"The mode of locomotion should be slow, the slower the better, and be often interrupted by leisurely halts to sit on vantage points and stop at question marks."
Carl Sauer, the president's address to the Association of American Geographers. Montreal, Canada, April 4, 1956.
Very nice quotation that. It seems we should expect plenty of interruptions on our journeys. Ted Simon says that too.
And question marks.
Well, there’s not much adventure-motorcycling going on here at the moment, unless you count in one night’s camping on the south coast in brilliant weather.
So I’ll offer no excuse at all to make some more outrageously rambling observations on question marks raised by the twin subjects of Africa and motorbikes.
Thus, the idea of those leisurely halts to ponder question marks in Africa and the Sahara makes me ask whether it would be useful to join The Sons of the Desert before departure.
What do you think?
Oliver Hardy always seemed to take leisurely halts at question marks as he ambled with Stanley through their memorable pre-war black-and-white film comedies. And in 1933, they were both members. So I wonder if a valid membership card might help with the notoriously bureaucratic land-entry into Egypt, and the journey across the Sahara.
But unfortunately, there is no Sons of the Desert tent in North Africa. The nearest is the Block-Heads Tent in Prato, Tuscany. And our route takes us nowhere near it.
So I don’t think membership would be of much use. Perhaps I’ll take the DVD of Sons of the Desert (Laurel and Hardy, 1933) instead.
Here's another film question-mark I'd like to stop at; it's recently sprung to mind:
I would guess most people reading this have seen that wonderful film, The World's Fastest Indian. It jointly ties with On Any Sunday as Best Biking Film Ever.
Does anyone remember the cigar-smoking character that introduces himself at the salt flats while Burt Munro is having a spot of bother with the scrutineers?
His name is Rollie Free, who was a real life bike rider and speed record holder. He achieved a Land Speed Record on a British Vincent V-twin some years before Burt Munro.
In a rather unique manner.
He made a number of conventional runs, just missing the record by fractions of a mph. So in a moment of eccentric creativity, he stripped off all his clothes, put on swimming trunks and a rubber hat, lay flat on his bike like a plank, and won that Land Speed Record.
As far as I can find out, history doesn't say how the scrutineers handled that one.
There's a pretty famous photo of his run that crops up in motorcycle history books now and again, showing Rollie Free in swimming trunks on his Vincent, building up speed. You can find it here: http://www.myvincent.co.uk/people/rfree.php
So the question I have is, did the director of The World's Fastest Indian intentionally insert a very pertinent statement about our modern times into that scene? The scene where Burt Munro is being terminally harangued by the scrutineers for not having a leather jacket, nor leather trousers, nor parachute, nor boots. Whereupon, at that very moment, along comes Rollie Free who achieved a Land Speed Record of 150mph at the same salt flats wearing just his swimming trunks.
If it wasn’t intentional, it was still a pretty sublime bit of health and safety satire, to be thrown at people who say what a dangerous venture it is to ride around Africa on a motorbike.
And the Sons of the Desert?
For those who don’t know, it’s the name of the world-wide Laurel and Hardy appreciation society. (Don’t call it a fan club).
The local branches around the world are called Tents. There’s not one in Egypt, nor anywhere else in the Sahara.
So I’m tempted to place this question on the HUBB, under ‘Trip Paperwork’, to supplement all those other questions about aiding and easing tricky border-crossings.
Or maybe ‘The HU Bar’ would be more appropriate.
“Would it be helpful to pin my Sons of the Desert membership card into my passport for crossing the Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopian borders, and also when applying for visas for those countries? Has anyone tried this? Did it help or hinder?”
. . . . . . . Another fine mess of a blog posting . . . . . . .
P.S. Not much preparation work happening at the moment. The I.O.M. TT is on the TV!
Posted by Ken Thomas at June 10, 2009 02:13 PM GMT