Warning: Gratuitous and rambling nostalgia ahead: In 1981 I was living and working in Warwick, in my first ‘proper’ job after graduating — my prior history as a ski bum didn’t really count. Now Warwick is a very beautiful olde towne in the English Midlands, but it is some 330 miles from my semi-ancestral home of Edinburgh, which is where I was intending to be for Christmas. Now I could have done the sensible thing and taken the train from Birmingham, sitting (or at least standing) in a semi-comfortable fug of other people’s colds, second-hand cigarette smoke and generalised flatulence. But somehow that didn’t sufficiently appeal to the masochist in me. My newly acquired pride and joy at this time was my Honda 400/4 — a finely crafted jewel of a motorcycle and an utter paragon of reliability after my upbringing on (and off) old British iron. I guess there was a mindset here that said, “I’m on a wonderful piece of to-the-minute japanese engineering. I am therefore invulnerable to the vicissitudes of the world”. Which in turn led me to think, “So I’ll just leap onto my machine and ride to Edinburgh for Christmas”.