Twenty-one riders have died at the Isle of Man TT since the year 2000. The latest is 43-year old Yoshinari Matsushita who was killed yesterday (27th May 2013) during qualifications. He came to grief at Ballacrye on the 37.75 mile Mountain Course. He was riding for Tyco Suzuki.
— Del Monte
Last year, on Saturday 8th September 2012, Charlotte Tagg was killed at the Frosts National Brighton Speed Trials on Madeira Drive, Brighton, West Sussex. She was a passenger for Roger Hollingshead who was piloting an ASCO Honda sidecar. The outfit crashed after the finish line.
Charlotte, we hear, was an experienced sporting motorcyclist but was new to the VMCC Sprint Section. As a result of the incident, this year's event has been cancelled. As we understand it, the decision was made following advice from the (Brighton) City Safety Advisory Group whose job speaks for itself.
Additionally, the coroner still hasn't conducted an inquest into the crash, which may or may not be connected to road surface issues along Madeira Drive. Certainly, plenty of people on the internet forums are expressing concerns about the "track". But the consensus is that the event should go ahead anyway.
And we would agree. Provided reasonable measures are taken to improve or maintain safety, the competitors are adults and recognise and accept the risks.
However, the Brighton and Hove Motor Club, which organises the event, has taken a different view whilst expressing concern that the official investigation is taking so long. Apparently, the inquest was opened soon after (as usual), and was adjourned until September 2013, which is very inconvenient timing. Moreover, it appears that the coroner has requested a jury to hear the matter, which is less usual.
We asked Tony Johnstone, chairman of the Brighton and Hove Motor Club and organiser of the event, if the Speed Trials are likely to be permanently cancelled.
Said Tony, "No, not at all. We're already talking about the 2014 event and are making plans. But we need to see this inquest through first. I can confirm that the 2013 event is definitely not going to happen."
Roger Hollingshead suffered multiple injuries, notably to his chest, back and ankles. For a while he was in a critical condition, but we've been told that he's "still on the mend". Beyond that, we have no further information.
— Del Monte
It starts at 10.00am and ends at around 5.00pm, and if you're worthy of the name "rocker" you've just got to be there.
The location is, of course, Jack's Hill Cafe which you can find on the A5, Watling Street, Towcester, which is pronounced "toaster".
So if you're foreign, or just don't know any better, don't go around saying "to-cester" or everyone will snigger behind your back and will know you're ignorant.
That aside, this is likely to be a big shindig, so mark it in your diary and underline it. And if you're an ageing rocker, try not to die until at least the day after because you'll miss one of the best events of the year.
The Rapiers will be twanging their thang. There will be camping (no, not that kind of camping). There will be greasy food and mugs of tea and chips and plenty of British iron polluting the atmosphere with luvverly hydrocarbons and dumping oil everywhere. There will be movies. There will be traders. There will be a night party. There will be girls. There will be acres of black leather. And there will be a lot of wonderful nonsense talked about exactly how fast Ray or Ted or Johnno or Freddie was going back in 1961 before he fell off his Tribsa at the roundabout and landed in a hedge.
There's no entry fee. Just turn up. Have fun. You're a long time dead.
— Big End
We met "Chester" in September 2010 Sump. Back then, he was flogging copies of his second book: Just For Kicks: the story of your life, which was the timely follow up to: Just for Kicks: the story of my life.
Well, you can't keep this guy in his box because we spotted him the other day at Kempton Park Autojumble campaigning his most recent offering: Just for Kicks: The Big Picture Book.
After his last two self-published productions, you might think there wasn't a lot more to say about Chester's view of the 1950s and 1960s rock'n'roll years as witnessed from the saddle of his various motorcycles.
But clearly there was— although most of it is now being said in the form of images rather than words. However, if a picture is worth a thousand of them, this book will keep you reading for weeks, if not years.
Like Chester's previous works, the design and presentation is a little amateurish. But as we've said before, that's not a bad thing. It's actually a good thing. It's real and honest and direct. Forget Dorling Kindersley, this isn't a slick designer tome crafted by noodle-eating, angst-ridden Mac drivers. It's just one guy,
a Box Brownie, a clear vision, and half a century of recollections.
We're talking about thousands of images of film posters, record labels, girly magazine covers, guys on bikes, girls on bikes, news clippings, personal pictures, postcards, lapel badges and whatever. This book is a telephone directory of images. Prepare to have your eyeballs blitzed.
If you were there, as Chester was, you'll be amazed at how much you forgot. If you weren't there, you'll be amazed at how the world has changed.
Chester's asking a very reasonable £27 for a copy. And if you beg, he'll scrawl his signature inside.
We forgot how many pages it is, but the first two books in the series carried around 380, and this is about the same size. It's also got a rock'n'roll CD in the back too, by the way (which surely ought to be vinyl?).
Regardless, he's had 1000 books printed, and that's that. And that's partly why certain copies have changed hands for around £300.
We think this volume is likely to be something of a cult publication. Such things come around every once in a while, and Chester's Big Picture Book is sending all the right signals.
If you want a copy (and remember; this could have very good investment potential) email him and talk about getting the money from your pocket and into his. We bought a copy and now we can't wait for him to die. The price is bound to shoot up.
Just kidding of course. We're confident that Chester has a few more ideas knocking around in his head, and we suspect that he hasn't touched the bottom of his memories. We certainly hope not.
— Girl Happy
They were aiming for 100 motorcycles on the day, but by the time entries closed, they had only 87.
That's not bad actually, because this is the first time that Historics at Brooklands, which is barely three years old, has put motorcycles up on the block. Until now, the firm has dealt exclusively in classic cars and motoring memorabilia.
But all that's changed. Their inaugural motorcycle sale will take place on Saturday 1st June 2013 at Brooklands, Weybridge, Surrey KT13 0QN.
Said John Tomlin, auction negotiator; "We're actually very pleased with the number of bikes we have. We worked very hard to get the entries, and the response has been very good. Yes, there are other motorcycle sales around the UK, but this one is the furthest south and covers the South West region, and we're hoping it will draw a lot of interest."
But in an internet age, does venue location really make a difference?
"We think it does," said Tomlin. "It's a question of logistics, particularly with regard to sellers who would prefer not to have to move their bikes too far from their homes to the auction venue, especially if they've got a number of machines. By being at Brooklands, we hope to address that concern and make auctions more accessible and further open the market."
The British bikes on sale include:
▲ Lot 251, a 1950 998cc Vincent Black Lightning.
Update: This bike did not sell at auction, and is currently (13th June 2013) under offer.
▲ Lot 253, a 1949 998cc Vincent HRD Rapide to Lightning Specification
Update: This bike did not sell at auction.
▲ Lot 227, a 1937 AJS 1000cc V-twin (reads "1932" on the licence plate)
Update: This bike did not sell at auction.
▲ Lot 242, 1932 1140cc Royal Enfield Model K
Update: This bike did not sell at auction.
▲ Lot 248, a 1954 598cc Panther M600
Update: This bike did not sell at auction.
The Panther particularly caught our attention, not simply because even our modest piggy bank could stretch to buying that, but also due to the unusual front mudguard mounted rack. Can't recall that we've seen that before (but then, we lead a fairly sheltered life).
If you want to inspect these bikes prior to the auction, you'll need to get down to Brooklands on Friday 31st May 2013 between 10.00am and 8.00pm. The sale takes place the following day. The bikes will be going under the hammer from 11.30am.
Historics has given themselves two and a half hours to sell 87 motorcycles, which works out at less than two minutes per bike. That's sounds a little optimistic, but we'll see how it goes on the day.
The seller entry fee is £100 per bike, and there's a 10 percent commission on buyers and sellers (plus 20 percent VAT on the commission).
Lastly, there a 1940 Zündapp KS600 (Lot 229) in this sale that, we hear, has been drawing a lot of interest. The estimate is £9,500-£12,500. Keep your eyes on this one.
Update: This bike sold for £11,200
Overall, it looks like this could be shaping up to be a significant event in the classic bike/investor bike calendar. Good luck to Historics.
Update: See June 2013 Sump, Historics at Brooklands results for an update on this news story. There's another angle here.
— The Third Man
They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and we were suitably flattered when, on Saturday 25th May 2013, we discovered that Kempton Park Autojumble trader Ray Sumpter was selling ripped-off copies of our popular Beeza Geeza T-shirt design (image below).
We were tipped off about the shirts by two Sump visitors (thank you very much guys), and we took numerous pictures of Ray and company flogging our intellectual property. And being rip-offs, Ray doesn't have to spend time, money and a lot of effort developing the designs and marketing them. And he doesn't use the revenue from the sales to fund the free Sump web site, all of which means he can sell them cheaper.
His tees weren't as good as ours, mind. And the large stock we seized on the day will provide handy cleaning rags for the oily heaps in the Sump garage. He says he bought them "from a bloke at Donington", but he "can't remember who", which is maybe the biker equivalent of; "I bought them from a bloke in a pub".
Apparently, Ray—who trades as Tru-Brit (Motorcycle Shirts since 1959)— was at least partly attracted to our product because of the similarity between the name Sump and his surname, Sumpter (and we suspect that he was also attracted by the desire to earn a few sponduliks at our cost). He also had the audacity to market them as "Sump tees by RETRORAY.
No big deal?
Well it is actually. It's theft, plain and simple. All Sump designs are unique. All Sump designs are handled right here by ourselves. And we don't sell or licence them to ANY other trader.
Moreover, we will AGGRESSIVELY and ENERGETICALLY go after autojumblers, shops or ebayers who rip-off our property, be it actual or digital.
Currently, we're looking at three other individuals who, in various ways, are flattering us by stealing the food from our plate.
We're gathering evidence detailing clear and persistent abuse, and modern courts have finally reacted appropriately to this growing issue and are levying punitive fines ranging from thousands of pounds to tens of thousands of pounds.
We'll also be keeping a special eye on you, Ray, up there in Sandiacre, Notts. And if we find any more of our shirt designs on your stall, there will be trouble. We'll react WITHOUT FURTHER NOTICE, and we'll audit the other products on your stand—some which look like you're busy flattering a few other well known firms out there.
So if you've got any other Sump tees lurking in the back of your van, better get shot of them. If we have to do it for you, it's gonna cost you.
Genuine Sump Beeza Geeza T-shirt
If you knew you were never going to die, would you still believe in your God? We recently put this question to a Muslim friend of ours who had to think for a minute and cluck his tongue a couple of times before finally deciding that no, he probably wouldn't.
"What would be the point?" he said.
Which kinda sums up the whole religious paradigm, doesn't it? People believe in God, or Allah, or Jehovah, or whoever simply because it's a hedge against mortality. It's the final desperate hope of men and women headed towards an indifferent eternity. It’s the existential fingernails of the human race sliding down the walls of inevitable extinction.
On the day after Lee Rigby, a 25 year old British soldier, was murdered on a London street in broad daylight (as if that really makes a difference), the entire question of "faith" has come under renewed scrutiny.
Now we hear calls for the various communities to come together and not do what the so-called "terrorist killers" wanted the communities to do, which is to descend into urban warfare and backlash and spill blood in an orgasmic religious fervour in the name of the great prophet.
But communities? Plural? Shouldn't that be community, singular? Fact is, this ongoing divisive multicultural experiment is likely to simply throw up new and inventive ways for the sickos, the scumbags, the fanatics, the losers, the no-hopers, the extremists and the general dross of humanity to indulge their primal need for attention, recognition and approbation.
"In short, we need to get the soldiers out
and get Saatchi and Saatchi in."
The Muslim community is said to be shocked and is largely distancing itself from this "act of barbarism", to quote Home Secretary, Theresa May. And even if it's true that this community is not directly responsible, it is nevertheless indirectly at least partly to blame for providing the long grass within which the hatchet-wielding, new-age, Koran-thumping, bomb-throwing medievalists hide and find succour.
No, we're not advocating hate for any "community". Far from it. But we are suggesting that the rampant evil of organised religion is not something that can be tolerated any longer in a civilised country or, for that matter, in the civilised world. In an age of suitcase-sized nuclear weapons, it's simply too dangerous. Sooner or later, something very big will go bang.
The time to get the troops out of the Middle East and Afghanistan is long overdue. This isn't, after all, a winnable military war that can be campaigned on a conventional battlefield. This is an ideological apocalypse that needs to be fought not with smart bombs and drones and air strikes and boots on the ground, but with relentless corrective propaganda.
In short, we need to get the soldiers out and get Saatchi and Saatchi in.
We need the ad men. We need people who can sell ideas. We need people who can change minds. We need to drive home the idea that organised religion, of all kinds, is simply organised superstition. We need to expose it for what it is. We need to laugh at it. Ridicule it. Dismantle it. Pull it to pieces.
And we urgently need to stop paying lip-service to it.
Nick Griffin of the British National Party called Islam "a nasty, vicious faith". Well they're all pretty nasty and vicious when given enough rope. Look at the Spanish Inquisition. Look at purges in India and elsewhere in the Far East. Look at Nazism and communism, which are just religions of a different kind.
The UK, and other Western nations, have paid out far too much of that rope in recent years and needs to start jerking some leads. Bigtime.
This soldier—this man—is dead not simply because a couple of deluded
?*%!@?!s (pick your epithet) hacked the life out of him with a knife and a meat cleaver, but also because the social petri dish in which he existed, and was serving, allowed other nasty cultures to grow and thrive.
But has the UK government, and other Western governments, really got the stomach to take on this fundamental schism in British society?
Probably not, we figure. Not yet, anyway.
Long established and world class US parts distributor, DomiRacer, is being sold off and broken up.
The liquidators have moved in following the announcement by Reba Schanz, widow of DomiRacer founder Bob Schanz, that she wants out.
And why shouldn't she? Reba's been running the classic motorcycle business since 2003 when husband Bob (former editor of defunct Cycle magazine) died, and like the rest of us, she isn't getting any younger.
Cincinnati based DomiRacer Accessory Mart began in 1969. The business set sail slightly ahead of the classic bike boom of the 1970s and 1980s and soon established itself as a purveyor of prime parts and performance paraphernalia for British and European motorcycles built between 1930 and 1980. The firm also created an advanced ordering system and quickly networked with businesses around the world that were looking for the right part at the right price.
DomiRacer largely sourced its vast supply from collections across the USA, and further afield. Where parts were unavailable, the firm recreated them and reintroduced over 500 items to the market.
Now the liquidators have the onerous job of dismantling the business and realising as much cash as it can. On offer are over 26,000 parts lines, a 30,000 square foot warehouse, and six staff who are out of a job unless someone wants to take on the business as a going concern.
And you'd think that that would be quite likely. The DomiRacer brand, after all, might not be up there with Gucci and Harley-Davidson, but it's nevertheless squarely on the map and is probably still capable of turning a few pennies. In fact, the total value of the disposal is said to be around $3million, with a parts retail value of around $12million.
We're talking about items for Benelli, BSA, Ducati, Honda, Moto Guzzi, Norton, Triumph, Vincent, plus collectibles, antiques, literature, backlit signage, petrol pumps, British telephone boxes, antique furniture, office equipment, and much more. But we're not sure exactly what stage the disposal is at because the liquidation is well underway, and much of the business is already broken up.
Moreover, someone at the liquidators pressed the wrong button and sent out the incorrect date for the auction which has rippled around the world. But we've just checked and here's the position:
The auction starts on 11th June 2013, with inspection from 8th-10th June 2013.
The liquidators are Liquid Asset Partners:
The auction is being handled by Cincinnati Industrial Auctioneers :
If you're interested in getting a slice of the cake, you'd better be quick. Shame it had to end this way with what feels like vultures flying lazy circles around the corpse, but that's business. Let's be grateful for the 40 years of service that kept thousands of classic bikes on the road.
— The Third Man
When it comes to evocative sounds played on the travelling motorcyclist's jukebox, it's hard to beat the opening bars of Riders on the Storm by the Doors. If those haunting notes pouring from the keyboard of Ray Manzarek's signature Vox Continental fail to get your spine tingling, we suggest you talk urgently to your doctor and have your nervous system checked out.
You could be dead.
Over the years, in various cafes and pubs around the country, we've certainly spent a lot of money selecting that particular platter and listening to it over bacon sarnies whilst drinking stewed tea. So it's only right that we give a mention to the man with the magic fingers.
Ray Manzarek was born on 12th February 1939 in Chicago, Illinois, USA and died on 20th May 2013 in Rosenheim, Germany where he was receiving treatment for The Big C.
Together with Jim Morrison, he founded the Doors and helped set the mood and tone for a psychedelic generation entranced by songs such as Break on Through, Hello, I Love You, L.A. Woman and The End.
Ray occasionally took the microphone, notably on the final two Doors albums, and was the keyboard player between 1965 and 1973; the beginning to the end. His fluid, laid-back, bassy style was the perfect compliment to Morrison's poetic and charged lyricism.
Following Morrison's death, the remaining Doors split. Ray became a member of numerous rising musical projects and bands, worked as producer, author and film director.
You can't listen to the Doors without hearing Manzarek, a man who was always overshadowed by his anarchic and unpredictable co-founder. But his contribution to the band was huge, and his music will endure.
Ray was 74 years old.
Indian Motorcycles is launching its new 111 cubic inch (1819cc)
49-degree, pushrod Chief at the 73rd Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in Sturgis, South Dakota, which starts on 3rd August 2013 and finishes on 11th August 2013.
The engine was unveiled in March at Daytona, Florida, but the finished bike will hit the streets at Sturgis. The price is just shy of $19,000.
"Choice is coming to American motorcycles" proclaimed the firm in a new "sneak peek" teaser video that seems to have forgotten that Honda, about half a century ago, already provided the Yanks with a lot of choice—while Triumph, even earlier, offered a few alternatives of its own (never mind Victory Motorcycles which are currently being produced by the same parent firm, Polaris Industries).
But let's not quibble. You've got to hype your merchandise if you want anyone to buy it, so good luck to Indian. A little competition to Harley-Davidson can only raise the game. That's the theory, anyway.
The sneak video peek, by the way (images immediately above),
didn't actually show us anything worth re-showing. Just some fast cuts of guys building bikes and looking like craftsmen. But the new Indian Chief currently being built at Spirit Lake, Iowa, USA certainly looks like it's on the way, and there's a certain excitement in that.
But wait a minute? Indian Motorcycles? I-N-D-I-A-N? In an age of political correctness, shouldn't that be Native American Motorcycles?
It actually has quite a nice ring to it. Native American Motorcycles. Remember where you first heard that.
— The Third Man
It's nearly always a shame when a magazine shuts.
Magazines are like people; you get to know them, and they get to know you. They frequently develop a loyal and dedicated fan base, and such magazines get under the skin, sometimes right down to the DNA. And that's exactly the case with Streetfighters.
Over 22 years it's established itself and has developed and refined its product, and a generation has grown up with this magazine at the centre of its life.
Only, it takes more than loyal and dedicated readers to keep a publication in the black. And at just £3.99 per copy, Streetfighters wasn't exactly ripping anyone off with the cover price—and thanks to the recession-that-officially-doesn't-exist, advertising revenues had been falling steadily. Finally, publisher Trinity Mirror pulled the plug, and Streetfighters, as a full blown magazine, is dead.
But it's not quite over.
Streetfighters was spawned by Back Street Heroes (BSH) magazine, and it's going back there in the form of a 32-page monthly supplement. Whether that's viable remains to be seen. But BSH has broad shoulders and has stayed the course when other magazine fell by the wayside. And maybe we'll yet see the return of Streetfighters if and when the economy improves.
Anyway, the last issue is #232, the June 2013 issue which is on sale about now, and that's that. The July issue of BSH, #351, will carry the new Streetfighters supplement. We hear that two editorial staff will lose their jobs, but the ad people are staying right where they are.
The Streetfighters crew is sending correspondence to all subscribers to sort out whatever it is that needs sorting. Also, we hear that FighterFest UK, the annual show organised by Streetfighters, will still be going ahead at Donington Park on 21/22 September 2013 and NOT at Warwick Racecourse as previously advertised.
— Big End
... or, more, accurately, the current owner of the Bruce Main-Smith brand, Don Mitchell, has stopped trading. We need to qualify that because Bruce sold up more years ago than anyone of us here can remember. It's got to be a decade at least (and that's an awful lot of beer sloshing around the old brain cells, hence our inability to be more specific).
At one time, journalist Bruce was the foremost road tester for Motor Cycling and was in the tester's saddle when the magazine closed in 1967. He covered some of the great stories of the age, and was heavily involved in Vincents and Velocettes, and for a while was the chairmen and vice president of the Vincent Owners Club. He wrote and published numerous books and booklets, many of which are still changing hands for respectable sums of money.
He was later one of the pioneers of classic motorcycle literature and reprints and sold everything from books, magazines, service sheets, blueprints, parts lists and photocopies of articles. He traded primarily through the classic bike magazines, but also through clubs and at shows.
The current owner of the business, Don Mitchell, has closed his doors (since 7th May 2013) not because (we're told) the market dried up, or because the competition on the internet was too fierce, but for "other reasons". Whatever that means.
The remaining Bruce Main-Smith/Don Mitchell archive must be considerable, and no doubt Don will be happy to part with all or some of it for a suitable sum of money. We've no idea what that is, and it's possible that Don hasn't thought much about it yet. But if you want to cut a deal, you can reach him on: 0116 277 7669.
— The Third Man
It's on for two days only, it's free, and you'll need to get yourself down to Shoreditch in London, EC2 if you want to see what it's all about.
Billed as “A Celebration Of Custom Motorcycles, Art, Photography, Design And Culture”, the show is organised by the Bike Shed Motorcycle Club and will feature a diverse (and even unlikely) range of "badass" customs and street cruisers.
The event takes place on May 18th and 19th 2013, which is a Saturday and a Sunday. Donations are welcome (take a hint) along with whatever business you can do with the trade sponsors and/or supporters—which includes Davida, Deux Ex Machina, Baron's Speed Shop, Redmax Speedshop, and Sideburn magazine.
The venue is The Shoreditch Studios which is very close to the flea markets at Brick Lane and Columbia Road and will suit anyone looking for alternative bric-a-brac and essential junk.
But the Bike Shed event, in its Shoreditch vaulted studio locale, is a little classier with plenty of bike art, parts, riding gear, memorabilia, films and photos on offer or on display. The organisers describe it as "a cavern of all things retro".
Also expect a tattoo parlour, food and drink, a hair salon and an outside courtyard stuffed with motorcycles, custom and otherwise.
The venue address is: The Shoreditch Studios, 37 Batemans Row, London EC2A 3HH. It opens at 11.00am and shuts at 7.00pm. Sounds like a hoot. But parking in that neck of the woods can sometimes be tricky, and if you're coming by bike, bring a decent lock and chain.
— Big End
The club is telling us that for just £1 you can win this handsome 1959 500cc Matchless G80 single. Which is true, in theory. But in practice you probably won't win it, but someone will. And that's how it works; you pay your money and you take your chances. Still, one quid (or even a fiver) isn't really going to be missed, and sometimes the wheel of fortune turns in your favour.
The second prize is £250. The third, fourth and fifth prize is a year's membership of the AJSMOC—which sounds a little stingy to us. Actually it sounds very stingy. The punters want something a little more tangible than that, especially if they're currently riding Ariels, BSAs, Nortons, Panthers, Triumphs, Velocettes and Vincents, etc. What good's a year's membership if they haven't won the bike?
So come on guys; stump up for a pair of gloves or a T-shirt or a bandana or something. You're one of the best funded clubs around, and one of the best organised. We know you can do better.
Regardless, the draw takes place on 17th November 2013 at the Classic Motor Show at NEC Birmingham. Online ticket sales will close on 10th November 2013.
If and when you win, the bike will need to be collected from Kettering, Northants. Meanwhile, dip into your pockets and check the link below.
If you're into classic British bikes, there's a good chance that you're also into other aspects of classic British culture—not least British cinema which has just lost one of its brightest lights.
He's hardly known anymore among the general public, but Bryan Forbes was one of Britain's most prolific film industry personalities and earned the respect of his professional contemporaries as an actor, writer, director, managing-director and producer of enormous talent and dedication.
He was born John Theobald Clarke in Stratford, East London. He married twice (latterly to actress Nanette Newman), was appointed CBE in 2004 and was awarded a BAFTA three years later.
As an actor, the characters he played were usually naive, boyish, ineffectual types. But as a writer and director, he was the driving force behind some of the great moments in classic 1960s and 1970s British cinema.
He starred in twenty-five films including:
I was Monty's Double.
The Small Back Room
The Colditz Story
The Guns of Navarone
The League of Gentleman
An Inspector Calls
Appointment in London
He directed fifteen films including:
Whistle Down the Wind
The L-Shaped Room
Seance on a Wet Afternoon
The Stepford Wives
The Wrong Box
The Slipper and the Rose
He also wrote dozens of screenplays, including one for The Angry Silence, (a gripping tale about a worker refusing to take part in an unofficial strike and is "sent to Coventry"), and under his stewardship at EMI, other notable films were made including The Railway Children and The Go Between.
Forbes didn't always get it right, and he famously turned down the opportunity to direct Dr No, the first James Bond movie. But as a director and producer, he tackled tricky subjects from religion to child abduction to industrial unrest and brought us much of the gritty realism for which British films of the 1960s are noted.
As an actor, he never had the commanding presence of the stars he worked with such as John Mills, Laurence Harvey and Richard Attenborough. But his writing, producing and directorial instincts were usually sound, with some wonderful high points.
Overall, Forbes was pretty much a one-man film industry. If you haven't seen his work, or can't remember when you last saw it, consider checking it out again. His films are gems.
Forbes died aged 86.
It's that time of the year again when Watsonian-Squire, UK sidecar manufacturer to the masses, open their doors and invite us all in to see exactly what's new, who's who, and where it's all at.
And this year it's at the same place where it was at last year, which is the firm's factory premises between the Cotswold towns of Moreton-in-Marsh and Chipping Campden.
The date is Saturday/Sunday 22nd/23rd June 2013, and this is the company's eighth such event. Expect to find pretty much everything sidecar related, including a collection of historic chairs. Watsonian-Squire will also be revealing some of the stuff in their archives.
Bring a lid if you want to test one of the firm's demonstrator outfits, and bring the usual ID stuff (licence, proof of address, etc).
Guests include "motorcycle author and world traveller Gordon May". Others guests to be announced in due course.
Lastly, there will be food and something to drink, plus prizes for the best sidecar outfit. Your kind of weekend? Okay. Better get along there.
Call 01386 700907 or visit www.watsonian-squire.com
— Del Monte
Barbara Hewson, one of Britain's leading barristers currently working at Hardwicke Chambers in London is calling for a change in the law to lower the legal age of consent to thirteen.
Her highly contentious suggestion comes amid a huge broadside of criticism that she's recently aimed at the UK establishment moralists who she believes has hijacked the criminal justice system by launching a witch-hunt against British celebrities.
The context for her outburst is centred around Operation Yewtree, the
on-going Metropolitan Police campaign intended to winkle out all the "perverts" and paedophiles currently at large in the wilds of Britain (but apparently mostly living in relative wealth and comfort in the country's various celebrity enclaves from Windsor to Cheshire).
Hewson, a time-served civil law and human rights brief, thinks that the coppers and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) have gone way too far in their "persecution" of the stately old men, faded entertainers and grizzled geriatrics of Britain; men such as Rolf Harris, Stuart Hall, Bill Roache, Dave Lee Travis, Max Clifford, Jimmy Tarbuck, Freddie Starr and so on all the way back to "arch-pervert" Jimmy Savile, who set the Yewtree (or is that YouTree?) ball rolling.
Hewson has suggested that we urgently call time on the Joe McCarthy-esque witch-hunt that asks, simply; "Are you now, or have you ever been at any point since you left the womb, a practicing pervert?"
She's not saying that we abandon all the rules, note. She's not saying that sex offenders should be given licence to do whatever they feel they have to do in the ongoing quest for sordid human gratification.
She's simply saying that some adjustment, balance and perspective is needed in order to rein in the "do-gooders and moral crusaders who have infiltrated Britain's law-enforcement apparatus".
Furthermore, she believes that the age of consent should be lowered to thirteen, that complainant anonymity should be removed, and that there should be a statute of limitations on the prosecution of "low level misdemeanours" such as touching, groping and the odd bit of salacious up-skirt/down trousers fiddling. But she agrees that we should not become complacent with more serious sex crimes such as rape, child "grooming", invasive molestation and so on.
Nasty stuff, huh?
But welcome to the planet Earth, stranger, because this is pretty much what goes on down here in a world where ultimately all sexual behaviour is predatory. The trick, says Hewson, is not to get carried away with our sense of outrage and culturally generated prurience.
"Ordinarily, many sexual misdemeanours would not be prosecuted, and certainly not decades after the event," she says. "What we have here is the manipulation of the British criminal-justice system to produce scapegoats on demand. It is a grotesque spectacle."
So who exactly are the moral crusaders that Hewson has highlighted? Well aside from the rozzers and the serially-stupid CPS, she's referring, notably, to the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) and the National Association for People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC).
Both (worthy) organisations are, naturally, outraged at Hewson's opinions, and she's already up to her neck in hate mail from the usual reactionaries (largely on Twitter).
But it takes a brave (some would say "stupid") soul to break ranks with social orthodoxy, especially in regard to the highly charged subject of sex crimes involving children or young-persons. But on the other hand, the current wave of arrests (many of them half a lifetime after the offence) certainly has all the hallmarks of a full-blown witch-hunt and undoubtedly has at its core an element of moral vindictiveness.
And all this comes in a week when the German authorities have clapped irons on a 93-year-old man (Hans Lipschis) who, it's claimed, served as a guard at the Nazi’s Auschwitz extermination camp. That was another pretty nasty episode in the history of humanity. But seventy years after the offence? Please...
Lucky he wasn't an alleged kiddie-fiddler too, huh? Then we'd all feel justified in foregoing the time, expense and inconvenience of a trial and could simply lynch the bastard, guilty or otherwise.
But what's the connection with biking? Once again, these kind of issues and witch-hunts underline the increasing dangers of living in a society in which the liberal right wing is allowed to force moral codes and foment outrage upon the general population. If the aforementioned celebs are truly guilty, and were caught within a reasonable time frame that ensured a fair trial (and a long sentence where appropriate) we wouldn't have much sympathy for them. But what's equally, if not more worrying, is the rampant state-sponsored persecution through its already overworked legal machinery.
Once upon a time the moral target was homosexuals. Once upon a time the moral target was hippies, Catholics and immigramts. In Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union it was once intellectuals, Jews, artists, and writers. And even musicians. In France it was the upper classes. In the USA it was teenagers and alleged commies.
Today, the target appears to be men in the autumn of their years allegedly guilty of offences so old that one or two of the supposed perpetrators can't even remember what they did, let alone admit to.
Overall, it's not the job of the government to establish moral frameworks. The state should set only legal benchmarks (and some pretty firm ones with regard to child sex crimes). And it's certainly not the role of the law enforcers to substitute legitimate prosecution with overzealous cradle-to-grave persecution.
The hard, pragmatic, cash-in-the-pocket reality is that there's only so much police resources available, and not much space left in our jails. The rozzers would be better advised to leave the soft targets alone for a bit and get the hard targets off the streets.
Somewhere on the list of counter-culture, left-field, free-thinking, alternative lifestyles are motorcyclists. We need to keep a weather eye on issues such as the one highlighted by Hewson and ensure that the moral pendulum doesn't swing too far from the centre
What goes around comes around, etc.
— Sam 7
We're talking importers here, not manufacturing. So calm down everyone. The basic story, as many of you will know, is that Watsonian-Squire, since February 2013, is no longer the importer for Royal Enfield motorcycles.
Why not? We've heard various reasons—not least the fact that ... well, let's not go spreading any rumours, huh? The simple fact appears to be that Watsonian-Squire jumped and wasn't pushed, and the firm is now focussing its efforts on its core product, which are sidecars.
The new importer is MotoGB which handles MV Augusta, Benelli, Daelim, Keeway, Sym, and LML.
MotoGB also has its corporate fingers in a few other pies, but Royal Enfield is the new acquisition on its portfolio, and there are ambitious plans afoot to increase sales of the marque which have for some time been declining.
The general state of the UK economy is partly to blame for falling demand. But there's also the fact that a Royal Enfield simply isn't as cheap and cheerful as it used to be. And then there's Triumph to be reckoned with which is fielding a range of Bonneville models that cost not an awful lot more. And then there's Harley-Davidson which is fielding an entry level Sportster at £6700.
So okay, the Bonnie and the Sportster are horses of a different colour, but arguably not that different, and there's plenty of crossover interest. More to the point, however, is the general issue of price comparison. In short, Royal Enfields just don't look that cheap anymore which, of course, was their unique selling point. The bikes are now on a new sales platform in the big boy's playground where the competition is fiercer.
The current prices for the 2013 Royal Enfield Bullet range, for instance, is from £4250 to £5285. The current Triumph Bonneville price range is from around £6399 to £7199 which in recent years has significantly closed the gap.
"That's true," says leading Royal Enfield dealer David Stanley of Haywards of Cambridge. "Enfields have become a little more expensive, but the current fuel-injected range is also a lot more motorcycle and has come a long way since the cheap and cheerful days of the old four-speed carburettor Bullet.
"We've been with Royal Enfield for thirteen years, and we've loved working with Watsonian-Squire, but we're also very enthusiastic about MotoGB which is bringing fresh energy to the brand, has cut prices, and has increased dealer commission. It's an exciting time for us.
"Yes, Royal Enfield sales have suffered a little in recent times dropping, for us, from around 60-70 bikes per annum to around 20-30. But that's changing again and we've seen fresh interest lately, not least in the new Cafe Racer 535 Continental GT model (main image above) which should be with us in August 2013."
Meanwhile, the firm's curry-coloured Desert Storm variant (image immediately above) looks a lot more attractive to us and is available now.
But "Desert Storm"? In view of the huge civilian collateral damage, we can't imagine that that name is too popular in certain parts of the Arab-speaking world. Or maybe it's marketed there as the Jihad or something. Can't imagine that the Desert Storm monicker is very popular either with a lot of the British and American service personnel who fought in the campaign.
Regardless, MotoGB has deeper pockets than Watsonian-Squire and the UK weather has turned for the better, so we could be looking at some fresh marketing creativity and initiatives. But that all-important price bracket? As ever, that's a tricky one, and will be trickier in this flatline economy.
As a footnote, Royal Enfield has just opened a new factory in India to ramp up production, and MotoGB is looking for new dealers across the UK. So if you're a dealer and are up for a challenge, hit the MotoGB link below.
See November 2012 Sump for more on the 535 Cafe Racer.
— Big End