Excel Battleships

Click, click, BOOM!

Let’s face it, working with computers all day long is really stressful.

Despite their promises of releasing us from the tyranny of work they have created an environment where the best companies use their PC’s speed to trounce the opposition so creating a world that moves more efficiently using speed rather than smartness.

All at the cost of the PC operator, you and I.

To combat this relentless drive for efficiency we have devised cunning ways to relieve the boredom of computation such as surfing the net and playing the odd game of Solitaire.

The only trouble is that employers, under the guise of flattening work-structures and technospeak like flat-management and empowering, have increasingly opted for open-planned offices.

This means that the Pac-Man game on our screen can be seen by Sally from accounts across the room and she is one hell of a bitch when it comes to snitching, mainly because her own screen is facing her boss in that glass fronted office.

So what we need is a release from work without it being apparent and I think I have the idea – Excel Battleships.

Microsoft Excel is such an ubiquitous programme that we all have a copy, so if Sally spots a spreadsheet she doesn’t have to get apoplectic.

And Excel can be worked on by multiple users simultaneously so dual gaming will be easy to set up.

Plus using tabbed sheets you could develop a real sense of depth.

Are you starting to see the attraction?

So if you want to distribute this concept send me a mail and I’ll outline the details.

Obviously this idea may already be out there, that being the beauty of it we would never know.

But if it isn’t I’ll start – Try level 6/G54.

Did I hit your submarine?

Author: Vince Poynter
From the Ideas section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 30 Apr 2018
First Published: Version 2.02 in Sep 2005
The image is of the United States aircraft carrier USS George W Bush [CVN-77] anchored off Alverstoke Bay, Gosport in the English Channel taken by the author on 30 Jul 2017 and was added on 30 Apr 2018

Water Skiing

Water Skiing One

My first experience with water-skiing was at Thorpe Park.

Here, the skiing is done from a moving line rather than from behind a boat so for a first timer the challenge is intense.  A line circulates at about 15mph with trailing wires that snatch onto the loop and ferry the skier around the lake.

The problem is that as the line is revolving continuously the take off speed is zero to 15mph in a blink of the eye.  And blinking is advised because as soon as you launch off you are dragged through a wall of water which, providing you don’t let go, clears to reveal a sedentary tour of the lake.

This is providing the skier has kept upright and many find the first twenty yards taken horizontally.

These souls eventually let go and bob away until the rescue boat gets to them.

I mastered the start after the second pull.

A combination of good upper body strength and ability to do 15mph under water whilst involuntarily drinking five litres of lake for thirty feet helped.

Of course this is fine until the first corner.  The course designer considered anything such as a curve to be too easy so each of the four sides had a sharp 90-degree angle as a second challenge.

Just when you thought that 15mph eastwards was comfortable the line drops away loosely then flies over your left shoulder at 15mph in another direction.

The experienced skier ensures a curvaceous trajectory is followed keeping the line taught.  The inexperienced gets another ducking and ride in the rescue boat.

I eventually got the idea of the corner but Lynda, my wife, never did.

In fact, after a while the rescue boat actually set off after each of her runs, knowing that he had business to conduct.

Being a clever-clogs at this game he never watched me so when I did fall off at the furthest point no one came to my rescue for 30 minutes.

Because of this it started to get late in the afternoon and amateur hour was soon ending.

We each had five runs, no matter how far one got and on run four I got round completely.  At the end I dropped the line and majestically skied back to the starting pontoon.

When emerging the instructor said I could have stayed on for my next run so when I got round on lap five I did just that – trying to get an extra circuit for free.

All would have been O.K. were it not for the fact that the beginners session had ended and the organisers wanted to move on to the professionals.

I had not dropped the line and was stealing a free lap.  They initiated plan A.

Plan B was not needed as plan A was simple.  They sped the circuit up to an experienced level and watched me fly.

I made the first bend but the speed had reached 250mph [actually 25mph] by the time I got to bend two.

Despite my best efforts and leaning at about 5% I couldn’t make it and ended up back in the drink.

This time I had to wait over 45 minutes for the rescue boat.

Water Skiing Two

My second experience water-skiing was less successful than the first.

This time I had had enough of wire pulls and persuaded my new friend Richard to take me out in his speedboat.

Because of his father’s successful business Richard was a wealthy young man whom I met through his girlfriend Rachel.  She in turn was a friend of Lynda through the mutual act of working together.

I had already earned my place in Richard’s boat by videoing their wedding and we all chose a lovely summer’s day to take to the Solent.

Our entourage caused a stir at the launch site as Richard’s twin in-board motored speedboat and trailer linked onto his 4×4 was about twice the size of other craft, a veritable ego boost for us all, which explains the posing when we climbed in the back.

The motor burbled away and we set off slowly out of the harbour area to maximise the envy.

Having cleared the small boats and with open sea ahead Richard swung open the throttle to speed into the distance.  Here’s where the real story starts.

Richard was a young man who shared his boat with his friend.  His friend was the experienced speedboat owner and Richard the cash cow.

The boat had lain idle for a while and Richard did not realise the inboard motor compartment had to be manually vented.  If this is not carried out it leaves petrol fumes effectively trapped in a closed box, which do very loud and sudden things when heated.

When the throttle was wound open the fumes ignited and exploded.  The boat leapt ten feet in the air and we were swamped with a bright orange flame.  It engulfed us completely singeing my eyebrows and melting my cheap tracksuit [naff nylon thing].

Lynda bore the brunt of the damage as she had her arm lain over the back engine cover.  She received second degree burns on her arm, which are the most painful due to the fact that the nerve ends remain exposed.

Lynda, sttod in shorts and tee-shirt in bright sunshine on a beach, with her left arm outstretched showing the red raw burn marks on her arm
Lynda proudly showing off her second-degree burn marks

However, at the time our priority was making it back to dry land and a Hospital.

The boat was marooned and we had to paddle back half a mile using the never-seen-action-that-day water skis.  The onlooking crowd enjoyed this part almost as much as the explosion.

I have to conclude that I have yet to ski behind a speed boat but will one day.

So will Lynda, who has made a full recovery.

Unlike Richard’s speedboat.  It was never replaced to my knowledge.

Author: Vince Poynter
From the Action section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 27 Apr 2018
First Published: Version 2.02 in Sep 2005
The photograph shows Lynda displaying her arm burn marks a few weeks later whilst in Mallorca, taken in summer 1990 by the author.  The burns were not healing well until she decided to immerse them in the salty seawater on holiday.  The photograph was added on 27 Apr 2018

Food For Thought

Continuation of the posting of early ‘blogs’ from the vinceunlimited website

I purchased a Pot Noodle from Tesco today.

This is not a regular thing now but I used to have one or two when they were first introduced.

This quite unremarkable fact would have gone unreported, even in my detailed blog, other than the fact behind me in the queue was a chef.  I knew this fact from his dirty, white, wrap-around top and silly check trousers.

He saw my Pot Noodle and I could see his mind visibly sighing.

He was buying a pile of fresh ingredients and I’m sure was about to produce a masterclass in scrumptious eating.

My sad fast food option was clearly letting the side down.

However, I did think that if this chef was clever enough to have thought up the concept of my humble snack he wouldn’t be in Tesco now looking down his nose.

It tasted delicious.

Author: Vince Poynter
From the Blog section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 26 Apr 2018
First Published: Version 2.02 on 21 Sep 2005
The photograph shows the author tucking into a Pot Noodle and was taken around 1985.  It was added to the website on 26 Apr 2018

Remaining Unlimited

Continuation of the posting of early ‘blogs’ from the vinceunlimited website

Following a close friend’s change of job recently and his necessary formation of a limited company to serve the position I resurrected thoughts about my own position.

Professionally I work as a sole trader (self-employed) but could form a company to trade through just as many of my work colleagues do.  However a call to my accountant friend dispelled any myths about saving tax and threw doubt about the promises of limited liability.

This all meant that the novel company name I created yesterday was now redundant.  Shame.  It was surprisingly difficult thinking up a relevant, short and memorable name that was not previously registered in Companies House and could be purchased as a .com or .co.uk web address.

But I did manage it.

Well, did you expect otherwise?

Author: Vince Poynter
From the Blog section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 25 Apr 2018
First Published: Version 2.02 on 20 Sep 2005

Disaster Into Opportunity

Continuation of the posting of early ‘blogs’ from the vinceunlimited website

Monday morning and the day is already living up to it’s reputation.

I travel through about eight sets of traffic lights in my short bicycle journey into the city and at least twelve of them were on red.

When I got to the office the lift was once more out of action and upon starting my computer I find the office network is down so I cannot get on with finishing the important task I started for my client, even though I have now just two weeks left to do the estimated twenty-days work.

So it seems I have just found time to get my September 2005 version of the site finalised.  It is important that this is done during the next fortnight as I am moving to a new assignment in October and do not know what facilities I will have to hand.

Author: Vince Poynter
From the Blog section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 24 Apr 2018
First Published: Version 2.02 on 19 Sep 2005

Work Musing

Continuation of the posting of early ‘blogs’ from the vinceunlimited website

Have to attend a work related interview today and it has made me think again about my career.

I work in the construction industry, not through choice but fate.  I despise everything about it but year on year the fiscal reward has been growing.

I dislike the way that it limits creativity, is a male dominated, brutish, dirty environment and now only concerns itself with money.

Service and pride have become lost concepts and the industry is full of parasitic consultants.  I should know, I work as one!

I work mainly through one agency and they pitch my skills to suit the job – I have become a specialist in nothing more than fitting into any role they ask.

Whilst this provides interesting variations in an otherwise tedious job it does prevent me from climbing up away from my present level into further management.  A role I would be much more suited for, mainly because that is where all the hyperbole I have learnt on the way would be of most use.

The flooding of New Orleans is dominating world news at present.

Personally I have never been there and had no wish to.  The place is primarily the home of Jazz music which has always been overhyped nonsense and reminds me of tunes that a Country and Western band might rehearse with before they actually hit on the melody.

Awful that the situation is that the poor townsfolk find themselves in I couldn’t help doing what the English tend to do in these situations, cracking a joke or two.

I suggested that, as always in these situations, the entertainment industry should show their support by staging a fund-raising concert or two.  I suggested a recital of Handel’s Water Music, a performance of Riverdance and a staging of the Merchant of Venice.  Don McLean could adapt his American Pie song to ‘Drove my Chevy to the Levee and the carburettor flooded…’ and there could be special showings of Kevin Costner’s epic Waterworld.

Does all this frivolity in times of international horror make me a bad man?

Author: Vince Poynter
From the Blog section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 23 Apr 2018
First Published: Version 2.02 on 8 Sep 2005

Launch Preparation

Continuation of the posting of early ‘blogs’ from the vinceunlimited website

It’s now September and in line with thoughts that my site should be updated and added to every couple of months I’m thinking about uploading the next batch of pages.

My output is not prolific as I have to balance the work/pleasure/website proportioning sensibly.  I sometimes work on the site during my daily return commute (I sleep on the way in!) but this time is often hi-jacked by a game of Spider Solitaire – it helps me unwind.

I’m ready to launch version 2.02 (this blog was launched in this version) and am thinking about the next update.  The next version may be the first to contain images, although as the whole site is hand-coded in HTML I need to establish how to control image size, quality, positioning and word-wrapping first.  I could use a proprietary application but that would be cheating.

Another thing I need to do is get the site advertised.  Already I have registered the site’s credentials with Google and Yahoo but searches for ‘vinceunlimited’ are producing unreliable results.  Google manages to find my Opinions page and as a secondary thing my Versions page but falls short of listing the actual homepage.  Perhaps my Opinions page is where readers start?

Yahoo searches actually yield diddly-squat.  I cannot understand why a search engine cannot find a name that is actually part of the domain URL.

I do know that search engines use as one factor the number of external links but my site is too eclectic to be linked from one set of other sources.  I’ll have to start requesting links for specific pages from some sites.  So, if you run a site, like my content and can think of where to link your site please don’t hesitate to add that link.  Let me know about it and I’ll return the compliment.

Meanwhile I better get back to devising content.  Or Solitaire.

Author: Vince Poynter
From the Blog section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 20 Apr 2018
First Published: Version 2.02 on 6 Sep 2005

Capitalist Dilemma

Continuation of the posting of early ‘blogs’ from the vinceunlimited website.

A photo of a very white bathroom showing the close-coupled WC, part of the pedestal mpunted basin on the left and the bath on the right
A picture of the offending item [The WC and cistern, not the leak]

Had a call from our last tenants about the cost of their water bill.  Apparently the reading for the most recent five months was nearly double that of the previous six.

I might have blamed their increase in numbers due to the child production line that they have started, perhaps thinking that the toddler who scratched our window cill also spuriously ran the bath from time to time.  From the state of the grease in the kitchen it is clear that they weren’t squandering water on cleaning so the problem appeared to stem from the leaky WC cistern.

They reported this a few months ago and I thought that my temporary repair had solved the crisis.  I had purchased a new cistern innards and was waiting for the call to say that it was still leaking but the call never came.

However water was running when we took back possession.  I deduced that this leak was in part responsible for the higher bill.

So, quandary time.

Technically the tenants are responsible for not informing us that the leak had re-appeared.  However, as Landlord, it appeared that I failed to stem the leak the first time so feel partly responsible.

On moral grounds Lynda and I decided to pay a sum toward the bill.

So, would this act of generosity to the less well-off bode well in Landlord of the Year competitions or does our lack of capitalist leanings disqualify us completely?

At least we’ll sleep at night.  Unlike the tenants with their young family.

Author: Vince Poynter
From the Blog section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 19 Apr 2018
First Published: Version 2.02 on 30 Aug 2005
The accompanying photograph shows the actual WC and cistern installed at the author’s let apartment, taken in Feb 2004 and first added to the website in Version 3 in Mar 2010

Bank Holiday

Another early ‘blog’ posted on the vinceunlimited website

This blog is rapidly turning into a diary.  I didn’t envisage listing virtually everything that I do but editing the fun is difficult when there has been so much of it.

The main thrust of the Holiday weekend was spent working.  The misses and I own an apartment that we rent out and this weekend was spent between tenants.  As we market the one-bedroomed flat as ‘prestige’ we had to return it to that state in readiness for our next occupier.  This meant getting all the grease out and some artwork in.

We had a break on Sunday and visited a local motor event where my niece was performing in a Junior motorcycle display team.  As is usual with these things I got involved.  Insofar as I sat in my sister’s car when it was being jumped by a lad on his Kawasaki.  The view out of the rear window was impressive, being sat in the last car in the row.  I figured that if I had captured the moment on a digital camera it could have featured in the BBC’s picture of the day.  The experience also made me think about my autobiography structure because of the innumerable things that I get involved in.  [You will have to visit the Autobiography section] to discover more.

The cricket that I mentioned earlier is picking up pace.  England took a second win in the Ashes series to lead the Aussies by one with one to go.  Suddenly everyone is a fan and I too was bowled over when watching the conclusion on Sunday evening but I doubt this is happening in Australia.

Finally had another browse at h2g2 and found many gaps that I could fill.  Am considering registering as a contributor.  Why is it I always think this way?

Author: Vince Poynter
From the Blog section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 18 Apr 2018
First Published: Version 2.02 on 29 Aug 2005
h2g2 can be found at https://www.h2g2.com

Maintaining The Good Start

Another early blog post from my vinceunlimited website from August 2005

Although I never intended entries to be added daily the initial momentum carries me into the second [blog] entry under full steam.

However, I am already thinking that adding a [heading] next to the date may be an error.  Often one of the most edited parts of my new pages whilst in preparation are the quick-fire headings.  They have to be snappy and relevant whilst offering a subtle hint at the humour within the page.  Not easy in a word or three.

It is a working day again but I grabbed a quick browse on the Internet within the BBC site (again) which led me to their h2g2 page.  This is a growing collection of information that realises the ideas of it’s founder, Douglas Adams, who envisaged such an information source in his novel ‘The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy’.  I’ll no doubt return again to this ocean of knowledge in due course but today had a quick surf in the philosophy section where I discovered many fascinating gems.

One was a page answering the familiar conundrum about the chicken and egg (as I had already deduced it was the egg).  This itself was not educational but a link to an alternative answer by Alice Kaswell amused me.  In it she determined the result by posting both a chicken and egg to herself.  You have to click the link [below] to read the amusing story.

Another article within the philosophy section briefly described transhumanism, which is the convergence of humans and technology to give us more than our three score and ten.  Whilst reading this I had to suppress an urge to add a comment in a similar vein about an idea I have been working on.  I’m often suppressing urges like this.  It’s been my nature since very young.  Question and answer sessions following lectures normally see me asking probing questions.

In simple terms my particular idea envisages a future time when due to progress humans can live forever but as their reproduction would soon swamp the world a choice would have to be made between longevity and procreation.  Most parents claim they would sacrifice themselves over to protect their offspring but if it came to it would they?  And if they were given a choice of kids or long life what would they choose?  I think this could make a fascinating subject of a film so didn’t post it on the site.

It just goes to prove that when I spend time reading and regurgitating the thoughts of others I am not preparing my own.  Just like the writing of this blog prevents me from developing fresh new pages on my site.  So a genuine philosophical question arises, the sort that becomes harder to answer the more it is considered.

Is [my] website better without [a] blog?

Of course there are many other side issues developing here.

I’m reminded that yesterday I came to the conclusion that virtually no-one has an original idea and even the most original thinkers and raconteurs are merely re-stating in their own manner all things that they have previously absorbed.  Or at least that’s what I do!

Each person has a stack of knowledge that is in part passed on to a variety of others.

A few months ago I thought I might try to record all I know in some sort of database for no other reason than my ego thinks it would be useful to others.  I was going to add it as a sub-section of this [my website], entitled ‘The Knowledge’.

I procrastinated as it is a major undertaking that may take some time to develop into a useful database and the sapling versions would be hollow.  Further it would, by its nature, lack humour, the underpinnings of [my website], so it is still on the back burner.  Barely alight to be honest and now almost extinguished by the discovery of Mr. Adams’ BBC offspring.

My version had one feature not on the BBC site which is that I envisaged all my facts to be graded.

I figured that each subject should have three categories.  Firstly, the basic explanation, almost a precise brief dictionary expression.  In the second category there would be a few facts and interesting related asides, the sort of fact that would impress at a dinner party without appearing to be an anorak.  Then finally the third level would be the full anorakal description.

So I have a choice.  Develop my original idea – this will take literally years and may be superseded long before it matures.  Secondly I could invite the formal BBC site to take on my grading idea.  And thirdly just get on with my work again.

I’ll take three.

Author: Vince Poynter
From the Blog section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 17 Apr 2018
First Published: Version 2.02 on 26 Aug 2005
The BBC no longer maintains the h2g2 link.  It is still live and can be found at https://www.h2g2.com
Wikipedia was launched in Jan 2001 and had about half a million entries by the time my article was posted from around 750 contributors.  The lack of my mentioning this source leads me to believe I wasn’t fully aware of this information source at the time of original posting
The Alice Kaswell link is https://www.improbable.com/airchives/paperair/volume9/v9i4/chicken_egg.html
I have not finished with my idea about human longevity and am currently working on a book called ‘The Southampton Conundrum’ which explores some ideas in this field

Blog Off

As part of the continuing development of my vinceunlimited website I published this first actual ‘blog’ which I posted, back in August 2005

So here we go.  I’ve mused, considered and procrastinated enough it’s time to launch my blog.

Nowadays it seems everyone is at it.  Well at least those with a website.  According to a recent BBC webpage there are over 14 million blogs so my humble effort is going to have to be sharp to cut the mustard.  Not that mustard needs a sharp blade but you get my point.

I launch this blog at a pretty inconsequential time.  It’s a Thursday and as is the norm for my working week I’ve travelled to London.  Due to the aftershock of the recent terrorist attacks the city was unusually quiet when I ventured in.  Either that or everyone is staying home to watch the fourth instalment in a cricket match with Australia for a trophy small in stature but large in importance to some.  By the time you come to read this you will know the result, or more likely not care so I won’t bore you with it.

I started this blog as it seems a good way of passing on all the snippets of information and ideas that spring to my mind on sporadic occasions, plus to recount all the amusing anecdotes that invade my existence.  In fact the launch was eventually spurred on by a couple of great stories but as is the way with these things now that I’ve put fingertip to keyboard I cannot for the life of me recall them.  I suppose in a way that’s exactly what this will be all about.  Just that now the framework is ready I’ll now be able to record the notes before they disappear.

Author: Vince Poynter
From the Blog section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 16 Apr 2018
First Published: Version 2.02 on 25 Aug 2005
The photograph is of the author sat in a trainer cockpit at The Yorkshire Air Museum, taken by the author’s wife at the beginning of Aug 2004.  It was first added to the website in Version 3 in Mar 2010

Supercoat

Is it a bird, Is it a plane.  More importantly does it keep out the rain?

Introduction

Coats – Can’t really be improved can they?  A few fashion changes, an odd button, pocket, colour or length perhaps.  Even an exotic material.  They have all been tried before yet our concept of a coat is still basically unchanged.

Until now.

I have two ideas that may be of interest to the coat suppliers of the world and one is so staggeringly simple I’ll wager that within five years half of all coats will feature it.

And this fantastic idea is presented here, published on the web, ready and waiting for it’s first commercial customer to sweep it up and make the supplier and I rich beyond our wildest dreams.

Well perhaps not that rich, but only because of my fertile imagination.  I’m not the sort who upon winning the lottery would suggest I buy my dream car then announce that it’s a Ford Orion.

But I am going off at a tangent here and in danger of everyone thinking that I’m talking about a coat of paint.  Which I’m not.

Overblown

However, before we get to the staggeringly simple idea, how about another simple idea, perhaps just not so staggeringly so.

The idea came to light whilst on one of my unbelievably long commutes in the company of South West Trains.

A passenger nearby, carried out his daily routine of extracting a felt-covered neoprene collar and inflating it to support his head during the next hour and a half’s sleep.

Instead of doing the same myself – that is going to sleep, not inflating a personal rubber ring – I started thinking that although he looked like a complete pimple he also looked very comfortable.

All I needed was to merge the idea of the inflatable collar with something less conspicuous.

It was obvious – my coat should feature the inflatable device.

That way I could discreetly give it a blow job [as it were] and rest in peace.  Then on awakening from my slumber I could discreetly exhale the air and carry on with my day, fully refreshed.

There are a few drawbacks, such as the potential for leaks when some careless mutton pins a badge on your lapel when you visit the local convention, or the potential for farty sounds emerging when deflating your ring piece [as it were]

But on the whole it would be a good accessory for long distance commuters.

Another added bonus would be the potential to develop the idea into quickly inflated airbags for accident-prone pedestrians.  Perhaps this aspect could be developed for motorcycle jackets, for accidents, not for resting on the motorway!

Further developments on the inflatable collar idea could be other parts of clothing with inflatable inserts.

A coat with additional comfort at the elbows perhaps, or a pair of trousers with a bum inflator for comfort.  Although, if you are thinking of developing a patent on that one with me I think we ought to check out J-Lo first.  She may already be on to it.

Sucker For Development

So, onto my main pièce de résistance in the redesign of the coat and as promised it is a simple idea.

As usual the idea sprang to mind when I encountered a problem and this one was where to put my jacket at the office I was working in at the time.

The usual places didn’t suit the suit.  The coat stand was overused and far to near the door for my liking and the back of my chair was too low to prevent the corners of a hung jacket dragging on the ground.

I wanted to hang it on the side of the cabinet but the office hadn’t thought of providing a handy hook.  Naturally, I went out and purchased, at great personal expense, a small plastic stick-on, white hook with peelable double sided tape.

Whilst waiting for the opportunity to purchase said item during that lunch-time I mused that it would be handy if the hook was already there in my jacket.  Thus came about the idea of a built in hanger and what could be simpler and cheaper than a built in rubber sucker.

So that’s it.  There’s the killer device.

A simple inbuilt suction pad installed behind the collar in every coat.

It’s O.K., no need for applause.

The Gauntlet

So who will help develop the supercoat?

With a built in inflatable collar and rubber suction pad.

Coats – evolutionally speaking just starting don’t you think?

Author: Vince Poynter
From the Ideas section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 13 Apr 2018
First Published: Version 2.01 in Jul 2005
Inevitable note due to the passage of time:  Unfortunately my second idea did not get developed in the first five years, or maybe not at all.  Yet.  So I was wrong.  Sorry.  I apologise, unreservedly.  You can have my resignation letter from the internet by next Wednesday.  But wait.  Idea one, the inflation of clothing to protect motorcyclists is with us today.  Someone ran with it and that’s not easy in an inflated jacket.  However both motorbike air bags and my idea are well pre-dated by inflatable personal buoyancy devices [life jackets to you and me] which were first developed in 1900 by French electrical engineer, Gustave Trouvé.  Later on, 1928 in fact, or about half past seven at night, the idea was developed into the ‘Mae West’ life jacket.  This fact led me on to checking Wikipedia to see when inflatable dolls were first invented but there is no record, plus I don’t think carrying one of these on the train to take a nap on would be very convenient.  Or socially acceptable.

Perpetually

Concept

Below is the the opening part of the script from my stage play Perpetually.

It was inspired after I performed in Bishops Waltham Little Theatre’s 1989 production of one of the J.B. Priestley’s time plays, Dangerous Corner [pictured].

As a keen member of the theatre and budding writer I wanted to pen a story that was designed to give an opportunity to all the various aged members of the cast, particularly those who were involved in the annual pantomimes and summer shows but felt that there was no chance to feature in the more serious plays staged in spring and autumn each year.

When I had written this piece and offered it as a reading to the theatre committee it was declined, without consideration or even a reading.  The reasons given were that previous member written pieces had received poor public reception.  Plus when the group performed the serious plays in the spring and autumn ticket sales were poor in comparison to the big winter pantomime and summer shows.

These mega shows pulled in paying public audiences of around a thousand people and the local halls charged the group accordingly.  Unfortunately this encouraged the halls to effectively overcharge for other performances which would only attract less than a quarter of these sales.  In fact it often cost the group money to stage the serious plays and without a publicly recognised author or known title ticket sales were considered too big a risk.

As a result the play has never been staged, or indeed read through in any formal or informal sense [to my knowledge].

Did the theatre group make the right call? What do you think?

Feedback would be much appreciated.  Does it work as a piece?  Do you understand what it is saying?  Is the dialogue compelling?  Is it interesting?  Would you want to see it staged?

Remember it is a completed piece of work.  It may take a little time to read through both acts.  As a result I have only included the opening part here.  You will need to visit my website to get the full transcript.

vinceunlimited.co.uk/perpetually.htm

Or if you are reading on a mobile device and want a smartphone formatted experience use vinceunlimited.co.uk/perpetuallym.htm


Perpetually

A Stage Play by Vince Poynter

Written around 1990

Act One

The curtains open on a bright country scene on a fine summer afternoon in England, present day.  A large barn dominates the left of stage, its position preventing any stage access from up left.  A small stone bridge is right of centre over a stream running downstage towards a tree, right downstage.  A pile of rocks centre upstage, with the theme continued onto the backcloth imply restricted access, a dry-stone wall perhaps, along the back.  The skyline is a clear blue over the hilly features.  Some discarded farm waste (old barrels, straw bales, bags etc.) is piled up carelessly against the barn.  The barn door hangs open on two of its four hinges.  The access hatch at high level is also open in front of which precariously hangs a bag of grain from the jib above.  Underfoot is grass.  Note that unseen access can be made from within the barn to the loft.

Sounds of birds singing and insects chattering are heard throughout.

As soon as the curtains open an irritating whine is heard.  The noise comes from a radio controlled car hurtling around centre stage.  The model car runs into the barn door, reverses, drives forward and over the bridge off stage right.  A moment’s pause and the car returns, crosses the bridge, spins round and round and careers into the mud at the edge of the stream, to a sudden halt.

Little girl: (Off)  “Oh no!”

Little boy: (Off)  “Ha Ha! Serves you right, my turn.”

Little girl: (Off)  “No, mine … mine.”

Little boy: (Off)  “Gimme that, it’s my turn, my turn now.”

The little girl and boy enter (upstage right) running.  They are of a similar age, about six to eight years old.  They are dressed in jeans and tee-shirts with soft shoes on their feet.  Mud stains are on their knees and elbows, perhaps also on the face.  They are happy, excitable.

The girl is first and she clutches the controller for the radio-controlled car.  They cross the bridge, still arguing.

Little girl: (Entering)  “You said that I could have a go.”

Little boy: (Following)  “Only ’til you crashed it though.  Now it’s my turn.  You’ve smashed it up.”

The little boy pushes past the girl as they cross the bridge causing her to miss her footing and stumble into the pile of debris by the barn.

Little girl: (Stumbling)  “Hey, watch out.”

The little boy laughs and gets to the model car first.  He picks it up and turns to the little girl.

Little boy: “Come on then.  Give it to me.  Gimme the box.”

Little girl: (Recovering)  “No I wont.  It’s still my go.  You’ve had your go.  Give me the car.”

Little boy: (Holding car)  “Well you can’t have it.  It’s my turn now.  You crashed it.”

Little girl: (Approaching boy)  “It isn’t fair.  Just five minutes, then it’s your go.  Go on, just five …”

Little boy: (Interrupts)  “No, my go, you smashed it up.  Now it’s my …”

The little girl has approached the little boy and she suddenly pushes him over onto the ground.  He falls awkwardly and after a moment’s pause starts to cry, deliberately audibly.  The remote-controlled car has fallen to the ground and is picked up by the little girl.  She takes it to centre stage, places it on the ground and starts to drive it around in circles.  The little boy, noticing how she is playing with the car and ignoring his cries, stops crying, jumps to his feet and grabs the car as it passes him.

Little boy: (Defiantly)  “I’ve got it now.  So there.”  (He sticks out his tongue).

Little girl:  “But I’ve got the control box though …”  (She runs toward the barn door then turns to face the little boy) “… and you can’t have it.”  (She sticks out her tongue).

Little boy:  “But it’s mine.  You’ve got to give it back to me.” (Pause) “Now!”

Little girl:  “Well I won’t, I won’t, I won’t.  You said I could have a go.”

The little boy, sensing a stalemate, puts the car back down onto the ground.  He starts to walk positively toward the little girl.  She reacts by driving the car again.  He turns back toward the car and stoops to pick it up.  Before he gets to it she drives the car around him fast (well downstage).  He grabs for the car but misses it.  The car continues past the little boy, past the little girl and into the open door of the barn, fast.  There is a crash.  Silence.  Brief pause.  The little boy then runs toward and into the barn, pushing past the little girl.  Pause.  She looks anxious.  The little boy returns holding the remains of the crashed and obviously broken car.  He is sad.

Little boy:  “Now look what you’ve done.”

Little girl:  “That was your fault. You made me do that.”

Little boy:  “My mum will kill me.  I’m telling on you.  It was you who did this.”  (He holds up the car)  “You broke my car.”

Little girl:  “You broke my green tricycle the other day.”

Little boy:  “No I didn’t.  You were on it as well.”

Little girl:  “You shouldn’t have been on it.  It was your fault.”

Little boy: (Hurries past the girl)  “Well I’m going back to tell her.  You’re going to be in trouble now.”  (He is starting to cry).

Little girl: (Following him)  “I’m going to tell her it was you.  You dropped it.  Yes you did, didn’t you.  I know.  Nah, nah, na-na, nah.”

Little boy: (Crying)  “You better hope it can be mended.”

Little girl: (Now also starting to cry)  “I only played with it because you wanted me to.”

They are crossing the bridge, stopping only to argue.  Then leaving upstage right.

Little girl:  “Could your dad fix it? He fixed the train set.”

Little boy:  “He’s away. Mummy said he’s in hospital.”

Little girl:  “Stupid car anyway.”  (They are leaving)

Little boy: (Now off)  “You didn’t have to play with it.”

Little girl: (Also off)  “You said you wanted someone to …”  (Trails off)

They have exited.  Silence, except the continuing bird-song and other background noises.  Pause.

Two adolescent teenagers stroll in, arm in arm, downstage right.  They are both of a similar age, about 15 to 16 years old.  Modern dress; jeans and tee-shirt on the boy, the girl with a simple green skirt and blouse, her shoes suitable for a relaxing walk in the country.  He has a boy scout type knife in a leather sheath on his belt.  They are intensely discussing a subject but are not arguing.  They seem carefree.

Boy: (Entering)  “… But that’s not the point.  I suppose I can see your side of the argument but that can’t possibly happen can it?  How can it?  Surely as many girls have to as boys do.”

Girl:  “Yes. I can see that.  But that doesn’t change my point of view.  And all my friends agree.”  (She stops and faces him direct)  “Tell me, how many of your friends have?”

Boy:  “They all have.  All my mates have.”

Girl: (Laughing)  “Even Danny?”

Boy:  “Yes … Well everyone except Danny.”  (He laughs along too).

Girl:  “They tell you that they have.”

Boy:  “I know they have.”

Girl: (Passing the boy onto the bridge)  “You think that they have because they say so.  You can’t really be sure.  You don’t really know do you?”  (Teasingly)  “Or have you seen  (She giggles)

Boy:  “Oh come on. Everyone has …”

Girl: (Interrupting)  “Except Danny.”

Boy:  “Except Danny … yes.  It’s a fact.  Oh come on …”

He has grabbed her by arm.  She turns away from him off the bridge.

Girl:  “No.  Not now.  Not here … Not yet …”  (She pulls away)  (Teasingly)  “Maybe never.”

She escapes from his grip and runs toward the barn.  He gives chase.  They are laughing, happy.

Girl:  “You won’t catch me! … You’ll never get me!”

Boy:  “Come here! … Come back … I’ll get you!”

Girl:  “Maybe never!”

The boy eventually traps the girl up against the barn.

Boy:  “Gotcha!”

They look at each other deeply.  He kisses her hard on the lips.  She resists after a brief moment then pushes him away.

Girl:  “No!”

She escapes under his arm and runs away, but only a few steps.  They are both facing away from each other.  He is left looking at the barn, she is centre stage looking right.

Boy: (Seriously)  “But we’ve known each other since we were kids.  We shared everything.”  (He turns toward the girl)  “It’s meant to be.”

Girl:  “Who says?”

Boy:  “That’s just the way it is.  Can’t you see that?  You, me … you know.”

Girl:  “You can’t even say it.  You can’t even bring yourself to say it.”

Boy:  (He steps one pace forward)  “Yes I can.”

Girl:  “Can’t.”

Boy:  “Can.”

Girl:  “No.”

Boy: (Stepping forward again. He is now quite close behind her)  “Yes.  I can.  You know that.”

Girl: (Turning sharply to him)  “Go on then.”

Boy:  “Well …”  (He looks around sheepishly, as if there are others around)  “You know …” (Positively)  “It!”  (He laughs).

Girl: (Annoyed)  “No!  Don’t!  Not it!  You had better ask me nicely and then I might say yes.”

Boy: (Eager)  “Yes.”

Girl:  “Might.”

Boy:  “Oh, alright.  If you insist …”

Girl:  “Yes I insist.  Or else is definitely ‘No’.”

Boy:  “Alright … Here goes … Will you? … Will you? … You know … with me?

Girl:  “Properly.  Or I definitely won’t.”  (She turns away again).

Boy: (Lunging forward and grabbing her arm, he pulls her to face him)  “Alright.  Alright … Will you sleep with me?”

A pause.  They stare at each other.  She is surprised, not at the suggestion, but his sudden confidence.  He looks increasingly expectant, his eyes widening.

Girl: (Breaking the moment)  “Sleep?”

(She turns away, slightly embarrassed, slightly amused).

Boy: (Hands dropping to his side)  “You know … You know what I mean.  Don’t you.”

Girl:  “Is that what your mates do, sleep?”  (She chuckles)

Boy:  “No, no … It’s just a phrase.”  (She laughs at him)  “Oh you’re impossible.”

The boy turns away.  He gets his knife out and stoops to pick up a piece of wood on the ground nearby.  He starts to whittle the wood.  The girl notices that she has upset him.

Girl:  “Hey, come on.  Don’t take it so bad.”

Boy:  “You’re rotten to me.  I don’t know why I go out with you anyway.”

Girl:  “Oh don’t be like that.  Hey …” (He stops whittling but still looks down) “… don’t take it like that.  It’s not that I don’t want to.  I do.  It’s just not good now.”

Boy: (Turning, knife in hand, almost menacingly)  “Not good now?”

Girl: (Explaining)  “No.  It’s my dad.  He’s ill.  I don’t feel like it at the moment.”

Boy:  “Oh, there’s always an excuse.  If it’s not one thing it’s another.”

Girl:  “You don’t understand.  Your dad was bad once.  And he died.”

Boy:  “That was a long time ago now … How is your dad?”  (He puts his knife away).

Girl:  “Oh, not too bad.  He’s just been off work today, that’s all.  A touch of flu perhaps?”

Boy:  “Oh, I am sorry.  I shouldn’t have pushed you.”

Girl:  “No, no.  That’s alright.  Quite alright.  He’s not too bad it’s just …”

Boy: (Interrupts)  “Yes, I understand.”

Girl:  “It’s not that I don’t want you.  I do.  I love you.”

Boy:  “I love you too.”

They are close.  They look deep into each other’s eyes.  Their heads move together and are about to kiss.

Girl: (Suddenly putting her hand over his mouth)  “What’s that?”

Boy: (Muffled)  “What?”  (She removes her hand)

Girl: (Looking upstage right)  “I think I heard a noise.  Did you hear anything?”

Boy: (Looking)  “No.  What was it?”

Girl:  “Over there, someone’s coming.  Let’s go.”

She runs past the boy and heads for an exit down left.  He follows and grabs her arm just before she exits.

Boy:  “Stop.  Quick.  In here.”  (He ushers her toward the barn).

Girl:  “In there?”

Boy: (Deliberately)  “Yes, come on.  It’ll be alright.”

There are voices heard offstage right.

Girl: (After a moment’s deliberation)  “Oh go on.  After you.  Let’s hide.”

They run into the barn together.

Boy: (In barn, not seen)  “Quick, up here.”

Girl: (In barn, not seen)  “You first.”

Boy:  “No you. Go on.”

Girl:  “Alright …”  (sounds of the two ascending a rickety wooden ladder)  “It’s not very safe.”

Boy: (Laughing)  “I can see right up your …”

Girl: (Laughing)  “Shhh!”

Boy:  “Hurry up … hey over there.  Come back.”

The girl appears at the high level access hatch in the barn.  She is looking out for the others which she heard.  The boy appears next to her and puts his arm around her waist.

Boy:  “Come on.  Come back in here.  Come and make love”

Girl: (Warmly holds his hand on her waist)  “O.K.”

He walks back into the barn.  She is led away.  They are both out of sight.

Girl: (Off)  “Over there.  That’s a good place.”

Laughter is heard from within the barn.  It tails off.

A woman enters (upstage right) walking quickly.  She is about 30 to 35 years old.  She wears a loose light jumper and skirt and is rowing with the man following her.  He is about the same age, wearing a short sleeved shirt and casual trousers.  Their argument is intense and passionate…

…To be continued…

You will have to go to the full script page on my website if you want to read the rest.

Author: Vince Poynter

From Perpetually, from the Stage Plays and Writing sections of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 11 Apr 2018 but first written around 1990 and first published on the website in Jul 2005
The photograph is a still image taken by the author’s wife of a performance of J.B. Priestley’s 1932 stage play Dangerous Corner.  One of his trilogy of ‘time plays’, originally premiered in 1932.  The photograph shows four of the characters dancing on the set of the stage as performed by the Bishops Waltham Little Theatre in their 1989 staging.  The author is the gentleman dancing on the right

Letting The Genealogy Out Of The Bottle

The Family History from the autobiography of Vince Poynter

Genealogy is a growing pastime and I am a mere amateur at it.  I have only managed to trace my paternal family back for four generations and that data came from one family Bible source.  The trail leads to a couple who were probably born around the early 1800s, a mere 200 or so years ago, still some way off William the Conqueror.  Mind you, I have no grand illusions and probably trace back to a mere woodsman rather than a King or even Courtier.

My blond hair and fair skin would suggest Germanic or Northern European roots and my accent places me square in Hampshire.

However, I never personally knew anyone that I could call great or great-great in the grandparent sense so my particular family story starts with my grandparents.

A photograph of the author's paternal grand-parents, stood, dressed formally for a wedding in matching light grey outfits
It’s all their fault. My paternal grand-parents. Blame them, not me. Planning Ye Olde Oak Ham sandwiches, no doubt

One of my fondest memories of being young is the visits to my paternal grandparents.  They lived in Bassett, a posh part of the city and it is surprising the positive effects of fitted carpet and Ye Olde Oak Ham could provide.

I recall sitting in the bay window with my brother Mark for hours on end watching the traffic ebb and flow at the junction.  It was my first taste of being a petrol head and I could name every car that passed by.  Eric, Fred, Davina, etc.  No, not like that!

This vehicular voyeurism was interrupted by the call of afternoon tea on proper china, followed by the card game whereupon the adults had to contrive to stop me winning all the cash.  As a kid I was unaware of all this blatant cheating against me but I still came away with pocketfuls of old pennies.  Financially it was the luckiest period of my life – the Pools and then Lottery never repeated this good fortune.

Grandma and Granddad were excellent in their roles.  I only knew the very nicest side of these wonderful people.  To me and my siblings they were warm, generous and funny.  We only visited once a month and at Christmases so they, like us, were on their best behaviour.

Granddad started his working life at fourteen as a cycling telegraph boy and worked hard to forge a career in the Post Office, making Manager before his retirement.  His work was not interrupted for the various wars that his generation seemed to have at frequent intervals due to being in a reserved occupation although he once recounted a journey during a blitz where the bombs obliterated each building he had just vacated.

Another war-time story saw him shoved headlong into a bunker by an enormous clump of earth that had just been liberated by a local bomb.  The earthy clump had landed square in his back.  What a sod.  The earth, not Granddad.

Grandma, to my knowledge, never worked.  She must have done something for the war effort but its significance never warranted a mention that I recall.  She did produce my Dad though so that counts and she had a smile to melt chocolate.

My father also worked in the Post Office although it had become BT, via British Telecom, by the time he retired.

His early years were disrupted by National Service where he trained, then tutored at Catterick Camp in Yorkshire.

He also changed his career collar from blue to white and retired with a reasonable pension and a lot more time for his beloved bowls.

BPhotograph of the autho's parents, sat at a meal table, father with a camera, mother with a glass of wine
It all started with a whistle. The wolf is the one on the left. My parents

Dad hooked up with my mother in the mid-fifties.  Apparently the grinning, wolf-whistling cyclist swayed her and they married shortly afterwards, bearing three children, including my older brother, the aforementioned Mark, and younger sister Dawn.  It must have been a successful whistle as they still remain together, ready soon to celebrate their golden wedding anniversary.

Mum also worked, although sometimes part-time whilst we were all young.  A series of shop, waitress and petrol attendant roles in the early years then mostly administrative roles for the NHS.  But unlike today’s parents, she was always home before her children.  Which from my side of the fence was a bad thing – no after school parties.

My mother’s father died relatively young.  A disease causing an imminent blindness gave thoughts to being unable to support his large family and in the late thirties that was unacceptable.  He elected to take a cowardly way out in the confines of his gas oven and left my maternal grandmother alone to bring up several children.  She was a hard working woman who later married the man I knew as Granddad.  A giant of a man with huge weather-hardened hands and a booming voice.

They were the chalk to my paternal grandparent’s cheese.  Hardship was a memorable feature of their lives but I’m convinced that things wouldn’t have been so bad had ‘Nanny’ not spent so much on trinkets and cigarettes.

Their home, for a large part, was a centrally located flat in a major town.  Nowadays someone would rip out the guts, call it Manhattan Loft living and charge a fortune.  In those days it was a cold, concrete, council owned property with nasty metal railings following the urine-aroma’d stairs.  I still find it hard to reconcile the modern trend of apartment living without invoking those earlier memories.

Although splendidly rich in aunts and uncles on both sides, with all their attendant siblings I called cousins, the extended family were not overly close.

A couple of times a year we would visit or be visited by my mother’s closest sister and her pack and at Christmases we did the rounds but the fact that the families roots’ stretched all across the town and my family are inherently localised meant that we never really grew up together.  For the large part family only meant the five of us in the old house at the end of ‘The Close’.

Although the three-bedroom house I called home was not my first residence [see the chapter entitled Oniscus Asellus to read about the first] it lasted long enough to remain a fixture in my thoughts where I guess it shall remain forever.  It was a semi-detached sixties built house with cold walls and horrid metal framed windows that would freeze inside on most winter’s mornings.  Central heating in the sixties and seventies was restricted, by law I believe, to my Grandparent’s house.

All we had was electric storage heaters.  Apparently, these enormous tin blocks were full of house bricks that were roasted at night when the electric bills were low and emitted their heat the next day.  Or rather the next morning.  To be precise for about six or seven minutes in some ghastly hour long before I got up.  I lived in that house during the long, hot, drought infested summer of ’76 but can still only really recall the cold.

The author sits on a bench with brother Mark to his right and his sister Dawn on his right.  The clothing is very seventies, with all wearing bell bottomed, flared trousers.  The author sits awkwardly with crossed legs and his hands clasped around his knees, rather camply
Benchmark children. Mark, Vince and Dawn. I blame the parents

I shared a bedroom with Mark, who was, and still is obviously, older than me by two years.  We shared that room for the best part of twenty years and always got on well.  Our murmuring together late into each night was not appreciated by the rest of the house and when Dad hadn’t quite got fed up with the nattering our younger sister, Dawn, in her separate bedroom would squinny until he shouted.  Girls eh.

In fairness it was always harsher for Dawn because, due to her gender, she slept alone.  The late night boys conversation was probably a sad reminder of her loneliness at night.  Not that she had a right to complain.  I spent more daytimes playing with her than Mark.  She was two years younger than me so being the middle kid I had a choice of playmates.  I would often be torn between playing toy cars with Mark or teddy bears with Dawn.  In that respect being the middle child was an advantage.  Other things weren’t quite as useful.

Because I had an older brother I often had to make do with cast offs.  Don’t get me wrong, this wasn’t a regular thing but enough to irritate.  Dawn, being a girl, had none of my cast offs so at times it seemed I was the only one with used items.  It may explain why I always prefer new now, from goods to houses.

Talking of new, in my family sense, the newest additions are my nephews and niece.  Mark married Alison and together they had two boys, Simon then Alex.  The niece part is Jenny, daughter of Dawn and her husband Andy.

I, myself, chose not to have children.  A choice made far easier by the concurrence of my wife, Lynda.  So the family Bible won’t be getting filled up with my descendants and in theory when I properly research the genealogy it will at least have a conclusion.

Just like this chapter.

Author: Vince Poynter

From My Poynter View, from the Autobiography section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 3 Apr 2018 but first published in the website in Jul 2005
The first image shows the author’s grandparents, William and Rose Poynter, taken on the Isle Of Wight around 1965
The central image is of the author’s parents, John and Lilian Poynter, enjoying a meal at The Vine Inn, Cadnam in May 2009
The final image shows the author with his older brother, Mark and younger sister, Dawn, sat on a bench on the Isle Of Wight around late 1976 and was picked to amuse you. So feel free to snigger
All images were originally added in Version 3.00 around Mar 2010

Honda CX500

My Maggot

The front three-quarter view of a S-registration red Honda CX500, parked in the sunshine by a Willow tree
The front end of my lovely big red Honda CX500. Purchased just for the bit above the headlamp

Those regular readers of my road tests will both by now know that I started with a small Yamaha trail bike before graduating to a rather uninspiring Honda CB200.

The choice of these bikes was helpfully determined by outside influences [Hi Dad] so my next upgrade had to be my own choice.  I decided on a Kawasaki 750cc 4-stroke bike.

However, the external influence raised its profile once more and I brought a 500cc Honda.  Something to do with him ‘only’ having a 360cc bike at the time and about to change it for a 650cc methinks.

Maybe that’s a bit unfair.  Although my shiny new second hand Honda CX500 wasn’t a Kawasaki nor 750cc it had many redeeming features.

Firstly it was as bulky as a 750cc.  This provided the stability and comfort that bigger bikes give.  Secondly, Honda’s were better built and more reliable than products from the Big Z.  And thirdly, well mainly really, it had a dashboard.  Yes, I agreed to the choice on the grounds that there were lights built in between the speedo and tachometer.  Sad really.

The other exciting addition to this on-bike dashboard was a temperature gauge because the bike had a water cooled engine and believe me in those days that was cutting edge.  Only the Suzuki GT750 ‘Kettle’ could boast this technology but that bike was styled in the dark and drank fuel like a whale filters plankton.

So I ended up with a red ‘S’ registration Maggot, for that is how I later understood that they were known.  The name wasn’t unjustified either as the bulky water encased engine resided under a substantial spreading fuel tank and enormous padded double seat.  Everything seemed styled for a much bigger bike and I suspected that Honda had plans for a 750cc version.  In fact, later incarnations took the size to 650cc and added turbos then a 750cc was made, so my suspicions were right.

The CX500 also took the mantle of tourer for those who didn’t want or couldn’t afford the magnificent 1000cc Gold Wing.  As it happened in silly laid back style it later became the Silver Wing.

My version was the bog standard CX500, a purring water cooled v-twin.  It was only a couple of years old and in fantastic condition.

It became a weekend plaything, tourer and then reliable commuter and fulfilled all roles well.  I reckon it is now still going, probably as a courier somewhere.

I first used the Maggot as a weekend plaything because I worked too close to my home to warrant using it much.  In the three mile journey I barely had time to close off the choke before arriving at my destination and actually spent more time warming the engine than riding to work.  So the Honda was used for getting to the disco at weekends [hey, it was the early eighties] and impressing the sixteen year old girls.  Nothing suspicious here, I was only a late teen myself.

The sheer bulk always made an impression and warranted due care when reversing off pavements.  Once, I went too slow and got to the point where foot doesn’t touch ground then side of bike does.

The rear three-quarter view of a S-registration red Honda CX500, showing the standard nature of the bike aside from a rear carrier and engine protection bars
The back end of my bright red Maggot, as purchased. Just look at that lush seat

I also increased my radius of exploration exponentially over the previous CB200 and the Cotswolds and Wales became my hunting ground.  Funnily enough I don’t recall ever going to the midlands or Norfolk – Can’t think why.

Inevitably I wanted to travel further and my mates and I discussed a round Britain tour using all the coastal routes.  This never came to pass but I still think it would be an adventure and will do the journey someday.

A few of us did settle on a tour into France, the evocative, exotic, topless French women of St. Tropez were the incentive so four of us planned to go.

As is usual in these cases circumstances changed and two of my friends, Jeff and John, taking advantage of their break from A-level schooling went ahead early and ended up settling on an island mid-way down the French west coast for the rest of the summer.  Spike and I had jobs, me full time and Spike as a paperboy or something, so we intended to follow on later.

The journey down through France was not as fun as it might be today.  We had never travelled abroad and the only preparations we made were painting our lights yellow and buying a map.  The map was poor and we got lost leaving Calais.

The French weather was burning hot and Spike, who had just purchased my father’s Honda CB360 yellow banana, was obsessed with his motor overheating so insisted on travelling around 40-50mph.  At these speeds the air cooling effect must have been abysmal on his engine as it was hardly effective on my CX500’s radiator.  However being the one with the temperature gauge made me the one worrying about it.  It set a poor tone for the holiday and resulted in a disagreement half-way down France.

In essence Spike wanted to join Jeff and John and start ‘pulling birds’ and I wanted to motor on down to St. Tropez where I argued the real action was.  Spike won out by refusing to leave the camp we had arrived at and my topless French women dream was destroyed.  We never even met up with the others and from what I heard later that decision could have saved Jeff and John’s friendship, but that’s another story.

The author on his red CX500 with Spike on his yellow CB360, flanked by some campsite friends
The mid-size bikes proved popular in France so Spike and I did make temporary friendships. And no, I do not know the contact details of the hunk on the right

Another memorable long journey made on the maggot was one into Wales.  I had a met a new girlfriend, Inger, who had never been on a motorbike before so we both looked forward to our trip.  She had no more idea than me that we were to undertake a 400-mile, six-hour ride and it showed how versatile the big Honda was.  In fact testament to the comfort of the seat that there was no complaint from either of us.

The amusing fact with Inger was that as she hadn’t ridden pillion before I asked that she leave the steering to me and remain upright at all times.  I meant perpendicular to the bike but she interpreted it as bolt upright.  Every time I leant into a bend she twisted her torso to remain upright.  I thought it hilarious, She was hardly big enough to destabilise the beast below so I let her carry on.  I didn’t tell her until we reached the Severn Bridge.  And for that Inger I apologise.

Mind you I cannot recall going out with her for long but that was more to do with the fact that I fell for her friend Fiona than because of my riding.

Excuse me for one moment while I recall Fiona … Thanks.

Fiona unfortunately didn’t have the inclination to get on my bike.  It wasn’t because she only had eyes for Suzuki’s or anything it was just that some people just don’t seem to get the biking thing, mainly because of the sort of event that next happened on my bike.  A car pulled out on me at a junction.

It was midday and I was taking a well earned lunch break.  Although I had crossed half of Southampton I only had a feint purpose in mind so was in no particular hurry.  The sun was out and the roads in those days still clear enough in places to enjoy a midday ride.

I was travelling towards Portswood doing no more than a few mph above the limit when I noticed a car waiting to pull out to my left.  I was on a main road so took little more care than at any of the other two-hundred or so filled junctions that I had passed that week.  The driver however didn’t want to follow the crowd, opted for not seeing me at all and pulled out across my path.  Naturally I braked.  Very hard.

The car in question was a Citroën Dyane, a sort of [hardly] upmarket 2CV.  The driver, fool enough to pull out in the path of a huge red bike, added to his stupidity by stopping once he saw me.  Little tip, why not consider keeping going next time?  If he had accelerated with all the pull his pathetic vehicle could manage I could have steered behind.  As it was he stopped slap bang in front of me across the whole road.  There were no steerable soft options and I braced myself for impact.

Now a fact known only to experienced bikers and the local Accident and Emergency departments is that many frontal motorcycle crashes result in damage to the bikers lower legs because when a bike hits a stationary object the rider slides forwards and imprints his knees into his own handlebars and stationary car.  Therefore in any bike accident, once it is inevitable, the golden rule is to get well clear of all metalwork.  In the case of T-boning a car that means heading straight on over the top.

I slowed as much as I could leaving an impressive black streak of rubber and picked my point of impact.  My heart wanted to hit the git square in his door but my head ruled that the bonnet would be a lower hurdle to cross.  The bike wedged itself behind the car’s front wheel, I raised my torso and took up flying.

I cannot recall the flight but do remember the landing.  Sliding down the road my episode with the Gilera moped came to mind but this time I reacted differently, I quickly stood up.  Unfortunately, I did this too soon and went flying once more.

It seemed my shoes were not designed for thirty mph and their destruction was testament to this.  Thankfully, other than the two vehicles and my crash helmet my shoes were the only casualty.

My helmet was a write off because they always are in these situations.  There seemed no damage to it other than a couple of round spots worn off the orange and green stripes at the forehead, but the car had a matching two-foot long parallel stripe on the bonnet.  This is proof that helmets save lives and why I didn’t need the ambulance that some witness called.

I went back to inspect the damage, such a long walk!

Despite the fact I had just invented unpowered flight I was in a better state than the driver, still sat quivering in his car.  An old man, I doubt that he drove again.  His car certainly didn’t, my CX500 was parked bolt upright three feet into it.

Annoyingly my motorcycle recovery specialist had just purchased a frame re-jigger and wanted to justify it’s purchase and bend the bike back into position.  It was just a few pounds short of write-off and I was too inexperienced to insist on it to the eager insurance company.  I didn’t even get compensation for my high speed shoes.  So, in effect the maggot wrote off a car and lived.

After the impact one of the replacement items was the forks, naturally.  Not that they needed a Citroën Dyane to make them flex, they were the weak point of the bike and were clearly not designed for the ‘two-ton’ weight.  Occasionally I would lean over the handlebars and look down the shaft of the forks whilst braking just to watch them bend back toward the radiator.

Other than that I couldn’t fault the Honda.  It chugged along effortlessly at any speed I chose to travel at and for any number of miles.  Reliability was excellent and fuel consumption acceptable for the size.  It was big and red and comfortable.  The v-twin throb was unusual, the modern era of popular twins hadn’t yet started and when I fitted an aftermarket stainless steel exhaust it sounded good.

It worked in rain and shine then more rain, mile after mile with little attention other than basic servicing and the shaft drive kept the back end from looking like a freshly hit oilfield.

All this reliability came in handy because for the final few months it became the archetypal commuter as it took me into the New Forest day after day in pursuit of my new girlfriend, Karen.

The author and his girlfriend Karen astride the Honda CX500
Things were getting dirtier as attention moved from wheels to girls. Meaning, of course, I didn’t give it such a thorough cleaning quite so often. The bike, I mean. The bike!

Those late night return trips along an empty motorway allowed me to test its standing start quarter mile abilities.  Can you imaging finding any time of day or night you could stop in the centre lane of a major motorway nowadays?  Mind you today’s 500cc bikes, although water-cooled, would now pull wheelies under such conditions. The CX kept its front wheel firmly rooted to the ground.

It was eventually sold when I realised the Fionas started outnumbering the Ingers so I had to get a car.  I did a poor deal that involved swapping it for a Hillman Avenger that eventually got swapped for a bicycle that got nicked.  It was a sad end to a good bike.

But the key question is would I have it back?  With that repaired frame?  No way.  Other than for sentimental reasons.  Parked up in a garage.

Author: Vince Poynter

From the Bikes section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 2 Apr 2018 but first published in the website in Jul 2005
The first two images are of the author’s Honda CX200 as originally purchased in late 1980.  The engine protection bars and rear rack were non-standard fitments by the original owner [image first added in Version 3 of the website]
The third image shows the author sat astride his bike, along with Spike [wearing leathers] and his Honda CB360.  The girl next to the author is a german friend met at the campsite.  The other two guys were also at the site but the author didn’t seem quite so keen on these two for some reason.  The image was taken around Summer 1981
The fourth image, dated around late 1981 shows the author sat astride the bike with the new non-standard stainless steel exhaust.  The other non-standard feature is the author’s girlfriend of the time.  The image was taken outside her, decidely non-standard, family home
The final two images and all captions were added on 2 Apr 2018