In a triumphal return to Witton Castle, the 19th Stormin’ the Castle has crept up on us again when it thought we weren’t looking …. already ?????! …. I am regularly reminded that this year is passing faster than an Alien after cat food, ok so I watched the excellent District 9 this morning…… and there’s me having just finished me last easter egg, though I’m not sure about the green and white furry flavouring on the chocolate… As it transpired, I’d have a pillion, which meant that the single seat chop wouldn’t perhaps be the most appropriate mode of transport, looking around the workshop I pondered, hmmm, half finished lowrider, nahhh, the fighter needs soooo much work.. naah, hmmm . pulling aside a pile of dusty granny crotcheted blankets ? there’s me old standard FJ12, last seeing service spitting me down the road three years ago on the way to the farmyard. Charge the battery and it fired into life, yet another reason I love these engines, more bashing of the big Krauser panniers, ooooh, luxury, I can take my smoking jacket and slippers and the bike was perfectly serviceable, apart from a very slightly grumbly collector box.. Mentioning Stormin’ to anyone this year, generally in the context of “Are ye gaun ?” elicited the reponse that it would depend on the weather. I was at Stormin’ last year and surprise, surprise I lived to tell the tail, it would seem that the conservationists claims that we are suffering from the effects of acid rain must be true, and if we go out in the rain the hydrosulphiric acid in the rain will melt us all until we consist only of a small pile of slightly discoloured mush. Remember folks “No such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothes” Frankly, JD has reduced me to the same mush on many occasions regardless of my attire and I’ve survived, I made a last minute assault on my local farm supplies shop swapping £30 earth pounds for some 100% waterproofs, I could have shelled out £400 on some Heinz Garlicky Crudura outfit, however, after seeing the evidence in Europe this year of the complete not-wateryproofness of said articles in a 180 mile dash from Germany to Belgium through a Belgian torrent, (these differ from other torrents in that they are not funny and have a tendancy to fettle with children), I decided the investment was about as sound as one from Lehmann Brother’s Bank Thursday morning Karen and myself headed off to be melted by acid rain which, was comin’ down like stair rods, and didn’t let up until Corebridge. As it transpired, getting the f*ck out of Scotland this weekend was the eminently sensible thing to do seeing as it royally pished it down mercilessly for the entire weekend all over Scotland. This plan was all the sweeter as everyone who attended enjoyed amazing weather at Stormin’ over the whole weekend, one of the benefits of last year’s situation and the hysterical fear of rain afflicting some people meant that the career whingers stayed at home, result…. This may all sound like preaching, well yes it may well be, but it’s a product of listening to some of these aforesaid whinging gits after last year, forgive may catharsis I’ll mention it no more…. yeh right ! 🙂 i Arriving at the site we pitched up and headed off to catch up with the committee, i.e. those fifteen or so people who give up two weeks of their life, take holidays from work to organise Stormin’ not to mention the 130 marshalls who give up their time too. The Engine Bar is traditionally where everyone chills out on the Thursday having toiled all week so that all attending can have a great time. Details beyond this point are, sketchy, at best, the fact that Rick appeared, pockets bulging, one with Poitin (Potcheen) and one with Absynthe, ergo, taxi fur Oblivion! may explain the lack of detail, I have this horrible but vague recollection around Rick profferring ‘man-fudge’, whetever that is !! remember kids, drink responsibly !, I’ve never actually tasted this ‘Responsibly’ stuff, is it a liqueur or some kind of barley/hop based beverage or pehaps a new strain of tea. ? WTF is this this wittering pish ? I awoke early, much to my suprise, and shambled over to the castle to make use of the non feral conveniences, 8am, there was already a number of enthusiastic folk waiting at the gate to get it, the wind had got up during the night, must’ve been those onions, so the Unclean Health and Fitness Officer had deemed that it would not be wise to rubber stamp his erection, of the traditional Stormin’ Gate, wouldn’t do to have it blowin’ over on folk, flat campers are not generally happy campers.. After some minor precipitation, It dried up about lunchtime, only because we’d got into Johnstone’s of Leeds early to buy a poncho, despite claims to the contrary, this is how meteorology works, if ye take waterproofs it won’t rain, the weather just ‘knows’. Having learned valuable lessons, the organisers had ensured that little or no ‘wheeled traffic’ was allowed on the camping fields the week prior to the do, thus making sure that in the event of a cataclysmic rain like last year, camping would take place on unbroken ground. The music line up was, as usual, both varied and excellent; I wanted to catch ‘Backstreet Crawl’ on the Iris stage, any band named after Paul Kossoff’s 70’s line up would be worth seeing. I did catch the Ray Stubbs R&B Allstars who pulled off a great set, much enjoyed by the regulars of the Iris Tent, a more laid back version of the Main tent. Tribe, Bullet and Vendetta performed on the main stage, warming up the crowd for the headliners, Terrorvision, I thought the band had split, but apparently not, I couldn’t remember any of their songs, until they played them, realising then, that they had produced a lot of songs that had charted. Tony Wright, the lead singer, was so full of energy, natural I presume :-), that I struggled to get a clear photograph of him, the bugger just wouldn’t be still for a nanosecond. They put on a great show and judging by the reaction of the crowd, had a lot of fans. I was awoken at 9am on Saturday morning by the blap, blap, blap of an open piped chop heading for the custom show area, this and the sun shining, it was setting up to be a glorious day. The naysayers and doombringers must have been turning on their sofas. I took my camera off round the site to see who was about, the big field outside the main gate was quite busy, the two inner fields had enough space to make it very comfortable for those who dared to venture in, those brave souls who, in the event of mass precipitation would have been fearless in actually riding their bikes on wet grass, that’s what makes this country of ours great……….. I meandered over to catch up with Tim,the orgniser of the Custom Show and to hook up with fellow judge ‘Blue’ from BSH, our other usual companion ‘Honda Eddie’, was conspicuous by his abscence this year, apparently wandering the US of A on a bike. The turn out of exhibitors was down a little this year, probably due to last year’s being rained off and fears of any rain this year. There was, however, a motley collection of exhibits which varied in complexity, beauty and practicality. I assume the person who entered the standard Suzuki B-king was simply after a T-Shirt as it was a completely standard bike, it did however lead me to notice that looked at, straight on, from the front, is fecking hideous, how can a bike have such polarised looks over 90 degrees. As usual, several bikes simply stood out, for my part I was very impressed with Vlad Itchybolokov’s (yes, that’s what he insisted his surname was) 1973 Triumph TR7 750 called ‘EEL, which had been built with lots of help from his good fiend Keane from Motolab, the gearbox had a pertial seizure and was rebuilt the day before the show before being ridden up from Burnley, that’s the bodging siprit, it sported original 70’s Candy Twist springers. We discussed at length the contactless electronic ignition made out of a TV remote control, clever eh ? A,thankfully much healthier than last year, Robbie turned up with his usual highly interesting and imaginative madness, way to many fine touches to mention, like, why buy handle bar lever assemblies when you can make you own. Joe Green’s shed built JG Specials, Streetfighter and Chop were sublime, These will be featured in detail in the not to distant future. Nick Lappage’s Celtic/Tribal Wildstar, a pro build but designed by Nick and ridden everywhere, he’d done 10,000 miles so far, the engine has been race prepp’d by Barons Custom in the US, the paintwork was by Percy ‘Bad Brush’ which was so crisp and detailed that the bottom burst out of my big bag of superlatives, took me ages to pick them up, I think some are still lying in the grass, well, hopefully I’ll need them next year. The “Can’t be arsed” trophy, for those worthy bikes who owners couldn’t be arsed putting them in the show went to a lovely green Panther which was ‘thigh rubbingly’ fwaaarrrr.
A worthy mention has to go to the ‘Fire in the Hole’ pizza crew, who demonstrated that you can actually have brilliant food at a rally The ‘Big’ news for Saturday night was of course, the Levellers, they were preceded on the main stage by Dirty South, 1977 who satisfied the old punks, and Slip of The Tongue, a Whitesnake cover band, I really needed to find the Whitesnake fan to find out if they were any good, they sounded good technically but my serious aversion to the aforesaid band precluded me from making any artistic judgement.
We flitted between the Main and Iris stage, on the latter were performing Stan, Bessie and The Zincbuckets, The paint job on Mickey’s double bass could have been in the Custom Show, Poorboys and the Mojo Hand Band, there was a small intermission whilst the generator had a hissy sparking fit, power Pete pressed the backup genny into action in time for the Pistoleros. Finally it was time for the Levellers, how do I describe my favourite band in a subjective manner ?…… F*ck it, I don’t need to…. The crowd were, to use that obscure descriptive term, “Gaun Mental”, no casualties other than a slightly winded pixie. The last song in their set sadly signified the fact that we’d have to go home in the morning and leave all this revelry behind. j Unsurprisingly, as soon as we crossed the border back into Scotland it started raining, so what, it had been another great Stormin, cheers to the everyone who worked so hard to setup and run the show, and thanks to me trusty old FJ which kindly waited until we were one mile from home before exploding it’s collector box. So the rain did not come, no one drowned, I didn’t even get slightly moist, well there was that Panther, ahem, yes, another great Stormin’, chilled, laid back, fantastic atmosphere, there are few ‘really special’ do’s left, I guess that’s why we keep coming back. Words &Photography By Al I understand that, on Sunday afternoon and old bike was found by the marshalls in an overgrown corner of the site, after a great deal of effort with pruning shears, a spoon and a small loaf they managed to extracate what was identified as a “Claxley-Messerschmidt 650 Sidevalve”, with no sign of an owner or any remains of one, the only recognisable item which was recovered was a burnt leatherbound note book, the ternion bifolio configuration and unusual quire identified this book as ‘quite old’. Only a few pages remain which have been printed here, they seem to describe the memoirs of some poor lost miguided soul of old………….
Custom Show Winners