Battered and paint worn he may be, but this Peter Laing 15mm despatch rider somehow sums up the great charm of Laing's odd little lumps of metal that still conveyed the essence of what they were meant to be. I also have, somewhere, a tiny Peter Laing lump that is instantaneously recognisable as Lenin, with his pointy-headed RCW Bolshevik minions. I bought the despatch rider at the same time to be a White despatch rider, but to me he has always looked like this fellow:
Obviously not in his desert days (when another multi-national Empire finally went to its doom, and new discord was sown that lasts, dangerously, until this day), but in his later RAF days. Yes, the 15mms of lead conveys the spirit of Aircraftsman Shaw on his Brough Superior. Brough custom made a series of bikes for Lawrence, and I saw one about six or seven years ago - it was simply enormous, with what, to modern eyes, appeared to be a crash inducing wheelbase. Ah, the crash. Was he pushed, or did he swerve? To which question we shall have no answer. But there are doubts enough. And as for the man himself. What a strange, complex man, possibly, in his own way, a genius (a word I use only for people of the calibre of J.M. Keynes, or Isaac Newton) . Even discounting his fantasies - reading all the books in All Souls' library, losing the first, much longer draft of Seven Pillars at Reading station, and, perhaps, the shooting in the desert - he was strange, odd, gifted, tougher than anyone could expect, brilliant, and tormented.
On a lighter note, I enjoyed a first smoke with a new pipe:
The cognoscenti will recognise it as a 'Rhodesian'. With a slightly larger, but shallower bowl than my favourites, it burned well. A Rhodesian. Is there anything else that bears the name now, apart from the breed of dog - the Rhodesian Ridgeback? Mmm, 'Look upon my works, ye mighty....'