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Vlad and the irony of lunch

Lunching with the Lemmings Motorcycle Club has some unusual risks

(Written circa 2006, published Dec 2023, Guy 'Guido' Allen)


Vladimir Yarets Alexovich, a native of Belarus, Russia, was cruising through Melbourne on his beaten-up F650 Bimm – the one with the bright yellow Samsonite full airline we’re-on-hols-for-a-year bags firmly bolted to its formerly slim sides. They looked like two blocks of council flats on a bicycle.


Morley, a fellow Lemmings MC (motto – death before courtesy) member, spotted him in traffic and somehow knew they were to meet again later that day, at the Friday Lemmings lunch.


The latter has become something of a local institution. It happens in Little Saigon, in sunny Melb, where host Sandy (ringmistress of the Minh Minh restaurant) rules with an iron corkscrew. She has had the misfortune of dealing with us for around 15 years – it’s hard to say exactly how long. But I’m confident our modest weekly bill has put a whole generation of Sandy offspring through school, and now we’re funding university. It’s money well-spent, which is unusual for us.


Vlad et al somehow gravitated to the lunch – which backs up my theory that the event is a black hole of stupidity. It has a gravitational pull that defies normal rules of physics. We get lots of travelers through, along with assorted bike journos and the odd bike industry bod. Sometimes very odd, and they’re often not thankful.


Meanwhile Vlad is a deaf mute. His ambition, after five years on the road, is to be recognised by the Guinness Book of Records as the most-travelled motorcycling deaf-mute. Call me psychic, but I suspect he’s a shoo-in.


Communication with a Russian deaf-mute over lunch can be challenging when it comes to the finer points of world politics. We think the Nazi salutes may have referred to Germans, but then again it could have been George Bush. No matter – a man who’s reportedly over 60 years of age and been on the road for several, can eat. Quickly. And with determination.


There were some uncomfortable moments. Vlad ain’t exactly an oil painting, so the middle-aged, middle-class, well-polished woman who was dragooned into taking photos of the Lemmings at lunch may still need counseling. Vlad is living proof that words are superfluous, when herding and vehement hand gestures from a gnome who clearly has nothing left to fear are far more effective.


The next week, we were graced with the company of Shoemark the PR bloke, who by his own admission is not deaf and certainly not mute. In fact, he has been known to wear out telephones in a single conversation. He dropped in to celebrate his return to motorcycling with the purchase of a 400 scooter and was mistaken by Sandy for Vlad.


While Shoemark is roughly Vlad-shaped, this is like mistaking Joseph Goebbels for Mahatma Ghandi. 
It got worse. Kingsbury, associate professor of things Indonesian, and the owner of a tasty Priller, also dropped in and somehow the conversation turned to (as is inevitable at motorcycle lunches) who would win the Nobel Peace Prize. 


Kingsbury was fresh from an ABC radio discussion over his edgy negotiation of peace in Aceh (Indonesia). Shoemark, who had heard it, but didn’t know the prof (his neighbor at the Sandy trough) from a can of chain lube, turned to his lunch partner and opined, “I think that Kingleberry bloke who sorted Aceh should get it, what do you reckon?” Kingsbury blushed and gave me one of those “what the hell have I got myself into this time, again?” looks.


Desert at Minh Minh traditionally consists of the entire squid population of Bass Strait deep fried and laid out on a platter. It was over this comfortable horizon that we had to explain to Sandy that Shoemark was not Vlad, and therefore should be allowed to speak; And to Shoemark that ‘Kingleberry’ deserved the Nobel but would have to settle for fried squid until he gets proper recognition.

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