good-looking ugly woman : woman who is attractive though not conventionally prettyOf course, beauty is in the eye of the beerholder and all that, and perhaps I am just getting old, but there is something special about a woman who does not conform to all the conventional rules of beauty but nevertheless provokes the gut reaction of "wow, yes". All those tanned, blonde, perky-breasted 20-something starlets - well, yeah, OK. But the Regency knew all about the positioning of the (fake) beauty spot, and the rule of the Golden Section demonstrates that the most pleasing proportions are never in the exact centre of the rectangle or line. Fibonacci knew a thing or two.
OK, I'm digressing. I had a very interesting conversation this morning in unlikely circumstances.
I had parked the XT outside the supermarket to use the cashpoint. Two chavmobiles (a 205 and a Fiesta, exhaust cans the size of dustbins, massive bass units, tinted glass) were parked driver-to-driver while the occupants had a chat. As I climbed back on board, the driver of the one facing me shouted something at me. Fully-helmeted, I didn't hear what he said, but I'm not one to back down from a challenge, so I got off again and walked over. I asked him what he had said.
"I said 'how old is the bike?'"
"1994, first registered 1995. What about it?"
"It's beautiful, man. What a lovely old bike."
"Yeah, it's great to see a bike like that still being used on the road. I love it."
He wasn't taking the piss. In fact, I retract those chavmobile comments above, because the pair of them were nice lads, about 20, clean and tattoo-free, and seemed very pleasant and polite. I told them a bit about the bike and why I liked it so much myself, and they seemed to understand. I told them they had made my day, and departed.
Now be serious. Have a look at this (pic taken the moment I got home) and tell me with a straight face that this is a beautiful bike:
No, thought not. The wheels are rusty, the engine is covered with oily muck, some of the body plastics are missing and it hasn't been washed in six months.
I was convinced for a while that they were taking the mick, and then I realised something. It was exactly the same reaction I have at bikes from the 50s and 60s which are tatty but in working order and regular use. There's a guy I sometimes meet at rideouts and events who rides a 1950 Norton 16H, tatty and rusty but sound and well-used. I love to see it, to ride alongside it, to listen to it. It's a proper relic, but somehow keeping a relic in working order is putting two fingers up to the planned-obsolescence culture of rampant consumerist trinketry, and I like it. What gets me going is a working bike from my own childhood or teenage years, and when I do the maths it's the same for these kids. I guess they were born in the early 90s, so their reaction to the XT is the same as my reaction to a bike from, say, 1955.
Which is exactly the same. They probably drooled over bikes like this in magazines, and Uncle Emlyn had one and he was really cool, and all that. Just like I did over the Bonnevilles and Tigers and Commandos of my youth.
Nothing really changes, I guess.
But I don't have that excuse. I think my reaction is something like the 'jolie-laide' idea. You know, when something is so bad, it's good. Who would have a pale green motorbike, still less one where the designer's idea of colour co-ordination is to mix it with lilac? A lot of bikes in the late 80s had these migraine graphics, and it looks dated but correct on a large sportsbike. I think Yamaha were a bit late to the party with their trail bikes on this one. By 1994, a lot of bikes were being dressed in plain colours. Yes, it's naff. And I like it naff, thank you.
It does pose a problem, though. When (if) I ever get round to restoring/refurbing the XT, do I go for a plain colour and less plastic - better-looking, almost certainly, and easier and cheaper to do - or do I go for the back-to-factory approach and wear myself down tracking obscure parts in even more obscure colours down on eBay? These green ones are pretty rare, it seems. A search for XT600E in Google Images produces hundreds of XTs, but hardly any of them are green and lilac. And from the reaction of these lads today, maybe it will be worth keeping it as standard as possible.
Decisions, decisions - but it's a nice day here, so I am off for a ride.
And first rideout of the year with MAG tomorrow. Excellent.