Saturday, July 14, 2007


Bernadette says that my Alpinestars thermal underwear is a James Bond outfit for night attack.
I doubt whether Bernadette sees me as a James Bond look-alike – even in slinky black.
A hippopotamus comes closer to the mark.
I have asked Jed to photograph me in the garden.
Jed refuses. An ancient dad dressed in skin-tight thermals comes low in his choice of garden sculpture.
He says, “Dad, don’t dare go outside dressed like that.”
Bernadette poses me amongst the lilies.
I associate lilies with funerals.


Friday, July 13, 2007


I am seventy-four and feared that I can no longer cope.
When I was young (back in the 1950s), I dreamt of organizing the world. Now, in my seventies, I accept reality: under Bernadette’s direction, organizing myself is marginally possible.
Bernadette is committed to a surprise birthday party in Rotterdam this weekend and leaves tomorrow.
I fly out of the UK to Buenos Aires on the 18th.
Buenos Aires has had snow for the first time in 100 years.
Tierra del Fuego will be a frozen hell.
I have forty thousand kilometers to ride.
In younger days I might have encouraged myself with visions of golden breasts and buttocks.
Now I shelter in meditation. Ohm was the fashion in my youth.
Ohm doesn’t work for me.
I have my own magic key to oneness with the universe. I close my eyes : in near trance, I imagine the beaches of HispanicAmerica. I imagine small beachside restaurants. No need for menu. Only one excuse exists for this insane journey: shrimp.
Shrimp ceviche, devilled shrimp, shrimp, shrimp, shrimp.

Monday, July 09, 2007


Improvement In Preparedness

Our cottage is suddenly infected with the foul odor of covetousness. A precious package arrived at midday: splendid biker boots, thermal underwear, T-shirts and a cap, all from Alpinestars. I have locked them away from the jealous hands of my younger sons.


The manuscript of OLD TOAD ON A BIKE sits on Clare Christian’s desk at The Friday Project. I delivered it by hand last Thursday. For the past few nights I have been obsessing over what I left out or forgot to include. In writing fiction, protagonists discipline the content. Writing travel, the writer is the protagonist. I need to be more disciplined. Hopefully I will do better with the second volume.

I fly out of the UK to Buenos Aires on the 19th.

Have I packed? No.

Am I ready? No.

How do I feel at the prospect of traveling alone from Ushuaia to upstate New York? Scared.

Mostly I am scared of falling ill. Health Insurance doesn’t cover bikers in their 70s.

A fatal accident should be reasonably cheap and convenient for my wife, Bernadette. I carry a Montecristo cigar box in which to mail my ashes home and the eastern section of the cemetery at the Catholic Church in Hanley Swan, Worcestershire, is family property.

As to midwinter in Tierra del Fuego, I will probably put the bike on a truck or pickup to Puerto Natales in Chile from where the ferry sails to Puerto Montt.

Essential, is to check the heater in the cab!

And pick a mature driver, a survivor...