Anderson religious songs, but he turned it down low so it wouldn’t disturb pedestrians or car drivers with open windows as he was riding to work.
His bike was a customised Harley-Davidson Classic, and he’d spent a lot of money getting it right: water-cooled conversion (so that the engine was nice and quiet) with a lovely big radiator mounted behind the fairing (he got a bit hot sometimes in summer, but it was a small price to pay for making such a lovely bike acceptable to the general public); special exhausts (that reduced the exhaust-note to 42db); nice, sensible flat handle-bars; and a seat and saddlebags covered in drip-dry nylon fabric (because he didn’t approve of using leather, since every animal had a right to live without being exploited by man, which was why he and Samantha were also vegetarians). He was especially proud of the new paint scheme, and his taste was confirmed when a policeman on a white Wankel waved him down. “Hello, Shining,” the policeman said, “I’m not stopping you for anything in particular – I know your bike’s always in tip-top condition, and you always ride it sensibly… I wish I was as good and as careful a rider as you, but I just thought I’d stop you to tell you how great your new colour scheme looks.”
“Yes, and of course I’ve informed the DVLC in Swansea about the change in particulars,” Shining answered. “I’ve got to admit I think it’s super, too. It’s not easy to get somebody who can paint a bike in white, reflective silver, and dayglo orange, and it cost a lot, but the cost doesn’t matter, just so long as other road users'll always be aware of my presence.”
“You’re absolutely right,” the policeman told him, and made a joke. “It’s a pity we can’t give you a couple of blue lights, like we’ve got on our Norton Wankels – then you’d be really conspicuous!”
“Oh, but then people might think I was a police motorcycle,” Shining replied, “and that wouldn’t be right. Masquerading as a police officer is a serious offence, isn’t it?”
“Wow, Shining,” the police motorcyclist said, “I really admire you, did you know that?”
“And I think you’re all doing a wonderful job,” Shining told him. “Where would civilisation be without people like you?”
“And without people like you,”’ the policeman assured him, and started up his bike. “Have a really nice day, Shining, won’t you?”
“It’s just a question of the right mental attitude, a healthy diet, and respect for one’s fellow creatures,” Shining replied, and the policeman agreed, hero-worship shining on his face as he rode off.
He had a good ride to work that day, but then every day was a good day as far as Shining was concerned, and he always enjoyed the ride to work, even when it was winter and it was raining, because his Rukka suit meant he was bone-dry when he got there, and the heated gloves meant that his hands were as warm and dry as toast, as was his face behind its heated visor with the little screen wipers.
That day was especially nice, though. He stopped once to help a blind old lady across the road, and she was touchingly grateful. “God bless you, Shining,” she said. “The Lord in his wisdom has seen fit to afflict me with total blindness, but I can tell it’s you from the powerful aura of good that always surrounds you, and your clean, healthy, wholesome smell.”
Shining was touched by her simple, geriatric gratitude, even if the word ‘smell’ was a little unfitting, he thought. Still, the wonderful English language had changed, and evolved, in the eighty years of the old lady’s life, he knew, so he made allowances for her archaic usage.
As he was riding past a cinema, he saw a group of twelve-year-old boys looking at the posters outside. The film on that week was ‘Swedish Emmanuelle 23’, and the posters were hardly fitting viewing for a group of schoolboys on their way to the Sir Keith Joseph Seminary School (Shining recognised their uniforms), so he stopped his bike, got off, and walked over to them. They looked abashed as he drew near, and all blushed and looked down at their shoes in shame.
“Now, chaps,” Shining said, “this isn’t very nice, is it? You know, a woman’s body is one of the loveliest things created, but it has to be respected. I know they’re nice to look at, but just think of this poor creature, and how she makes her living taking her clothes off for money, and making films like this. Well, you wouldn’t want your sister to do something like that, and have schoolboys gawping at her, would you, eh?”
One of the boys burst into tears at the horrible thought, feeling guilty at his confused desires. Shining patted him gently on the head, which made him feel better, and he vowed to become a vicar, when he’d passed his GCSEs, and do missionary work in Namibia. “You know,” Shining said, “I was young once, just like you, and I used to look at smutty pictures like these, and get all worked up, if you know what I mean?”
The boys did, and they were astounded at Shining’s honesty and humility in admitting he was once like them. Two more started blubbering.
“Well, that’s how you get spots,” Shining told them. “And you’ll never be any good on the rugger field if you’re too tired from all those other deceitful and degrading forms of physical activity. I think you know what I’m talking about, don’t you, chaps?”
They all burst into tears, and vowed never to do it again, or look at pictures of women in provocative poses, or even think unwholesome thoughts. Shining strode back to his Harley Classic, well satisfied.
Two miles further along, he stopped to help someone who was having trouble with his Triumph Special. He was a fat, bearded, sweating individual in oil-stained Levis, and a cut-off with an outlaw bike gang emblem on the back, and he was cursing horribly, and nursing bruised and bleeding knuckles. Shining didn’t mind, he knew he was there to help everybody, no matter how unworthy or anti-social.
“Here,” he told the startled outlaw, “let me put some TCP and Elastoplast from my firstaid kit on your bleeding knuckles, and then I’ll see if I can fix your bike for you.”
While the bearded biker stood by, Shining fixed his bike for him. It wasn’t very serious, just a top end rebuild, and when Shining’d rebuilt it in just fifteen minutes, given the carbs a final tune, and polished it with the Solvol and polishing cloth he kept in his toolbox, he turned and smiled at the baffled biker.
“There we are,” he said. “I think you’ll find that that’ll be good for another 50,000 miles now. And now that’s out of the way, I think you ought to go home, have a jolly good bath and a shave, and get out of those grubby clothes of yours, don’t you?”
The fat, bearded biker growled an expletive at him, but he did it a little shamefacedly.
“Now you know you don’t mean that,” Shining told him mildly. “I know people expect it of you outlaw bikers, but there’s no need to degrade yourself by playing to their media-induced paranoia, is there? You’d be amazed at how well I get on with people, and I’m a biker, just like you. Swearing doesn’t solve anything, you know, it just shows how limited your vocabulary is, and how little self-respect you have for yourself. Besides which, I’m a karate, taekwondo, and aikido master, so you couldn’t do what you said you’d like to, anyway. You’re dreadfully out of condition – have you ever thought of going on a diet, doing aerobics, and cutting down on your alcohol consumption?”
The abashed biker confessed he’d like to lose weight, and get back into trim, and maybe drink a bit less too, but he was on the dole.
“There you are,” Shining told him. “A heaven-sent opportunity to do something while you’ve got the leisure time. Why not work out at the YMCA, give all that beer and convenience food a miss, and really start to make something of yourself? And, you know,”headded,“bikesandbeerreallydon’t