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Indians at The American Hotel

Shed Drunk

(from the Travels with Guido series MT251, Nov 2011, posted May 2020)

by Guy 'Guido' Allen

Indians and bee stings lead to rash promises at Chateau Guido…

Ms M Snr just made one of those declarations that all husbands/spouses/partners dream of.

It all started with a group email from Prof Dingleberry, extolling the delights of a Norton victims club ride into the hills. It sounded tempting: loud noises, cranky motorcycles, tearful owners, lunch at a pub. But I was on another promise – the Iron Indian Riders (or victims – take your pick) Association monthly ride and shed tour. Sent the usual salutations to the Prof and begged out of the Norton gig.

Then I got a response. Ms M, from all of 10 metres away, at the other end of the house, asked if she could come on the Indian ride with her Suzuki. Via email. Okay, so add ‘relationship’ to the burgeoning list of things to do, maybe a little ahead of tax returns and mowing the yard.

It’s Sunday morning and I can see Ms M is not taking the 8:50am start time seriously. As she wanders around the house in various states of (un)dress, I try to assure her the Indian folk are (weirdly) models of punctuality. “Yeah, yeah,” she responds, “I know what your mates are really like.” If it were the usual disheveled tribe of Spannerman, Snag and Blackadder, she’d be right.

Sure enough, at 8:49:59, there’s a rattle and roll of a couple of Springfield Indians in the driveway. Pilgrim and Horner have arrived. The latter, as I open the front door and shove Ms M back towards the bedroom to complete her preparations, asks, “Hello, can Guy come out to play?” As I look down from the height of the front stairs and scope the grin, he looks like a cheeky kid, and knows it.

I don’t care what anyone says about motorcycling, those few seconds will remain forever. It’s worth it. For just a moment, I felt a tenth of my real age.

We get out on the road, a bunch of old Indians and a gaggle of Japanese metal. Rhook is leading the gang through a gentle back roads tour between Melbourne and Creswick. It’s a skill, this, finding old and interesting paths that dodge the more efficient freeways. You can’t help but be impressed.

All of a sudden he stops, gets off the bike, starts wandering around in ever-decreasing circles and the brains trust finally works out he’s sick. Hit by a bee or wasp and having a bad reaction. The short version is he gets bundled off to hospital (and is now okay).

In the long interval as these things are sorted out, Ms M is given a dissertation on the trials and tribulations of buying a used grand piano, by Knoop, one of our group. We’re appalled to learn that a good one costs as much as a new Ferrari.

We eventually make it to Creswick and the American Hotel. Don and Yvonne, local Indian enthusiasts, greet us with their 1920s outfit.

That’s when people start talking about the cost of Indians and Ms M is vehemently not listening. We have an agreement on motorcycles: she never asks what it costs and I never tell her. This lot is unhelpfully talking grand piano numbers, while she starts talking loudly about the weather.

Then, finally, we go for a run and enter the much-promised shed. It’s the size of a suburb and we’re only allowed into a corner. In there, Don has several large machines designed to mill, drill and shape metal. There are also several motorsickles, ranging from Buell through to BSA, plus the odd Matchless and Kawasaki.

Ms M, by now mentally a little punch drunk, staggers out and utters those golden words: “I promise to never, ever, give you a hard time over your shed.”

We’ll see. As much as I’d love to hold her to that promise, I don’t think she’s had a good look in ours recently…



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