before what was like to have been a most promising career.

He was to have gone up to Oxford, with a scholarship, in October. At the end of August he was on the edge of joining the first holocaust of public-school boys who threw themselves into the Line; but the captain of his O.T.C., where he had been sergeant for nearly a year, headed him off and steered him directly to a commission in a battalion so new that half of it still wore the old Army red, and the other half was breeding meningitis through living overcrowdedly in damp tents. Helen had been shocked at the idea of direct enlistment.

"But it's in the family", Michael laughed.

"You don't mean to tell me that you believed that story all this time?" said Helen. (Emma, her maid, had been dead now several years.) "I gave you my word of honour - and I give it again - that - that it's all right. It is indeed."

"Oh, that doesn't worry me. It never did", he replied valiantly. "What I meant was, I should have got into the show earlier if I'd enlisted - like my grandfather."

"Don't talk like that! Are you afraid of its ending so soon, then?"

"No such luck. You know what K. says."

"Yes. But my banker told me last Monday it couldn't possibly last beyond Christmas - for financial reasons."

"I hope he's right, but our Colonel - and he's a Regular - say it's going to be a long job."

Michael's battalion was fortunate in that, by some chance which meant several 'leaves', it was used for coast-defence among shallow trenches on the Norfolk coast; thence sent north to watch the mouth of a Scotch estuary, and, lastly, held for weeks on a baseless rumour of distant service. But, the very day that Michael was to have met Helen for four whole hours at a railway-junction up the line, it was hurled out, to help make good the wastage of Loos, and he had only just time to send her a wire of farewell.

In France luck again helped the battalion. It was put down near the Salient, where it led a meritorious and unexacting life, while the Somme was being manufactured; and enjoyed the peace of the Armentières and Laventie sectors when that battle began. Finding that it had sound views on protecting its own flanks and could dig, a prudent Commander stole it out of its own Division, under pretence of helping to lay telegraphs, and used it round Ypres at large.

A month later, and just after Michael had written Helen that there was noting special doing and therefore no need to worry, a shell-splinter dropping out of a wet dawn killed him at once. The next shell uprooted and laid down over the body what had been the foundation of a barn wall, so neatly that none but an expert would have guessed that anything unpleasant had happened.

By this time the village was old in experience of war, and, English fashion, had evolved a ritual to meet it. When the postmistress handed her seven-year-old daughter the official telegram to take to Miss Turrell, she observed to the Rector's gardener: "It's Miss Helen's turn now". He replied, thinking of his own son: "Well, he's lasted longer than some". The child herself came to the front-door weeping aloud, because Master Michael had often given her sweets. Helen, presently, found herself pulling down the house-blinds one after one with great care, and saying earnestly to each: "Missing always means dead." Then she took her place in the dreary procession that was impelled to go through an inevitable series of unprofitable emotions. The Rector, of course, preached hope end prophesied word, very soon, from a prison camp. Several friends, too, told her perfectly truthful tales, but always about other women, to whom, after months and months of silence, their missing had been miraculously restored. Other people urged her to communicate with infallible Secretaries of organizations who could communicate with benevolent neutrals, who could extract accurate information from the most secretive of Hun commandants. Helen did and wrote and signed everything that was suggested or put before her.

Once, on one of Michael's leaves, he had taken her over a munition factory, where she saw the progress of a shell from blank-iron to the all but finished article. It struck her at the time that the wretched thing was never left alone for a single second; and "I'm being manufactured into a bereaved next of kin", she told herself, as she prepared her documents.

In due course, when all the organizations had deeply or sincerely regretted their inability to trace, etc, something gave way within her and all sensations - save of thankfulness for the release - came to an end in blessed passivity. Michael had died and her world had stood still and she had been one with the full shock of that arrest. Now she was standing still and the world was going forward, but it did not concern her - in no way or relation did it touch her. She knew this by the ease with which she could slip Michael's name into talk and incline her head to the proper angle, at the proper murmur of sympathy.

In the blessed realization of that relief, the Armistice with all its bells broke over her and passed unheeded. At the end of another year she had overcome her physical loathing of the living and returned young, so that she could take them by the hand and almost sincerely wish them well. She had no interest in any aftermath, national or personal, of the war, but, moving at an immense distance, she sat on various relief committees and held strong views - she heard herself delivering them - about the site of the proposed village War Memorial.

Then there came to her, as next of kin, an official intimation, backed by a page of a letter to her in indelible pencil, a silver identity-disc and a watch, to the effect that the body of Lieutenant Michael Turrell had been found, identified, and re-interred in Hagenzeele Third Military Cemetery - the letter of the row and the grave's number in that row duly given.

So Helen found herself moved on to another process of the manufacture - to a world full of exultant or broken relatives, now strong in the certainty that there was an altar upon earth where they might lay their love. These soon told her, and by means of time-tables made clear, how easy it was and how little it interfered with life's affairs to go and see one's grave.

"So different", as the Rector's wife said, "if he'd been killed in Mesopotamia, or even Gallipoli."

The agony of being waked up to some sort of second life drove Helen across the Channel, where, in a new world of abbreviated titles, she learnt that Hagenzeele Third could be comfortably reached by an afternoon train which fitted in with the morning boat, and that there was a comfortable little hotel not three kilometres from Hagenzeele itself, where one could spend quite a comfortable night and see one's grave next morning. All this she had from a Central Authority who lived in a board and tar-paper shed on the skirts of a razed city of whirling lime-dust and blown papers.

"By the way", said he, "you know your grave, of course?"

"Yes, thank you", said Helen, and showed its row and number typed on Michael's own little typewriter. The officer would have checked it, out of one of his many books; but a large Lancashire woman thrust between them and bade him tell her where she might find her son, who had been corporal in the A.S.C. His proper name, she sobbed, was Anderson, but, coming of respectable folk, he had of course enlisted under the name of Smith; and had been killed at Dickiebush, in early 'Fifteen. She had not his number nor did she know which of his two Christian names she might have used with his alias; but her Cook's tourist ticket expired at the end of Easter week, and if by then she could not find her child she should go mad. Whereupon she fell forward on Helen's breast; but the officer's wife came out quickly from a little bedroom behind the office, and the three of them lifted the woman on to the cot.

"They are often like this", said the officer's wife, loosening the tight bonnet-strings. "Yesterday she said he'd been killed at Hooge. Are you sure you know your grave? It makes such a difference."

"Yes, thank you", said Helen, and hurried out before the woman on the bed should begin to lament again.

Tea in a crowded mauve and blue striped wooden structure, with a false front, carried her still further into the nightmare. She paid her bill beside a stolid, plain-featured Englishwoman, who, hearing her inquire about the train to Hagenzeele, volunteered to come with her.

"I'm going to Hagenzeele myself", she explained. "Not to Hagenzeele Third; mine is Sugar Factory, but they call it La Rosière now. It's just south of Hagenzeele Three. Have you got your room at the hotel there?"

"Oh yes, thank you, I've wired."

"That's better. Sometimes the place is quite full, and at others there's hardly a soul. But they've put bathrooms into the old Lion d'Or - that's the hotel on the west side of Sugar Factory - and it draws off a lot of people, luckily."

"It's all new to me. This is the first time I've been over."

"Indeed! This is my ninth time since the Armistice. Not on my own account. I haven't lost anyone, thank God - but, like everyone else, I've lot of friends at home who have. Coming over as often as I do, I find it helps them to have someone just look at the - place and tell them about it afterwards. And one can take photos for them, too. I get quite a list of commissions to execute." She laughed nervously and tapped her slung Kodak. "There are two or three to see at Sugar Factory this time, and plenty of others in the cemeteries all about. My system is to save them up, and arrange them, you know. And when I've got enough commissions for one area to make it worth while, I pop over and execute them. It does comfort people."

"I suppose so", Helen answered, shivering as they entered the little train.

"Of course it does. (Isn't lucky we've got windows-seats?) It must do or they wouldn't ask one to do it, would they? I've a list of quite twelve or fifteen commissions here" - she tapped the Kodak again - "I must sort them out tonight. Oh, I forgot to ask you. What's yours?"

"My nephew", said Helen. "But I was very fond of him".

"Ah, yes! I sometimes wonder whether they know after death? What do you think?"

"Oh, I don't - I haven't dared to think much about that sort of thing", said Helen, almost lifting her hands to keep her off.

"Perhaps that's better", the woman answered. "The sense of loss must be enough, I expect. Well I won't worry you any more."

Helen was grateful, but when they reached the hotel Mrs Scarsworth (they had exchanged names) insisted on dining at the same table with her, and after the meal, in the little, hideous salon full of low-voiced relatives, took Helen through her 'commissions' with biographies of the dead, where she happened to know them, and sketches of their next of kin. Helen endured till nearly half-past nine, ere she fled to her room.

Almost at one there was a knock at her door and Mrs Scarsworth entered; her hands, holding the dreadful list, clasped before her.

"Yes - yes - I know", she began. "You're sick of me, but I want to tell you something. You - you aren't married, are you? Then perhaps you won't... But it doesn't matter. I've got to tell someone. I can't go on any longer like this."

"But please -" Mrs Scarsworth had backed against the shut door, and her mouth worked dryly.

"In a minute", she said. "You - you know about these graves of mine I was telling you about downstairs, just now? They really are commissions. At least several of them are." Here eye wandered round the room. "What extraordinary wall-papers they have in Belgium, don't you think? ... Yes. I swear they are commissions. But there's one, d'you see, and - and he was more to me than anything else in the world. Do you understand?"

Helen nodded.

"More than anyone else. And, of course, he oughtn't to have been. He ought to have been nothing to me. But he was. He is. That's why I do the commissions, you see. That's all."

"But why do you tell me?" Helen asked desperately.

"Because I'm so tired of lying. Tired of lying - always lying - year in and year out. When I don't tell lies I've got to act 'em and I've got to think 'em, always. You don't know what that means. He was everything to me that he oughtn't to have been - the real thing - the only thing that ever happened to me in all my life; and I've had to pretend he wasn't. I've had to watch every word I said, and think out what lie I'd tell next, for years and years!"

"How many years?" Helen asked.

"Six years and four months before, and two and three-quarters after. I've gone to him eight times, since. Tomorrow I'll make the ninth, and - and I can't - I can't go to him again with nobody in the world knowing. I want to be honest with someone before I go. Do you understand? It doesn't matter about me. I was never truthful, even as a girl. But it isn't worthy of him. So - so I - I had to tell you. I can't keep it up any longer. Oh, I can't!"

Next morning Mrs Scarsworth left early on her round of commissions, and Helen walked alone to Hagenzeele Third. The place was still in the making, and stood some five or six feet above the metalled road, which it flanked for hundreds of yards. Culverts across a deep ditch served for entrances through the unfinished boundary wall. She climbed a few wooden faced earthen steps and then met the entire crowded level of the thing in one held breath. She did not know that Hagenzeele Third counted twenty-one thousand dead already. All she saw was a merciless sea of black crosses, bearing little strips of stamped tin at all angles across their faces. She could distinguish no order or arrangement in their mass; nothing but a waist-high wilderness as of weeds stricken dead, rushing at her. She went forward, moved to the left and the right hopelessly, wondering by what guidance she should ever come to her own. A great distance away there was a line of whiteness. It proved to be a block of some two or three hundred graves whose headstones had already been set, whose flowers were planted out, and whose new-sown grass showed green. Here she could see clear-cut letters at the ends of the rows, and, referring to her slip, realized that it was not here she must look.

A man knelt behind a line of headstones - evidently a gardener, for he was firming a young plant in the soft earth. She went towards him, her paper in her hand. He rose at her approach and without prelude or salutation asked: "Who are you looking for?"

"Lieutenant Michael Turrell - my nephew", said Helen slowly and word for word, as she had many thousands of times in her life.

The man lifted his eyes and looked at her with infinite compassion before he turned from the fresh-sown grass toward the naked black crosses.

"Come with me", he said, "and I will show you where your son lies."

When Helen left the Cemetery she turned for a last look. In the distance she saw the man bending over his young plants; and she went away, supposing him to be the gardener.

MAGNEWS - Updated COVID 19 Riding Guidelines published by the Coalition of Motorcycling Organisations

The Coalition of Motorcycling Organisations have today published their updated COVID 19 Riding Guidelines for motorcyclists.  Including clear advice on group riding now that lockdown restrictions are relaxing, the guidelines allow motorcyclists to maintain their mental well-being by riding their bikes whenever they can legally and safely, whilst complying at all times with Government guidelines.  The revised guidelines also carry advice for COVID-safe incident management courtesy of James Sanderson, the founder of Biker Down UK.

The Coalition continues to await engagement with Government officials, a source of great dissatisfaction amongst the members.  Despite the reticence being displayed by the Government the Coalition remains committed to interpreting rapidly changing legislation and guidance and translating it into clear motorcycling related advice that will benefit all riders in all situations.

Lead authors of the updated guidance were the Vintage Motorcycle Club’s Roger Bibbings and IAM RoadSmart Head of Riding Standards, Richard Gladman.

Richard said:  “As the COVID restrictions begin to relax it is important we remember how close we could be to further lockdown restrictions if the infection rate escalates. We as motorcyclists are duty bound to help in any way we can, the relaxation has allowed us to gather in small groups as long as we adhere to social distancing rules. The guidance document we have prepared helps with best practice and is intended to help us court the right sort of publicity. Motorcycles are a safe viable form of socially distanced transport but also a great support for mental wellbeing”

Roger added: “Although the initial peak has now passed, COVID 19 remains a potentially deadly infection that can be passed on unknowingly to others. These guidelines are designed to help motorcyclists play their part in getting on top of the pandemic. They are relevant even to group rides that happen quite informally but which in practice still need to be led by someone. So 'decide who is in charge' and 'stay COVID safe at all times' are the two key messages for all motorcyclists who are riding together”.

The Coalition of Motorcycling Organisations has also expanded its ranks.   The member organisations are now the Motorcycle Action Group (MAG), the Vintage Motorcycle Club (VMCC), the Trail Riders Fellowship (TRF), the British Motorcyclists Federation (BMF), IAM RoadSmart, the Auto Cycle Union (ACU), the Triumph Owners’ Motorcycle Club (TOMCC) and Biker Down UK.

A full copy of the updated guidance can be found at https://bit.ly/COVIDRideV2

Issued on behalf of the Coalition of Motorcycling Organisations by the Motorcycle Action Group. Press and other enquiries c/o MAG at 01926 844 064 or central-office@mag-uk.org

9 June 2020

AMRR 2020 - Non-Attendance Ride

The Covid-19 pandemic saw off another event and the AMRR was cancelled quite early.  As I write it wasn't going to be held in the UK for another three weeks,

However, on the Facebook page several of us suggested it is run as a non-attendance ride to keep the funds coming in for the Poppy Appeal etc.

And that's what is happening.

It's still a fiver plus postage for the year bar.  Registration is open until 31st July 2020.

I did mine a few days ago. The money goes to a good cause.

The Eagles - Wembley Stadium - CANCELLED

I guess it was inevitable that The Eagles concert at Wembley Stadium on August 29th 2020 would be cancelled due to the global Covid-19 pandemic.  And so it has.

Ticketmaster emailed to tell everyone and that the dates have been re-arranged already for the same weekend in 2021!

So August 29th 2020 becomes August 28th 2021!

Finger crossed that we are all alive and well then! That goes for us and the band!

7 June 2020

MAGNews - How can riders take part in Ride To Work Day?

So if you ride a motorcycle, how do you take part in Ride To Work Day? Many riders already commute by motorcycle, so we don’t need to explain too much to them.  There are riders though, that leave their bike in the garage all week.

The basics…

This may seem obvious but……..ride to work on Monday 15 June.  That’s it! Under the pandemic we appreciate that you might be furloughed or working from home. Therefore, we are not suggesting that you ignore the rules on travel.

Why not do a virtual ride to work this year?  It may be pretending, but under the circumstances we will let you off.

Add a bit of social media If you use Twitter, Facebook or Instagram and you’re happy to post personal photos, take a pic at the start or end of your commute. Share it online using the hashtags #magridetowork #magridetoworkday and #magridetoworkday2020.

There are some tips for pics below.

Tag in @MAGUKCentral and @ridetoworkday

Rope in some friends.

*** Please remember to ensure your idea complies with the COVID guidance and apply the current social distancing guidelines. ****

If you all work in the same place…

Ask your work if you can have a bikers’ breakfast or other gesture of support.  Maybe they could allocate some parking to you for the day. Space shouldn’t be a problem.  For instance, car-share bays will be unused at the moment!

If you need a few arguments on why they should support motorcycle commuting show them our employers guide.  You can find it on the RTW Day website resources page: http://ride-to-work-day.mag-uk.org/resources-and-offers/

If you work in different places… Can you meet up and get a socially distanced photo before you set off? Under the current rules (as at 3 June) the group can be no bigger than 6 people, though this may change before the 15th.  Is there a café or other biker-friendly spot that would be willing to be your meeting point?   Take and share pics as above.

If you’re a member of a motorcycle club…

You don’t have to be MAG affiliated to join the campaign – it’s an international campaign that began in the US in 1992. Why not organise a club breakfast meet before you all ride to work?

Tell the press One of the key aims of the campaign is to get the message across. Motorcycles and scooters can make a massive contribution to getting the country moving again.

We’re a bit overlooked at the moment as the Government is focusing on walking and cycling.  Many commutes are just a bit too far for a pedal cycle, so a motorcycle is a perfect choice.

So if you’ve been able to pull together an event, get in touch with your local newspaper and radio stations and tell them.  Let them know how and why you are going to take part in Ride To Work Day.

There’s an outline press release on the RTW Day website resources page: http://ride-to-work-day.mag-uk.org/resources-and-offers/ that you can adapt for your own use.  Try and send it over a few days before, to give the reporters time to decide if they can cover the event.

They might be unable to send someone along, so they might ask to do a pre-recorded interview.  Alternatively they may ask you to send your photos.  Maybe they will ask if you’d like to be live on air.  Your 15 seconds of fame awaits.

Enjoy the day.

Above all this campaign is about promoting the joys of motorcycling. 

So, if you can, please take part in Ride To Work Day 2020.

Enjoy the day!

Some tips on photos:

  • Social distance! – Don’t give misguided critics any excuse to give riders flak.
  • Look cheerful. – Above all, we’re trying to show that riding to work is fun
  • Look like you’re going to work! – If you’ve got a sports bike try something fun like strapping a briefcase, your hard hat, or other work kit to the seat.
  • Be an ambassador for responsible biking. – Look like the fine upstanding citizens we know you are.
  • If you’re sending your picture to a newspaper they like to have everyone’s name, listed from left to right.
  • The newspaper will also need you to affirm that everyone in the photo is happy for it to be published. So make sure when you are setting it up that people know this is what the photo is being taken for.

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