This is a true story.
I was riding down Bealey Ave, heading home. I’d spent the afternoon at Morg’s; flicking through NME’s and gossiping about boot boys, skinheads and the girls we fancied. We listened to some Jam and played some old R&B records ‘borrowed’ from one the guys dads.
We had all gathered because a big decision needed to be made. Should the North East Christchurch Road Rats (NECRR) merge with the Burnside High Mod’s? If we merged it meant we would be about 20 strong, have access to more parties, more girls (Burnside was Co-ed) and they were also closely linked to The Wastrels – a great band starting to emerge on the Christchurch music scene. There was plenty of upside.
When Morg spoke, everyone listened. He was our face. If it wasn’t for Morg, then NECRR probably would even exist – it was his baby. Morg would tell us what we should do.
‘Guys,’ he started.
‘Guys, this is what we should do. I like the crew from Burnside, but I honestly don’t think we should merge. When we have all our scooters up and running we can have 9 on the road. They can only ever have 6. And our scooters are in better nick and look better. We even dress better than they do. When they came around yesterday, how many were wearing 501’s? One! And he didn’t even have a one inch turn-ups. How many were wearing trilby’s? One!
Yep, I know Craig had a nice zoot suit on, but he was the only one wearing a jacket, and none of the others were wearing ties. Now I’ll admit that they have better haircuts than us – much trendier, but apart from that, I think they’ve just jumped onto the Mod revival and see it as some sort of fad, something trendy.Now, I also agree that the Wastrels are pretty cool – but remember Garrett and Kevin are in Diplomatic Attache (from memory they only ever played on gig!). So, from what I can see, we have more to offer than they do. So let’s ride together but not merge.
And that was that.
What Morg said – went.
It was a Sunday and getting late, we all needed to get home. We had school tomorrow and our Mums were expecting us home for dinner.The sun was starting to set and the scooters parked on Morg’s driveway started to gleam in the golden light of a autumn sunset. Mine was a British racing green Vespa Rally 150 called ‘Lola.’ Garret (who actually had the coolest haircut in NECRR) rode a Lambretta – a cool bike for a cool guy. But the coolest of all, the scooter everyone was jealous of was Morg’s – he rode a GS 160 which had chrome plated side panels and the union jack waving high off a flexi rod attached to the back carrier. It was no wonder he was the face.
With a few false starts, a couple of floods and stalls, we all took off in a plume of 2 stroke smoke. It was good to be on the road and riding with my mates. I lived the furthest away – I was a west-side boy, so I counted myself the luckiest guy in the world to be riding with NECRR. One by one my mates turned into their drives, tooting their high pitched horns before wobbling unsteadily up their driveways. Eventually I was the last one left.
Bealy Ave is multi-laned, long and straight, it is one of Christchurch’s 4 main Avenues. If you time it right, you can get a green light from one end to the other, quickly passing through numerous intersections. If you time it wrong, or if the traffic lights are being recalcitrant, then you have a long haul and long wait at every single one of the intersections. Tonight was one of those times.
I had just past the old Calvary Hospital (where I was born) when I heard the guttural roar of a dozen big bikes. I quickly looked in my wing mirrors attached to my front grate. I gulped in fear at what I saw. How poetically ironic it would be to die almost opposite the place I was born.
Fuck me – bikers – real bikers.
The riders were wearing big leather jackets, had big black tattoos and wore big black beards. I only shaved once a fortnight if I was lucky, how the hell did they get beards like that? Some of the bikers had girls on the back, skinny sexy girls who hugged their men so tightly and closely, I wondered how the bikers didn’t split their leather pants.
Jesus, I thought, its been a good life.
They pulled up at the red light next to me, in the lane alongside. One pulled just in front of me, and I could now see the patch on his back.
Fuck fuck fuck I panicked – Timaru Road Knights – Oh my God! Now, anyone who knew anything about gangs in NZ knew that the Timaru Road Knights were some of the meanest S.O.B.’s that ever put a patch on. They had a fearsome reputation and wrap sheets to match it.
I needed to compose myself and quickly. I was so pleased I was wearing my green military style coat, at least that way they couldn’t see my white ice cream man jacket and my apricot shirt with button down collar. ‘m sure it must have been my nerves which caused me to smile. I looked over to the other lane, it seemed all the bikers were staring at me. Shitting myself I still had a silly grin on my face. Jesus!
I don’t know what made me do what I did next – but it was definitely a deliberate act of defiance.
I continued to smile at the bikers and opened my throttle and started to rev repeatedly.
‘Ring Ding Ding Ding Ding Ding Ding,’ Lola screamed, ‘Ring Ding Ding Ding Ding Ding Ding,’ she screamed a second time.
I preyed that the adjustment I made to her Carburetor yesterday wouldn’t make her backfire! She didn’t.
The bikers now started to smile back, their smiles less menacing, more friendly. Then they opened their throttles and started to rev.
‘Broom, Vroom Vroom Vroom’ their deep throated machines replied in unison, overwhelming and drowning out poor ole Lola.
‘Broom Vroom Vroom Vroom.’
I didn’t get a chance to respond, the lights suddenly turned green and the bikers took off at great speed, but not before one of the girls on the back of a bike turned, smiled gave me a wink and a wave.
I wobbled off the grid and made toward home thinking all the while how I couldn’t wait until tomorrow so I could tell my mates how I out smiled the Timaru Road Knights.
Happy memories and happy times. I would like to dedicate this post to two very special members of NECRR, and two very special people.
Dr Dom Bell – Killed in the CHCH earthquake
Kevin Smith – died on a film set in China (not sure about the haircut Kev – lol).
RIP to two mates: may your one inch turn-ups never let you down.