There is a person I have known these past 44 years who never ceases to amaze me.
Not only for the fact that he is a fully, and properly, without the aid of money and a certificate from an African University which may or may not exist, qualified Doctor of Medicine, not only for the fact that he earns an extraordinary amount of money from an extremely senior position in a hospital that really should know better than to pay him so much when he then just goes out and spends the bloody lot every month.
Not only for all that, its not only for the fact that he can always be relied upon to turn up late for everything, like very late, like so late that even the people who were ordinarily late to the thing that you have organised will be looking at their watches and saying “Dr Emmott’s late isn’t he ?”, he is often so late that we time him with a calendar rather than a watch – but he always turns up, if late, I’ve known him drive 50 or 60 miles to meet us on a night out and turn up half an hour before closing time and then act as if thats quite a normal thing to do.
Not only for all that, its not only for the fact that he is a medical man and yet smokes like a chimney, its now normal for us to build in a smoke break every five miles or so during our Old Gits Bike Rides just so that the Amazing Dr Emmott can draw deeply on the medicine that messrs WD & HO Wills manufacture and as we all stand around waiting for him we too inhale deeply of the magical elixir of those tobacco fumes and so we all become addicted to the Amazing Dr Emmotts “ciggie breaks” and often we are prompting him to call for one whilst riding the roads, “Time for a ciggie break yet Dr Emmott ?” we’ll say, secretly needing the smoking by proxy fix ourselves.
Not only for all that, its not only for the fact that during our Old Gits Bike Ride he drinks copious amounts of Guinness when its perfectly clear to everyone in the room that he is probably not in need of further sustenance for among our band of slightly, ever so slightly, beer-bellied, slowly approaching and yet still denying middle age old gits, he has sufficient fuel reserves around his midriff to support life until he is much older than he is now, like, 140 or similar.
Not only for all that, its not only for the fact that whilst being the smallest of our group he is also the loudest, nay, he is not just the loudest in our group he is often the loudest in the whole room and if you are ever in a busy pub and become detached from your party and cannot find them again, simply stand and wait for a few minutes for in those few minutes you will soon hear a loud guffaw from the Amazing Dr Emmott and easily be able to track your way back across the room as sure as if you were following a lighthouse foghorn in the thickest fog, the sort of fog that James Herbert favours so much in his books, the Amazing Dr Emmott is a human foghorn, you can never be lost with the Amazing Dr Emmott in your company.
No its not for any of those things although many of those things are important to our friendship, its not for these things at all, its for the one and only reason, and a reason that is little known outside of our Old Gits Cycling Club, that the Amazing Dr Emmott is a fully paid up member of the National Circus Acrobatic and Trick Cycling Association, and every year on our Old Gits Bike Ride it is incumbent on him to put on a performance to outdo even the Great Durango and his Cycling Labrador.
On our 2009 Old Gits Coast to Coast Cycle ride he cheated on the final leg of the route, took a short cut and arrived at the finish line in Sunderland on his own to find a large band of wives and assorted followers who had turned up to cheer us all on completion of the great event and then carry us back to the waiting ambulances – upon finding this unexpected audience the circus performer in the Amazing Dr Emmott kicked in and he rode through a deep puddle, soaking everyone in the process, then slammed on his brakes, flew through a perfect double somersault over the handlebars, bounced up from the concrete floor with a loud “Taa-Daaaa” and lit a cigarette to ease his bleeding elbows and knees to tumultuous applause.
On our 2010 Old Gits Coast to Coast Cycle ride he once again waited for the last day and a large audience on Newcastles famous Quayside area, an area that is always busy on a Sunday afternoon, more so on fine sunny days in July 2010, the Amazing Dr Emmott picked his location well to find an old fisherman to collide with on the quayside path and describing a perfect double somersault over the handlebars he allowed his bike to cartwheel over his prone body before springing up from the concrete with a loud “Taa-Daaaa”, and lit a cigarette to ease his bleeding elbows and knees to tumultuous applause.
And so it was that we started the last day of our 2011 Old Gits Coast and Castles Bike Ride with intense trepidation, for where would the Amazing Dr Emmott perform his death defying circus bicycle stunt this year ?
We didn’t have to wait too long for as we were gathered together in a group of nine and cycling slowly along a cliff top road near Whitley Bay a small boy, who the Amazing Dr Emmott had earlier tutored and paid a handsome fee to partake in the entertainment, dashed out from the side of the road straight across his path, with amazing dexterity the Amazing Dr Emmott slammed on his brakes and described a perfect double somersault over the handlebars allowing his bike to cartwheel over his prone body before springing up from the concrete with a loud “Taa-Daaaa”, and lighting a cigarette to ease his bleeding elbows and knees to tumultuous applause.
I don’t think I can take any more of this excitement during our Old Gits Cycling Club events and I note that he is urging and cajoling us to arrange another event in the autumn of this year, a journey up into the Dales on bicycles and possibly involving Whernside and I wonder what the hell sort of circus trick he has in mind this time ?