People keep asking me how I can be riding around on an iTune, and I have to explain that Piaggio, for their own mysterious reason, called their weird new scooter with two wheels in front an MP3. It didn’t take long to get used to it. At first I was worried about leaning over with two wheels in front of me, but they lean like a charm, and I’ve got to say this little machine is a great way to run around the leafy lanes of Britain.
It feels more like sitting on a horse, and I can lean back like a married country gentleman and survey my heritage. Funnily enough, though, although I still haven’t seen another one like it on the road, nobody seems very interested. Have the British lost their sense of curiosity?
Riding the iTune
Here I am at the harbour in Mevagissey – you can see how beautiful it is. It’s in the far south-west of England, and I thought it would be overwhelmed by tourist trash but somehow it has managed to keep it’s character as a working port for fishermen. I had a hell of a time getting a room, but after dozens of calls I found the Mandalay B&B and was received with a lovely cup of tea and an even lovelier Cornish acent.
I think it was in Argentina that I turned professional. I had been on the road for a year; I had been very high and very low, and everywhere in between. The world no longer threatened me as it had; I felt I had the measure of it.
It must have helped that I was in horse country. I felt very much that I shared something of the gaucho’s view of the world, and my seat certainly fitted my saddle as closely as his. Riding the bike was as natural as sitting on a chair. It scarcely tired me at all. I could pack and unpack the bike with the automatic familiarity of shaving, and I did not allow the prospect of it to annoy me. The same was true for minor maintenance problems; a puncture, cleaning a chain, aligning the wheels, whatever it was, I did it without giving a thought to the inconvenience. These things were facts of life. I slept on the ground more often, and my bones began to arrange themselves accordingly. The air bed was punctured and I did not bother with it much. I had a hammock, a wonderful old hammock made for a married couple, and bequeathed to me by Lulu’s grandmother. I treasured it and used it as often as possible, finding it very comfortable.
I felt very much tried and seasoned, and no longer expected to make silly mistakes or confront unexpected hazards. I had also developed a battery of useful instincts. I knew when there were thieves around, when the bike had to be protected and when it was safe. More often than not it was safe. I knew when to expect trouble from strangers, and how to defuse it. I knew what drivers of cars and trucks were going to do before they knew it themselves. At times I think I could even read the minds of stray dogs . . .