Monday, 22 February 2010


Back in the early 1920s when motorcycles became the new must have it was not uncommon for small clubs to be formed. In 1924 the American Motorcycle Association was formed (AMA for short)and were quick to announce that any club or organisation that did not sign up were branded 'outlaws'.
The whole point of owning a motorcycle was and still is to have that ability to ride free and not tied down by too many over-bearing rules and regulations. In fact, back then, many bikes were owned by young people who wanted to do just that. Show off their skills and go on 'runs' together. Though to do so without the sanction of the AMA had them branded as 'Outlaws'.
From the 1930s through to America's entrance into the Second World War the AMA organised events that included parades, stunts, organised races and hill climbs. These were quite a success and well policed that many towns invited them back - amongst them was a town called Hollister, California.
At the end of the war servicemen came home and while many were able to settle back into civilian life there were those who had become disenchanted - just couldn't settle. War had given them comradeship and, what we know today, a post war syndrome.
Many drifted into the world of motorcycle clubs.
The same thing would happen when the Vietnam Vets came home.
On 4th July 1947 Hollister, California would become the stage for the next chapter to begin. The AMA came to town and several 'outlaw' gangs rode in as well. Most modern accounts call them 'Hells Angels' but they did not exist at the time for they would form in the 1950s.
Hollister became a 'wild west' town with motorcyclists ('biker' as a term did not exist then, either) drag racing along main street or riding into a bar and burning rubber.
The AMA were quick to distance themselves from the events in Hollister by stating that 99% of motorcyclists were law abiding and what happened in that Californian town was by 'outlaw' motorcyclists - in other words by anyone who was not a member of the AMA. 'Outlaws' now being the odd one per cent.
Hollister, though, was the catalyst.
The report of the incident in 'Life' magazine and a short story by Frank Rooney in Harper's magazine called 'Cyclists' Raid' inspired the 1953 Stanley Kramer movie 'The Wild One' and made Marlon Brando a star. And the image of the leather clad motorcyclist sitting astride a Triumph Thunderbird has become iconic - and the Black Rebels Motorcycle Club would pave the way for other 'outlaw' and 'one per center' clubs to form.
1948 saw a Hells Angels Motorcycle Club form at Fontana, California and, later, Sonny Barger's Oakland chapter came into being. Whenever anyone thinks 'Hells Angels' then it is the 'one per center' Oakland Chapter that comes to mind.
The first definitive book about the Angels was written by Hunter S. Thompson. Many have followed in the wake of this but have lacked distinction.
Over the years Hells Angels Motorcycle Clubs have crossed continents. The first club outside of the US was Auckland, New Zealand in 1961. In the UK two chapters opened in London in 1969 - they would merge five years later.

Call them what you will - outlaws, one percenters, Hells Angels or bikers - the history is a lot longer than people imagine. It began long before 'The Wild One'.
It began the moment that one biker bonded with his machine. When he looked down the road and thought of the freedom he had. The drifter had a new horse to ride - and one life that he intended to live to the full.

Saturday, 6 February 2010



A Short Story

I woke up absolutely ravenous.
Nor was I in a good mood.
For starters my boyfriend – no, my ex-boyfriend had dumped me the day before to move in with the tarty blonde who had moved into the flat above mine. I mean he was all over her from the moment she arrived with all her belongings stacked in the back of her hired van.
There he was up and down stairs doing all the carrying and humping all the heavy stuff while she cooed and waggled her body while telling him what a strong boy he was. The compliments just flowed out of her mouth and he lapped it all up. Of course, I just smiled. I mean Alex and I were meant to spend the rest of our lives together – right?
It took less than a week for Blondie to hook him and grab him for her own. Though it may have been the other way round judging from the love bite on her neck.
I went and did what any normal girl would have done under the circumstances – I went and did some comfort shopping. Clothes took top priority and then I spotted some nice black silk sheets that included a duvet cover and a pair of scarlet pillowcases.
As soon as I got home I changed the bedding just to get rid of the final traces of Alex. I mean it had been a bit tortuous sleeping in a bed with only his smell next to me.
Stupid idea that turned out to be.
I spent the night slipping and sliding all over the bed and grabbing at the duvet before it skidded to the floor. Meanwhile, the pillows developed a life of their own by crashing across the bedside table clearing it. The bedside lamp, the digital clock/radio, a glass of red wine and the book that I was halfway through were scattered across the floor. Of course, as luck would have it, the book had fallen into a pool of red wine causing a pattern to be splattered over the cream lampshade. It looked like a scene out of a slasher movie.
So, I was not in a good mood when I lurched out of bed to pull back the heavy, red velvet curtains, lean my hands on the window sill and look down on the street below. And, yes, I knew I was being watched. I mean every time, without fail, Binocular Man was standing there with his magnified eyes glued to my naked body. He lived in the flat opposite me and looked like a complete nerd. I had seen him in the street and, at first, I thought the binoculars were a permanent feature. Turned out he wore glasses with these thick lenses that looked like the base of a bottle and magnified his blue eyes. They were his best feature as they dominated his face with two big blue pools.
Okay, so I encouraged him by doing a few poses but, hey, a girl is entitled to a little attention. I’m not ashamed of my body.
Maybe, one day I might just get up close and personal with the guy. Though, if the truth be told, if I did he’d probably run a mile.
Anyway, to cut to the chase.
Like I said I was that hungry that I could have ate the proverbial horse. So I got dressed.
All the clothes were new and smelled it. A black vest with a Goth design, close-fitting blue jeans that looked as though a denim design had been painted onto my legs. Long black leather thigh length boots with heels that added an extra couple of inches to my height. I completed the outfit with a nice shiny biker’s leather jacket.
I looked real cool, even if I say so myself.
I left the flat and made sure that the lock was secured before I skipped off down the stairs. I was half way down when I tripped and fell. My self-confidence was severely bruised at this point.
I picked myself up and limped over to sit on the stairs to examine the damage. The heel of my left boot had been completely ripped off. A hundred quid down the drain and I had hardly worn them five minutes. Good job I had kept the receipt. And if the snooty cow who sold them to me refused a refund then she was going to get it in the neck.
Having changed my footwear I, finally, made it out the door. I stood there for a moment and did a quick twirl for the benefit of Binocular Man. Let’s face it I knew that he followed my every move and I love playing to the crowd.
Just to annoy him I crossed the road and out of his line of sight then headed into town. It was time to find a replacement for Alex and I knew just the place to go hunting.
‘The Basement’ was just that. A jazz club below a nightclub, the only difference being that it was open almost 24/7. Most times they had live music while at others there was always something playing on the ancient Wurlitzer jukebox – a relic from the Sixties when ‘The Basement’ had been a coffee bar for the bikers. Daft, I know but I like a touch of nostalgia now and again.
For the time of day the place was quite packed and it was just by luck that I found an empty stool at the bar. Well, someone else was about to park their backside on it but I moved fast.
The poor girl just stood there all shocked and surprised and stammered out an apology that she hadn’t noticed me sitting there. I just gave her an indulgent smile before ordering a glass of red wine.
I sat there leaning with one elbow on the bar while I toyed with my glass with my free hand. All the time I was watching what was going on around me through the mirror opposite. The place seemed to be filled with total nerds. Nothing grabbed my interest.
I spent an hour of wasted time when I decided that it was time to go on to someplace else.
I swivelled on my seat, then gaped. Oh!! This was a real dreamboat. All corded muscles that stretched his T-shirt tight across his body. Close cut blond hair and gorgeous chiselled features – and he was grinning at me.
He was so fit that my nipples were trying to burst out the front of my vest. Oh God, I could smell him – he was so yummy and I had to have him.
A wave was thrown in my direction. I smiled, invitingly, and waved back. He nodded and winked then swept right by me into the arms of the guy who was sitting behind me.
What an idiot I had been. In frustration I hammered my head on the bar and, probably, knocked any remaining sense out of it. How could life be so cruel?
Regaining my composure I began to climb off the stool. It was at this point that the dreamboat decided to turn around and catch me off balance with his elbow. My mouth met the edge of bar and I heard a sharp crack. Blood spurted and I saw a tooth skid across the counter. Ignoring the blood, I scooped up the tooth and kept it in a tight grip. There was no way that I was going to lose that tooth.
Dreamboat was fussing around me and apologising but I wasn’t interested. I shoved him away and slammed him into his mate who fell off his stool and sent the whole line of drinkers along the bar down like dominos. There are times, I have to admit, when I forget my own strength but right then I was in a shear state of panic. I had to get to A & E fast and find a dental surgeon.
Sucking at my own blood I ran up the steps and straight into Binocular Man. The collision sent him flying, his bottle lensed glasses landing in his lap. He looked up at me and I realised just how good looking he was without glasses or binoculars. Any other time and I would have been all over him.
“Are you all right?” he asked, climbing to his feet and dusting himself down. “Oh, you’re bleeding.”
“Stating the bloody obvious,” I bubbled through the blood. “Just not been my day. I’m hungry and I need to get my teeth fixed.”
“Right,” he said, decisively. “I’ll get you a cab and – and if you want you can come back to my place for a feed.”
I could have given him a mouthful right there and then. But, then again, someone offering to feed me doesn’t come along everyday.
“Why wait?” I asked, grabbing his arm and dragging him up the alley alongside ‘The Basement’.
I went straight for the jugular.
He screamed.
I screamed - as the exposed nerve of my missing incisor crashed against the skin of his neck sending an electric shock right into the depths of the gum.
Idiotic as it may sound but who has ever heard of a one fanged vampire?
For reasons that I did not understand at the time, Ian, for that was the name of Binocular Man, grabbed a cab and got me to A&E where I found a dental surgeon to fix my tooth. You see we have people all over the place for such emergencies. The downside was that I couldn’t use it for a while and then, when it was mended, I would have to be careful. On the plus side the doctor did explain to Ian how to feed me during the interim.
So here we are months later and Ian and I are still together – for life.
I miss his binoculars and his bottle lensed glasses but the gift of life has given him perfect eyesight. At least he keeps me satisfied. We discovered that we had a lot in common and when we go out at night we share everything – what more could a girl want?

Wednesday, 3 February 2010


Most action play games are very samey but 'Bayonetta' is something else.
The director is Hideki Kamiya who created 'Devil May Cry', a very successful series.
Players of 'Devil May Cry 4' may recognise some of the characters that turn up in 'Bayonetta'. But it appears more in style than intent.
Bayonetta, who bears a striking resemblence to the American Senator, Sarah Palin, is voiced by Hellena Taylor.
The character of Bayonetta wakes up 500 years into the future with no memories. As the game progresses some memories begin to surface and she begins to realise that she is one half of the balance between light and darkness.
The action takes place in a city in Europe called Vigrid. Bayonetta is armed with four guns called Parsley, Rosemary, Sage and Thyme - collectively known as Scarborough Fair. (Kamiya likes English Folk Music).
Where this game differs from it's ilk is that it is a totally fresh concept. In part it is a movie that involves the player in making all the right decisions and solving problems.
Add to that that Bayonetta moves through three realms - that of light, darkness and inferno as though drifting through parallel worlds. To be honest I have never played a game like this.
For those that like to get on with the gameplay then the prologue and subsequent cut scenes may seem overlong - but this is a movie type game so stick with it.
If you like 'Devil May Cry' then you'll like 'Bayonetta'. The difference is that you have to think and use everything in your arsenal to get through each level.
Just to add a spoiler - the end isn't and even when the credits roll there are new challenges to face - now you wouldn't want to finish a game and not collect all the unlockables.
However, I do have one misgiving. This game is so different to others that there is the fear that it could disappear into obscurity.
'Bayonetta' is available for both the Xbox 360 and PS3.