Beep Beep…..

A number of things pushed me on to write this blog this morning, but most probably it involves the young guy I nearly ran down with my car today. Granted it was still around 7am, and quite dark too, but that is no excuse…or is it?

This particular young man, after hollering outside my car windscreen, jumped back on his bicycle-converted-to-motorcycle contraption, and spluttered off, leaving me and a goodly number of onlookers gaping at him.

Looking at his receding back, I could see that he had no lights, no fluorescent vest, and worst of all, a black jacket. Ah. That is why I didn’t see him then. The fact that he had no safety helmet on, I think, did not occur to him at all.

So, in a roundabout way, I am coming to the point of what I want to say. The government says there are way too many cars on the road. And I agree. So that is why we are seeing a proliferation of these death-traps on the road.

Buy a cheap bicycle, import an engine from ebay for a mere hundred euros, bolt it on the frame…and there you go. A registration fee of five malta liri, and you’re good to go!

What the heck is wrong with this country? I have a little 50cc Gilera motorbike for which I have to pay MY drivers license and the bike’s road-tax and insurance. Not to mention the dreaded VRT.

How can this be?

Let’s compare the two items in question. Both machines have 2 wheels. Both have a frame, and a saddle, and err…brakes….but wait, wait.

Let’s REALLY compare them.

The converted bicycle has two thin tyres very prone to bursting at high speeds, as well as a thin uncomfortable saddle bolted onto a narrow aluminium frame that is not meant to handle high speeds. Braking, as one can imagine, is an absolute joke. Try stopping a bicycle going at seventy kilometres an hour on two little rubber blocks! Safety is nothing short of hilarious. These drivers are not asked to wear a helmet. Or God forbid, have front and rear lights.

On the other hand my little Gilera has two thick high-speed capable tyres, a comfortably padded seat with storage space beneath it. The frame is welded in a number of places to ensure safety. Powerful shock absorbers amortize the disc-braking system and a nice little windscreen deflects the wind comfortably away from my helmet-protected head. Powerful lights at the front and back make a good job of advising other commuters on the road that a motorbike is approaching.

So, really, there is no comparison is there? My bike is far more safe on the road…both to me and to others.

So can anyone tell me why the heck I have to fork out ALL that money to keep what is essentially a bicycle with wheels on the road? While the other guy pays nothing for using the same road, albeit with dangerous equipment.

I sincerely propose that for motorcycles up to 100 cubic centimetres, one simply pays a one-time registration tax…and that’s it.

I can guarantee that up to a fifth of cars will disappear from the Maltese roads, especially in spring and summer. And why not. Mopeds are easy to drive and cheap to run. They use clean, efficient, unleaded fuel, cause less hassle on the road and are a doddle to park. Buying a moped doesn’t necessitate breaking the bank with a loan. Being fun to drive is an added bonus.

So if the government really wants to do something (which I doubt), my advice would be to liberalise the sub-100cc motorcycle market.

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So Cold….and so dispirited.

It’s eight in the morning, I am already at work, but earning my way through the day couldn’t be further from my mind than it already is. The air-conditioning unit is on, struggling to keep the place warm, and mostly managing…but I feel so cold. Colder than I have felt for some time now.

I should be a bit happy in the knowledge that at least it’s Friday today, and a weekend is stretching in front of us all. But no, I will probably be here in for work tomorrow. At least it will be quiet and I will be able to earn some extra wages as well. In all probability I will miss another ‘Thorn’ rehearsal, but at the moment, the band seems to be going through a sticky patch, and there is not much to rehearse for. So what is the point of continuing at all?

Sure I enjoy playing live and all that, but the occasions have become so few and far in between that I wonder why I bother at all. Last Tuesday was another damp squib, managing to play a couple of songs in all, but generally listening to everybody grumble and moan. Me, I just kept my mouth shut. And I missed a great football match between Brazil and Italy. No. Definitely not worth it then.

We seem to have lost that spark so cruelly taken away just as we seemed to be regaining our popularity, when Clive (drums) called it quits, and even though his replacement is more than up to the task, Clive brought with him a certain flair. Then Jade’s retirement and consequent passing away was another nail in the coffin, so to speak. We badly need a synth to complement our songs.

So where do we stand? I don’t know actually. Part of me wants to keep on playing with the band, learning more as time goes by, or simply give it all up and concentrate on the other band, primarily a Christian Rock and Gospel type, which seems to attract people who are more than happy to hear us play. I thought it would be just because of our service during mass on Sunday at ten, but no. We have experimented with a couple of ‘short shows’ at odd times, especially on Sunday evenings, and people still come to hear us. Hmm. Seems like there is a goodly amount of people who are content listening to the diversity of songs we play. Some have even asked us for recordings.

All these thoughts could probably be just musings coming from the fact that with this damp weather my arthritis is driving me round the bend with pain and fatigue. No matter how long I sleep or how much I dress up, the ever-pervading damp is still there to suck on my bones, my strength and my will to move a muscle.

And God…how I miss the sun. How I miss that great big yellow ball of relief from the blasted damp. And of coures, I miss summer, with its’ dips in the cool sea, and the relaxing evening nights on the roof, having a beer with my friends and my brothers.

Yes, I can’t wait until this bloody season is over.

What a load of cobblers.

While we were on our weekend break at Selmun, it just happened that there was the Eurovision Song for Malta festival. While I am not a fan of soppy songs and all the corruption that comes with this travesty of music, my kids and wife usually like to watch it.

So it was no bother to me to have a lie-down in bed and actually watch events as they unfolded. And I have some comments to make. Timed at nearly four and a half hours, the competition was way too long. The adverts made up for half that time. Is that legal at all? I thought there was a legal limit as to the proportion.

The presenters? God almighty, I’ve seen wooden spoons that were far more animated than those two on stage.

And the songs? I could pick a handful that were above average, but only just. The winning song wasn’t a song at all. Chiara tried to use her voice to carry her to victory, which she did. I tried listening to it, honestly, but I have rarely heard such a tuneless song. I dare anyone to try and whistle or hum the tune to it. You can’t…there simply is none!

And finally, here is a pic of me and the wife watching the contest and occasionally falling to sleep.

All in another year’s funny Eurovision. I am accepting bets that we won’t make it past the semi-finals.