One man’s mate

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PART OF THE endless entertainment of a magazine editor’s life is the steady drizzle of complaints. No no; this is not a plea for sympathy – this particular editor enjoys all comment, whether it’s positive and agreeable or the other thing. To provide a little perspective, on CBG there are maybe ten positives to every negative, which is very nice. Cuddly, almost.

That said, the grumbles are almost always more interesting. Some of them are idiot rants, personal attacks on writers whose views disagree with the ranters’ sometimes very strange take on the realities of motorbicycling. There are oceans of mythology surrounding the history of motorcycles in general and of ancient British bikes in particular, although the facts are usually available, ranters always prefer theories, interpretations. Mysteriously motivated political conspiracy theories – which makes them interesting to read, if generally factually incorrect.

I usually reply … but sometimes I do not. Sometimes the weirdly personal attacks are just too … strange. Why write in to a magazine to mount a personal attack on someone who has written a piece offering their own views on, for example, a motorcycle? Disagreement is always fine, but personal attacks? Not a refutation of any facts presented by the author, but a simple unpleasant attack on the author or authors themselves.

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Curious, no? It’s like the little boy throwing stones at a window and then running away so that the owner of the window cannot throw them back. Or – if that target is a more civilised human – actually having a discussion, a conversation, chatting in a friendly way about a shared obsession.

Curious, no? Even more curious is the occasional reaction when I reply and explain the actual facts of the original story, usually – because I am that happy pedant – listing the sources I’m quoting. Often, due to happy circumstance rather than personal brilliance, I have known the characters involved and may have ridden the bikes under discussion. Which you might think to be a good thing – but no. It is instead some bizarre interpretation of ‘eliteness’ – a word I’ve just made up.

I was a little knocked out when Frank Melling sent in the shots of him riding Slippery Sam for his story. As with Alan Cathcart, some authors get the opportunity to ride lots of iconic motorcycles and then offer their thoughts on the experience. That’s called journalism, I think.

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That’s it. See you out there.

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