GETTING READY FOR THE OFF Four weeks after a surgeon had taken his knife out of my nuts and another surgeon had cut out two skin cancers from my face, I thought, what better thing to do than head to the sun on a sports bike. Let's go to the Spanish MotoGP in Jerez. Nice ride. Besides the operations weren't a problem, the anesthetics did their job, it was the stitches that really gave me grief. Ooh sir! Especially when it got cold. So I took off with two tiny panniers and a Ducati Panigale S Tricolore. Who needs these BMW GS's to do these kind of trips, much more fun with a Pornygirly. The ride down the A3 to Portsmouth was so busy it was enough to make me glad I was leaving the country. Several cars had impaled themselves in the Armco on the northbound carriageway and the southbound was bumper-to-bumper for almost all of it. It was awful. Shouldn't these people still be in work on Friday afternoon? Does the whole of England head to the south coast for the weekend? It felt like a rush hour tube train on rubber tyres. Riding a bike or driving a car like that was high risk and no reward. At least it didn't rain. I got down to Pompey and followed the signs round to the port without a hitch. Stopping at the booth with the ticket man, I turned off the noise but still couldn't hear him because of the ear plugs. Passport, A4 printout ticket, he checked my mugshot thoroughly, thoroughly checked it was me through my open visor and off I went with more paperwork tucked anywhere it would go. That was the last time my feet touched the ground in Blighty. I was waved past the men that just seem to wave. Waved past the police, waved down my own special empty lane, past the queues of cars, vans, lorries, the lot. This I like, this is why you ride a bike. Queue jumping with official approval, great. Then waved straight onto the dangerously slippy metal ramp and the car deck, more waving, past more cars, down the steep steep yellow ramp into the belly of the ship, turn right and wham, a whole load of bikes already all tied down. I was the last bike on. Now there was a reason for this. Despite weeks of planning, map gazing, manufacture of a carbon fibre pannier bracket, new pannier fitting and test riding, modding, fiddling, adjusting of suspension and underwear (important given the circumstances), new tyres and invention of a unique chain tension measuring device, at the last minute I went to pick up my insurance documents and where the hell were they? Not in the drawer with the rest of the bike kit. Not with the log book. Not in the bike folder? Blank! Who have you got insurance with? Blank! It's been almost a year since I took it out and I've never needed it. Where the hell is it? Yes dear I have got cover, yes I'm absolutely sure, but who, where. I know, they emailed it to me. Who emailed to you? Don't know. Total total blank. I've never had this before. It's time to go. It's ok I built in plenty of time. I did... not like me at all. I took it out when the last one expired and I have the paperwork for that. Check dates, track back all emails a month around that date and... nothing! It must have gone into the spam box and been deleted months ago. Doh! I have no fecking idea who I'm insured with. No email, no old fashioned paperwork. Bank statements. Search search search. Nothing there for that kind of figure. Nor the credit card statements. Unless you have a bank account that you haven't told me about? No I don't! Don't be silly. Ha ha haa, no I don't. I was so preoccupied I didn't even think to ask my wife if she had a bank account that I didn't know about. I'll have to do that, I'll have to ask that pointless question, should be fun. Ah here's something on the statement. Yes that's the figure. It's Mc something but that's all it says. It must be a Scottish insurance company, Mc, Mc, with an abbreviation. What Scottish insurance companies do bikes? No doesn't ring a bell but that's definitely the transaction, let me have a look. McE. Total recall, it's MCE Insurance. Not Scottish at all. Well why is the c printed small? No idea dear, don't care, where's the phone. Interminable pre recorded messages valuing my call, I could kill but not down the phone, then at last, yes, Name rank serial number, inside leg measurement, my first pet hamsters date of birth, post code, grannies maiden name, yes, hurray! I exist, it's not just a figment of my imagination. I'm insured!!! Happy days. And what date are you travelling sir? I'm putting my jacket on now...as we speak. Oh really. Incredulity, laughter. Can you email it to me? Yes sir, you'll have to check your spam box. I know... that I do know. I'll send it right now but it'll take half an hour for it to leave the server. Incredulity. I'll pick it up at Portsmouth. Nice lady, thank you, bye. Not only did I build in extra time but I also deliberately over estimated how long it would take to get to Portsmouth. Not like me at all but I did it for Justin and his baggage. I was thinking more like, just in case I had a puncture or just in case there's a traffic jam etc. Not total blank, no evidence, no proof of insurance, delay drama. That was why I was the last bike on. There was still 45-55 minutes of car n truck loading till we floated off. I was last bike on, first bike off. "Luxury, bloody luxury" as my old man used to say.