May 2014  Classic bike news


We bought this 1983 Triumph TSX some time ago and have been getting good use from it. This rare 750 (371 are said to have been made), rides fine, stops sharp, looks cool, and handles pretty good (we've covered hundreds of miles in seriously wet weather on this and it grips the road as tightly as it grips the heart). And the price? Currently, original TSXs in good order change hands for around £7,000.

May 2014 Classic bike news

VMCC petition seeks blood

£60 million left on TfL Oyster Cards

AJS Model 18 & Matchless G80 guide

London Congestion Charge hike

Banbury Run 2014 reminder

Maserati centenary celebrations

Mechanical Art Devices Exhibition

First UK Royal Enfield Store opens
Dangerous Dogs Act amendment
Police dog ePetition wants your vote
Fiat-Chrysler chooses London
New logotype for Royal Enfield?
Sump plates for Triumph T140s/T120s

Cheffins April Cambridge Sale results

Bournemouth Wheels Free Festival
Efrem Zimbalist Jnr: 1917 - 2014

Charges dropped against Les Allen

Two civic plaques for George Brough

48% of bikers want to vote away your right to decide—IAM

Clarkson utters the "nigger" word

April 2014 Classic bike news

New political T-shirt from Sump
Mark Upham nabs Brough's Brough
Ex Hailwood/Surtees Sportmax sells
Reunion of the Rockers, 3rd May 2014

u r txtng. stp drvng u mrn
Looking for a Stafford alternative?

Another implied classic bike threat from London Mayor Boris Johnson?

Houston Motorcycle Auction results

Government to scrap camera cars?

Cheffins Vintage Sale: 26th April 2014

The Stranglers Bonneville raffle

Rare DKW SS250 leads Duxford Sale

BSA C15, B25, B40, B44 & B50 aficionados look this way
Johammer electric motorcycles
Death comes calling at Bonhams
Wal Handley's Lagonda to sell at H&H

Vincent Series C Rapide raffle

Classic British Bikes book

Stuff we like: Bell Bullitt Helmet - TT

Triumph Model P from Andy Tiernan

Foundry First Anniversary Ride In
April - Houston Motorcycle Auction
Ernest "Ernie" Lyons: 1914 - 2014
UK campaign to reinstate .22 pistols

March 2014 Classic bike news
DVSA to name and shame ex-MOT stations
Mick Woollett: 1930-2014
Richard Edmonds Sale - March 2014
Captain Maurice Seddon: 1926-2014

Introducing Stephen Hill, pop artist

Classic bike tax discs are on a roll
Kempton Park bike jumble sells out
BSA Bantam 3-string steel guitar
Boris Johnson to ban classic bikes?
Gruppo Bertone's in trouble. Again
Paris bans cars and motorcycles
Southend Shakedown & Margate Meltdown:
2014 biker diary dates

Rabers British motorcycle parts
Agostini and Cooper to headline
Mallory Bike Festival

Second Classic Car Boot Sale rocks
Anthony Wedgwood Benn: 1925-2014

Hinckley bullish about 2014 sales
UK bike parts distributor now accepts bitcoins

New BSA M20 T-shirt from Sump

New AA-Halfords "safety" campaign

Bandit 9 customs - Made in China

Secret British Government webcams
in the home...

Anglia's first classic sale "success"

UK magazine sales continue to drop

De Bruir Parachuter leather backpack

February 2014 Classic bike news

New Lotus Bike: Not Made in Britain
Met set to pay out huge rape compensation
Any information on this outfit?
National Motorcycle Museum appeal
"Whole life sentences" ruled legal
Brian Hampton appeal bid update
Tom Armstrong Manx Norton for sale
Martin Squires Sketchbook Volume 4
ACA's first classic motorcycle sale
New Rocker T-shirts from Sump
Alex Botwright steps down as Fenman Classic Bike Show chairman
"Droves" at Bristol Classic Show
Kool new Davida candy coloured lids
Rare 1930 MGC makes £15,297
Nobody hurt in small earthquake
Royal Enfield "Valentine's Day sale"
Chris Bushell takes over Nourish
SPS Harley-Davidson "Speed Demon"
New 69 Club T-shirt from Sump
Mr & Mrs Oil Drip: under the hammer

January 2014 Classic bike news

Vintage Boot Sale, London
Chelsea Bridge tea stall petition
Stylish café racer T-shirt from Sump
Triumph again tops UK big bike sales
2014 Brighton Speed Trials is back on
First British motorway pub has opened
Hurricane tank from Burton Bike Bits
1936 Brough SS80 and chair on eBay
General Jumbo control freaks ahead
Festival of 1000 Bikes is cancelled
New congestion charge "con"
Bonhams Sale: "New records set"
Twenty jobs at Triumph Motorcycles
Cafe racer rival for Triumph Thruxton
Phil Everly: 1939 - 2014
Stuff we love: Vanishing Point (1971)
Derringer electric board track bicycle
Illegally fingerprinting the kids

December 2013 Classic bike news

Von Dutch 500cc Triumph to sell...
Cool oil on canvas by Robert Carter
Camera car consultation deadline: motorcycles ignored again
Save the Brighton Speed Trials
Ronnie Biggs 1929 - 2013
Cool stuff from Bonhams Bally sale
Alex Phillip's Clubman Vincent sale
Motorcycle traders look this way
Triumph financial losses overstated
New from Zippo
What's happening to classic prices?
BSA M20/B33 rigid rear lifting handle and mudguard stay
Peter O'Toole: 1932 - 2013
Custom Sunbeam S8 up for sale
Triumph posts a £12.8 million loss
Holden Cars Oz production to end
British Customs "Vintage Vendetta"
Stan Tracey: 1926 - 2013
New Brough SS100. First UK view
Voxan electric motorcycle unveiled
Ten years for Alexander Blackman
Say goodbye to the UK "tax disc"
New radio pulsing bike stop tech
Jake Robbins' Spit and Polish forks
EU plan to trash British road signs

November 2013 Classic bike news

"21st century" Hesketh 24 promised

Lewis Collins: 1946 - 2013

Watsonian Meteor sidecar returns

VMCC Hewing: jumped or pushed?

Brad Pitt Davida lid up for grabs

Andy Tiernan/Nick Ward Calendar

OK-Supreme missing parts appeal

Southern Classic Off-Road Show

For sale: 1964 BSA C15T - £2,850

1938 Matchless Model X - Cheffins

For sale: 1957 AJS Model 30. £3,300

Monstercraft Brat Kit for XS650 Yams

Bonhams Las Vegas, 9th Jan 2014

Young drivers see less, warns RAC

Lightmare campaign reminder

Interesting UK prison facts and stats
1935 Excelsior tops Harrogate Sale
Royal Enfield Continental screens
Stolen T100 returned after 46 years
Hövding invisible cycling helmet
SR400 Yamaha vs baby Triumph?
Ring of Red: respectful or mawkish?
McQueen's "Bullitt" tweed on sale
Jake Robbins taper-girders
Rare 350cc Triumph 3SW at Bonhams
Sump Magazine is now on Facebook
US Government ponders lid laws
Harley-Davidson's new streetsters
Milton Keynes's "driverless cars"
New T-bird, first whitewall radials
Weiss Montana heated glove
Upham's Brough project unveiled
Circa 1925 Douglas RA for Harrogate
Caterham Cars launches bike range
Cameron visits Henry Cole's Gladstone
bobber factory

British solicitors under threat
Norton's first US Commandos sent
Graham Stark: 1922 - 2013

October 2013 Classic bike news

Cheffins' Cambridge sale results
Lou Reed: 1942 - 2013
The Glory Days of British Motorbikes
Triumph Experimental by Mick Duckworth
Liverpool's bus lane suspension
Regent Street Motor Show update
Francis Beart Manx makes £61,980
The Breathometer is coming
Harley-Davidson recalls 25,185 motorcycles
Triumph T120 TT Special hits £16,000
Cool 1939 Triumph T100 on eBay
Superbikes of the 70s from Panther Publishing
"Project" Vincent-HRD Meteor offer
Rare 1938 600cc eBay Triumph 6S
Copdock Commando prize winner
Cambridge cops are nicking bikes
H&H at Duxford: 16th October 2013
Has Triumph run out of ideas?
Rat-out a trader, win ten grand
SuperBike sold, yet again
Norton "export volumes rise"
Last call for the classic Land Rover

September 2013 Classic bike news

Haynes retrenches and regroups
Billy Fury Tribute Night at the Ace
Gear Gremlin First Aid Kit
Ellis e-petition gathers momentum
Southbank car & bike boot sale
Pistons & Props: 28th-29th Sept 2013
Bike buyers robbed at gunpoint
1901 Ariel Quadricycle comes home
RAC demands 5p per litre fuel cut
1st Annual Motorcycle Film Festival,
Brooklyn, NY

"3D gun" on display at the V&A
Grayling's magistrates reform woes
Twenty's plenty in the Square Mile
Cool Ariel Square Four on eBay
Royal Enfield Continental GT roars
Weise Hi Viz jackets for cissies
Triumph T120R eScam taken offline
Bonhams' Beaulieu 2013 sale results
Satnav drivers "returning to maps"
Kenneth Horatio Wallis: 1916 - 2013
H&H invites October Duxford entries
Indian built 500cc Harley-Davidsons?
Brough stuff at Bonneville 2013
Triumph Rocket-3 streamliner details

August 2013 Classic bike news

Huge classic bike collection to sell
£4,600 Harley-Davidson FatBoy scam
Two classic Honda CX500 kits
Stolen BMW R80ST plea for help
Ace Classics (London) 2013 calendar
Sid Bernstein: 1918 - 2013
Judge denies Muslim burka motion
Brent Council shuts Ace "race track"
VW injunction blocks security hole
Bonhams return to Beaulieu in Sept
Pistol-packing copper is still busy on the job
Peter Fonda sues over Easy Rider T-shirt
Southern Classic Off-Road Show
Karen Black 1939 -2013
EU threatens MOT tests for caravans
New Norton T-shirt from Sump
2014 Indian range announced
Werner Lang: 1922 - 2013
Three staff arrested at Les Emery's

July 2013 Classic bike news

Cheffins Cambridge July results
Three "rare" Triumph TSXs on sale
Film company seeks Enfield riders
David Dixon: 1933-2013
Rare Triumph 6-1 on eBay: £16,000
Swinton fined for swindling
York council's 20mph slap in the face
French TV channel will be filming at the Ace
Lesney's Matchbox 60th anniversary
Free tickets to the South of England SuperBike Show and Bike Jumble
"... and do you take this poof to be your lawfully wedded husband?"
Henry Cole's "Gladstone" bobber
Triumph TRW pricing news
David "Fluff" Brown: 1930-2013
New Norton Domiracer breaks cover
£20,000 T120 Bonneville in sight
"Motorways are a rip off!" say IAM
Mortons postpones Big Kent 2013 event
VMCC Velo and Norton raffle update
Vincent Black Shadow T-shirt
Welsh Assembly votes away rights
June Pendine Trials "weathered off"

June 2013 Classic bike news

Roger LaVern: 1937 - 2013
2012 UK road deaths and injury figures
Cheffins fairground biker: £1100
Brake lights that see round the bend
Bonhams' 2013 Banbury highlights
New police powers and penalties
Bonhams & Banbury 2013 reminder
Cafe Racer Festival at Montlhery
Dirt Quake II
Historics at Brooklands results
Cameras to monitor cycle boxes?
Peter Williams £65,000 replica

May 2013 Classic bike news

TT rider Yoshinari Matsushita killed

2013 Brighton Speed Trials cancelled

Ton-Up Day 14th July 2013

Johnny "Chester" Dowling's
getting his kicks again

87 bikes for Historics at Brooklands

Sump seizes Kempton trader's stock

Welcome to classic Britain

DomiRacer liquidated and set for auction

Ray "Doors" Manzarek: 1939-2013

Indian's "sneak peek" at the Chief

Streetfighters magazine closes after 22 years

Bruce Main-Smith stops trading

Bike Shed custom bike exhibition

AJS-Matchless Club draw 2013

Bryan Forbes: 1926 - 2013

Watsonian-Squire Open Weekend

Call to lower the legal age of consent to 13

Royal Enfield's new UK home

April 2013 Classic bike news

Genuine Sump T-Shirt back in stock

VMCC Jan-Jun 2013 Velocette raffle

Storm conversion for XS650 Yams

Drive it Day for classic cars and bikes

Petition to ban mobile phone drivers

£246,400 Vincent; £246,400 Brough

Royal change to the laws of succession

Margaret Thatcher: 1925-2013

Ex-McQueen Indian Model F to sell

Eric's Cafe Racer Corner

Peter "Pip" Harris: 1927-2013

Pendine Sands Speed Trials 22/23 June 2013

Dr James "JK" Kelly Swanston: 1908-2013

Mortons buys Normous Newark

March 2013 Classic bike news
2013 Pioneer Run snowed and iced off

Dambuster charity motorcycle ride

One hundred cafe racers wanted

Hide your classic, and go to jail

Eddie Presbury "cheap" bike art

Norton acquires Donington Hall

James Herbert: 1943-2013

1973: New cut-off date for "historics"

Triumph T140D floating disc from
Norman Hyde

Rare Brough Superior BS4 to sell

First Vincent Lightning also to sell

British justice for sale, says Grayling

Indian reveals new 111-inch engine

Yamaha Bolt challenge to Triumph?

Triumph still in the number one spot

February 2013 Classic bike news

£6975 Triumph Tiger Cub, sold!
Ray "Dalek" Cusick: 1928-2013
Triumph Speed Triple R "Dark"
Despatches. Free eBook from Sump
Bonhams' Grand Palais "success"
Le breathalyser fines "postponed"
Government set to scrap 80mph speed limit hike plan
Driving test interpreters for the chop?
Reg "Wild Thing" Presley: 1941-2013
Bonhams Paris Grand Palais Sale 2013
New licence withdrawal powers

January 2013 Classic bike news

Freddie Williams: 1926-2013
Where's the Gaffer's Gallop film?
Andy Tiernan's ebay warning
2013 Triumph Rocket 3 Roadster
Insulting to be made legal again
One hundred years of Aston Martin
$480,000 1939 BMW Rennsport
Burtons' Triumph TRW register
James Austin's Classic Shows
Winter Restoration Show 2012
2013 Triumph Tiger Sports 1050
Winter Classic Bike Guide Show

VMCC petition seeks blood

Usually we stay well clear of motorcycle club squabbles and internal politics. But this is the Vintage Motor Cycle Club which, arguably, is one of the main pillars of the classic bike community and the biggest classic motorcycle club in the world. Therefore it warrants a little special attention.


What's happened is that a petition has been launched asking for a couple of VMCC heads to be removed. The first head belongs to Mr Kim Allen (no relation to founder Titch Allen, or so the VMCC tells us) who is one of the club directors; a man whose allegedly "dictatorial management style" cannot be tolerated. The call is out not only for his dismissal, but also to have him expelled from the gang.


The second head belongs to Ms Helen Bensley, another club director and, we're told, financial controller. She's accused of having a "bullying style", and the petitioners want her "immediate dismissal".




But what's it all about?


Well, it appears that on 9th May 2014, Club Librarian Annice Collett was sacked. Why? We don't yet know. Regardless, Ms Collett is a highly respected and much liked (ex) member of the VMCC staff who, it's believed, ought not to have been given the boot. And then there's the circumstances surrounding the departure of Ms Sandra Brown and the details of her severance pay which needs clarification (whatever that means).


Beyond that, there's also deep concern over the departure of James Hewing, ex CEO of the VMCC who, in December last year, either jumped or was pushed from the club gangplank and took up a new position as Director of Operations at the National Motorcycle Museum.


As a result of this and various "cloak of confidentiality" intrigues, an Emergency General Meeting (EGM) is urgently being sought. But to trigger this murderous gathering, 2% of the VMCC membership must lend their voices to the petition.


We were tipped off about this by a couple of disgruntled VMCC members who, as we write, are sharpening their blades. We'd like to tell you more, but we'd rather you told us.


So if you've got any intelligence on this unfolding drama, our scriptwriters are waiting with baited breath while 20th Century Fox is busy talking to financiers and checking what Spielberg is doing for the rest of this year. This, after all, has all the makings of a blockbuster production.


The VMCC members aren't exactly famous for taking to the streets with weapons bared. Therefore, at the very least, the club commanders appear to have screwed up big time on the PR front. We did contact them for a statement, but "nobody was available".


Want to lend your support to this?


VMCC Petition

— Dexxion




When you're tired of being mucked about by the High Street banks, try banking with Oyster. Trouble is, you might forget to empty your account, which is what Transport for London is, well, "banking" on.


£60 million left on TfL Oyster Cards


In case you didn't know, TfL is Transport for London. This is the august body headed by London Mayor Boris Johnson whose remit is to keep the capital on the move, 7 days a weeks, and however many weeks it is in a year.


Well today we learn that sixty million quid is sitting unused on TfL's Oyster Cards. These are the "pre-pay" cards you use to travel the germ-infested underground or ride the mugger buses. You don't actually need to have an Oyster Card to travel. Instead you can pay a hiked cash fare. But TfL prefer the Oyster system because it puts ticket booth staff out of a job, and keeps a closer track on human movement around the capital. That's the cynic's view anyway (and we're not entirely out of sympathy with such sentiments).


Caroline Pidgeon, leader of the Liberal Democrat London Assembly Group (i.e. one faction of the people who scrutinise what the mayor's getting up to) has called for Boris Johnson (pictured below) to launch a publicity campaign reminding commuters about all the dosh they've got locked up on the little pieces of card stuffed down the back of their sofas and bookmarking their favourite reading material or whatever. That money is redeemable, along with the £5 deposit required for each card.


But Boris's Boys (and Girls) aren't too keen on redemption. The money, after all, is safely tucked away in their computers, and they'd very much like to keep it there. It's probably just a few quid on each card, or less, but when you total it up, it's easily enough to erect a few more thousand CCTV cameras on London's streets, or maybe waste it on some more barely-fit-for-purpose cycle lanes, or just stick it down the back of Boris's sofa (metaphorically speaking).


And anyway, some of that unspent money is tourist dollars, many of whom having since returned to New York or Shanghai or Sydney taking their loaded souvenir Oyster Cards with them. See? Whatever else Boris is, he might be as nutty as a fruitcake, but he ain't stupid.


It used to be French francs and Spanish pesetas and German marks and Yankee greenbucks that we brought home having forgotten to spend. Now it's digitised sterling, which is theoretically still usable, but in practice the money's as good as gone.


Makes you wonder about the value of all that petrol sitting unused in classic bike projects and suchlike the length and breadth of the country, huh?


— The Third Man




AJS Model 18 & Matchless G80 guide


Okay, we're sorry. Alright? We're at least as sorry as Nick-whatever-happened-to-the-LibDems-Clegg, and maybe even as sorry as President Nixon and Judas Iscariot.


But we were busy, you understand. Too busy, that is, with other crucial classic bike stuff to pay as much attention to AMC heavyweight singles as we might have. And that's why we spent most of last night and the night before knocking up the above mentioned AJS Model 18 & Matchless G80 buyers guide.


It's still in the debugging stage—which means that we'll be spellchecking, and tracking down literals, and adding more facts and pictures and graphics over the next few days/weeks/years.


And we might split the feature over a couple of web pages. But mostly it's done. So if you like the look of the bike (and what's not to like?), or if you're generally interested in these wonderful old thumpers, you can checkout Sump's latest buyers guide before you go fishing with your wallet.


On the other hand, if you're an expert, maybe you can take a look and show us where we've gone wrong (we're never too proud to take a little advice).



— Dexxion



London Congestion Charge hike

It was launched at £5 per vehicle per day back on 17th February 2003. By April 2005 it was £8. By January 2011 it was £10. Now we learn that it's rising to £11.50. That equate to £57.50 per week.


There are, of course, discounts for payment in advance. But close on sixty quid is the weekly price before parking charges—and before you inadvertently clock up any other taxes for minor traffic infringements. And, of course, you'll effectively be tracked all the way by camera.


Welcome to the British capital.


Transport for London, which polices the congestion zone, expects to raise £82.7 million over the next five years. The money, we're advised, will be spent on general improvements to the capital's transport infrastructure.


Motorcycles, note, are still exempt from the charge, and many (but by no means all) of the bus lanes are open to powered two wheelers. Motorcycle sidecar outfits, by the way, are also not subject to the charge.


A few months back we knocked up a YouTube video extolling the advantages and fun of riding a motorcycle in London. It's no big deal, but you might want to take a peek if there's nothing on the telly tonight. If enough people help give the video a boost, maybe it will get more general attention and help Boris Johnson and Co take a little more notice of the needs of another kind of bike that isn't pedal powered.


YouTube video

— Big End



Banbury Run 2014 reminder


Don't forget the Banbury Run which takes place a little earlier this year. The official entries closed on 28th February 2014, but there's nothing to stop you going along for the day and watching the annual spectacle (or even unofficially taking part if you're so disposed).


It happens on 8th June 2014 at the Heritage Motor Centre, Gaydon, Warks CV35 0BJ. We're advised that there's 65 acres of parkland to frolic in, and you can find it 12 miles north of Banbury, adjacent to junction 12 of the M40 motorway


The run is open to veteran and vintage motorcycles manufactured before 31st December 1930. Over 100 autojumble pitches have been booked this year (or is that merely anticipated?), and as ever, there will be camping available. But the spectator-on-the-day price still hasn't been announced. However, when the VMCC does get around to telling us, remember that the price includes free entry to the motor museum.


Note too that the VMCC website doesn't (at the time of writing, 28th May 2014) carry the advance prices. Naturally, the advance price link doesn't work, which is typical for the VMCC which urgently needs to polish its act.


Additionally, Bonhams is holding another Banbury Sale that weekend. But this will take place the day before the Banbury Run on Sat 7th June 2014. The venue for the auction is the Bonhams Saleroom at Banbury Rd, Shipton on Cherwell, Kidlington, Oxford, OX5 1JH.



— Del Monte



Maserati centenary celebrations

Compared to Maseratis, Aston Martins are as common as muck. But despite the rarity of the arguably classiest of all the Italian supercar exotica (Ferrari, Lamborghini, Iso, De Tomaso, etc), there's going to be around 100 Maseratis parading in and around the racetrack at Silverstone on 25th - 27th July 2014.


That's because 100 years has elapsed since the Maserati Brothers, notably, Alfieri Maserati, lit the torch on this particular automotive flame; a flame that's sputtered over the years and, at times, has shrunk to little more than an ember, but has never been completely snuffed out.


Racing was always in the Maserati blood, and Modena is still where the Maserati heart beats. Now, under Fiat's umbrella, the firm is enjoying something of a renaissance and is still a tough act to outclass.



Makes you wonder what Jaguar was thinking of when Malcolm Sayer designed the E-Type in 1960-61. This Maserati Type 300S was produced between 1955 and 1958. Then again, certain shapes appear when the technology demands it, and the E-Type was a natural progression from the D-Type. Form follows function, and we're glad it does.



There were seven Maserati brothers. One was lost at birth. His name was Alfieri, and although the child died, the name lived on, and Alfieri the second founded the firm on 1st December 1914. But it was another 12 years before the Tipo 26 appeared, the first car to bear the Maserati monicker.


The firm's first road-going car happened in 1937. That was five years after Alfieri died. By then, the company was in the hands of Italian industrialist, Adolfo Orsi who bailed a lot of financial water from the firm and kept it afloat until Citroen happened along in 1968.


Citroen was gearing up for the production of the Citroen SM, the legendary and highly desirable Gran Turismo created by installing a Maserati V6 engine in a Citroen chassis and body.



An unlikely partnership, but an inspired one. These Citroen Maseratis featured self-levelling suspension, self-centring steering (and headlights), and disc brakes all round. The 2670cc, 170bhp V6 was created from a chopped 90-degree Maserati V8. The rest is the stuff of moto legend.



By the mid 1970s, the company was taking on financial water once again. De Tomaso came along in 1975 and kept production going, and in the early 1990s, Fiat sat in the driver's seat and is still there. So okay, there's a little more to the story than that. Chrysler muscled in for a while, and as is the way with firms, it's not always easy to see at a glance who's the puppet, and who's pulling the strings.


But die-hard Maserati fans won't care too much as long as the brand survives, maintains its integrity and continues to produce the kind of vehicles fit to wear the famous Maserati trident badge. Current models include the Quattroporte, the Ghibli, and the Levante. And under Fiat, the marque is actually in profit.



▲ The Maserati Quattroporte. Or four door, if you prefer. This is the 6th generation model built since 2013 with a choice of V6 petrol or V8 petrol, or V6 diesel engines, both with turbos. The price? Around £80,000 - 100,000 depending on the engine choice, specification, etc.



Between 1953 and 1960, Maserati, having earlier purchased Italmoto, also built motorcycles. But technically speaking, the car builder itself had little or nothing to do with the bikes. Rather, Adolfo Orsi effectively outsourced the motorcycles to another of his factories that manufactured spark plugs, batteries and bulbs. Nevertheless, the trident badge adorned the bikes (which sported engine capacities between 50cc and 125cc) and gave them a little extra brand credibility in the marketplace.



▲ Bonhams flogged this c.1960 Maserati 50cc Model 50/T2/SS at the 2007 October Stafford Sale (Lot 428). It fetched £8,280 including premium. Rare and very pretty Italian lightweight.



The centenary celebrations are (naturally enough) being supported by the Maserati Club and Maserati GB. The organisers are predicting the largest ever assembly of this marque.


"Excellence through passion" is the company motto, which pretty much sums up the general sentiment among the Maserati cognoscenti.



— Del Monte




▲ Max Hazan's Royal Enfield-based metallic sculpture complete with a monoshock rear end, girder forks, and a wooden seat. Now here's a bloke who can't decide if he's a sado, or a masochist. But what the hell has riding this thing got to do with it? Eyes only, everyone.


Mechanical Art Devices exhibition


It's located at a gallery in Geneva, Switzerland and provides a platform for an amazing fusion of engineering and art talent possessed by guys such as Maxwell Hazan and Chicara Nagata (who reveal their own vision of custom motorcycles); to Böhm Stirling (who builds miniature Stirling engines); to Ulrich Teuffel (and his amazing Birdfish electric guitar); to Jake Dyson (and his Motorlight concept).



The exhibition is being organised by MB&F, or Maximilian Büsser and Friends. Büsser's firm makes "high-end timepieces", or, if you prefer, expensive watches. And his friends appear to be a largely high-browed, well-heeled bunch of fashionistas ready and willing at a moment's notice to display and promote their peculiar horological skills and obsessions.


But we won't hold that against them.



Chicara Nagata sketch, beautifully drawn, then screwed up and tossed in the bin. Luckily, someone retrieved it. And luckier still, Nagata went and built the bike. The word on the street is that he packs a mean angle grinder (and you'll never believe what he can do with a set of drill bits...)



However, the really interesting stuff isn't, we suggest, the watchmakers and timekeepers. No, the really interesting stuff revolves around the disparate exhibitors at the Geneva exhibition, some of whose work is posted here on Sump for your interest, amusement and (of course) edification.



More from Max Hazan, but this time it's an Ironhead Sportster sporting twin carburettors and a fuel tank capacity that won't even get you out of a filling station after a fill up. But it's art for art's sake, remember, and Philistine's have no place here.



This guitar also plays, we hear. You can nip over to Geneva and twang the life outa the thang any time you want. And if you want to get really arty, you can set fire to it and smash it through the amp. Yes, they'll probably kill you afterwards, of course. But you know it's the right thing to do.



It's not clear (at the time of writing, anyway) when the exhibition began or when it will end. The organisers appear to be a little vague about that, which is interesting for a bunch of guys who live and die by the seconds, minutes and hours they manipulate so masterfully on their wrist-worn or pocket-kept devices.


Rather, it appears to be an on-going showcase in which the engineering artists come and go as their moods and whims rise and fall.


MB&F are perfectly aware that the initials of Mechanical Art Devices spells out the word MAD. These kinetic conundrums are indeed mad, inspired, thought provoking, and probably very expensive.


Want to see more of this? Follow the link [more...]




We used Adobe Photoshop to remove some awkward street furniture, but this is essentially what the new store looks like. It's not huge, but it's a credible new beachhead in a relentless war for your motorcycle dollars.



First UK Royal Enfield Store opens

The address is Poyser Street, Bethnal Green, London E2. But if you know the area at all, you'll think of it as the junction of Cambridge Heath Road and Old Bethnal Green Road. That, after all, are the names of the main thoroughfares that run right past the store.


But the Post Office, or maybe some other ne'er-do-well with a say in the matter, has dubbed the address as Poyser Street which is the name of the cobbled alleyway at the back. Fascinating stuff, huh?


Anyway, the point is that this address is where Royal Enfield has planted its new "Concept Store"; the first in the UK, and the second in the world (the other one is in Delhi, India). But it needs to be said that this is actually a dealer-led initiative by Andy Treloar, sole owner of TTT Motorcycles which has been trading on the site for 17 years. Royal Enfield has simply seized an opportunity to raise its profile at minimum cost.


We were there today at the opening noseying around and trying to shoplift a few T-shirts, and it's clear that the Indians are intent on currying a lot of favour with their most famous two wheeled take away.



The store launch was handled by RE CEO, Siddhartha Lal (image below), or Sid to his friends, who travelled all the way from Chennai, India to cut the ribbon (metaphorically speaking) whilst also lending his support to the firm's Top to Tip Ride (see further down this page for more on that).


We have to say that we were impressed with what we saw, which was a good crowd of RE fans, a lot of very enthusiastic Indians (who are clearly as passionate about their product as, say, the Italians are about theirs), a lot of new RE merchandise, and a handful of the latest bikes—which get better every time we see them.


The location for this store is interesting. It's in East London (an area we know intimately; in fact, one or two of us here at Sump once lived on Old Bethnal Green Road), and there's a lot of new trendy blood in the area that's slowly (and perhaps ironically) displacing a lot of other imports from India (and thereabouts) as gentrification gets a grip.




From the Far East to the near east of London. This area is now bustling with "creative types" with cash to burn and poses to strike. It could be that RE, through TTT Motorcycles, has made a very shrewd move. The Shoreditch Set is about a mile away. The Brick Laners are even closer. It's all happening around here.



So okay, we can think of a few more suitable roads in that part of the world that would have attracted more passing traffic, but TTT Motorcycles was already on site and had cut a deal with a property development firm that left 51-year old Treloar with two retail shops and an MOT bay on the ground floor, and nine flats above. Treloar also retains the freehold and has "had his mortgage paid". So he's made what sounds like a good deal. However, parking around that neighbourhood is tricky, and that won't help trade.



£1.6 million was spent redeveloping this site where TTT has been operating for 17 years. They trade in Keeway, Sym, Benelli, and now Royal Enfield.






A rocker named Sidd. Now that sounds familiar. This is Siddhartha Lal, CEO of Royal Enfield, pictured at the Ace Cafe in September 2013 at the launch of the Continental GT. He looks like trouble, and he probably is trouble for some of the competition. This Indian is out to put a lot of you cowboys on his horses. We think he'll do it too.



We ought not to be banging on so much about Enfield when it's not even a British firm (and naturally, we're biased towards home grown Triumph). But the Indians are a good bunch, and they've clearly worked very hard to bring the bikes safely into the 21st century, and the company is certainly an "honorary" British Motorcycle firm, whatever the hell that means. And we like to see folk get ahead. More "Concept Stores" are planned for the UK.




Royal Enfield has been improving its models every year. Great new shapes. Very easy on the eye. Looking very comfortable too. We're thinking of getting one for ourselves.



Should Triumph be worried about this "new leap forward"? Definitely not. It's not so much a leap as a step, and Enfield sales in the UK are still very small. Yes, the two markets have some overlap, but we're looking at parallel worlds here. If anything, we can imagine Royal Enfield helping consolidate the idea of "British" motorcycles and make them as trendy as iPhones.


Well, almost.


Either way, we're hoping that the Royal Enfield brand, with its 113 year history, will help put some much needed fun, colour and old-style cool back on the local streets.


Meanwhile, well done to TTT for tidying up one of the ugliest corners in East London. And it only took them 17 years to do it.



— Dexxion




Dangerous Dogs Act amendment


All you bikers out there with dangerous dogs might want to read this news story. The law has been changed today (13th May 2014) making it a criminal offence to allow a dog to be out of control in a PRIVATE place. It's already a criminal offence to allow a dog to be out of control in PUBLIC, but if your animal bites the postman or savages a kid to death in your back garden, that's will now have you up on CRIMINAL charges.


This has been a long time coming, and a lot of people, both young and old, have been fatally mauled by some prat who left his Rottweiler nursing the baby, or stuck his hungry gung-ho pit bull in the same room as granny and went down the pub.


So okay, most dogs don't actually eat anyone. But enough of them do, and the law still hasn't really caught up with the true extent of the problem. But this new amendment will help address that. True, the law only takes effect after the damage has been done. But at least, for the more serious offences, the fool who allowed it to happen will almost certainly be going to jail.


Additionally, it's now a criminal offence if you allow your dog to bite a guide dog or hearing dog, etc. And local authorities can now enter private property to seize any animal that's either dangerous, or is PERCEIVED to be dangerous. Therefore, if a dog is "merely" intimidating someone on private property (barking, baring teeth, snapping), the animal can be rounded up and, if necessary, destroyed.


The new powers have as many teeth as your bull terrier, but in view of diminishing prison places, it remains to be seen how much bite the courts actually have.


See the story below for more doggie tales.

— The Third Man




Police dog ePetition wants your vote

Being a nation of dog lovers, we figure that some of you guys and girls might want to lend your support to a new ePetition. A guy named David Hibbert is asking the British government to create a new offence pertaining to assaulting a police dog.


As it stands, beating the crap out of Rin Tin Tin (not that it happens often) is treated merely as criminal damage. But Hibbert wants "... police dogs to be recognised as representing an extension of their handler as a police officer" [and is] "therefore seeking for the law to recognise a police dog as a serving member of the police force & in turn treat any crime against a police dog as if they were a regular police officer."


Hibbert goes on to tell the world that, "We are campaigning to protect those police dogs who risk their lives to serve their communities."


Well it seems to us that it's the police who risk the lives of these brainwashed mutts. The animals, we're sure, wouldn't be half so keen to get involved in their canine capers if they knew it involved bomb suspects and twelve bore shotguns and machetes.


Regardless, we like our four legged coppers a lot more than we love our two legged ones, so we're putting this ePetition on Sump for you lot to have your say.


The closing date is 28th November 2014.

— Big End




Fiat-Chrysler chooses London


Fiat Chrysler? That's the name of the new Netherlands-based holding company: Fiat Chrysler NV. But what's the London connection? Here's the story...


In 2009, Turin-based Fiat bought a 20% stake in troubled Chrysler, which is based in Auburn Hills, Michigan. Fiat wanted Chrysler's North American dealer network in its grasp. Chrysler needed Fiat's small car know-how and R&D expertise.


By 2014, after numerous commercial intrigues and corporate machinations, Fiat had bought up the remaining 80% of Chrysler having satisfied the criteria demanded by the US government and other interested parties (largely relating to pension plan provisions, etc).


Well the ink has dried on that deal. It's Fiat-Chrysler now. But where to base the new outfit? Naturally, Turin was the first choice. Michigan also put in a strong bid. But in the end, to pacify the unions and the shareholders, and to satisfy management interests, a neutral location was sought—and that apparently is London.


We've never really thought of Sump's home town as exactly neutral. But we get the point. And more to the point, London is officially the most tourist visited city on Earth and, we hear, has recently knocked Paris off the top spot. That might have helped broker the deal.


In 2013, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), 16.8 million tourists came to London and spent £11.2 billion. Nice. That's the highest number since 1961, incidentally.


Paris managed "just" 15.7 million visitors, but that number relates to 2012 (the last time the Frenchies published their figures).


In any case, we know London is happening right now because we live here (mostly, anyway), and the place is jumping. That said, we still need more of your money, so if you're a Johnnie Foreigner, you know what you have to do. You and your big fat wallet are very welcome.



Meanwhile, as much as we recognise that life and business moves on, it's a shame that the identities of two great companies, i.e. Fiat (founded1899) and Chrysler (founded in 1925), will inevitably become a little more muddied, and a little less distinct. We liked 'em small and cute. And we liked them the size of a city block. It's all the in-betweeny stuff that we're less sure about.


Honda-Harley-Davidson, anyone? Or Triumph-Suzuki? Helluva thought.


— Del Monte




New logotype for Royal Enfield?

We're hesitant to post this story. Why? Because we're not sure if it's news to the world at large, or just news to us. But this is certainly the first we've seen of it.


It's the "new" logo for Royal Enfield that we first noticed on an invitation we received over the weekend regarding the opening of RE's first UK store at Poyser Street, London E2. Clearly, Royal Enfield has found a fresh head of industrial steam and is ploughing a shed load of money into its products.


In September 2013, the firm launched the Continental GT "cafe racer" at the Ace Cafe (and fielded no less than 43 bikes in a mass ride out).


Currently, a Royal Enfield Land's End to John O'Groats "Top to Tip Ride" is underway (a motorcycle relay recapturing an event that happened 50 years ago and will feature a stop over at Silverstone where 76-year old John Cooper, image above, will reprise his original circuit of the track).


Additionally, Royal Enfield's website has recently been reworked and feels more upbeat.


And tomorrow (Tuesday 13th May 2014) the company's flagship "concept" store opens in East London which will be attended by Siddhartha Lal, CEO of RE. It all seems to be headed the right way for the Indian firm owned by the Eicher Group, and a logo facelift isn't going to do any harm at all.



This older RE logo has served the company well for a long time. But it's now been superseded. And arguably not before time. But we can't see it disappearing completely any time soon.



We think the new design (top of this feature) is very good and manages to look both modern and traditional. Purists might disagree, but that's the job of a purist; to stay with the original concept. However, the game is moving on, and RE is clearly looking to score as many goals as possible.


And take a second look at the new design. Notice the Indian influence creeping in with those swirls. It's a nice touch. Yes, Royal Enfield is British in origin, and the Indians are proud of that. But they're also very discreetly making the brand more and more their own. And so they should.


Update: We checked. It IS a new logo design and was "signed off" about a month ago. This is the first time it's been used in anger.


— Del Monte




▲ T140, oif T120 and oif A65 owners look this way if bling's your thing.



Sump plates for Triumph T140s/T120s


Actually, they're "sump" plates rather than "Sump" plates, if you appreciate the difference. They're nothing to do with us, except that we've got a few of these in front of us right now for evaluation purposes, and they look and feel fantastic.


These billet aluminium sump plates are made by Motao, a firm that hails from Taiwan, and you can believe us when we say that they're a long way from cheap oriental rubbish.


These are a new, original and (as with all Motao products) patented design. They'll fit Triumph T140s, oil-in-frame T120s and oil-in-frame BSA A65s (but we're advised that for the BSA A65, you'll need to remove the oil feed and replace it with a blanking bolt). If you understand A65s, that will perhaps make sense to you. If not, talk to Motao.


For UK and EU residents, the price is UK £41.85 excluding VAT (£50.22 including VAT). If you're from the USA, the price is US$66.00. Postage is included. An oil filter is also required (not shown). But Motao will advise on this too.



▲ These sump plates, we're told, will fit BSA A10s, A7s, and A50s. The quality is wonderful. That's a powerful magnetic drain plug at the top right.



▲ Pre-unit B-Group and C-Group BSAs get a look-in too. But whatever you choose, check with Motao because these items are under constant development.



Billet aluminium isn't generally our thing. But it looks right in the right application, and we can see a strong market for these products.


Some guys will call it too expensive. Other will feel the price is right. Either way, quality always comes with a price, and with that price there usually comes satisfaction.


There are more beautiful parts from Motao coming down the pike, including sump plates for B-group and C-group BSAs (images above). But the direct prices are still being worked out, so come back soon and we'll have them online. Or contact Motao. They understand classic British bikes and have been making parts for them for decades. This is very nice stuff, perfect for choppers, bobbers and cafe racer projects.


We've got a bunch of these sump plates, plus some other cool stuff from Motao that we're thinking of framing and hanging on the wall to remind us that in a world full of rubbish, there is still quality out there.




— Girl Happy




Cheffins April Cambridge Sale results

Of the 53 bikes offered for sale at Cheffins' Vintage Sale on 26th April 2014 (at Cambridge), only 10 didn't sell. The top selling bike was the above 1961 650cc Triumph Bonneville (Lot 1493) which made £9,800. The estimate was £10,000 - £11,000, which means that Cheffins was about spot on. The Bonnie had been bought as a basket case, restored and then (shame, shame) kept in a bike collection. Let's hope someone puts some enjoyable miles under the rubber.



Meanwhile, this 1972 750cc Norton Commando Fastback (Lot 1500) was a "barn find" and sold for just £3,300. The estimate was £3,800 - £4,500, which suggests that Cheffins was a little over-optimistic with this one. The bike was complete and was offered with (the shown) peashooter silencers and a long range fuel tank. Looks like a suitable oily-rag Commando to us (at best), or a rolling restoration (at worst). Seems like very good value. Quality Fastback Commandos are currently fetching between £6,000 - £8,000, or more for an early example. Nice.



Lot 1506. £2,800 was all this one fetched, which, despite being "mucked around with", or "bobbed" if you prefer, it's still a very good price for a 1952 500cc Triumph T100. Makes you wish you were there, huh?


Overall, the sale doesn't look like a bad result for Cheffins, not as far as the bikes were concerned, anyway. But nothing exactly flew away either. Prices, in general, look a little depressed. One or two other bikes were markedly cheap. But check the results for yourself and see what you think.


Meanwhile, for more on this sale, check Sump April 2014



— Del Monte




Bournemouth Wheels Free Festival


The date is Saturday 24th May 2014 to Monday 26th May 2014, inclusive. The event is Bournemouth Wheels, a free three-day festival organised as a platform for all kinds of wheeled exuberance.


Bournemouth is famous for wealthy pensioners, Conservative Party Political Conferences and favourable microclimate. And now it seems that the organisers want to put it on the map for another reason.


Can't see any particular classic bike events listed on the agenda so far. But all classics (bikes and cars) are invited. Meanwhile, expect to see some fool on a motocross bike jump Bournemouth Pier; Paris-Dakar racers tearing up the beach (or beaches), a military display arena, monster trucks, F1 cars, bicycle stunts, freestyle bicycles, plus food, drinks, music, partying, etc.



The opening hours are 10.00am - 10.00pm every day, and there's lots of local accommodation (hotels, guest houses, camping, caravan parks), but you'll have to sort that out for yourself.


This is a new event remember, so there are bound to be all kinds of bugs that need ironing out. But if you like the sound of it, or need an excuse to visit the Bournemouth/Poole area, here it is. The New Forest and the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu is fairly close, if that makes a difference. Anyway, check out the website for yourself.



— Big End




Efrem Zimbalist Jnr: 1917 - 2014

If you're a guy, or a girl, of a certain vintage, you'll remember Efrem Zimbalist Jnr. He rose to prominence in the classic US TV series 77 Sunset Strip (1958 - 1964), but really made his name in an equally classic US TV show The F.B.I (1965 - 1974).


Created by Roy Huggins (who was also heavily involved as a writer or producer with the Rockford Files, The Fugitive, Maverick, and Alias Smith & Jones), 77 Sunset Strip was a series about two Los Angeles private investigators remembered largely for one of the supporting characters, "Kookie", a loveable hipster who piloted a cool T-bucket hot rod.


The show was intended to be edgy and tough, which would have perhaps better suited Zimbalist's more "starchy" and conservative persona, but from day one, the laughs spilled out, thereby helping set the tone for numerous other private dick shows (such as the Rockford Files, starring the late James Garner).


William Conrad, who played another memorable private dick (Frank "Fatman" Cannon in the TV series Cannon) was one of the show's producers. So was Jack "Dragnet" Webb.


Zimbalist, who played the character Stu Bailey, was later noted for saying that he came to despise the show and described it as "boring".


He found a fresh head of celebrity steam when he played Lewis Erskine, the drip-dry, clean cut, incorruptible Eliot Ness style G-Man in The F.B.I who became something of a role model for thousands, if not millions, of schoolboys around the world.


The F.B.I, like its predecessor, Dragnet, dramatised real crime stories. But unlike Jack Webb's Dragnet, The F.B.I also delved into fiction in order to add that extra punch. What gave the series a special seal of approval was the fact that J Edgar Hoover, head of the real FBI, allowed the show's producers to indirectly raid its files and cherry pick the stuff that would best translate onto the small screen.


Efrem Zimbalist was the son of a violinist (father) and a soprano (mother). He fought in WW2, and later moved into acting. He starred with Audrey Hepburn in the movie Wait Until Dark, enjoyed a role in the disaster film Airport 75, handled the voice-over for Alfred the butler in the cartoon series of Batman, and was the cool, unhurried and melodious narrator behind dozens of other programmes, TV adverts and media productions. But despite winning a Gold Globe in 1959, his career never hit any great cinematic heights.


His daughter is Stephanie Zimbalist who came to fame in the TV series Remington Steele, and who starred with her father in one episode.


Efrem Zimbalist was aged 95.

— Girl Happy



Charges dropped against Les Allen


In August 2013, we reported that three staff members working at Les Emery's Norvil shop in Burntwood, Staffordshire had been arrested following allegations of parts theft.


One of those arrested, Les Allen, has asked us to point out that charges against him have since been dropped, and that no stolen property was found at his home, which had been searched by the police.


Allen has throughout protested his innocence and is aggrieved at being held at a police station for 19 hours, and then having to remain on bail for 10 months. He was also sacked and said that the incident has caused him and his family a great deal of stress.


"I am not a thief," said Allen, "and I don't have a criminal record."


— Del Monte




Two civic plaques for George Brough

It took the world forty-four years to get around to doing it, but on Saturday 26th April 2014, the Nottingham Civic Society officially unveiled a couple of appropriate green discs which were attached to the house where George Brough was born (10 Mandalay Street, Basford), and to another nearby house (101 Arnold Road, Basford) where the great man lived.


Hilary Silvester, chairman of the society, said that it was "important to honour such an important part of Nottingham's history". However, it also appears that Silvester, until recently, didn't know who the hell George Brough was, which, in view of the society's declared interest in local history, makes you wonder if it isn't time to get a more knowledgeable figurehead.


But let's not be mean. The creator of the Brough Superior, the world's most celebrated and coveted classic motorcycle, has now been publicly recognised, and we think that that's pretty cool (and to further mark the occasion, tonight we're raising an extra glass of our favourite sun-well-over-the-yard-arm tipple).

George Brough's son, Terry (and his wife, Anne) was also at the event alongside members of the Brough Superior Club. But it was Ian Malcolm, the current Sheriff of Nottingham who did the actual unveiling—which also sounds a little mean in view of the fact that Terry Brough was standing in the crowd not more than twenty feet away.


But we've seen all Robin Hood's movies and we know what a selfish bastard the Sheriff of Nottingham can be when he's got a mind to.


So what's the difference between the Blue Plaque scheme and these green 'uns? Well the Blue Plaques are handled by English Heritage, and the other ones aren't. Recently it was announced that no new Blue Plaques are likely to be erected until a new funding source is established. The British government had been putting its hand in the public pocket to cover the costs, but in the wake of the much maligned economic war zone spending cuts, all that's left is lint and fluff. English Heritage might yet fully bankroll their own scheme. But at the time of writing, the project is in abeyance.


George Brough was born on 21 April 1890, and died on 12 January 1970.


— The Third Man



48% of bikers want to vote away your right to decide—IAM


That's the real story underlying the press release we've just received from the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) which is calling for clear labelling on protective clothing for bikers.


Sounds okay before you've had that first morning coffee, but it presupposes that most of us would really understand such labelling and know how to translate it into real world experience and risk. We suspect that we, here at Sump, wouldn't. We still haven't figured out food labelling, Thatcham security ratings and sell-by dates on our favourite brand of yoghurt.


This story comes about after the IAM, we're told, conducted yet another survey which concluded that 60% of motorcyclists (unsurprisingly) think that protecting the torso is more important than protecting the arms and the legs (the survey ignored crash helmet safety issues).


It also suggested that 90% of bikers said that they always wore protective gear on the road.


But, worrying (if true), 48% of riders felt that protective clobber should be made C-O-M-P-U-L-S-O-R-Y.


Of course, you first have to accept that a survey from the (agenda heavy) IAM has any credibility. And without knowing what the questions were, and without looking at the context of those questions, the results are little more than page filler.


However, if 48% of riders really DO want to see the introduction of compulsory safety gear, that's a wake-up call. It means that almost half of your biking compatriots want the government to draft laws that will erase your right to decide what to wear as and when you're out on the street (for your own good, of course).


It's a depressing vision of the future that bimbling around in jeans and an old leather jacket could someday see the boys in blue jerking your lead in the high street to feel your collar to check that it's carrying the required government approved safety label.


Now you know why death was invented. In this life, there comes a point when a man feels that he can only take so much crap from the state, the coppers, and the people he thought were his friends. However, with all the safety clobber and health and safety rules pinning us down on this mortal coil, checking out early soon might not be an option.



— Big End




▲ Jeremy Clarkson and a white gollyperson, but can you tell which is which? And do you really care?


Clarkson utters the "nigger" word

If we were on-message with the establishment, we'd never dare say "nigger" in the above headline. No one, after all, can say "nigger" anymore, never mind "wog", "darkie", blackamoor, spade, coon, nigra or jiggerboo.


No one, that is, except black people.


Here in 21st century Britain (and on 21st century Earth, come to that), we're all supposed to refer only (and strictly in extremis) to the "N" word for fear of starting a race riot in Hampstead Garden Suburb, or in case a Ku Klux Klan chapter breaks cover in Epping Forest and starts lynching (ahem) negro gentlemen and/or forcing negresess into slavery.


But Jeremy Clarkson, the love-him-or-loathe-him presenter of BBC TV's Top Gear programme (who feels that bikers are just organ donors), is in the dog house again having mumbled the old nursery rhyme on air:


Eeny, meeny, miney, mo,
Catch a nigger by the toe;
If he hollers let him go,
Eeny, meeny, miney, mo


Clarkson, as most people in the UK are aware, courts controversy the way Katie Price (Jordan) courts attention. Neither celebrity can survive without a daily, or at least weekly, infusion of public approbation, scrutiny, or sanction.


Recently, serial apologiser Clarkson used the term "slope" during filming in Thailand. Before that, he offended bikers, lorry drivers, Mexicans, whores, the disabled, poofs, dykes, and (more specifically) black Muslim lesbians. The list goes on, and now he's offended the African-Jamaican black community with this supposedly racist nursery rhyme.


More interestingly, it's actually the white community which (as ever) is even more upset about the usage of the infamous N-word, which we suspect is actually indicative of latent racism within the self-same white outrage clan.


Or is that klan?


No one, after all, cares much about calling a Scouser a "Scouser", or a Geordie a "Geordie". And no one cares too much about calling an Irishman a "Mick". Scousers and Geordies and Micks are, after all, fair game because everyone knows that people from Liverpool and Newcastle and Ireland are as good as anyone else.


More or less.


But you can't say nigger to a black man, or "Paki" to a Pakistani because, deep down, many (especially in the aforementioned white outrage cabal) feel that the black man really IS inferior and therefore needs special protection from infantile/mindless/idle racial jibes, hence the contemporary hysteria at the mere mention of any term (however loosely or indirectly applied) that references a racial group (and pretty much regardless of the context).


Well, lets start calling a spade a spade again. Let's re-legitimise abuse and verbal idiocy. Yes, it might well be the thin end of the Nazi wedge (blah, blah). but merely putting a foot on the wedge doesn't necessarily mean that you have to walk the whole way up the slope (oops!).



Jeremy Clarkson almost certainly doesn't accidentally make these supposed gaffs. The bloke probably has weekly Gaff Meetings with his producers or co-presenters carefully working out the next best way to get the country or the United Nations into a lather. Christ, his job is pretty much dependent upon his ability to explore the margins of British self righteous indignation so that the rest of us know how far we can push it.


The bottom line is this: If you're black, get over it. If you're white, get over it. If you're fat, thin, lanky, short, ugly, queer, stupid, rich, poor, educated, uneducated, male, female or whatever, get over that too. When it comes to real or imagined insults, racial or otherwise, we're all fair game. And long may it continue that way.


When they start threatening to "hang niggers in the streets", or "bundle the kikes into the gas ovens", or "murder honkies in their beds", we'll have plenty to say about that. But in the meantime, sticks and stones will break our bones, but names will never hurt us, etc.


The hard and unpalatable truth is that, to a greater or lesser extent, we've all got the "racial" gene in us somewhere. It's natural. Maybe it's even necessary. It's simply that most people these days are living in denial and suppressing their bigoted instincts in those dark and secret places where few of us care to look too deeply.


We should give Clarkson a pay rise. We should shake his hand. We should thank him for reminding us how small-minded, how petty, how over-reactive, how excitable, how touchy, how thin-skinned and how easily shocked and scandalised we've become as a nation.

— Sam 7





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