I Just Joined a Cult

Travel into London by motorbike, to the centre of the city's vibrant hipster scene, and meet all characters from this new bohemian crowd... [Hipster. Bohemian. Shoreditch. Motorbike. London}

London 2019


I’ve joined a cult… I signed no contact, and received no membership, but I’m definitely in. The strange thing is that, as you’re absorbed, you don’t notice it happening. It’s as if your focus has been on something up-ahead, whilst the net has been pulled-in tight behind you. And once you realise what’s happened, it’s already too late, because now …now you’re one of them.


Here’s how it works: You ride into town on a balmy summer’s evening. You’ve worked an early shift-pattern, so as to get the jump on the rush-hour traffic, but for you the traffic doesn’t really exist. You glide past car-drivers stuck in tailbacks at Marylebone, along the bus-lane at Regents Park, into the underpass at Warren Street, through the perma-jam at Kings Cross, and up the hill to Islington. Ahead of you, a gaggle of mopeds scatter at the blip of your throttle, and the bark of your cans.


Office-boys in their sweat-patched Burton suits step backwards onto the kerb, thinking better of it. They’ll let you pass before crossing the road.


Hip wine-bars and ethno-eateries line the streets, where once there were just white-people and bed-sits. You wind your way north, and surf the wave of gentrification, past houses you’d previously never wanted  to rent, and into which now, you could never afford to buy.


You now scythe through the heart of Stoke Newington and wonder why you always associate the place with Marxist-lesbians, and who-on-earth ever put that sh#t into your head. You glide past a couple of high street banks, and give them a double-take, questioning if it was at that branch, where The Fig had paid-off his white powder debt; as getaway guy for Hannibal-the-Cannibal.


Onwards, past the greengrocer, the chicken shop, and that place that gives good shawarma. Hang a right by the town-hall, and soon you're there: a cobble-stone courtyard, and some renovated stables; that are now laid-over to painters, fashion designers, and vintage-vinyl traders.


An assortment of tables populate The Yard, and a group of too on-trend-to-bend twenty-somethings crowd-round each one, sipping afro-vegan retro-beer. And then... then you see it, a white boss-eyed custom, that may have once been a Suzuki 600. You look at the bike, and then over to the hipsters, and then back at the bike again. For some reason, calling out to them: “Whose bike is this?” comes to mind, and a Danish-looking bloke puts-up his hand.


“Some guy sold it you, for a suspiciously-low price, right ?” You add, with menace.


“Erm... yes… is there a problem?” he says, as he walks over to you. His crowd of friends now silent. And because you used to be eccentric, and because now you're worse, you follow with:


“This bike was sold to you by a bloke, who punched-me, in the face."


His friends are now even silent-er. There is an awkward pause. The Danish guy is speechless.


“I’m guessing you know Meatball then ?” I add, with a smirk slowly creeping across my face


“Erm yes, you are knowing Meatballs also?” He is, with words in the wrong order, replying.


“Sure, I spar with him at the gym on a Monday night. Lovely guy, but waaaay too hairy…”


The Danish man laughs out-loud, and his friends too. The ice is broken. Suddenly he’s introducing himself as ‘Yaaarik’ and then his girlfriend comes over to say ‘hello’, and to offer an invite to a Club Night she’s putting-on next week, where you play darts for prize-money, but where the prize money is meat.


Yaaarik has come to drink beer with Adam, the owner of The Yard; a specialist retailer of British biker-gear, that’s made in Portugal. You on the other-hand have dropped-in to meet Terry, who is running a series of workshops on re-wiring resto-mods, and suddenly, you’re all friends.


It’s like that old pub game: ‘Seven Degrees of Kevin Bacon’, but where every second person in the crowd is Kevin Bacon. Everyone is really (really) connected. You’ve never met this Meat-Dart woman before, but she was also at the mellee  last weekend, and Terry himself knows ZZ, who gave you that complimentary ticket to the mellee (due to the fact that, a fortnight earlier, whilst mooching-along the Kyle of Tongue, you’d picked-up one of her Germans from *in a ditch* and *under a bike*). It’s a definite club. But what is it called? ...I’m not sure, but I’m definately on-board.


It’s mainly in London, but also worldwide. For the most part it’s male, but with a fearsome-love of geared-bike girls. One could mistake it for cliquey but it really just sticky; a natural evolution of ‘The Nod’ that all bikers give each other when passing on the road - something that no car-driver has ever heard of.


Everybody seems to know everyone else, or if they don’t know them directly, then they’re mates with one of the guys who he hangs-out with.


These guys are younger, cleverer and infinitely more stylish. They wrench like Rockers but move like Mods. Hegel would have been proud: Thesis, Anti-thesis, and now Synthesis.


A blend of the two, that’s better than both.

And they're all so goddam nice, and interesting, and interested. These guys are neither old-bike bores; with their brown-beer and corduroys, nor are they mid-life Harley types; with their bald-patch bandanas and tragic bikini-blondes. These guys are younger, cleverer and infinitely more stylish. They wrench like Rockers but move like Mods. Hegel would have been proud: Thesis, Anti-thesis, and now Synthesis. A blend of the two, that’s better than both.


Maestro runs a record label, Adam’s launching a capsule collection (whatever that means), Terry fixes stuff, and Meatball, well Meatball… he just blows shit up.

Meatball is a nutty professor/time traveller - You go over to his place at 10am for a quick cuppa and a chat about bench seats, and before you know it, you're helping to re-align the steering on a Italian sportscar, discussing how to lay-off three tonnes of sheepskin, the price of Japanese denim, and how the bloke from whom he’s getting his explosives licence, has a stash of semis, which were supposed to have been ‘put beyond use’, but [  ]  …And then it’s 7pm and he’s asking you if you’d like dinner, and you still haven’t gotten round to that ruddy bench seat.


...Did I mention time-travel ?


In addition to this crew, there’s Razzo. Nobody quite knows what Razzo does, not even Terry. He has a lock-up full of Porches, skull-rings on most fingers, and a different Guzzi for every day of the week.


Whatever he does, it’s nice work if you can get it. And we think it’s legal, mostly.


And how do you join this club? …God only knows! ...I’d like to say that it’s as simple as 'getting a motorbike', but it’s not that simple. Perhaps one could hang-out at the right places, but then again... no. I reckon you need some element of mechanical know-how, but not so much that it makes you square, flair enough to flick-paint at canvas, and have some of it stick ...and an all embracing attitude to the company of folk, who’ve too often said, “Yes” when they really should've said “No”.


These folks are living their best life, and it’s nice to be among them. They are old enough to know ‘better’ but have upped-the-ante, so as to best whatever-the-hell ‘better’ might have been.


In an age when you can cheerfully sit at home and watch TV for the rest of your life, where you're invited into the toxic world of anti-social media, and where your phone bleeps constantly with the ‘Breaking News’ of what a bimbo has said about a footballer, these guys eschew gimcrackery and do a thing that folks used to do, before progress made life better. They spend time with real people, who are as passionate about life as they are.


In the same way that golf was invented to keep people with poor-taste away from the vulnerable, smartphones have been designed by some higher-power: to keep dullards off the street.


We live in wonderful times, and the opportunities to meet folks who’ve unplugged themselves from The Matrix are ripe for the plucking. These folks are amazing company.


I challenge you ...go find them too


Go find your crew...




Copyright Pal Blanko 2022. All Right Reserved

Travel into London by motorbike, to the centre of the city's vibrant hipster scene, and meet all characters from this new bohemian crowd... [Hipster. Bohemian. Shoreditch. Motorbike. London}

What to read next: 

A Briefcase Full of Bear Meat

Want more of the good stuff ?

Sign-up for the Pal blanko Newsletter below...

Share this to...