Of Occult Cyclewear, Slayer, RPGs and Cycling

Last night I came across the website of a cycle inspired clothing company. If you think you may have a penchant for cycling tinged with elements of the occult (Laura), I’m talking Process Church of the Final Judgment reliance on neat graphics, then you have to get your dammned self over to http://www.everybodylies.net/ and see the fantastic t-shirts, caps and patches on offer. It appears to be a one man operation – rooted hard and fast in the SF courier/fixie scene. Here’s a photo displaying Lies’ influences:

Lies clothing influences

More than a sniff of Freemasonary and hey! Slayer’s first full album Show No Mercy. Often derided as ‘immature’ and even ‘laughable’ I have a massive soft spot for this album, I own it on cassette and as far as I’m concerned it’s all killer and no filler, in fact I’ve just realised it’s the only cassette I still play. I even like Metal Storm/Face The Slayer.

“You see me lift the axe and it plunges through your shield…”

and my favourite line…

“Now, I can freeze your burning eyes!”

The song, about a warrior who is trapped in some sort of twilight world, locked in combat with a demonic being that prowls through a mist-filled maze, reminded me of Role-Playing Games.

Bear with me here, this is only a slight digression from cycling as you’ll see in a minute. I wish to salute the late Gary Gygax. Gygax was the co-inventor of Dungeons and Dragons – if that interests you at all, then read this brilliant article about his passing from the NY Times that futurist and publisher Betageek sent me. I’m not going to write an obit or anything, partially because I didn’t get on with D&D, I was strictly Warhammer and Call of Cthulhu, but I acknowledge that he pretty much created the fantasy roleplaying game and as such is worthy of great praise from me. RPGs had a huge effect on my life, but in order to play them with any regularlity I had to get from Hilmarton to Calne, where our gamesmaster lived.

At the age of fourteen, hammering down the Swindon Road was pretty much out of the question, there were regular accidents on that fast and in places narrow main road. So the way to get to Calne by bike was via Compton Bassett. The rider would have a pleasant pedal through gentle country lanes, finally to be spat out onto the Marlborough road just as it hit Calne at the start of the 30 mph zone, relative safety, but it did make the journey about five miles instead of three, and put in a pretty serious hill to the equation. As I got bolder, and my player character (a psychotic dwarf called Mad Morgan Khazias) entered deeper and deeper into the fiendish campaign poured out from the mind of our gamesmaster (Mark Johnson), I began taking my life in my hands along the main road. Many’s the time an artic lorry would scream past me having just emerged from behind a bend, so close that I could have reached out and run my hands down its side. I had no helmet, the only protection my head had was provided by a cushioning of imaginings; orcs, elves, dragons, daemons so that I cycled along blissfully and didn’t consider the perils of the road. The too fast traffic, the blind corners, the massive, clanking lorries that seemed almost out of control as they hurtled along.

The way back was the old route via Compton, a slow meander home, time to think on the day’s adventuring. The rattle of D10s across Mark’s mum’s kitchen table, the acidic taste of cheap lemonade, banter with friends, battles won and lost, fat purses of gold pieces. My mum wasn’t too keen on the RPGs, there were numerous scare stories in the media about kids commiting suicide or murder as a result of playing them. So my mum thought they were dangerous. Ironically she thought I was going for three to four hour rides on my own on Sunday afternoons, an activity much more dangerous to a 14 year old (pre mobile phone) than sitting down with my mates in Mark’s kitchen, battling through a fantasy world using the power of our collective imagination, a rulebook and some many-sided dice.

Me: I draw my sword and point it to the heavens, I lean back and shout to the sky “Gary Gygax I salute you!”

GM: [rolls two d10, consults rulebook and notes] hmmm, the tiny readership of your blog has no idea what you’re talking about.