Leader of the pack

Me and Pete bike

 

Motorcycles ran in my family. My dad didn’t have a car, he drove a motorbike and sidecar – mum riding pillion, kids in the sidecar, heads poked out of the soft plastic window, which was too scratched to see through, getting high as kites inhaling car exhaust fumes (unless we were too busy beating each other up). This must have been my big brother’s bike. That’s my little brother in the picture and me at age 13 . He got a motorcycle at some point too, and so did I though I didn’t keep it long. I had a habit of falling off of it, so I figured four wheels might be safer. Our dad, though, drove like a wildman. At some point in his life, before he had us, he was a Wall of Death rider. I don’t think there was anything my father couldn’t do. He was a flea-weight boxer, he whistled the blues, he made jewelry out of nothing and he made homemade wine out of anything, all of it near as dammit lethal. (I remember him encouraging me to go out with a science student so he could get equipment from him to make a still!) The first songs I can ever remember hearing were songs my father sang me:  St Louis Blues and Brother Can You Spare A Dime. These were my lullabies. So it’s no surprise that I’ve always had a thing for slow, dark, melancholy songs.

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