Tuesday, December 9, 2008

THE MOTOR BIKE ©


I'd saved up a fair, few bob now by staying in the Bush and not going into town to spend it.

One day, I said to Arthur "I wouldn't mind one of those new Honda motor bikes. They look like they'd be pretty handy to git around on."

"How much do they cost?"

"Oh probably around 200 quid."

"How much ya got saved up?"

"About 150 quid. I saved a fair bit of money when I was fencing with Smithy and a few bob more at Dick Skipworths."

"Tell ya what I'll do with ya Yorky. We'll go into town and see my Bank Manager. If I go guarantor for ya, he'll probably lend ya the amount ya need for a bike."

"Fair dinkum Arthur, you'd do that for me?"

"Long as ya pay it off mate, why not mate."

"You're a bloody, little beauty Arthur," I said, with an excited grin on mi face.

"I'm goin' into town on Thursday, ya can come in with me and we'll go to the bank."

'Three days wait, that's not far away at all', I thought.

Thursday morning found Arthur and me parking his work Ute outside the Commercial Bank of Australia.

"G'day." said Arthur to the young Bank Johnny who stood behind the counter. "The boss in?"

"I'll tell him ya here, Arthur."

The Bank Manager came out to the front counter a few minutes later. He was the typical Bank Manager type with a white shirt and tie, rather large gut, pair of good shorts with a crease down the front, white socks and shoes. His black-gray hair was very well groomed along with his neatly trimmed mustache.

"Good day Arthur." he said as he approached the counter. "How ya going mate?" he said as he leaned across the wooden counter to shake Arthurs' hand.

"Pretty good Jack. Can't complain mate."

"What can I do for ya today Arthur?"

"I'd like a loan Jack."

"What do you want a loan for Arthur? You've got near on as much money as the bank has." he said jokingly.

"Not for me Jack. This is Yorky, he's working out at my place. He wants to buy one of those new Honda 90s' and he's short a few bob."

"Good day Yorky." he said. "Come through to the inside office gentlemen. I'm sure we can arrange that. Sit down.," he said as he took his seat behind the large black desk with his name on it. "How much do ya need Yorky?"

"A hundred quid would cover it. I've already got the rest saved up."

"Ya gotta' account with us Yorky?"

"No, it's in mi pocket in 20s'"

"Alright mate, you'll have to open an account with it and then we'll draw it back out and lend ya the rest. Ya gonna' guarantee it for him Arthur?"

"Yeah, give me the papers to sign and I'll co-sign it with him."

As soon as the paper work was done, the Bank Manager read the terms of the agreement back to Arthur and me; I signed it in the appropriate places.

"Alright Yorky, ya understand that if, for some reason, ya don't pay the loan in the time stated, Arthur will have to pay it, alright?"

"I understand."

"Pick ya money up at the counter on ya way out then. Thanks for ya business Yorky."

"Oh thanks for the loan." I said with a handshake.

When we got outside the bank I said to Arthur, "I really appreciate that Arthur. You're a really decent bloke mate."

"No worries Yorky. Just make sure ya pay it off in time, then if ya ever need another loan for a Ute later on, you'll have a good track record with 'em mate. Where's the Honda at Yorky?"

"Down the end of the street at Chamens."

"OK, we can walk down there mate. I'll come with ya to make sure everything goes all-right for ya."

It didn't take very long before the bike was loaded into the back of Arthurs' Ute and tied down so it couldn't move around on the way back to his place. Ya may wonder why I didn't ride it back. Well the truth is I had no idea how to!

Once we went over the ramp into Arthurs' road paddock, he said "Let's take it off the back Yorky. Ya can ride it from here."

After the ropes were undone, we got one on each side of it and lifted the back wheel down onto the dirt track. Arthur squeezed the clutch and we pushed it back off the tailgate of the Ute.

"Git on her Yorky and give her a good burn."

The Honda 90 was the latest bike of its size, out on the market. It was black and silver with the Honda wings on the side of the petrol tank. It had a double seat and a single exhaust pipe.

I sat on the new seat, turned on the key and kicked down on the starter. The bike fired up first time.

"That's a good sign." said Arthur. "Ya' got ya' self a real good little bike there Yorky."

"What's the gears again Arthur?"

"One up and 3 down mate."

"Clunk!"
The bike was in first gear and I slowly let the clutch out and it glided off smoothly up the dirt track. I was wobbling so much on it I had to jam on the brakes 'cause I was too close to the fence and the last thing I wanted was to drop it and scratch the hell out of it. I pushed it well away from the fence and then said,

"Arthur, you have a go on it mate. See how it goes."

Arthur swung his leg over her and took off up the track, no problem at all. He spun it around and pulled up right alongside of me, the Log Cabin fag was still smoldering away as he got off.

"She's a beauty Yorky. Hop on her again and take ya time. I'm going up to the house for a cuppa'"

As soon as Arthur took off, I felt a bit more comfortable at trying it out so I started her up again and put her into first gear and eased out the clutch.

'Now we're cruising!'
I thought as I got used to maneuvering her around. It only took about an hour or so before I was feeling quite competent on it.

Over the next week or so, I rode mi new bike all over the property.

One day Arthur said to me, "Why don't ya ride her into town Yorky. It'll give ya a bit more freedom mate."

"I haven't got a license Arthur."

"That don't matter Yorky. Call in and see the old Sarge. He's a good friend of mine. He's coming out here to do a bit of waterskiing next weekend with his family. Just tell him ya workin' for me Mate. He'll give ya a learners permit."

On Saturday morning I rode mi new bike into Lake Cargelligo. It was not as easy as it sounds though, especially when the cars and trucks went past. They threw up a heap of stones and dust behind 'em that stung the body when they hit and the dust was so thick it was hard to see where I was going.

"Good day Sergeant Montgomery." I said as I walked into the Police Station.

"Good day young fella'." He said, eyeing me with suspicion. "What can I do for ya mate?"

The sergeant was a big bloke with a large barrel chest. He had a pleasant enough face, but I heard through the Bush grapevine that he didn't take shit from no one.

"My name's Richard Swindells and I'm working out at Arthur Auberrys' place and he suggested I see you for a permit to ride mi new bike."

"All right, give us a minute or two till I can find where that Constable of mine has put 'em. How's Arthur?", he said as he looked under the counter.

"He's pretty good. He said you're comin' out to his place to waterski next weekend Sergeant."

"I'm comin' out there but ya won't catch me on no bloody waterskis. My young daughter likes 'em and I like to sit in the shade of a good tree with a cool can a' Fosters in mi hand. Here we go, fill that in and sign it here."

Once I paid for the permit, he gave me the slip and my portion of the permit and 2 cardboard L plates.
"Make sure a put 'em on."

He must have read my mind 'cause I was thinkin' about the embarrassment of riding around with the two L plates on mi new bike.

I still had a few Quid left when I drove away from the Cop Shop so I went back to Chamens where I bought mi bike and ordered a new windshield for it, 'cause the flying stones and dust were a bit dangerous.

The new Honda was the best thing that I'd ever bought. Arthur was absolutely right; it gave me a newfound sense of freedom.

Sometimes, I'd ride to town during the week and sometimes I'd go and visit Kevin up the top end of town, at his apartment.

A few times, 1 or 2 of the local sheilas would ask me to take 'em for a ride around town. This was a bit risky 'cause I wasn't supposed to carry anyone on the back until I'd gotten mi full license.

There was another couple a' young blokes in Lake Cargelligo who also had new Hondas, so on a hot Saturday afternoon, when all the shoppers had gone and the dusty, bitumen Main street was quite deserted, we used to burn up and down the street, practicing back-wheel-slides and front-wheel-stands. It was quite hard to wheel-stand my small Honda until this bloke called McFadden showed me how to sit right back on the seat. This made the front-end much lighter and up she'd go for 10 or 15 yards before she'd drop again.

The old Seargent was not too pleased with this kind of activity so we had to keep a good eye out for him. One Saturday morning, I decided to ram a crowbar up the exhaust to knock the baffles out. When I started it up, it scared off all of Arthurs' chooks. It sounded great to me. It used to roar like a small tractor when I screwed up the throttle. Many's the time I would scare a cockies wife as I sped around her on her way to town.

It took quite a skill to control the bike on the corrugated dirt corners, especially when I had it flat out at 55 MPH. The back wheel would slide into the corner as I leaned right over. I had developed the knack of sliding mi boot and correcting the front wheel which made the bike go sideways and forward, until I pulled it up straight again.

One Friday night, as I was heading into town, I was going around the last dirt corner before the bitumen started, I was doing about 45 and the bike was skidding nicely when, all of a sudden a work Ute loomed up in front of me. I would have hit it straight on if the driver had not of swerved onto the opposite side of the road. This gave me a hell of a scare so I decided to take it a bit easier from then on.

The next morning, I was sat outside the Hotel Australian when the old Sergeant came up to me.
"G'day Yorky."

"G'day Sergeant Montgomery."

"Ya permits run out, hasn't it?"

"I think so Sergeant."

"Listen,", he said, "I don't mind ya driving with no license but for Christ sake use ya fuckin' head mate! Fix that bloody exhaust pipe. I can hear ya set off from Arthurs' place every time ya come into town! Now, do the right thing mate or I'll run ya' in next time! Alright Yorky?"

"Yes Sergeant, and thanks for telling me."

"Don't fuckin' mention it mate. I'd do the same for a white fella'"

A few minutes later as I was sat there, trying to figure out how I was gonna fix it, Kevin Skippy pulled up and reversed into the space next to me.

"G'day Kevin.", I said, as he got out of his new car.

"Jesus Christ Yorky! You're turning into a real fuckin' tear arse!"

"What d'ya mean Kevin?"

"I very nearly wiped ya out last night mate. Ya must a' been doin' 50 around that corner and ya were on the wrong fuckin' side of the road as well. Ya gave me a hell of a bloody fright, ya bastard."

"Oh, was that you?"

"Just as fuckin' well it was, ya pommy bastard or you'd be dead if it was some old Cockies wife."

"Yeah, I suppose ya right Kevin. The old Sergeant just gave me the word too."

"You're a temporary Australian Yorky.", he said with a smile.

"What d'ya mean Kevin?"
"That's what we call blokes who 'yahoo' on motor bikes, temporary Australians. Anyway, how ya doin', ya bastard? Ya like it out at old Arthurs' place?"

"Yeah mate. Arthur's a real fair dinkum bloke. He got me a loan for the bike."

"Make sure ya don't kill ya self on it then or Arthur wouldn't be happy about that, would he?"

"Yeah, ya not wrong there mate. I've decided to slow down a bit, especially after last night. It scared the shit out of me as well when you came off the bitumen and hit the dirt right in font of me. I thought I was a gonner for sure."
"Alright Yorky, I'm off to the Hotel to see Stan Booth. Look after ya self mate."

"See ya later Kevin."

I rode mi bike across and down the street to Chamens and ordered a new baffle for the exhaust pipe and the following weekend I was installing it at Arthurs' place when Sergeant Montgomery and his wife and daughter came driving down the yard.

"G'day Sergeant.", I said as he pulled up level with me.

I held up the baffle in mi greasy hand and said, "One new baffle Sergeant!"

"Good on ya Yorky. You'd better come in for a license next Saturday morning while you're at it."
"Will I have to take a test Sergeant?"

"You know all the answers in the code book?"

"Sure do Sergeant. I memorized all 26 by heart.
"
"Then there's not much use giving ya a test is it? I know you can drive 'cause I've seen ya riding that bike on one bloody wheel so I suppose ya can ride it just as well on two, right?"

"Right Sergeant. I'll be in the station next Saturday morning for sure."

Just then, Arthur came out of the gate and walked over to the car.

"G'day Monty. Park ya' car over in the shade mate and come inside. I've got cold can of Fosters for ya in the fridge."