“I always told myself that I would ride this bike until death do us part”
It’s been an intense few months in Rickmansland. You may have noticed my daily creativities have not exactly been daily lately, as in the last day one was posted was way back at the end of June, which is when it all started.
My beloved, loyal little Vespa had another breakdown, and this time it was on the South Circular, about 25 miles from home. I had to abandon the bike in Clapham and get the tube home, so I could return the next day with a rental van and take it to a garage to get fixed. This experience was made that much more intense because I only had one day before Lilly and I were set to go and spend a week off in Sicily, where I tried to spend as little time as possible sulking about my dead Vespa.
The garage got it running again in my absence, but it went on to suffer multiple more breakdowns over the summer. It was like an old dog – incredibly loyal and hard-working, but sometimes it just didn’t want to go anywhere.
With a bit of mental massaging, I decided it was time to move on. I came to realise that I had lost count of the amount of deaths this bike had encountered, so it was time to let these deaths “do us part”. The only hitch with this plan was that I needed a new motorcycle license to be able to ride a new bike.
This is when I formally decided to put the extracurricular creativities on hold. I ended up with three things on my agenda before I picked up again: Get my motorcycle license, survive the jungles of Costa Rica (a trip I had no ambitions on making at the time), and to get the new Hospital Records website launched. And what relief, the latter happened but two days ago (which you should hopefully be reading a bit more about in the coming days), marking the completion of all three tasks!
The motoring operation proved to be the most challenging. I had to do my lessons and tests on a proper motorcycle as opposed to a Vespa as I couldn’t get my new Vespa without my new license and I couldn’t get my new license by riding my old Vespa, so it made the most sense to just borrow a vehicle from the driving school that would give me the least restrictive license when I was done.
Lessons weren’t fun, gears weren’t fun, and becoming a nervous wreck and failing tests certainly wasn’t fun either. Along the way my old Vespa took two parting shots at me: One was earning me a speeding ticket on the same day it had a breakdown, which was my first ever in a decade of riding a bike that would struggle to reach 40mph. The other was refusing to start on the day of my test, forcing me to get a cab to the driving school to pick up the test bike.
It took a lot more time and a lot more money to get the license than I had originally hoped, but I got there in the end. Collecting my new bike from the shop meant it was time to part ways with my first Vespa. It didn’t take long to find a new home for it though, with a nice chap who was willing to repair some of its shortcomings and not take it for as long journeys as I had been doing. So one rainy evening, I had to say goodbye to it.
It was sad to watch it go, even with a shiny new one sitting on my driveway in its place. The bike and I had been through a lot together over the past ten years. I was pretty pleased to note that I passed 25,000 miles on it before we said our farewells, as that meant I had driven the equivalent of the entire circumference of earth in my time with it!
Some adventures of note include spending my first ever paycheque for designing record covers (thanks, John B!) on getting the paintwork repaired and chrome railings added to the bike, a smattering of irresponsible driving as a teenager, and lots and lots of driving across the breadth of the London metropolis, northwest to southeast, southeast to northwest.
More fun came in the shape of a ticketing, subsequent apology and compensation cheque from the Metropolitan Police (The cheque of which I have never cashed), a trip from Hertfordshire to Brighton (to support Cyclists) and back (on my own!), and driving it in pretty much every weather condition England could throw at me!
Riding a Vespa is more than just transport, it’s a way of life. Despite holding a car license for many years now, I can’t stand driving on four wheels, and as I recently learnt in obtaining my new license, driving a motorcycle isn’t nearly as fun either! I couldn’t be happier on the road than being on my Vespa, and the relationship between me and my bike has also spawned endless creative spurts, as you should have been seeing throughout this post!
Time does move on though, and as much as I loved my first vespa, I now have a new one, which will hopefully be a lot more reliable than the first steed was in its later years with me.