Ted’s assassination – and his joyful resurrection.

24th February 2019 |


Nathan Millward, who is unquestionably one of my favourite characters, has been doing a gig at the motorcycle show in London for a number of years. It consists of putting people on a small stage at one end of this vast arena to tell stories about their travels. He’s run through most of the top attractions in the motorcycle world and this year was finally reduced to me. I played hard to get at first, but he said OK, piss off then, so I quickly changed my tune and bought the air tickets in a hurry, something I later came to regret.

Having called my bluff, Nate could have made me grovel but instead he couldn’t do enough for me. He fixed up a hotel right next to the show for three nights and got a mate of his, an IT wizard called Brian Goodbourn, to fetch me from the airport. He told me thrilling stories, all virtual of course, all the way into town. Here’s the picture he sent me to know him by.


The Motor Cycle News people who run the show believe in fruitful disruption, so they put our stage about 100 yards away from a live race-track, where small bikes roar around in circles at 9000 revs, and a commentator with a mike brings the races to a thundering conclusion about every fifteen minutes.
Of course, as seasoned travellers used to shouting at the natives, we easily rode above their interruptions. This obviously annoyed MCN so every now and again they would take a sports bike engine up to maximum revs right next to us at the McGuiness Bar, but nothing could dim the beauty of our tales.

However, things did begin to go strange. Our books were displayed on flimsy tables that were actually constructed from matchwood, and my books are heavy. I layed them out across the surface of the hardboard top to spread the load but eventually the inevitable happened. Somebody leaned on them, and the whole thing collapsed. Not a disaster, you might think, but I happened to have my hand under the table as it fell, and it took some little bits of finger with it, producing a liberal helping of blood.

The first aid station was a long way away – I would have called it second or third aid – but I am not squeamish. I soon found some paper napkins to mop up the blood and to wrap around my bleeding digits, but there was blood on the books and that did, at first annoy me. Then a realized that far from damaging the books, it might actually improve them.

Would not my most fervent fans be delighted to have a little bit of me along with the book, as a sort of sacred relic? When I announced from the stage that I had books marked with my own precious essence there were loud guffaws of mirth, but when I sat down again the bloody books were quickly snapped up.

My publisher, who happened to be visiting me at that moment was flabbergasted and gobsmacked. In all his years of marketing books he had never thought of offering the author’s blood as an inducement to buy. It will be the saving of many a small bookshop. There is no way Amazon can replicate it, and we can look forward to some bloodthirsty scenes at Waterstones and WHS.

Well things calmed down for while. About three weeks ago a fellow called Peter Ryder, who obviously also rydes, asked to buy a print of one of my pictures. I’ve never done this kind of thing in the past but I told him that if he cared to have a bunch of prints made at my expense he could have one of them for free, so now here comes Pete with a big cardboard envelope of gorgeous prints. I chose two pictures, printed A2 size – that’s 24” by 16”. This is the obvious one:

I did some smaller ones of this one too, at £8 a throw.

Then I had big prints made of this one as well.


To my astonishment, the one with me in it sold out quite quickly at £20, but I only sold two of the other one. Curious because I actually prefer the one of the bike, but that just shows what a shy and modest person I must be. Anyway, this seems to be something people like so I’m thinking of printing some more. Let me know if you’re interested.

So things went along merrily until the show closed. Then came the dénoument, and it was swift and deadly.

Nate and I were strolling to the exit. Contractors were tearing down their exhibits. Suddenly a shot rang out and I fell to the ground. Several people standing around, including Nate, were certain I’d been assassinated and looked around wildly for the shooter.
As for me, I hurt my knee quite badly on the concrete floor, so it took me a moment to get up and reassure everyone that I hadn’t been hit. We never knew where that explosive noise came from, but I have one more reason to be glad to be alive.

That wasn’t the end of my troubles. My knee really hurt, so I had to get a cab to the airport. Then more stupidity. That air ticket I rushed into? I got the month wrong on the return half, so I got stuck at Gatwick. So I hastily booked an airport hotel, and again got the day wrong and had to spend half an hour on the phone listening to jolly Butlins-style music to get my money back.

The moral of the story? I must be getting old. But my blood’s good.