My friends Brian and Stacy are away from Hollywood at the moment. They’re on their delayed honeymoon, which for them is to fly to England, retrieve their scooters from storage, and then do the things and have days. You know, ride to the Isle of Wight, Paris, the Ace Cafe (now scooter-friendly, apparently), all under the banner of Vespastics. An irreverent name, to be sure, for an irreverent club. It’s had a rocky history, but they’re back on the road, picking up where they left off, and they have a new wesbite to prove it.
When Brian found out I dabbled with this web stuff, he asked how it could be done, and I immediately recommended WordPress, my platform of choice. He kick-started his webspace, checked the domain was still there, and set me loose. A few short hours later, they were back online, and recreating the alliances that make the scooter subculture so strong. As a result of my help, Brian tells me that I’m an honorary member – I’m very flattered to accept.
I used to own and ride a Piaggio Zip 50 in the first years of the 21st Century, not the most stylish of scooters, butÂ pretty nifty. It sipped petrol, which was useful during the 2000Â fuel protests, because one tank lastedÂ the whole period.Â
Â I used to get comments from my collegues at work about not having “a proper bike”. My response was that being only 28, I wasn’t old enough to have a mid-life crisis and squeeze my aging flabby carcass into some ill-advised leathers and buy a Harley. That shut them up. Well, it didn’t, but they kind of blinked and smiled and moved away.
Scooter cultureÂ in the UK got a bit of a boost in the dread post-Britpop world of Paul Weller hero-worship which made it actually OK to actually like Ocean Colour Scene. Lambretta clothing became popular, named after the popular scooter brand, but not associated with the scooter company. Just branding. Ben Sherman, already a big name, rode the wave as well.
I eventually got rid of the scooter after it became clear I was going to die on the road if I didn’t. People in South West London, not the most concsiencious drivers, were after my blood. I would be challenged to races from stop lights by bunches of twats in hatchbacks. Certain areas of London allowed motorbikes to ride in the bus lanes, other did not, but it was unclear which. This sometimes meant you were riding in the centre, out of the bus lane, and this made some car drivers very angry. They would accelerate around you, sometimes on the inside, and deliberately come close to knocking you off. All that, and the weather, ledÂ me to get a car.
It was worth it for a while though. It was cheap and fun. Perhaps a faster, more powerful scooter could have kept up with the traffic and not hurt the poor car drivers’ delicate feelings so much.