If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

- George Washington

Monday, 21 January 2013

Dreaming of Jupiter

The bike is a BMW, black and orange* in appearance almost exactly like the little GS I have just sold, but looking down I see it is an airhead twin. Anna is on the back, we have a mass of luggage, and we are touring somewhere quite exotic - somewhere in Eastern Europe, perhaps. The landscapes and townscapes are bare and empty, and the shadows are deep and the lines sharp, like a de Chirico painting.

I need to get to the British Embassy to sort a problem out. They invite me to ride up the steps into the building for security, and I park the bike on a vast marble floor.  We wait in a huge room full of strangers. Anna is talking to someone and I see my sister-in-law across the room. She asks me what we are doing here, and I jokingly shout that Anna has been arrested. Anna storms off in a huff, and thereby misses the cup of hot cocoa (served in a pot with a sealed lid, like Petits Filous). After the issue has been sorted, I am shown out of another exit. We're on the first floor and there is a massive drop in front of me, but to the left I see I can ride along the top of a wall to get back round to the front of the building. I'm no good with heights, but I manage it OK until I get to a right-angled turn, which I know the bike cannot negotiate. I lean it against a nearby railing and climb to the end of the wall and start looking for assistance, maybe a man with a winch or block and tackle.

Meanwhile, we continue the journey with Anna driving. I hear the different exhaust note and see that we are on an old Triumph twin, painted in that mid-green colour that was so popular in the 60s. She rides well and corners hard, and I begin to enjoy the journey.  We end up at the house of the friends we had planned to meet, but find they now live in a commune and have become very hippified. I am told the bike has been recovered, and I go to see it. It is parked at ground level, thank heavens, but it has fallen on its side. However, there is no damage and I ride it back to the commune.


I finished work yesterday morning at 7 am and had about three hours' sleep and then got up. By 10 pm last night I was extremely tired and went to bed. I read a few pages of Ted Simon's Dreaming of Jupiter before I went to sleep. The chapter involved endless meetings in the Sudanese embassy in Egypt while trying to get a visa to enter Sudan. The night before, he had been invited to ride his bike up the hotel steps for security reasons. I just find it highly comical that my dream could be such a literal mashup of what I had been reading and some recent bike-related events in my life. (I even had a minor walking-speed tipover on the new XTR as I was riding in through the front gate while bringing it home. No damage.)

Dreaming of Jupiter, literally.

* I seem to remember reading that there is some debate over whether we dream in colour.  This one was definitely in colour, and nice bright colours too.

Note:  Ted Simon's original work Jupiter's Travels is a brilliant and ground-breaking book, and is probably ultimately responsible for the current fashion for adventure touring and round-the-world (RTW) trips.  It is a great read, and if you haven't read it yet, you should.  Yes, even you non-motorcycling readers.  It's intelligent, interesting and profound, and it isn't even much about bikes.  In fact, Simon couldn't even ride when he decided to set off, and is quite explicit in his view that it was the bike that facilitated the journey, rather than the journey bthat justified the ride.  However, fascinating though it is, it is rather melancholy and troubling in parts,and it's certainly not a feel-good tale.  Dreaming of Jupiter, which was very kindly bought for me as a Christmas present, was written when he decided, at the age of 70 or so, to travel the route again and see what had changed.  I'm not even quarter of the way through, and I am hooked.  Both books highly recommended.


  1. Ted is a sound chap - not so sure about all the hangers on and wanabes tho'

    I'll lend you his latest book - based on a Uk and Eire jaunt.

  2. Funny how your dreams mirror life and what you were reading. Maybe you want to journey around the world.

    This reminds me though I need to get reading. I have that book sitting on the shelf right now.

    1. Maybe not round the world, but I certainly want to travel more than I have so far. Northern, Eastern and Southern Europe, maybe the four corners of the States, maybe East-West across Canada and visit my cousin in Vancouver. Then there's Morocco, and Russia, and .. mind you, there's a lot of the UK I haven't seen yet.

      Now, take that book down from the shelf ... it's really good.

  3. Both books are on my "list" but I've been hoping for an Audible version since most of my reading recently has been while walking down the road...

    Interesting how real life and stories blend in one's dreams.


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