Per Noctem Volamus

Rodeanddistrictnocturnalveloclubinvert

It seemed like a good idea at the time. The meeting being finished before 10pm, Mike suggested some spurious festival business that would enable myself, him and Marcus to cycle around in the dark. By the time I got the bike and reflective gear out, and Marcus had pumped up the tyres on his under-used mountian bike, the festival business had evaporated with the discovery that we were out of festival posters (for details of Rode Village Festival go here). The dark had gathered around us and it was ten thirty before we set off, the gloaming having passed, we were into the night.

It was still amazingly warm, the tarmac retained more than just residual heat from the baking hot day. Earlier I had noticed that the tar painted on the telephone poles in  the village had started to melt, dribbling onto the notices pinned to the dark-stained wood.

We raced out of the village and crossed the A36, still fairly busy even at this late hour, but the lanes were empty, the only sound was the chirrup of crickets, the ticking of the freewheels and, less pleasingly, an irregular knocking from the bottom bracket of my bike.

Various chitinous bodies whirred around our heads, or thumped into our faces as we rode at breakneck speed towards Laverton before turning down hill for Buckland Dinham. Our velocity seemed magnified in the darkness as the road dipped into steep banks, cutting out the moonlight. Round twisting corners we hurtled, sharp shadows of long dead elms raked the road, hiding the potholes and stones.

A particularly spooky ghost story I was telling as we rode was spectacularly ruined when Mike ran over a rat, sending him briefly and dangerously off course with a yelp of surprise. Somehow he stayed on the bike and took the hill into Buckland at a breathtaking pace, leaving myself and Marcus trailing.

Mike in the dark

Mike in the dark

We stopped beneath the light of some public building, before turning towards Mells. Somewhere on that route my chain flew off. Bravely I proclaimed that the others should go on and I would catch up, but to be perfectly honest I was expecting some chivalrous response such as “Never! One for all and all for one!” or “No one gets left behind” rather than “Ok, see you at the top of the hill”.

Having caught up with them and delivered some choice blue language, we continued on what had turned into the inaugural ride of the Rode & District Nocturnal Velo Club. Giddy with excitement we hurtled down Ironmill lane, by day a nerve-shredding experience as cars scream down this rat-run between Mells and Frome, by night a beautiful piece of silky smooth tarmac devoid of all vehicular activity save three whooping cyclists. We took a left onto the Frome road, but then immediately turned left again and drifted up the hill towards Lullington, turning right at the folly entrance and towards Woolverton. The moon sailed behind a cloud making the long dip where the lane crosses a microvalley an interesting experience, all of us taking the crumbling tarmac at a much higher speed than we should have.

The A36 was silent as we skipped briefly onto its surface before peeling off left just as we crossed the River Frome and up the hill toward the village. The Moon resurfaced so our shadows rode beside us, picked out sharply on the asphalt in the silvery luminescence. The Nocturnal Peloton rolled into the village side-by-side a no doubt eerie and inspiring sight, had there been anyone or anything save a startled cat to witness its triumphant arrival as the commerative clock atop The Cross Keys struck midnight.

The motto of The Rode & District Nocturnal Velo Club is snaffled from a Vulcan Bomber Squadron (no.9) that a friend of mine’s father was a flight engineer for

Per Noctem Volamus – We fly through the night.

Anyone local fancying a night ride – apply here to join us.

It is an Ancient Mariner, and he stoppeth one of three

On Friday October 17th 2008, in Bristol at The Cube Cinema, there’s going to be an event that I’ve been looking forward to for quite a while. My good friend Tom Stubbs (one half of the back-porch, West-country, banjo-xylophone-mandolin-guitar duo My Two Toms, one quarter of lo-fi supergroup The Lonely Ponies, community film-maker, artist, animator and alter-ego of Graham Lightside) is showing three films that he has directed or co-directed. They are the following:

The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner (on bicycle)

Shot in a frantic week in September 2007, and only recently finished ‘The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner (on bicycle)’ is a travelogue that cycles in the footsteps of the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge whilst also somehow being lost at sea with The Ancient Mariner.

Armed with a photocopy of the poem four intrepid Artists travel a route that Coleridge would’ve regularly walked, from Nether Stowey to Bristol. Along the way they drew as many people as they could into The Mariner’s plight.

The team worked with a primary school, a school for people with learning difficulties, several community groups, two homes for elderly people and a pub.

The film knits together The Mariner’s tale with drama, reminiscence, writing & animation, to make a psychedelic yet perfect mix between entertainment, community outreach and human interest.

Directed by Tom Stubbs, co-directed by Jay Kerry, Jon Nicholas and Joff Winterhart. Produced by Wolf + Water. Running time 50 minutes.

Shape UP

20 min video about healthy eating for adults with learning difficulties

written by Stephen Clarke + Tom Stubbs

A biggerhouse production for Learning Disability Services, Somerset in association with the engine room

Light and Dark

A Phantasmagorial autobiographic masterpiece exploring the minds of Michael Smith and Tom Stubbs, both have alter-egos, but whereas Michael’s Alter-ego is a muscled anthromorphic fox with a taste for sex, dark humour and violence, Tom’s Alter-ego is an earnest, technology obsessed video engineer.

All the films are superbly realised and beautifully produced. At the same time they are laced with humour, yet moving and engaging. I’ve been meaning to blog about The Rime of The Ancient Mariner (on bicycle) for ages, it’s just so marvelous that I want to share it with everyone, but it utterly defies description. It has too many lovely moments – Joff drawing the scenes described by residents of an old peoples’ home as they share their memories, A drunken narration of the poem in a rowdy west-country pub as the locals cheer on the press-ganged reader, a serendipitous meeting with a descendant of Wordsworth come to trace the same route, the way the primary school children throw themselves into the task of telling the tale, the double-booked hall.. it’s all good.

When I saw Light and Dark for the first time I was blown away. It’s very short and as soon as it finished I watched it again immediately. Again it defies description, all I can say is turn up on Friday 17th, watch and enjoy.

Music will be provided by the aforementioned My Two Toms and Bucky.

Admission £6 (£5 concession)
Friday 17th October 2008
Doors open 7.30

For directions and a map to the Cube click on the link below.
http://microplex.cubecinema.com/cubewebsite/directions.html

I hope to see some of you there.