From Cyril's memoirs dated 12 August 2005
‘I want to show you my big cock.’ Such was my rather bewildering introduction to Gunter Blasen, consultant designer at BMW. I was reminded of Gunter when I saw BMW's brutally handsome K1200R in the flesh for the first time recently. Gunter was instrumental in changing the way BMW think about their bike design, although his tenure with the firm was rather short lived.
A few years ago I was asked by BMW to be part of a group assembled to offer honest opinion of their then current range and of their hush-hush plans for the future. It meant being away from home for a month, so I was anxious about telling my lovely young wife, Francesca. I found her in the kitchen, expertly tossing a caesar. She took the news well, however, saying that it would give her time to get to grips with our new gardener, Claudio, a muscular youth who didn't seem to know his basil from his backside but for whom Francesca clearly had a soft spot.
Although I'm lucky enough to have a well-travelled R1150RT in the garage, it seemed that taking it to the 'secret summit' in Bavaria would be too sycophantic, so for the blast up from my Umbrian hideaway I took the Ducati ST4 – and a big bag of tools.
The long day's ride on beautiful roads was marred only slightly by the mishaps. I know I'm not the only one to ever have suffered sprayback when filling their fuel tank, although I was especially unlucky that so much petrol went in my eyes. I screamed like a schoolgirl and ran to the toilets. Having rinsed my stinging eyes I went to the loo, but there must have still been petrol on my hands as for the rest of the day I suffered an irritating burning sensation 'down below'. While I was in the toilets someone used the keys, which in my panic I'd left in the ignition, to steal my panniers. They could have nicked the whole bike, so I suppose I should be thankful.
On arriving at the hotel that night my eyes were red and bloodshot, my face rotten-tomato blotchy, I reeked of unleaded and was fighting a losing battle to control the urge to continually rearrange my stinging peter. I could see the receptionist was most thrilled to be checking me in.
Later, on coming down for our welcome dinner, the Hawaiian shirt, tight snow-washed jeans and yellow flip-flops weren't ideal, but it was the best the hotel could rustle up from lost property given the theft of my panniers. My eyes were still pink, my face a patchwork of blotches and I must have resembled an ageing, drug-addled sex tourist (not helped by the fact that the old chap still demanded regular tweaking).
Dinner went well, I'm glad to say. We were a very eclectic bunch from all over Europe and varying motorcycling backgrounds. It was there that I was introduced to Gunter Blasen, seated next to me at the large table. After dinner, as we sipped the strong local abspritzen firewater, we began a debate on BMW quirks. Switchgear – innovative German design or Legoland freakery? Boxer engine – refined by almost a century of development or a throwback destined for Somalian tractors? Suddenly, Gunter stood up, leaned close to me and said: ‘Come outside, I want to show you my big cock.’ It was all I could do not to laugh, which would have been such an insult because despite Gunter's English being almost perfect he'd obviously got the wrong word this time. I guessed that he wanted to show me his bored-out Beemer, or something of the sort, so I followed him through a side door towards the carpark.
We stopped in a dark spot near the bins and I looked around for the bike. When I turned back Gunter did, in fact, have his old chap in his hand, and I have to say it certainly was enormous.
‘Cyril,’ he said, ‘I have noticed you winking at me all evening and you cannot leave yourself alone down there. Let us enjoy the moment!’
‘Ah, look Gunter,’ I said, ‘You've got it all wrong. I had a bit of a mishap today, and that's why I seem to have been winking, and as for fiddling with myself, well...’ And I went on to explain the situation.
If only it had ended there. I have to say, we'd both enjoyed perhaps a little too much wine and abspritzen, which perhaps explains why Gunter remained with his percy in his hand and why I decided to pop mine out to show him the burns inflicted by the petrol.
And I'm afraid that was the scene which greeted a top BMW executive strolling out to enjoy a cigarette – a German chap with a mullet proffering his unfeasibly large member, and an old boy dressed like a low-rent Miami pimp doing likewise with a rather less impressive specimen, the two of us apparently squaring up for a little pork swordery.
I left early the next morning and haven't been in touch with BMW since, and neither, so my source in the industry tells me, has Gunter. However, I'm sure I detect Gunter's influence in that big, bruising hooligan tool, the K1200R. I feel convinced he managed to plant a seed with at least one of the BMW designer chappies. Guten tag!
From Cyril's memoirs dated 30 July 2005
Ah, the heat of lazy summer days, the smell of scorched tarmac, the bitter-sweet thrill of a sun-baked black vinyl saddle. This time of year was made for motorcycling and when the mercury rises and resting fuel tanks gently whistle, I like to take off into the mountains on my Ducati Monster M1000S.
I was parked up last week overlooking a parched Apennine valley and tucking into a juicy panino slipped into my backpack by the lovely Francesca (who works wonders with a salami and a smear of olive oil). My mind was taken back to the permanent summertime of California where I was lucky enough to spend a couple of months in August 1971 working on an exciting film project with the BSA-Triumph group in my role as Global Sales Director. I'm sure you're all familiar with the great documentary film On Any Sunday, starring Steve McQueen. Well, BSA-Triumph decided to cash in on the film's success by creating its own version in which Triumph motorcycles would play a major part. The film was to be called Spank the Monkey! (these were more innocent times when it meant merely to enjoy the power of one’s machine) and its star would be Sean Connery. However, despite the best efforts of everyone involved, things didn't go exactly to plan. A humiliating farce? I’m afraid so.
The project ran into budgetary troubles almost immediately. BSA-Triumph could barely afford a buttered bun let alone the movie business, consequently, plans to commission the highly respected Bond film producer ‘Cubby’ Broccoli had to be abandoned. Many potential candidates were then sidelined as we searched for an affordable name. Alf Bishop may not ring a bell with many people, but when I tell you he was the genius behind the 1968-'73 British TV quiz show Nig Nog Golliwog I'm sure the memories will come flooding back (it must be said, the programme was a product of its time and nowadays not only unacceptable, but quite probably illegal). We considered ourselves very lucky to get Alf.
Of course, Sean Connery also fell victim to our meagre budget. As we went down the list, through Dennis Waterman, a young Mike Read and even the keen motorcyclist Dick Emery, it was clear how desperate things were getting. Eventually, salvation arrived in the shape of a young amateur actor who, better still, was useful on a bike, having been spotted on waste ground handling his big thumper with aplomb. (I must say, I do enjoy taking out my own lusty mudplugger on balmy evenings, much to the delight of certain of the local lads.)
However, there was something about Ashley Clarke that unsettled me, yet I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. But the board were getting jumpy and decided that his rather effeminate voice (I'd say Catherine Zeta-Jones being throttled by a large-handed maniac) could be dubbed over at a later date – such was the muddled thinking which had already permeated the project.
The first week's shooting ended badly after an almighty row with director Alf Bishop, who had hijacked what was an admittedly loose script and decided to insert his 'trademark'. This entailed 20 black and white minstrels riding pillion through the Californian desert, complete with straw boaters and canes. It was clearly ludicrous, though perhaps not quite so ludicrous as the mass brawl that ensued when I requested security remove the disgruntled minstrels from the set. Mammy!
A couple of days later things turned especially strange. We were out in the desert shooting a scene where Ashley comes charging through the scrub, kicking up a trail of dust on a lovely, high-piped Triumph TR6C. Unfortunately, he swerved rather violently in a noble attempt to avoid a desert tortoise. The result was a spectacular end-over-end crash which left Ashley squealing like a stuck pig with what appeared to be a broken leg. The medics were on hand very quickly and having administered enough morphine to render him not only silent but putty-like, proceeded to cut away his leather jeans.
Well, as jeans and underpants came away as one, my misgivings and Ashley’s curious traits all began to make sense. Ashley Clarke had quite the strangest set of ‘meat and two veg’ any of us had ever seen. It turned out that he was, in fact, a transsexual who, until very recently, had been Andrea Clarke (not the Brit porn star from the 80s, she came later). The last turkey in the shop with which the gathering crowd was presented was the result of many hours of surgery, but
by the look of it there was still a fair bit of tidying up to do around
With our main rider out of action, the project folded. But wouldn’t it be superb to see John Bloor and Hinckley Triumph pick up the reigns and make a modern-day Spank the Monkey? A Bonneville Scrambler powering through the Baja California desert, perhaps with 'Right' Charley Boorman in the saddle? What a marvellous thought that is.