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Sunday 10th November 2013

4004 (gonna keep count after all - only 996 to go to 5000 now!)

Funnily enough that reminds me of the time I shared a flat with Peter Baynham and as an incentive to lose weight I had made a little wall chart detailing how many days it had been since I'd last had a drink and eaten any chocolate. It was a childish thing to do for grown man of around 30, but it worked for me (for a bit, until I had a drink and then it all fell apart). Stew and Pete mocked me for this and one of them added another chart along the lines of "Days since I had a cocaine", which as I was anti-drugs (and scared of them) was however many days I'd been alive. It seemed funny at the time. Anyhoo....

We set off home straight after breakfast as we both had a lot of work to be getting on with. As we headed up the M3 we became aware of a lot of motorcyclists on the road, all of whom were wearing red tops. We would overtake them, but then they would overtake us. There seemed to be a lot of them. Were they some kind of gang, a mixture of the Hell's Angels and whichever one of the Bloods or the Crips it is that wear red? (I don't think it makes much difference, they're both essentially the same thing) What if they took exception to us and decided to attack us.

Then I noticed that one of them was wearing a Santa Claus outfit. It seemed unlikely that he was in a gang. Or did it make it more likely that he was an extremely tough gang? "You think there's something funny about my Santa Claus outfit? How's that funny? Funny how? Am I a clown to you?" But there were an awful lot of them.

I spotted a poppy on one of their helmets and decided that they were all either high on opium (which would make them a danger) or they were doing something for Remembrance Sunday. In all likelihood they were very good people, but my initial assumption had been that they were evil. See how prejucide works?

My wife, who was driving, was getting a bit annoyed by the cat and mouse aspect of them riding alongside us and we slowed down a bit to let them get ahead, though new bikers came to take their place. We stopped at a services for a coffee and I realised that the bikers had stopped too. They were saying hello to each other in a way that suggested that they were strangers, but united by a common cause. Were they planning to reunite Italy? I saw one of them eating a Garibaldi so you never know.Come on, you always knew you'd have to be up on 19th Century Italian history if you were going to get all the jokes in this blog. Don't blame me if you didn't put in the revision (not entirely sure I've got my facts right anyway, this is all just vaguely remembered from O level history).

Then as we left we saw that the car park was packed with these red topped bikers. What were they up to? I wanted to ask, but I was still shy in case this was some kind of trap and they were still a gang who just beat up anyone who was curious about what they were up to (even though like the man in Pret this was clear entrapment). I had the perfect opener to get the conversation going of course, "Yeah, I sure love motorcycling. Motorcycling around. Some people like cycling on a normal bike, but not me. I say why pedal round when you can have a bike that doesn't need to be pedalled? With all the engine and stuff in it. Rrruum, rrrrummm."

But we just went on our way.

It was only when I got home that I discovered the facts. They had been part of a team of about 1500 people who were creating a poppy around the M25. So not a violent gang, or Italians intent on reunification, but people who loved motorcycling, motorcycling around and were paying their respects and raising money for the British Legion. It was nice to have witnessed even a small part of that. What a cool thing to do.

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