26 June 2012

Angels come in all shapes and sizes

My father and I both love old motorbikes. He mostly loves old British motorbikes. While I admit that they have a certain rustic charm, I prefer bikes that are reliable and don't leak oil everywhere. Unfortunately I'm also lazy, and my incomparable 1971 Moto Guzzi V7 Special is still distributed as disconnected bits all over my garage. So a couple of months ago I was forced to use his 650 BSA to join a vintage motorcycle rally he was helping organise. Half way to the venue, in classic British fashion, the BSA managed to vibrate loose every bolt holding the headlamp nacelle and speedometer. I pulled over on a highway overpass near the lower edge of the Voortrekker Road industria and investigated my pockets and backpack: one screwdriver, a couple of spanners, and a pair of pliers. No use at all with the bolts lying somewhere on the road behind. I was just staring at the sky and cursing having gotten out of bed early on Sunday morning when this apparition on a black Kawasaki appeared. Black leather, dirty faded jeans and work boots. Old-fashioned blue ink tattoos on his hands that may or may not have been done professionally. And kind eyes. We got talking and I found out that he was the mechanic for the crankhandle club. I also discovered that he'd owned the exact same model BSA. We did not immediately come up with a solution for my problem. I was about to turn around and head home when I stepped on a strap hanging from my backback. I'm not sure what it was originally intended to hold, but since it had not been used in ten years, I turned to my guardian angel and asked if he had a knife. He pulled out a retractable craft knife. The kind with disposable carbon steel blades that snap off in sections. Except this one had been resharpened to a narrow point and razor edge. He said "Be careful" as he handed it to me. Ten minutes later I was on my way, motorbike held together with nylon strap, glad that I'd gotten out of bed early on a Sunday morning.

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