For twenty three years the Bulldog Bash has been held just outside Stratford upon Avon, Warwickshire at the racecourse at Long Marston. It is one of the biggest motorcycle events to be held in this country and attracts visitors from across the world. This year saw 'Motorhead' headline the music acts. The Bulldog Bash celebrates both music and motorcycles from the bog standard to the customised. It caters for families as well as the bike enthusiasts. In simple terms it makes for a good day out or all weekend depending what you go for. I go to a few bike meets and I'll talk to anyone. Most times I turn up in my leather or my denim with it's badges but that doesn't make me a Hell's Angel. In fact even the name Hell's Angel is a collective term like a pride of lions. Bikers come in various, how can I put it - kinds, I suppose. There are Outlaws, One Per Centers, Old School Rockers - and, of course, Hell's Angels. But it is easier for the press and police to just lump the whole lot together under one name. There are sixteen chapters of Hell's Angels in the UK. The first of these dates back to about 1973 five years after The Beatles brought a couple of American angels to Britain. The profile of Britain's Hell's Angels is so low that, unlike America and Canada, there is no special police force to investigate their activities.
So why is the Chief Constable of Warwickshire, Keith Bristow, getting so steamed up about the Bulldog Bash? He wants to stop the Bash from becoming an annual event. He doesn't want a motorcycle/musical event to be staged on his turf by the criminal fraternity who's one aim is raise funds for their criminal activities. On the other hand he would be quite happy if the event was carried out by 'responsible' people - as long as they weren't Hell's Angels. Despite losing the appeal to have the 10 year licence granted to the organisers because he had no evidence to back up his claims, Keith Bristow is determined to plough on and search for any legal opportunity, whether criminal or civil, to put an end to the Bulldog Bash. He complains that the organisers won't show him the books to show where the money goes - but then, the organisers are a registered limited company who, by law, and do file their company accounts. Second, most people know that funds go to charities that support our armed forces. What most people don't know is that Hell's Angels arranged days out for disabled children and Christmas Toy runs for children in hospital and countless other charitable works throughout the year. See you at the Bulldog Bash 2010 - then. So they have a bad rep but that goes with the territory. Just read Hunter S. Thompson's 'Hells Angels' or Julian Sher and William Mardsen's 'Angels Of Death' and you wouldn't want to meet one in a dark alley. But up close and beneath those leathers, badges and tattoos are some of the nicest blokes you could meet. There has been publicity like the shooting of Gerry Tobin on the M40 after the 2007 Bulldog Bash and the battle at Birmingham Airport earlier this year between Outlaws and Angels. On the other hand there have been a lot more bad things that happened in the world that have dwarfed these isolated instances. But don't take my word for it - a spokesman for the Hell's Angels of England and Wales had this point to make: "If we are organised criminals why do we ride around quite openly displaying patches saying who we are. We get together to ride our bikes, visit our brothers here and overseas and party. Just because some of our members have crossed the line doesn't make every member a criminal nor a club a criminal organisation." And Angels come from all walks of life.