Extremely good vibrations

From Cyril's memoirs dated 15 March 2007

I'm often asked, 'Cyril, why are your recollections so full of smut and filth?' I can only hold my hands up and say, Mother, I've lived a charmed life full of good fortune.

The other day, Francesca and I were poring over the January issue of Bike and the luscious photos of the new Ducati 1098. We agreed that certain motorcycles really do have a certain sex appeal in themselves, and I can assure you it goes beyond the merely academic discussion of bulges, tubes and orifices.

Many years ago I had a Suzuki GSX-R750H, hard to believe now, but there was a time I could bend this old frame of mine to fit a supersports bike. And talking of bending my frame, this was when I was married to former Soviet discus champ Anoushka (she of neck-twisting thighs and killer right hook fame). She always loved the bikes and would climb on the back at any opportunity (she'd climb on my back at any opportunity, but that's another, rather painful, story). The woman was a real speed freak and always urged me to go faster, whatever bike it was we were riding. But when it came to the Gixer, it was different. We'd get up to about 80 and she'd start nudging me in the kidneys to slow down. This would generally happen on long stretches of boring road, such as a motorway.

It wasn't until we tried an intercom that I realised what was going on. It turned out that in top gear at 80mph the 750 would produce a particular frequency of vibration through the subframe. I'd never really noticed this, but Anoushka certainly had, as betrayed by barely stifled whimpering and laboured breathing one day on the M6 between Kendal and Moffat (normal enough after a service station lunch, but we hadn’t stopped). And there was me thinking it was the fresh air leaving her rosy-cheeked at the end of a good ride. The intercom didn't last long, by the way. Ever had 110 decibels of Russian profanities piped directly into your ear while trying to find an obscure address in an unfamiliar city?

Another experience I had happened when much younger. I must only have been about 18 years old and riding around on a tatty AJS single. Well, you chaps will know what it's like when a healthy teenage body is flooded with out-of-control hormones; a nanny goat in a summer dress could have given me a stiffy, but the vibes created by the old Ayjay would cause trouser anarchy.

I recall having to run a package round to a local engineering firm, the aptly named Upright and Sons. It was a mild day and I had on a woollen jumper, with no jacket, and loose-fitting worsted trousers. Traffic was heavy and I had to make several detours before I reached the Upright offices, by which time I could have honed a Panther cylinder with my own special tool. The cruel trick was that after ten minutes or so of these vibes the old todger would be left practically numb and I'd become pretty much unaware of it.

Have you ever seen a woman faint? I entered reception with the package in my hands and as I walked across to the desk I saw a look of absolute horror on the aged receptionist's face. Her gaze was fixed firmly on my groin and by the time I'd realised my predicament it was too late, up she stood and down she went. This was, let's remember, 1953, a more reserved age. I'm sure if an 18-year-old arrived in such a state these days the receptionist might well go down, but in an altogether different way.

I was terribly sad when I sold that bike, rattly and slow as it was, but the old boy who bought it was thrilled. He never let it out of his sight and even when he became too old to ride he could be seen sitting on the Ayjay on his drive, revving the thing rhythmically, a wistful smile on his dreamy face.