“Have any of you done Mod 1 before?” “Yeah. I did it on Thursday and dropped it on my leg in the slalom.” “So there’s your first lesson. These bikes are heavier than you’ll be used to. Keep them moving. Anyone else?” “I did a skills day like this a year ago,” says Kevin. He describes the instructor. Richard knows him. His tone stays instructional. “Oh yeah. Good guy,” he says. “Dead now. He was filtering on the north circular. Lorry driver was stationary. Opened the door on him. Broke his neck. I went to his funeral. So … if you’re filtering, don’t go at 30. Go at 10. Anyone else…”
After another morning working on taming these monsters I get the tube to Tottenham Court Road. I’m getting contact lenses from Specsavers. I’ve forgotten it’s Pride until I emerge into rainbow heaven. It’s a happy atmosphere in town today. I’m in my biking leathers, but most people are bright, smiling, festooned with ribbons. There are a few guys in leather but without the crash helmet. I don’t feel out of place. I drink in the atmosphere a while, and go to my lens fitting feeling imperceptibly happier. Then I go for a walk through town to Camden just to see the colours. The pennants flying. People have even beribboned their dogs.
Makeup and bright colours everywhere. A happy and free celebration. Funny to think this started as a riot 50 years ago in a different world. 1969, fourteen years after Alan Turing who had cracked the enigma code, poisoned himself after he was chemically castrated. Desperate. The summer of love. Nixon as president before he was impeached. The days my parents always looked back on with nostalgic longing.
I walked through the celebration and up northwards to Camden enjoying the festival feeling but not really feeling it was for me to join in fully as a straight white male with nothing but the occasional gender dysmorphia like everybody. I’ll be an ally but this day is not me to dress up in tassels. My people though. Lovely alternative rebellious and colourful. A lovely atmosphere and I didn’t see any of the paste-brigade wobbling their chins in indignance at the dirty differentpeople with their notlikemeness.
Then I went out. I hit a hard beat in a warehouse I know well. I wasn’t feeling it and pulled out early, still with all my motorbike gear. I had a security guard check out the Kevlar lining in the jacket as if it was a stash of rigid acid tabs or similar. Then me and my friends danced to music that was egregious and high volume enough that I kind of wished I had a load of acid sewn into my jacket.
Now I’m asleep in all but name, having pulled myself away from the night and into a peacefulness. Pickle has just jumped on my stomach and she’s going kind a chainsaw. I reckon I’ll be in good company when I dozilyb roll over….