Andy Pratt is a man who has experienced the evil of international Gnomery at first hand after the renegade gnome—the self-styled Gerald P Floyd—made off with his vintage motorcycle.
Oleg: "Mr Pratt, I understand you have recently had a motorcycle stolen by a gnome?"
Andy: "Look mate, could we play down the gnome bit—it doesn’t go with the biker image."
Oleg: "So you have recently had a motorcycle stolen?"
Andy: "Yes mate, it’s a bleedin' liberty. Probably the best example of a three-year-old Indian import Royal Enfield 500cc Bullet you'll ever see, or not see now—as it turns out."
Oleg: "Bullet, you say? Do they still make them?"
Andy: "Absolutely, the tooling was all shipped out to India in the 1960s—this is your genuine article we are talking about, not like that Triumph Bonneville pastiche bollocks they're flogging to middle-aged accountants who want to recapture their teenage kicks."
Oleg: (abashed) "Oh...I quite fancied one of those…"
Andy: "Well I suppose if you have to have a modern bike it is better than the Japanese Tupperware that’s about at the moment but it hasn’t got the character of the original."
Oleg: "Look, I need to ask about the Royal Enfield."
Andy: "Right mate: single cylinder, four speed box, electric start fitted—if you're a girlie. Show any family car you like a clean pair of heels up to about 40 mph, after that you can’t read the speedo because of the vibration."
Oleg: "No, I mean when was it stolen? What did it look like? Any tips for the police on tracking it down?"
Andy: "Right, well I know it was here yesterday because I remember it wouldn’t start—classic stuff! Slightest bit of damp in the air and the electrics pack up and go home to Madras, trick is to get a can of WD40 and—"
Oleg: (losing patience) "—So it was stolen yesterday?"
Andy: "No, like I said, it was here yesterday because it wouldn’t start. But I got her going and took her to work. Fantastic, you’d have loved it. Did you say you had a Bonneville? Well your slow speed handling would be crap compared to the Enfield. Anyway, I must have been doing at least 60—the fillings in me teeth all rattle at 55 so I can tell the speed—when this little geezer in a pointy red hat jumped out in front of me. Bloody 'ell, he didn't half pen and ink!"
Oleg: "That'll be the gnome them. Probably just fed."
Oleg: "On potted shrimp. Potted shrimp is like crack cocaine to a gnome."
Andy: "Bloody hell. I'd heard they were randy little buggers...women go weak at the knees at the sight of them some bloke down the pub told me. Potted shrimp, you say...Expensive stuff, is it? Do Tesco's do it?"
Oleg: (exasperated) "I really have no idea. Look, was it a gnome or not?"
Andy: "Well, it may have been him then, although this was 9 o’clock in the morning so I was pretty much sober. Anyway, the real thing with the old Bullet is not so much the not starting as the not stopping either. Drum brakes you see, classic—absolutely brilliant—not a hope of stopping, so I swerved round him. Say what you like about old British motorcycles but for swerving, not starting and not stopping either we led the world, mate."
Oleg: "So he didn’t steal the bike?"
Andy: "Not then."
Andy: "Well I got home about seven o’clock. Fantastic run, I only needed to change the spark plug twice and fit new contact breaker points at the six mile point. That’s the thing about a classic bike like that, they’re so easy to maintain—oh a bit of trouble with the carb outside the paper-shop, it shook loose—just needed a couple of bolts tightening. So I put the old bike away and went in to have me tea. This morning when I went out to go to work it was gone."
Oleg: "So it went in the night?"
Andy: "Yeah, the little shit half-inched it at twenty-seven minutes past three."
Oleg: "That’s very precise."
Andy: "It woke the whole bleedin' street mate—have you ever heard one of those things starting? Fantastic noise, ground shakes, brilliant."
Oleg: "Did you try to stop him?"
Andy: "Do you think I’m mad? If I can get the money back off the insurance I'm buying a car."
Oleg: "I see, any ideas where he might have gone?"
Andy: "Well, not far would by my guess. I suggest you follow the trail of leaking oil and if he’s done more than 15 miles without breaking down it will be worth an article in ‘Classic Bike’ magazine. Oh, and if you find the damn thing intact, do us a favour..."
Oleg: "What, bring the old girl back?"
Andy: "Leave it out, mate—set a match to it!"
Oleg: "What about the gnome?"
Andy: "Oh yeah, bring the gnome back. I've got a monkey riding on the little shit being ransomed. If you torch the fucker I'll be well gutted."
In other news today, the US ambassador in Seoul died unexpectedly after handling what is believed to be a Japanese fugu fish—a gift from the Korean Premier in return for President Bush's generous reconstruction of three of his country's largest cities yesterday. A spokestypeperson for the peace-loving humanitarian leader, Kim Jong-il, said that the ambassador would be given a state funeral with full military honours. We understand that the climax of the ceremony will involve the launch of eight long-range missiles, tipped with nuclear warheads which have been targeted at the holiday homes of Condolezza Rice and Dick Cheney.
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