Invitation to a riot

Accept The Beard's invitation ...and join a hundred hipster-bikers, for a riot re-enactment. { Riot. Hipster. Bikers. Motorcycles }

London, 2021


Mention the word ‘commemorative' and most folk’s minds will skip-to some notion of a plaque, or a wreath, and perhaps even an RAF flay-past. However, The Beard isn’t most folks.


Standing at 6’2”, with the sort of sun-tanned features that a pirate might envy, and a quiff resembling Rasputin’s bed-hair, The Beard is definitely different. By way of demonstration, he’d invited the Maestro and I, to a commemorative day-out that he was organising: to celebrate a riot, from the 1960s. For those of you with an interest in vintage-violence, note that this wasn’t any-old riot. No, this was a Hells Angels riot...


Naturally, I said 'Yes'.


…After all, what did I have to lose, beyond some braincells, a few teeth, and my man-love virginity? It promised to be one hell of a party.


A few weeks later, I found myself riding my black Bonneville, though the trendier streets of London, surrounded by a deafening assortment of Custom Bobbers and Flat-Head Harleys. I’d been on ride-outs before, but not like this one. It’s quite something to see cars ahead-of-you scatter like marbles, at the sound of rolling thunder. Errand boys jumped back onto the pavement, and pedestrians, with green lights in their favour, refused to step-off the kerb. This was quite something. At one set of lights, the sound of the Harley next to me was so loud, that I thought I’d stalled my bike, so I tried to re-start it, only to find-it still running! …I said, at one set of lights, the sound of the Harley next to me, was so loud, that I thought I’d stalled my…


Man alive. Deafening. But in a good way.


I grinned mischievously at the madness of it all. In a helmet, no one can hear you smirk.


We rode-out through Hoxton, towards the East End, and onwards to Dagenham. After much hand-signalling, a spot of rain, and some girl on a Harley running-out-of-fuel on her 833, we arrived at a field, in the sunshine, by a lake. This was going to be good, or memorable, or both. One-hundred-and-twenty bikers, seven-hundred-and-fifty beers, thirty bottles of rum, and three crates of raw meat. What could possibly go wrong?


I noticed that the plastic crates, in-which the (unidentified) meat sloshed, had all been liberated from ‘Pets at Home’, but all was calm. The infamous Hells Angels ‘Lake Run’ recorded by Hunter S. Thompson (shortly before they beat him to a pulp), had started-out with a similar sense of calm. So, I reckoned that the omens were good.


With tents pitched, the Maestro and I opted to help-out on the food stall, if only because, out of all the folks who ever get stabbed, the list never includes; those guys what do them juicy burgers. Check-out photos from any riot in the ‘70s, ‘80s or ‘90s, and you’ll see: cop cars on-fire, shop-fronts smashed-in, and KFC completely untouched.


Speaking of stabbings, halfway-through prepping a mystery-meat burger, The Beard introduced me to some Jim Morrison look-a-like, who was making a 6ft paella. Over the din of Black Sabbath, I didn’t quite catch his name, but he smiled, waved, and then continued to stir his rice …with a 9” bayonet.


I’d never thought of myself as a rum guy, but it’s funny the things you learn about yourself, whilst sweating your ass off, surrounded by men, in leather.

We toiled-on, as afternoon gave-way to evening, and evening conceded to starlight. The music got louder and my burger preparation messier. I then helped-out the guy at the bar; making double-measures of Rum n’ Ginger …completely disappear. I’d never thought of myself as a rum guy, but it’s funny the things you learn about yourself, whilst sweating your ass off, surrounded by men, in leather.

If you don’t have a bucket-of-meat to accompany your Rum n’ Ginger, the barman gave me another fine tip; which is to accompany your mug of Rum n’ Ginger with; another mug of Rum n’ Ginger… It works surprisingly well…


With the meat all gone, and kitchens now closed, I wandered-out into the darkness, which (to be frank) was awful lot blurrier than I’d remembered. Accenting my patter with a West-Indian cigarette, I struck-up conversation with various creatures of the night. The choice of wildlife was lush and varied.


“Nice Steak-Burger Mate!” came the shout, from a bloke, emerging from the bushes.


I smiled and responded: “When you strangle the meat yourself, the texture is just that bit better” and then, another drink was thrust into my hand.


By this point, my cigarette was no longer working, but then again, neither was my brain, so at least I had that going for me. Then a Jamaican came barrelling out-of-the-darkness, seemingly in pursuit of his own beard. Black-as-midnight and confused by the swaying of his own dreadlocks, he had the look of a long-lost brother in his eyes. Did I know him? Did he know me? Who could remember?


He was drunk and he was stoned. Instinctively, I knew I could trust him.


He said his name was ‘Danny’ and (shortly after he’d propositioned the girl next to me, for a threesome with his missus), he told me of his top-flight career as a medic; pulling folks from car-crashes and saving bodies by the roadside. Clearly, this man knew his drugs.


I’m not quite sure how it happened, but someone in the group had now taken the conversation down a strange left-turn, away from some guy’s reminiscences of sex through a chain-linked fence, and into talk of rights, millennials, and homophobia. Sensing his cue, the Jamaican piped-up “Let me tell you about Homophobia, son…” which, as lines go, normally marks a turning-point at cocktail parties. He continued: “See, my son, him 15 year old, and the other day, he started giving me allsort of smart-talk about how I couldna say ‘Gay diss’ and ‘Gay datt’ …and then you know what I say?” [pin-drop silence] “…I say …I took him, and I say …Son, when you’ve sucked as much cock as I have, then you can call-me homophobic”. I turned to look at the Maestro, and saw him (like the pro he is) nodding his head in earnest-agreement, like some stiff at a Town Hall meeting. This cat; the Maestro, him know the ropes.


The woman who’d mysteriously appeared at my left-elbow, rolled-back her head with laughter. Seemingly, this was the best night-out she’d had in years… and at 5’2”, with six kids to her name, who was I to argue.


Her outburst of laughter prompted the Jamaican to go for an encore, that nobody quite wanted, but which no one could quite stop. His second story began with “I remember when I was in The Navy…” continued with “…three-bottles of whisky” an “offer of oral sex” and ended on: “…then, the next morning, I remembered …there were no women aboard this ship !”


As the crowd gasped and laughed in equal measure, I turned to BB behind me, and mouthed the words: “You see. This is why I come to these …commemorations.


Copyright Pal Blanko. 2022. All Rights Reserved

Accept The Beard's invitation ...and join a hundred hipster-bikers, for a riot re-enactment. { Riot. Hipster. Bikers. Motorcycles }

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