Honda CB200

Not a dream machine.

A standard S registration red Honda CB200
My brand new, second-hand, nearly stock red Honda CB200

With age comes experience.

The trouble was that when I purchased my second motorcycle I had neither.

I had just turned eighteen and had already cut my teeth on motorbikes (along with other parts of my body as well) and was ready to move on.

The Yamaha trail bike I was selling just couldn’t handle the way my biking days were developing and I needed a new steed.

More of my friends had graduated from their mopeds and I didn’t want to be left behind with all the high-powered horses that were amassing around me.

I say, high powered, all were under 250cc as this was the usual starting point for teenagers in those days.  Something to do with the fact that 251cc was deemed too powerful by men in grey suits for new riders.

Plus the Yamaha trail bike just wasn’t designed for two and my loins were calling out for company.

The author sat on his Honda CB200 which is loaded with huge bags and two spare helmets
My loins were calling out for company.  However, taking two spare helmets but having no spare seating is the definition of optimism

I set about searching for my next bike and considered all the two-fifty options available.

It was 1979 and Honda had just launched the SuperDream in 250 and 400cc flavours.  The SuperDream, or CB250N if you prefer, was a fantastically new variant on the old and bulbous Dream 250.  The trouble was it was brand new and very expensive for a new kid on the block.

Yamaha had the RD250 but Yams were always too race orientated.

Suzuki tried the same game with their GT250 but didn’t even have Kenny Roberts on their side.

But the most desirable to me was the Kawasaki KH250 triple.  It oozed sex appeal with its multi-exhaust layout, screaming two-stroke noise and links to the fantastic K900.  The twenty miles to the gallon was pitiful and the reliability suspect but the triple hit all the right notes.

I wanted to go with my instinct.

The problem with instinct is that old chestnut – practicality.

I wasn’t affluent enough to make passionate decisions and had to rely on my family to help finance the deal.  This help came with the inevitable ‘advice’ and that came in the form of ‘strong suggestions’ that I ought to buy a Honda and it shouldn’t be as powerful as 250cc.

I didn’t want a smaller engine than my 175cc Yamaha so there was only one choice.

Honda’s Dream machines had a sibling, the CB200.

It was an ugly mutt of a bike designed primarily for commuting and generally unloved, even by its owners.

It had good reliability from its basic, tried and tested, twin 200cc power plant but that’s like saying Nora Batty is good at washing up.  So what?

And its power was poor.

The only plus sides were it had a four-stroke engine and was red.  Despite my earlier love of the Kawasaki triple I have to admit that four-stroke power is much better unless your only desire is top speed or acceleration.  And Kwacker green is putrid.

The Cee-Bee’s most admirable quality was its comfort, particularly in comparison with the unforgiving seat of my previous trail bike.

In fact, I now wonder whether the ease of riding distances coupled to the (let’s be generous) gentle power helped form my love of touring mindlessly around.

Mind you at 18 to 19 a man has to look cool and the nondescript Honda did nothing for that.

It needed improvement and I started exploring the black art of customisation.

Not in the sense of chromed engine bolts, lowered track or power enhancements. Just a replacement exhaust and new headlamp.

A red Honda CB200 with Cibie Hedlamp and replacement exhaust
A Cibie headlamp, an upswept exhaust, no crash bars.  Much cooler.  Still not cool

The original exhausts were low uninspiring pipes running at low level parallel to the ground with unsightly oversize mufflers.  My replacement exhaust was a potent two-into-one upswept stainless steel pipe terminating in a stubby megaphone – loud and stylish.  Not many CB200s had them so it made it distinctly different.

The headlamp conversion was a Cibie unit, from the famous French manufacturer who were making a name for themselves producing large concave, efficient, bright headlamps.  Again this added to the style.  And let me see in the dark.

But despite these lavish and expensive enhancements the Honda was still as ugly as a Yak.  Only the Yak now had bigger horns.

The bike did fulfill some requirements though.

It’s rear seat was shared a few times and I put a few miles on the clock but I struggle to recall those miles with any detail.

I cannot even recall crashing the thing.  The only ‘off’ that I remembered is when I tried to charge down one of my ‘friends’ who had been terrorising my sister’s boyfriend’s party.

My colleague Chris had been idly throwing a knife into the kitchen wall due to a lack of ability to entertain himself properly at a party and I chivalrously intervened.

The result was that after a few more beers and being ejected Chris turned his attention to me.

I suppose trying to run down a threatening, drunken yob stood just outside the gateway, with a Bowie Knife recently in his possession, is a silly move but, despite warnings, he refused to move out of the way.

I gave it full throttle and dumped the clutch at which point he twisted deftly to one side and kicked out at the Honda.

His foot caught the rear of the front wheel and sent me and bike in different directions.  He then proceeded to kick a man when he was down – How cheap.

I would love to tell you that I leapt to my feet and battered the drunkard black and blue but anyone who knows me would write in and get this website closed down due to fraud.

Instead I writhed around wondering why it didn’t hurt.

Now, I know it was down to his soft trainers reigning hail on my thick jacket and helmet.

If I had kicked back he would have suffered worse – I had steel toecap motocross boots.

However, frustration took its course and Chris changed tack and decided to lay into the Honda instead.  It suffered worse.

Two weeks later, and after the intervention of parents, Chris had been forced to pay for the damage repairs and we were all mates again.  Kids eh?

So a few months later the Honda was sold to a new keen owner, ‘provided I removed that awful loud exhaust and huge headlamp’.

Thankfully this pre-dated eBay by several years so I still had the original parts.

It seemed the buyer wanted an original Yak.

So, as a conclusion – I should have brought the Kwacker.

I wouldn’t have needed to change a thing and would now probably be telling you a story about how I was innocently playing with my own knife when some do-gooder squealed to the host and got me kicked out of a party.  Then tried to run me down.

So in retribution I bravely kicked the living daylights out of him.

And then did the same to his naff Honda.

Author: Vince Poynter

From the Bikes section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 28 Feb 2018 but first published in the website in Mar 2005.  All photos added in 2018
The first image is the author’s stock Honda CB200 as originally purchased at the end of 1979.  The crash bars and rear rack were non-standard fitments by the original owner
The second image shows the author sat astride his fully loaded Honda CB200 and was taken around Summer 1980
The third image, dated around late 1980 shows the author’s modified Honda CB200, showcasing the Cibie headlight unit and featuring the two-into-one upswept exhaust

Bentley Arnage

The Best Car In The World?

Although not an owner of one of these magnificent beasts I am fortunate enough to have driven one, in comparison with its bigger and older brother the Continental Series, no less.

A row of four Bentley Arnages in various colours
Pick a car.  Any car

I had always been a fan of the Continental; its raw powerful looks and sheer road presence always allured me.

I was always so impressed by the way that whenever you see one on the road, it seems to be going past at great speed yet appearing totally unruffled, a task mimicked well by the ‘smaller’ Arnage.

So, when a Cardiff dealer offered me the chance to take part in a test drive day in the grounds of a luxurious hotel, lining up the whole Bentley and Rolls Royce range next to a chartered helicopter and sumptuous servings of quality food, I couldn’t resist.

It would be ungentlemanly to refuse, wouldn’t it?

The author stood in the open doorway of a dark blue Bentley Continental
Driving a quarter million pound car.  The author with a Bentley Continental

So I got my chance in a Continental.

The keys, a full tank and a stunning twenty-mile route to savour.  And I did.

The car was very special, as you might expect for a quarter of a million pounds.

Forget the opulent interior – it was the engine that impressed.

Bentley (and Rolls-Royce) didn’t formerly tell anyone about the engine size, merely pointing out that it was ‘adequate’.  They should have added ‘for towing a 5 bedroom house.’

The torque was storming.

Try to imagine someone pushing the back of your chair right now.  Into the next room.  Through the wall.  Then into the next room, without hesitation, even quicker.  All more speedily than you could read this.

Yes, forget horsepower.  From now on, I buy my cars based on torque, whatever a Newton Metre might be.

The author's wife stood ready to get in a dark mauve Bentley Arnage
My wife, Lynda, tries out the Arnage

There was one caveat to the Continental though – the Arnage.

At nearly half the price the Arnage wipes the floor with the Continental.

When I tested it, it came in two flavours.  I’m talking engines again, by the way.

The traditional V8 lump and the newer BMW-sourced straight 8.

Bentley helpfully made it easier by labelling them Red and Green, quite literally.

Go for the Red one.  I’m a new fan of all things BMW but this car needs the V8.  I just wish it wasn’t named after the cheapest tea in Tesco.

The Arnage shares all the grunt of the bigger car and sets it all to a modern theme.

From the outside, the car does resemble a weather-worn brick but inside, you realise this can compete with the best-finished modern cars.

Some comment that it can’t match a Mercedes-Benz’s build quality and to an extent, they would be right.

When the floor carpet is pulled back around the accelerator, you do not expect to see the trimming work of a six year old.  But when the carpet is reinstalled the thick pile helps to remind you that you are in a special place.

The drive is modern, easy and relaxing, even when applying that torque.

The interior ambience is impressive although the modern devices we all need in cars today are not as well accommodated as they might be.

Designed before the satellite navigation era, you will have to suffer the indignation of a pop-up screen spoiling the sweep of the dash, but I suspect you will be more likely looking at the array of dials and switches, many designed and styled to feel good, solid and traditional.

The only gripe is that because customers can select from a huge range of colours and trims (The ‘brochure’ was a hand-finished solid wood briefcase), getting a used one to suit you perfectly may be a problem.  Burgundy leather seats trimmed with cream piping and mixed with a black dash don’t quite do it for me.

A dark blue Bentley Arnage
My new favourite car.  A dark blue Bentley Arnage

The drive is solid and reassuring and belies the car’s two ton size.

Forget you are in a limousine and treat it the way Bentley intended.  It is a sports model after all.  If you want to float everywhere, get one with a small silver statue at the front.

The Arnage will flick through corners and holds the road like the tarmac’s melted.  You don’t even get to hear the rubber ripping.  Very strange.  Very addictive.

But the best bit is sitting deep in those accommodating hide armchairs and looking down at people next to you, even those in four by fours.

In both ways!

Gripes?  Well there are always some.

On the pre-2005 model I drove, I don’t think the headlamps suit the nose, the fuel consumption is for those who never care about it, and it costs £150k.

At least it’s better than that Continental I always wanted.  Thanks Bentley, you have saved me £100k.  Now save me another £30k by making the new baby Bentley even better.

Author: Vince Poynter

From the Cars section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 23 Feb 2018 but first published in the website in Feb 2005.  All photos added in 2018
Also published by Channel 4 Car Road Tests around 2005 (but now no longer available)
The first image shows part of the Bentley line up presented by a generous Cardiff Bentley Dealership in the grounds of Miskin Manor in 2000
The second image shows the author parked up during a road test of the fabulously expensive Bentley Continental in 2000
The third image shows the Author’s wife, Lynda, with the Bentley Arnage in 2000
The fourth and final image shows a Bentley Arnage, parked in a service station car park, photographed in Jan 2012

Alphacar

A to Zoom

I was talking to a friend of mine about cars that people drive.
We all have preconceived ideas about their thoughts and lives.
And when I thought back on my life and cars I used to own,
I fitted all the types there were.  And I was not alone.

I started with an Austin.  A10 I think it was.
I loved that little car you know, with its paint a thick black gloss.
But when I was in the country and doing thirty-five,
All I got was horns and lights and people shouting “You can’t drive!”

So I got myself a new car.  I felt just like a king,
Even if the handling was like a prayer upon a wing.
But my Beetle days still haunt me.  In spirit anyway,
I still want love not war you know … and at any time of day.

Those days with my old Beetle made me think environment,
My mind was getting greener about the energy we spent.
So I went down to the High Street and got my fivers out,
And bought the latest fashion one couldn’t do without.

I purchased one of those things Sinclair called a C5.
I even bought the pole and flag so I’d be seen and kept alive.
I thought I was a hero and pollution was no longer,
But everyone who saw me in the street thought me a plonker.

I had to go upmarket so I became a Gent.
My Daimler was a class act, everywhere it went.
With tables in the rear and leather lined throughout.
The shiny paint was gleaming, I never had a doubt.

Until someone with a switchblade, ran it down the side.
I couldn’t keep the car no more, so sold it then I cried.
I had to get a basic car, something not so new,
An ubiquitous vehicle, an old Escort would do.

Although it was a simple thing I liked that little car,
And when the MOT ran out I didn’t look too far.
The company helped my choosing, I wasn’t at a loss,
They brought out a modern version.  I brought a new Focus.

I had the modern family car but with styling like a shark,
But I couldn’t find the damn thing when in a big car park.
So I changed it for another.  A car that looked much harder.
The Sweeney gave me the idea, I brought a black Granada.

I raced it here and raced it there all around the town,
But when the local bank was done they nearly sent me down.
I had to trade it in for something not so big and black.
So brought a Hillman next.  An Imp, with its engine at the back.

I tottered round the roads nearby but never went too mad.
The handling was, lets put it this way, pretty flipping bad.
One day I took a corner, I was only doing twenty-eight,
The skinny tyres gave me no grip, the car just went on straight.

Over pavement, through the hedge, half way up a leap.
I thought, this was fun I’ll go again but this time in a Jeep.
My off-roader was a total hoot.  I went round with muddy feet,
And everyone got out the way when I drove down the street.

But the Jeep was far too thirsty and I’m a sometimes frugal man,
I still needed all the cargo space so I brought a Kangoo van.
Economy and load lugging – they were second to none.
But nought to sixty in eighteen secs meant I didn’t pull anyone.

And a man has needs above the needs of his economy,
So I splashed my cash and traded up for a new Lamborghini.
Ray–bans specs, laying rubber lines and acting just like Rambo,
I terrorised the neighbourhood driving in my Lambo.

It had to go when I got caught going more than fifty-five.
Not much you think, but then again, it was in my front drive.
And when I tried to fit it past all the cars in my small street,
It wouldn’t fit as it was about as wide as seven feet.

I changed the car for something that I could drive most anywhere,
A shopping trip, an opera, a classless car without a care.
My little Mini would park up outside a flash boutique,
Or fit in with chavs at markets collecting their cheap meat.

So I lavished love and bits on it at every opportunity,
So much that it resembled last year’s Christmas tree.
And when the thing was laden down with all the bits from near and far,
I decided to trade it in for a proper custom car.

I looked around the free-ads and asked around the meets,
But most were overpriced and under funded junk-yard heaps.
Finding one seemed just like hunting out a four-leaf clover,
So I bought the latest ‘in-thing’ a custom Vauxhall Nova.

The bonnet bulge and paintwork made it stand out alright,
And the turbo-charged conversion set the big fat tyres alight.
Even the huge spoiler, which did nothing for my front wheel drive,
Seemed to shout I’m here – I’m now – I’m definitely alive.

But then I got my hair cut in the shape of cheddar cheese,
And wore my jeans hung down so low the crotch was near my knees.
And when I got the beanie hat, worn facing back to front,
It fell across my eyes and resulted in a shunt.

The Nova was a write off (all I salvaged was the dice),
So I had to start again from scratch and look for something nice.
The fancy car mags were the first place that I kept my eye on,
So, how is it I ended up with a mangy Ford Orion?

I guess they call it growing up and finally settling down.
The car was Mr. Sensible – for motorway or town.
I only had it two months, but it really seemed an age,
I guess that’s what happens when you drive something beige.

And in those two months living with the dreadful booted Ford,
Invisibly travelling round the place, getting me quite bored.
I had to get a car that shouted out until it’s hoarse.
Yes, you’re there before me.  A turbo-charged black Porsche.

I was the Mr. P-Man.  Seeing cars off at every light.
I’d give the single finger but I never stayed to fight.
They just couldn’t catch me when I laid my horses down.
The kids would grow up thinking I’m King without a crown.

I attained a God like status, pulling all the skirt,
I saw so much good loving that things started to hurt.
But when I faced up to a car and saluted in my way,
I didn’t realise his little Caterham could blow me away.

And when he got my number and threatened life and limb,
I chose to ditch the Porsche and get a hiding thing.
Something that had no-one thinking – he is up for S.E.X.
And Nissan came to my rescue with its big QX.

Now Q-cars look quite normal but are faster underneath,
With acceleration giving goose bumps and speed to clench your teeth.
It was big and strong and manly but this was not enough,
The stylist had a day off when this car was signed off.

And with performance comes the cost, fuel soaked up like a sponge,
But the styling didn’t get the looks despite being painted orange.
It finally put paid to all fast living and days out clubbing.
I had more luck when I changed it for a new Reliant Robin.

A new Reliant Robin buyer – I must have been a mug,
The salesman saw me coming and sold me a three-pin plug.
If you missed a hole with the front wheel the back would surely find.
Speed-humps eventually wrecked the car and rattled up my mind.

So I changed again and this time I went out all the way,
I brought a big red car with wings – a Chevrolet Stingray.
I posed about the town again driving like a lout,
But as it was American it didn’t make the roundabout.

A British car would make more sense than a big Yankee car,
And nothing seemed better than one named after a girl’s bra.
The Triumph was a perfect car made in steel for Purdy’s Steele,
But rust took away the pleasure along with the nearside cill.

I needed a rainproof vehicle ’cause I parked it near the shore,
Where savage rains and sea-salt oxidised metal to the core.
I had to get some transport built for this environment,
And invested in a U-boat from the German government.

Now, as you can imagine, this idea was not plain sailing.
At over fifty years old I spent too much time a’bailing.
And when I visited relatives or went down to the mall,
Torpedo tubes and periscopes couldn’t make up the shortfall.

I sold the boat to a contact in a complex and shady deal,
He would let me know his name, but Prince H was on the bill.
I had to get a some normal wheels and settled on a car,
You can’t get more normal than a (yawn) Vauxhall Vectra.

The lanes of Britain’s motorways opened up for me.
I say the lanes, actually it was only the one we all call three.
I finally had a way to do ninety mph city-to-city hacks,
And as a bonus somewhere to hang my coat up in the back.

But doing this for nine months solid without missing out one beat,
I put too many miles on and had a rapid over-heat.
I needed a new engine and wanted something cool.
I went for a different way of things and brought a new Wankle.

The rotary engine was a talking point in shops and at the Pub,
But when I loudly said its name I got fired from the country club.
They wouldn’t let me back in until I apologised and show,
I could get a classic British car to sit in the member’s row.

But I had followed alphabet choice, so was a good trendsetter,
And classic steeds did not start with requisite next letter,
But Jaguar they saved the day and followed up the hype,
With a brand new four-wheel drive, shiny new X-type.

With all my wheels in motion I could climb the highest peak,
But spent all day in traffic jams, cars tucked cheek to cheek.
The daily grind was wasteful as the fuel gauge dropped so far,
But that was nothing next to depreciation that fell off the radar.

I had to ditch the cruise control and my leather seats all had to go,
I swapped it at a dealers for a few grand and a nearly new Yugo.
And that is why I’m writing this to recall my memories.
I’ve been from A to Y in cars and motoring was a wheeze.

But I have yet to finish – It’s the way that I behave,
And I’ve settled on the last one that shall take me to the grave.
When I’ve saved enough to get me a fast zed for a few bob.
A classic Kawasaki or a Zonda Paganini should do the job.

Author: Vince Poynter

From the Cars section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 21 Feb 2018
First Published: Version 1.04 in Mar 2005, with photos added in 2018
Performed as part of the vinceunlimited Podcast 013 entitled Alphacar on this WordPress site dated 29 Oct 2014. Also available via Apple iTunes.
The image depicts the rear of a Ferrari 360 with a photoshopped registration number plate.  It was taken from a cherished number plate site, source now unknown, around 2002.  Please advise if you know of the source material and I will duly give credit.

Celebrity Meal Friends

Fantasy Dinner Party [In 2005]

A list of the reprobates that you would have heard of that I’d ask round for dinner, should I feel like cooking.

I should add a caveat that I am not personally familiar with these people (a shame in so many cases) so my judgement is based on their media perceptions.  Having stated that I doubt that in real life Billy would not be funny or Demi would be ugly.

Not that I have just picked the men on their humour and the women on their looks.  If you knew the type of woman I usually found attractive you may question my Optician’s qualifications.  It is just that pretty girls often seem so offish.  I’m far more likely to like a woman that doesn’t fall into the best ten looking in the world.  In some cases they wouldn’t reach the top ten in the room.  Of nine.

Incidentally all these are listed alphabetically, in case you were thinking I had a particularly soft spot for Rowan.

I have kept my list to those that are living today (as far as I know).  Departed guests may have included Oscar Wilde for his fascinating conversation or Princess Diana for her fun and beauty.

Or even King Henry VIII, as he would be able to recall detailed stories of our past and I’ve heard he was fond of a meal or two.

Not that I’d be swayed by many of the historical greats.  Drake would just bleat on about his potatoes, Ghandi wouldn’t touch the beef, Mother Theresa would nick the tea towels and most politicians would be a singular subject bore (with the exception of Boris).

Finally, those that just missed out include Rick Parfait of Status Quo fame, because he is really at his best when with his guitar playing colleague Francis Rossi and there is not room for two others.

And Francis Rossi for much the same reason.

Plus, the lads would then outnumber the ladies and at present the list is so evenly split.

Until I add myself in of course.  So I’d have to invite the misses as well.  Provided she doesn’t go on about Russell Crowe all evening.  It would spoil my conversations with the girls!

Rowan Atkinson

My first choice is rubber-faced comic Rowan Atkinson.

I admire his work greatly and would be able to find out if he was as crazy in real life as his celebrity image suggests.

Plus, the only thing I know about Rowan outside his life of humour is that he is a real petrol-head, which makes him OK in my book.

Melanie Chisholm (AKA Mel C)

It was tempting just to invite the whole cast of Girls Aloud but the original girl-band would probably be more interesting to meet and there are two in my list.

The first is the token ‘northerner’ Melanie Chisholm.

I have no idea about her likes or mannerisms but Mel C has the voice of an angel.  It’s soothing tones are enough to melt my heart.

But although her singing voice is as pure as driven snow when she speaks it is more akin to coal.

So it’s her cute figure that swings it.

Billy Connolly

Who wouldn’t want Billy Connolly as a guest at their dinner table, except perhaps a prude.

He is renowned for his method of stand-up that doesn’t include rehearsal.  If he can produce that quality on stage he’ll be a riot one-to-one.

And if things start to get awkward I’ll just ask him about his connections with upmarket leather interiors for cars.

Ben Elton

Ben Elton wouldn’t just feature on my dream celebrity dinner table as a performer but he would also feature in my top ten authors, if only I could think of another eight.

Bill Bryson, if you were wondering.

Sarah Ferguson

Fun time royal Sarah Ferguson would provide a down to earth recollection of part of our living history.

I’m a royalist but few Royals would brighten the table as much as the ever-smiling Duchess of York.

She’d be fun, I can see it in her eyes.

Stephen Fry

Quite an interesting choice is the know-it-all Stephen Fry.

I’m sure conversation with Stephen would never run dry.

He’d be the best at recounting celebrity anecdotes.  Or, as it is known to you and I, dropping names.

Geri Halliwell

My second Spice Girl is Geri Halliwell.

I think she has received unfair treatment by the press for no other reason than being the oldest in the group.

But I see Geri as a girl of wide experience and great fun.  Of which the press would interpret as having been around a bit.

Well she can come around to mine anytime.

Amanda Holden

A hometown connection would be the catalyst to invite Amanda Holden to my dinner party.

We share common acting roots within our local community so we’ll be able to share stories about the poeple we know.

And sharing stories with such a pretty woman would be hard to resist.

Boris Johnson

You need at least one token political person in such a gathering but for the reasons stated above I’d struggle to justify many.

I considered John Major as he often talks sense, Tony Blair because he is an incumbent Prime Minister or Lady Thatcher as she is a living legend but I doubt that I could share friendships with these people.

No, for coupling political nous to a sense of fun I’d pick Boris Johnson.

He’s welcome, if he can find the address.

Demi Moore

And last, but by no means least the stunning Demi Moore.  Who, lets face it, could only be bettered by being a full Moore.

With Demi I could chew the Hollywood fat and get a low down on all the top people in the dream business.

There would be the gaping mouth and dribbling chin to contend with of course.

But she will just have to put up with that.

Author: Vince Poynter

From the Top Ten section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 16 Feb 2018
First Published: Version 1.03 in Feb 2005

vQuotes [Updated]

Snappy Quips

This is a replication of the vQuote page from my vinceunlimited website, which will eventually be populated with all the original and memorable quotations that have oratoraly spewed forth from my mouth.

Our lives are dominated by the phrases and sayings dreamt up at alcohol fuelled, barnstorming sessions in trendy, high rise office spaces by people wearing brightly coloured braces with a tendency to say “think outside the box” quite a lot.  At least that’s what I presume.

 

Vince office 2002
Yellow shirt ✓ Loud tie ✓ Busy on the phone ✓ Annoying person ✓ – A copywriter at work

I once applied for a position at one of these copywriting companies but wasn’t considered.  I had figured I would be good at the job and my natural talent would shine through.  Plus the braces would have suited me.  It would be more appropriate for me than the soulless industry I had fallen into.

However, possessing my kind of staying power and determination I gave up at the first hurdle and have been a closet copywriter ever since.

But now comes my revenge.  The internet has allowed us all to fulfill our deepest wishes despite our given opportunities.  Now, luck no longer controls our destiny and it’s up to us to seize the chance and make amends for the injustices of fate.  If only we could be arsed.

I will use this part of my website to publish the quotes, quips and sayings that I use or think up.

Kind of a personal Dictionary of Quotations.

All will be, as far as I am aware, original.  Please advise me if this isn’t the case.

And, as is the nature of these things feel free to quote them mercilessly.  A certain pride will amass in my inner regions when I hear them uttered by the great and good.  But don’t forget that acknowledgement when appropriate.

The vQuote Quotations

First published in the website in version 3.0 in Mar 2010

Hairier than a bear on Regain

Driving is a bloodsport

Beholden to the beaver [A lesbian]

Fuss should be measurable, in say units of ‘Lyndaminutes’

[Toilet euphemisms]

Taking the kids to the pool

Downloading

Logging Off

Bombing China

Making a deposit in the underground vault

Striking the Thunder-box

Giving a brown lecture

Squatting on the poop deck

First published in the website in version 2.04 in Dec 2006

Hey, when I look in the mirror I’m the best looking there

How long before the Police can arrest you for having a razor sharp wit?

Would murdering a girl called Susan be classed as Suicide?

As predictable as pudding

It is every man’s fantasy to have two women sharing his bed – but they never consider all the pointing and giggling

Was it Pythagoras who first suggested it might be ‘Hyp to be square’?

I don’t mind that today’s teenagers are unfit.  At least when they try to nick my mobile phone and run away I’ll be able to catch the fat bastards

First published in the website in version 2.03 in Jun 2006

To be considered knowledgeable you only have to know slightly more

It’s not nice getting old – But the alternative is much worse

I’m a Terranoid.  It means that I’m paranoid about terrorism.  And just because I’m paranoid doesn’t mean that they won’t blow me up

Knowledge is multi-faceted.  Only when you reach each edge will you truly know the limit

[Motorway sign]  Banana Lorry Spill – Peel Off At Next Exit

[Sticker on car]  I don’t even slow down for racehorses

[Motorway sign]  W.I. Meeting Ahead – Expect Jam

First published in the website in version 2.02 in Sep 2005

Praise the Lord?  Frankly he needs a good kicking

If you believe that cleanliness is next to godliness then clearly you have a few pages missing from your dictionary

First published in the website in version 2.00 in May 2005

I’m not one to think what I’m saying – I say what I’m thinking

First published in the website in version 1.03 in Feb 2005

Green sky thinking  [Much less restrictive than the blue variety]

You know your marriage is in trouble when the fear that your partner will leave turns to hope

I read it from cover to cover.  Via the spine

Mothers ask you nice questions, like when do you want your tea?  Fathers are more taxing, they ask questions such as where have you been, or why were you in the river?  Or, what is the capital of Equatorial Guinea?

When I’m creative it’s either there or it isn’t.  If I can’t devise a method of intergalactic space propulsion during a single train journey I give up.  The scientists of the world should be assured that I did once try

If dogs have such a good sense of smell why do they need to get so close to their mates rear end?

I’m the flamboyant sort who always flicks his underpants in the air on removal, catching them with my teeth.  An action that I always regret afterwards

She is your number one fan.  Is there a number two?

[Computer sign off ] Gotta fly – Got R.S.I.

First published in the website in version 1.02 in Mar 2004

If undelivered.  Why not?  [Note at foot of registered letter]

His books are sold by weight.  Not volume

Men share 90% of their genes with a chimpanzee.  But only around 30% with women

The shortest route isn’t always the best.  On a spiral staircase for instance

This website is easily one of the best ten million in the world

First published in the website in version 1.00 in Oct 2003

Getting up at the crack of birds  [An early start]

Bugger, I’m not immortal  [Carved into a headstone]

Finally, a few put downs.  These have all been used by me.  Thankfully I’m still living to tell the tale

First published in the website in version 1.02 in Mar 2004

“Let me introduce you to Mr. Comb.”

[To my wife trying on a jacket]  “Frankly, it looked better on the hanger.”

[On wanting to find the right time to look good for a photograph]  “Well. It’s a narrow time window.”

If you like my style of sayings you may be interested to know that you can also search many of my website articles by snappy quip alone by searching the site section marked  WebQuote.

Author: Vince Poynter
From the vQuote section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 29 Jun 2018
The idea of vQuotes was originally published as ‘copywriting’ in Version 1.00 in Oct 2003

Favourite TV and Films

Celluloid Choices

Given the amount of time that I dedicate to watching TV (don’t we all) I found it very difficult to put together a list worthy of assembling into a top ten.  In fact only a few series stand out and no individual programmes.

It’s not that I’m particularly difficult to please.  Most nights there is ample entertainment or education on offer but very little remains in the mind for years afterwards.

However, this page would be pointless without making an attempt so check out my choices below.

Films are a much easier subject to schedule.  Good films do leave an impression and I’m spoilt for choice and our cupboards are full of reminders in the shape of DVDs lest we forget.

So scroll down to see what lit my rocket on the big screen.

Television

Thunderbirds

Vince playing with Thunderbird 2
My fascination with Thunderbird 2 goes back to the sixties

My first choice is from my childhood and shares nothing in common with the big screen version.  At least that’s my opinion judging by the shape of Thunderbird 2 on the movie posters.  Although I must admit that, as at the time of writing I haven’t seen the film version.  My memories go back to the puppetry of Gerry Andersson.

I suppose Mr. Andersson only got away with it because it was the sixties and we all thought we’d be in rockets by 2004.  The rockets were fantastic and Thunderbird 2 (the real original version) is still my aeroplane of choice but the characters were abysmal.

Even at five years old I saw that.  Those lips.  Still, it’s nice that Alan Hanson got another job afterward leaving the show.

Of all the heroic characters I most associated with Brains, not because he was clever but because he looked like a dork.

And I’d still love to drive FAB 1.  Yes, the Rolls not the 2004 pink Ford (groan) Thunderbird.

Just one criticism of the programme.  Why does everyone say FAB?  I never recalled this as a catchphrase, and still do not know what it means.

Blue Peter

My second choice is also from my childhood, it just isn’t the same now.

My era was the John Noakes, Valerie Singleton and Peter Purves years.  I recall Blue Peter being the first programme for me to call my own.  I knew what time it was on and always made an effort to watch it.  Other members of my family used to have their programmes and I had mine.  It seemed a lot more interesting than my Dad’s stuffy Panorama.

I particularly recall an episode in which John Noakes went deep into the Amazon forest and met the locals who got him razzled on their local version of snake-bite and coke and tried to persuade him to jump from a tree attached to a fixed twine.  This was their idea of a manly initiation and in the spirit of these sort of things the bravest were commended by the tribe, although the best appreciation was saved for those that actually broke their neck.  I can’t recall if John Noakes did the jump, or if Shep did it tied to his lead, but this stuck in my mind as it pre-dated bungee jumping by years.

The decline of Blue Peter started when Valerie Singleton was replaced, sorry Leslie Judd but you just weren’t Valerie.  A big disappointment for a growing lad.

Of course, all of my favourite presenters have now moved on.  Valerie announced that she was a lesbian and started making serious programmes about money (presumably for my Dad, lucky man), Peter Purves got a part time job as a dog show presenter, which presumably kept the wolves from the door once his starring roles in Wacky Races had dried up and John Noakes, as far as I can tell sailed up the Orinoco in a coracle never to be seen again.

However, I may be a bit out on these facts.

24

Quite a leap from the heady days of 1960’s British TV to this modern all action American series.  Just goes to show what a load of crumbs that I’ve watched over the years.  But when I tried to think of any influential programmes in the past this frenetic thriller leapt out.

I’m talking about the first series mainly, although the second kept up the quality, it just wasn’t so fresh and new.

As for the third series it got swallowed up by (spit) Sky TV so I haven’t yet had the pleasure.

For those who are not familiar with this adrenalin rush of a programme imaging watching three TV’s at once whilst reading a book and setting your hair on fire and you’ll be somewhere there.

Keifer Sutherland was always an also-ran jobbing actor until this series and I now look upon him as my first choice in a crisis.

The supporting cast was equally excellent, even, and I’m going to be slated by the fans for this, Jack’s daughter.

Particularly outstanding was the presidential portrayal of the President (how else would he be portrayed?) by Dennis Haysbert although his whining wife was a pain.

The West Wing

Vince by The White House
Not sure which way was west

I love words.  You may have gathered this from this page alone.  And The West Wing is full of them delivered at such a cracking pace.

There have been other intellectual dramas but this one, more than any I can recall, does not wait for the audience to keep up.  If you miss a bit, tough, you just ain’t got what it takes to be in the White House with the team.

My favourite character is C.J. played sexily and intelligently by Allison Janney.  And she should be proud to take such an accolade from this fine group.  Clearly a demonstration of how quality is contagious.

However the true star of the show must be the creator and main writer, Aaron Sorkin.  Aaron, you are a writing genius.

So, am I West Wing White House material?  No way – I have a life.

The Green Wing

When looking for a comedy to include in my list I initially thought I was spoilt for choice.

Classics such as Some Mothers Do ‘ave Em, Fawlty Towers and the Blackadder series were strong contenders and programmes I’ll watch time and again but true timeless classics – I don’t think so.  They do not rise significantly above others such as Red Dwarf, The Young Ones or even The Good Life (mainly watched time and again for Felicity Kendal).  An excess of choice perhaps, or just that the standard is so high.

So I have chosen, somewhat illogically, my latest favourite instead.  After all, new comedy is really the best flavour.

The Green Wing shares little in common with the West variety above but does break genuine new ground.  Although set in a hospital, a venue that is hardly in short supply on British TV, and without much of a narrative the programme still seems fresh and exciting, as well as hilariously funny at times.

The edited pace changes suit the format of a comedy where some things need relishing in detail and others can be sped up to get to the next comedy moment.

It helps that most of the actors are relative unknowns so you don’t get the tedious David Jason’s in it factor, each actor can be seen as the character rather than the personality.

If you haven’t seen it catch it soon.  It will be repeated several times I’m sure and like Fawlty Towers that is a good thing.

Favourite TV Programme

So what is my favourite of all time?  My vote goes to The West Wing.

Nothing on TV comes close.  Nor anything in real life by the look of it.

Gutter TV

And finally, the worst TV programme I can think of.

My first thoughts are the modern ‘gentle’ comedies.  By gentle read not funny.  These are the modern day Sunday night lightweight dramas, usually starring Alan Davies, a quite funny man when he does stand-up.

Or if they are even more ‘gentle’ then starring Sarah Lancashire.

But none of this vacuous TV wallpaper can top the condescending John Craven’s Newsround.  I’m starting to yawn now.

Films

The mark of a great film is the enjoyment when watching it over and over again.  Repeated showings engrain the movie into the psyche and thus it becomes a classic.

This is a difficult task for the films that are story driven as familiarity destroys any surprise that had such an impact when the film was first shown.  That is why there are so many action films in my list.

And so few comedies.

Airplane

It is a true credit to the makers of Airplane that it features at all in this list.  But the litmus test of a film being accepted on repeat performances stacks up as there always seems to be something else to note when this film is played.

Quite possibly the funniest of all films.

Bridget Jones’ Diary

On pure comedy this film would not have featured.  The laughs are not clever enough to sustain repeated performances so the credit for this film’s inclusion is in the performances of the characters, both central and supporting.

It is a feel good movie and I can’t fault something that makes me feel good time and time again.

Con Air

Some critics have argued that this movie is nothing more than an adrenaline rush with no depth and poorly constructed two-dimensional characters.  Even if it is – so what.  I’ve never regretted watching it.

I’m quite happy to leave my brain switched off if the rest of my aural and visual senses are so well rewarded.

James Bond

Vince stood in Tuxedo 1
The name’s Blond.  James Blond

I thought carefully about including one of the Bond action films in my list and realised that individually some are very good, if not great but as a series it is up there with the best.

My favourite is usually the latest and unlike most commentators my favourite Bond is Timothy Dalton.  Sean and Roger are just so yesterday and Pierce’s version has no edge.

However, one nagging doubt remains.  Arnold Schwartzeneggar’s True Lies ‘Bond’ film is more watchable.

Jurassic Park

Jurassic Park, for me, was the beginning of modern epic cinema.

As a child I loved the rubber dinosaurs of Ray Harryhausen but it took a theatre’s leap of faith to really believe in the effects.

Even modern efforts such as the re-make of King Kong left me wondering at the animatronics rather than the gorilla.

Jurassic Park was one of the first films I could really immerse myself into and believe that the monsters were real.  And I do like to feel that sense of fantasy.

A first in effects, lifetime memorable scenes all coupled to a fascinating subject just about makes up for the ‘oh, look the cute kids are in danger’ slushiness of the script.

Life of Brian

Another amusing film worth repeated viewings, this time set against the biggest myth of modern times.

I don’t take religion seriously at all so a parody should fall flat on its face.  The fact that it doesn’t is testament to the inspired writings of the Monty Python team.

I was just too young to appreciate their TV shows (I had to go to bed at nine, or I’d be a very, very naughty boy!) so there wasn’t even a comfort and familiarity to ease me into the film but I got it all the same.

Now, if only they could do the same for the writings of the Koran.

Midnight Express

For a long time I used to class this film as my favourite of all time.  I loved the realism and haunting Ennio Morriconi score.  Now there have been so many better movies that I don’t make this claim but its previous position should earn it a place in this list.

Midnight Express is probably the least know film in this list and if you haven’t seen it yet get hold of a copy, you will not be disappointed.

Mind you, it was on the TV recently and I watched Big Brother instead.  Oops.

Reservoir Dogs

The only thing that could improve Quentin Tarantino’s blood fest Reservoir Dogs would be a menu option on the DVD to allow the viewer to see the film time-sequenced.

I am not a fan of flashback concepts and the Dog’s is riddled with time discontinuity.

I would just like to know if it would still have as much impact as the director’s cut.

Or even Michael Madsen’s cut.

Ronin

Ronin has the best car chase scene ever.  Better than The Driver, or Bullit.  Do I need to state another reason to keep it in this list?

The Usual Suspects

The Usual Suspects is one of those rare films that having seen it you would like to watch it through again immediately. the clever script is wonderfully played out by a talented team of actors, engaging the viewer’s attention.

The only downside being Benicio del Toro’s unintelligible accent.  Method acting too far I feel.

Top Gun

Tomcat
Tom’s cat?

Possibly the best film ever and I include ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ in that assumption.

Wonderful Life had no aerial jet dogfights for one thing.

One of the most quotable movies, filled with the phrases that became the cliches.

Tight story-line plotting, economy of language, foot tapping music and stunning visuals.

Top Gun is so good I still look out for films by the same producers.  And that is rare, usually I judge a film by itself not it’s actor, director or key-grip.

Favourite Film

So what is my favourite of all time?  My vote goes to Top Gun.

Cheesy perhaps, but I like the taste of cheese.

Author: Vince Poynter

From the about section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 11 Feb 2018
First Published: Version 1.03 in Feb 2005, with photos added in 2018
The first photo shows the author in 1966 playing with his new 5th birthday present, a plastic model of Thunderbird 2
The second photo shows the author stood outside the barriers fencing off The White House, in Washington, North America in May 2015
The third photo shows the author dressed in a Tuxedo whilst stood in a cabin on board the QE2 in October 2005
The final photo show an US Navy Grumman F-14A Tomcat, designation AE 212 in flight and was taken around 1975

vinceunlimited Jokes [Updated]

Hello.  You are looking at a selection of vinceunlimited Jokes.

This place is destined to house all my jokes.  The trouble is that someone left the door open and most have escaped.  As soon as they are rounded up I’ll put them back here, where they belong.

Meanwhile, here are those that I managed to capture in my giggle trap.  And as is the case with all randomly collected jokes they are in no particular order.

All jokes in this section are original and devised by the website author, me.  Or taken direct from their source as discovered in conversation.  Unless otherwise acknowledged.

For a more comprehensive collection buy some Christmas crackers, or go down the pub and listen.

As this is a source of originality you may feel confident in trying to pass these off as your own. I would be powerless to stop this and wouldn’t if I could. They are here as free shareware.  However, if you have difficulty in releasing them to an appreciative audience I suggest that you use the time honoured method of joke distribution.  Tell a kid in a school playground.  There, and you thought you would never come across a website advocating soliciting a child’s attention in public!

Jokes and One liners

Added in Version 3.0 in Mar 2010

I brought a pair of high tech glasses made from memory metal.  The trouble was that they remembered they used to be a Volkswagen Beetle

The legal system is definitely favoured towards the criminal.  I committed a crime and was amazed I could get ID protection.  Admittedly as it was only a low level crime all I got was a badge saying my name is not Bill

I asked the store assistant where she kept the laxatives.  She pointed to the bottom shelf

You know when you are getting old. You start to recite vowels whilst walking down stairs…Aay…Eee…Aye…Ohh…Eughh

It is unfair to mock those with OCD, unless it is done neatly

What is it about IT people that just makes you want to poke your digit in their iSocket?

Don’t you find it annoying when foreigners insist on naming places in their own language.  It causes confusion.  For instance, when they constructed the new airport at Hong Kong and named it Chek Lap Kok I thought they called it Jet Black Cock and for weeks afterwards was musing whether pilots had trouble locating that in the Far East

I hate those TV documentaries late at night where they censor female nudity with a fuzzy camera shot.  For years I thought all women were like that.  I recall the first time seeing a naked girl and thinking “Wow! It’s in focus”

I met a girl on the train the other day.  It was a short romance.  We met at Waterloo, slept together.  Well she slept, I read the paper.  It was all over by Basingstoke.  She never writes, never calls.  I didn’t send flowers.  Then a bloke got on and sat next to me.  When he fell asleep I punched him.  Well. I’m not gay

Thin people are always hungry.  There’s a reason for the expression Fat and Content.  The trouble is I’m two stone over-content

The instructions read ‘Store in a cool place’.  Which explains why I was in Samuel Jackson’s movie trailer

Imagine a Margaret Thatcher voiced Sat-Nav.  “Make a u-turn if it’s possible” “You turn if you want to. This Lady’s not for turning”

My mate had one of those genetic tests to determine how he was going to die.  It wasn’t very accurate.  He got run over by a bus

The Volkswagen Beetle was built by Ferdinand Porsche as directed by Adolf Hitler.   However there is no truth in the rumour that the first models had three gears marked low, medium and Sieg High

Brought one of those Pringle jumpers.  A bit crunchy to wear

I did a consumer comparison test between an Apple iPhone and an actual apple.  The apple won out in the drop and submerging tests.  Next time I’ll be comparing a Palm Pre with a palm tree

I don’t mind that today’s teenagers are unfit.  At least I’ll be able to catch the chubby bastards when they nick my mobile phone

Added in Version 2.04 in Dec 2006

I dated a girl with a hatchback. Still, she’s had traction now

Added in Version 2.01 in Jul 2005

There was mass confusion everywhere and all the city rail stations were closed – In fact the only station open was Panic Station

Added in Version 1.03 in Feb 2005

How did medieval knights ever get on?  They could only move two places forward and one to the right

A conservationist was having trouble recording the number of elephants in his wildlife park so asked his friend if he had any ideas.  He explained that the elephants were difficult to count from his helicopter because their grey skin was camouflaged against the terrain.  His friend was a geneticist so suggested that the elephants could be bred orange by mixing their genes with those of a carrot.  An experiment was tried and was successful so from then on all the new elephants were born orange and could be seen from the air.  To celebrate the success the two friends met up for a meal at the geneticist’s favourite restaurant.  They ordered the roast and were served the meat, potatoes and two veg.  On delivery of the meal all the carrots leapt up off the geneticist’s plate.  “There,” he explained to his friend “I don’t like carrots and carrots never forget”

I used to lay back in my car and scrawl the name of my favourite rock groups on the roof.  They are all headline bands now

First published in Version 1.02 in Mar 2004

Did you hear about the soldier who was drafted into service without his consent?  He was waiting in his school careers office.  Someone called out “Next”.  He replied “Ah. Me”

“My name’s Bond.  James Bond.  The first James Bond.  They call me Premium Bond.  00-7 is my code.  00-6 was my predecessor.  00-gauge is my railway collection.  My archenemy is Scaramango.  He has a habit of wanting to take over the world.  Not his worst habit, that’s his chain-smoking.  I call him the man with the golden lung.  My first boss was known as M.  I can now reveal that his name was Mick.  My second boss was known as N.  I can now reveal that his name was Nick.  My current boss is known as P.  But, as you can imagine, I cannot reveal his name”

“My name is Bond. That’s James Bond.  I’ve been played by Connery and Moore.  I live and let live all ’round the world.  Best of all I’ve seen Pussy Galore”

I used to be a psychiatric case but I’ve recovered now.  I’m a suitcase

My wife is so obsessed with cleanliness.  When we go to a party she takes a bottle of mouthwash

How do blind dates find where they are meant to meet?

If you made a fortune drilling for milk in the Middle East, would you be a milk Sheikh?

After driving across Europe, I knew I was back in Britain.  The washer bottle froze

I’m not saying that the flat we bought was small.  It’s just that in the bedroom we had a wall-to-wall carpet tile fitted

My Favourite Joke

First published in Version 1.02 in Mar 2004

And now, my favourite joke of all time.  Not, original by me, I wouldn’t be so presumptive.  It’s better than mine, so if you are the rightful owner of this joke please advise me and I’ll give acknowledgement.

A customer enters a pet shop and asks for a wasp.  The confused shop owner advises that he doesn’t sell them.  Unrepentant the customer pleads, “But, I saw one in your window yesterday”

[Not So] Famous Quotations

Finally, a selection of not so famous quotes.

First published in Version 1.02 in Mar 2004

Tutankhamen: “Do you normally build the roof first?”

Moses (before speaking to God): “Fire! Fire!”

Joseph: “Don’t look at me, Mary”

The Ancient Mariner: “Anyone for Albatross?”

The Wizard of Oz (to his builder): “I don’t care what you think.  I want it yellow”

Further Chortling

So, that’s the start. With the jokes from my website Versions 1.02 dated Mar 2004 to 3.0 dated Mar 2010.  More will inevitably follow as sure as night follows Thursday morning.  In time this website section will be chock-a-block with all the amusing, fun and clever jokes from the mind and keyboard of vinceunlimited.

If you want more vinceunlimited humour there is loads of it smattered around my Twitter feed.

For more snappy quips, check out my vQuotes page on my website.

Or look at your own knees.  Obviously not as funny as mine.  But that’s all there is for now.

If you can’t wait for more mirth then put finger to keyboard and email me a request.

Author: Vince Poynter
From the Jokes section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 2 Aug 2018
First Published: Version 1.02 in Mar 2004 with updates as indicated above

Gilera 50 Moped

Freedom at forty-five

My double denim clad brother Mark sat astride his red Gilera 50 moped wearing a white open faced helmet and with a white sports bag over his shoulder
Mark on his shiny new Gilera 50 moped

The transformation of becoming a teenager is very traumatic.  Your mental state changes as dramatically as your physical appearance.  And your needs change too.

Transport suddenly becomes essential as the world doesn’t just revolve around the bit of grass, bushes and a muddy stream just outside the front door.  It is then that the explorer within starts to make a few tentative steps into the unknown.

I realise that in most cases this is only as far as the next group of shops but nevertheless the urge to get out of sight of the parents becomes paramount.

This is why, as a teenager I was gutted to not have a bike.  I lived far enough from my school to miss out on activities that involved pointlessly hanging around on bicycles and although I was pretty fit (like all kids were in the seventies) I couldn’t keep up on foot when they all peddled off to the next crucial hanging about point.

The fact that I was not allowed a bicycle as a child, due to some old nonsense about not keeping up with traffic, meant that when I was sixteen and legally allowed to ride a powered vehicle I was transformed.

The day I first rode a moped was as important to me as the time when a caterpillar first emerges as a butterfly.  Although anyone witnessing those first tentative miles would probably liken it to an hour old fawn riding a wasp.

I was given a choice.

My elder brother of two years (hello Mark) was provided with a gleaming moped on his sixteenth birthday.  He chose a Gilera 50.  A sturdy moped based on an accommodating 125cc motorcycle frame.

When I reached the magic age myself I was also offered a new ‘ped or I could opt for a ‘second-hand’ motorcycle at seventeen.  As I was generously allowed to use Mark’s Gilera I decided to defer the gift for a year and use the Gilera, as and when I could.  Mark rarely saw it again.

The sturdy design meant that it was a comfortable bike, which was just as well as I spent many a full day buzzing along for hours on end.  The near 80 to the gallon meant that my wages could easily keep the tank full and my new found wanderlust was well accommodated.  There was barely a road on the south coast that I hadn’t been down.  Some started to show signs of wear from overuse!

Being Italian it was red and handled well.  In those days only Italian metal could properly get round a bend.

The proper motorcycle design ensured that the only restriction was the stupidly positioned pedals.  These were a moped requirement and although they both locked in a parallel forward position (not all did) they grounded far too easily.

Tyre technology was dire compared to today’s wide sticky compounds but this little solid bike could be predictably pushed to the limits of ground clearance and frequently was.

The Gilera 50 moped parked on a hill view next to a yellow Yamaha FS1E with it's owner Jeff
They can do 95mph. Added together

The downside was the top speed.

At forty-five miles per hour most sixteen year olds today would be over the moon.  But this was 1975 and Yamaha had just released the FS1E, its new 50cc sports moped.  And my mate Jeff had one.

The Fizzy was a strange slight thing, much like Jeff, but it had an enviable top end nearing fifty.  It was probably only 48 but the 65 that showed on the Speedo meant that all spotty teens wanted one.  And when they got it its little heart was pushed to the limit whenever ridden.

And then there was the Honda.  Not the ubiquitous Cub step-through but their CB50 version of a mini-racer.  This would speed at a shown 48, nearly as quick as the Yam, and my friend Dave had had one of these.

My Gilera, or should I say Mark’s Gilera, was beaten hands down.  And as teenager’s brains do not allow them to temper the throttle all our ride outs together usually meant me following in a slipstream of blue haze and Castrol GTX.

Until I got to a bend, as the Jap bikes couldn’t handle anything other than a straight.  Or when we had to ride up a hill as the screaming Japanese machines were so power stressed that they had no torque.  Plus, when we started using the mopeds for their true use, picking up girls, the Gilera still went 45 with a passenger while the others wheezed along at 40.  Ha!

So other than top speed and limited cornering angles there was nothing to beat the Gilera.

I acknowledge that the electrics, as a six-volt system, were inadequate, barely powering the headlight which used to beam only as bright as it was revved but they were all like that in those days.

However the fit and finish was good, reliability was excellent, it was as strong as an ox and the accommodation and comfort were first class.

So would I choose it if I had my time again?  Definitely no.  Haven’t you been listening?   It only did 45 and that was all that mattered.

But in hindsight my memories are not of the seats, the colour, the handling or even the speed.

I was sixteen, confident, daring.  Couple that with inexperience and the net result, as many found out, was falling off.

The halcyon days of the moped were marred by crashes.  Copious amounts of them.  And when you live through them they make great pub stories.

The first was typical.

After visiting my friend across town I decided on a detour on the return trip.  On unfamiliar roads I would now be wary.  At sixteen I was just plain carefree.

It wasn’t high speed, or even the appearance of a roundabout beyond the blind bend that caught me out.  It was the panic braking that caused the spill.

Even today the road is so quiet I could have sailed straight on, but at the time, not knowing the terrain I grabbed loads of brake and locked the wheels.  The inevitable occurred and I was sent sprawling on the tarmac watching the Gilera spin away onto the roundabout in a shower of sparks.

This itself, whilst dramatic, hardly warrants pub-story status.  What added to this was a bus load of pensioners parked on the far side of the roundabout.  Every one of these grey-coated souls turned to look at the fool lying in the road with his sideways bike still purring away.

No-one came to the rescue, presumably assuming I was OK or dead, with neither option needing their involvement.  I just lay there.  I wasn’t hurt.  A bit shocked perhaps but mainly because this was my first off and I hadn’t yet worked out what to do.

Later experience of these things taught me that you are allowed to get up if you want to but I didn’t know that.  In fact later on getting up too early was the problem but you’ll have to read about that in my CX500 page.

On this day I lay there wondering whether an ambulance should come, or a policeman or my mother.

I must have been there for some time before I realised my mistake and rose, dusted myself off, picked up the bike and rode away.

I remember waving to the crowd on the bus, trying to promote an image that it was all planned and I’d be back around again for a repeat performance should they cheer loud enough.  One or two waved back but I wasn’t about to do it all again.  I rode off in to the distance, a bit more carefully from then on.

Vince on his knees fixing a removed exhaust pipe from the Gilera moped
Now, where did this bit fall off from?

It was the first of too many spills which punctuated my early riding days.

I recall another moment in those early days during a ride out to Bournemouth with Dave.  It was a fine summers day and we fancied an ice-cream and a gawp at some girls in bikinis so we set out on the forty mile journey, an epic at moped speeds.

I hadn’t had the bike long, it must have just had the new handlebars fitted after the bus-stop episode, as the bike still wore its L-plates.  Unusually, and the only one amongst my friends, I later took the test to be able to ride L-plate free.  This got me stopped by men in white cars with orange stripes quite a lot (you do remember the days when plod drove marked cars don’t you?) but it did allow me to take all my girlfriends on the back (not all at once though).

The L-plate was significant.  In fact crucial to the event.  The rear one was mounted attached to the Gilera’s number-plate by a Meccano strip and during that tortuous journey had loosed itself and started rattling.  Most would have ignored it, hoping that it would detach but the rattling irritated me.

At this point I should have pulled over and attended it in safety at the side of the road, but as we were riding solo I was struggling to keep up with the Honda ahead.  Stopping was out of the question.  So I inspected the problem on the move.

Imaging the scenario, a real don’t try this at home moment.  I’m doing forty-five, yes that speed again, leaning back to fiddle with an L-plate that is mounted low and behind the rear wheel.  If Gerry Cottle had seen me I would have been signed up there and then.

But I didn’t fall off.  Not whilst checking the plate.  The trouble started when I settled back to look forward.  I was still doing forty-five but now there was a pavement directly ahead.  Not that the road had changed, just my course.

I did what anyone would do at that time, I hit it fair and square!  The front went airborne and came down on its side, with me half underneath.  Luckily the tree-lined avenue was more gap than tree so I came to a slow but mercifully recoverable stop.

I was a bit sore and felt stupid but got back up to ride again.  After all, Dave hadn’t noticed and was ploughing on regardless.  I had to make up time.

I lifted the bike back onto the road, re-selected neutral and re-started the stalled engine.  It started, as usual, first time so I pulled in the clutch to select first gear – and the cable broke.

The impact onto the softened tarmac pavement was taken by the clutch lever which had filled with a tarmac blob that severed the cable when operated.  I had no clutch.

No problem, clutches are for pussies anyway.  I snicked it into gear and shot off after Dave.

Dave was devastated.  He had missed the spectacle and more importantly our chances of pulling were blown.  I wanted to go straight home to miss the weekend crowds but Dave wanted his ice-cream.  So we went to the beach side and had ice-cream, his topped with crushed nuts, mine with strawberry sauce and gravel rash.

This was eventually followed by a mad dash back home along a crowded bank holiday route with no clutch.  I figured that all I had to do was keep going, so that’s what I did.  I never dropped below thirty, timed all the traffic lights perfectly, went straight through the roundabouts whether the nearby cars were stopped or not and got all the way to a set of lights in Southampton before a stop caused me to stall.  Some forty miles later.  It is amazing what feats are achievable in the face of adversity.

I suppose, in hindsight, I’m rather fond of the Gilera.  It took me on adventures I had never had before and accompanied me through a harrowing time of growing up.  I learnt to ride solo, corner, take passengers and crash.  It was an important time and the moped played its part without complaint.

I handed it back to Mark when I got my Yamaha trial bike at seventeen and started all the adventures again but it was the Gilera that kicked it all off.  And in quite a dramatic manner.

I suppose it was a bit like a teenager itself in a way.

Author: Vince Poynter
From the bikes section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 6 Feb 2018
First Published: Version 1.03 in Feb 2005, with photos added in 2018
The first image shows my double denim clad brother Mark sat astride his new Gilera moped in 1977
The second image show the moped under my posession in 1978 during a trip with my friend Jeff on his yellow Yamaha FS1E.  Italian style meets Japanese power.
The third image shows me fiddling with the exhaust pipe of the Gilera, obviously demonstrating admirably that I am a fully qualified trained mechanic, able at least to hold a motorcycle part with just one hand.

Escalator Etiquette

Mounting Excitement

It’s a nice idea to be able to set a trend but I’m having a little difficulty getting this one going all on my own.  After all my influence on thousands is fairly limited so maybe all readers could help here.

I say all readers but in truth this only really applies to those in busy metropolii[*].  My personal experience is of the metropolis called London but I guess that this could be a worldwide idea.  Though not so much use in the Outer Hebrides.

On escalators it is now normal for those that are too fat, unfit or even have too much time on their hands to stand still and let the moving stairs do the work.

This is appallingly lazy and frankly a hindrance to all those who are too stressed to stand still for thirty seconds.

This lacklustre attitude causes mayhem in many places and as such it has become commonplace in big cities for those that stand to occupy just one side of the travellator allowing others to rush up the other side.  This system works quite well so I can’t express improvement here.

However, what I do find though is that the escalators are just not quite wide enough for this difference in speed.

Maybe we have all become wider?  I know quite a few that would fit that category and some so wide they would have to fit in the next category up.

And the problem is exasperated in winter when everyone dresses like they are in Siberia.  Big people in big coats mean a big problem.

But I have a little solution.

I thought of the idea whilst trying to hare up one of the escalators in London.  I had travelled halfway up and realised I was adopting a contorted angular shape with my torso.  Not easy in public, I assure you.  I had this strange forty-five degree gait to avoid crashing into every stationary pedestrian.  After all, crashing past with impunity is not only sometimes painful but so terribly rude.

And there is a simple solution that doesn’t involve shutting down the underground systems for years on end – sorry Unison.

Why don’t the stationary people stand at a jaunty angle?

Simple eh?

This would aide all parties with very little effort.  The hares could charge up and get to their heart attack with ease and the tortoises would not have their left shoulders dislocated.

This could be reinforced with signs such as ‘Stand on the left, at an angle’.

As an inventor of ideas I am of course duty bound to look at the pitfalls as well as the benefits but I am at a loss as to think of them.

There are even added benefits for the businesses that provide these escalators.  All those stood at an angle will be turned toward all the revenue giving advertising.  And those that stand still on rising escalators will not have to have their face buried in the bottom of the person in front.

I’m sold, I’ll be doing it from now, will you?

After all, as I said at the beginning – I can’t do this all by myself.

Author: Vince Poynter
From the ideas section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 2 Feb 2018
First Published: Version 1.03 in Feb 2005
* Question: What is the plural of Metropolis? It is a Greek word so it should be metropoleis. However the word comes to English via the Latin so perhaps should be metropoles. Google cites a common spelling as metropolises. This is why I am not correcting my own spelling as Metropolii. Let’s see who wins here