A Pillion View
I was thinking the other day that there seems to be little written about pillions and so I decided to write a short story and put the record straight.
Ahh, how well I remember that very first time on the bike. Willy picked me up and we went down to Southend. I seem to recall we met up with a colleague of his and his wife. Bob and Angela, I think. Or was that another occasion? Anyway, yes I remember the thrill and excitement of it all. Heading down the Al27 with a wonderful feeling of freedom that I just couldn’t believe. It was sheer brilliance. Every now and then Willy would ask over his shoulder if I was all right and I would just smile. In fact I think I had a permanent grin on my face and the joke comes to mind of flies and teeth.
Oh, I know there is nothing at all exciting about the A127, but remember, this is my first time on the bike and it was Willy riding it too. And so we reached Southend and we mucked about a bit on the sea front for a while. All I wanted to do though was get back on the bike and eventually we started for home. I could have stayed on it forever that day and yet it seemed all too soon we were back. I couldn’t understand it though. How come Willy knew so many bikers? Nearly every bike we passed he waved at, nodded his head or flashed his lights. And they waved or nodded or flashed back. I didn’t wave or nod or anything. Well I wouldn’t would I? I didn’t know who they were after all and you don’t wave to people you don’t know, do you?
Ahh, that was a happy day and I think that grin remained until bedtime. I only hope I cleaned my teeth well. Aha, I hear you say, that was no grin. That was sheer fear and terror. Not only the first time on a bike but with The Willy too. Well, yes, he was an exciting rider. Still is, I guess. The way he threw that bike about was as though it was made of cardboard. But, you see, that just added to the excitement. At nineteen that’s what I wanted. A rebellious teenager whose parents were anti bikes. Yea it was brilliant.
And so I joined the Abbot and became known as Willy’s sister. And though there was never again the huge excitement that I got on that first journey it was still great fun and, at times thrilling, travelling on the bike. And there was, of course, always that feeling of freedom.
Perhaps his fiery temperament had something to do with it, but I’ve never been with anyone else who rides quite like Willy. (Thank God. Who did teach him to ride?) (Editors note: It was me actually! And he's never got anywhere before me! - Hog) Surprisingly, I only recall one road rage incident with him. A term not known then. I remember we were on our way to Edgehill when we were cut up by some car. I can’t quite remember the details, but anyway Willy went after him. We came parallel with the car on some dual carriageway doing something like 70 mph in the dark. Now, that’s another thing. Why was it always dark going to Edgehill? It always seemed to be dark. Actually, that makes me think of something else.I remember another occasion we were travelling down a country lane when it was pitch black. That really thick black if you know what I mean. And he starts to grope and pat my leg. Hey, what you doing Willy? Get off. When we reached our destination I’d forgotten about it until later that evening. "Uh? Oh no, no, no. I couldn’t see you in me mirrors and thought I’d lost you." "Lost me? LOST ME? You mean if I fell off the bike you wouldn’t have noticed?" "Nah." I’m told that’s a sign of a really good pillion, when the rider is totally oblivious to them being there. Terrific.
Anyway, I digress. So, yes we are parallel with this car and Willy’s giving it all the usual abuse. I couldn’t hear him of course, but I could see his head wobbling about. Oh why not, I thought, and I started joining in. He starts waving an arm at the driver and his head wobbles even faster. Hey, hang on a minute Willy, I’m thinking, you’re getting a bit carried away here aren’t you? He’s really fired up and so I decide to give him my full support, as a good sister and pillion should, and start to wave and shake my fist and shout through my lid to myself. Eventually the car sped off or we slowed down, I’m not sure which, the others caught us up and we continued our journey. When we came to a stop at traffic lights or whatever I was going to make some comment to Willy about the driver. "For God sake. Keep fI~**ing still on the back of the bike!!" Well charming. It seemed my contribution was not welcomed. As I joined in on the action Willy was trying to inform me to get back in my proper pillion position (known in pillion circles as the Triple or Tri-P position). And so I quickly learnt the golden rule of pillion motorcycling. Keep still. Keep very still.
Hey, but no hang on just a minute. We pillions have some say you know. Take that knee groping incident for example. We want to be noticed I’ll have you know. We want to stand up and be counted. We do have our uses you know and I don’t just mean organizing toilet stops. (Of which, I have to say, Marie is very experienced and an expert in and very good at it she is too.) But no, we tell you that you’ve just missed the turning and all sorts of other useful things. "Ahh SHUT IT!" I hear you cry "Get a life. Get a bike and get riding." Well no actually, I won’t. Incredibly, after all these years I am still a happy pillion and have no desire to ride. As you all work hard concentrating on the road I’m relaxed (no, not asleep) and enjoying the scenery and having a thoroughly good time.
Ahh, but how it makes me sad to think now that the initial excitement on that Southend trip has gone forever. Or has it? On journeys when we’re riding shotgun on open winding roads with a wave of bikes in front of us, some of that excitement returns and runs through my veins and for just a short time I’m a virgin pillion once more.
Postscript: Since this was written Biggles has learned to ride, passed her test, and now rides a BMW F650GS. This just to shows that even the most dedicated pillion eventually can give in to the urge to get her (it is usually a her) hands on the controls.
© Copyright Abbot MCC 2006.