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Go Commando

2 years ago

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Andrew English | Journalist


12 October 2022

When I first met the future Mrs English, she was a Brighton Art School student in ankle boots, cigarette pants and a tight mohair sweater. She had mussed-up hair, fishing-fly earrings made by a student friend and she lived in a Kemp town house with a Police-spec Norton Commando parked in the hall used as a coat rack. No explanation for this machine was ever offered and I almost swooned at the exoticness of it all.

In the between times, I’ve owned a Norton, raced a Norton and ridden other people’s Nortons. Likeable things, yes, and a bit special, but also wildly overrated by old blokes with rheumy eyes and rose-tinted memories. These machines are so much work to keep on the road, and with such a propensity to deposit the entire contents of their oil tanks on the garage floor. Syphoning they call it and one ex-copper friend said when he started out, the traffic-patrol Norton Interpols would have their oil drained down after each day shift so they wouldn’t do the same all by themselves overnight.

I sold my Norton and bought a less problematic, faster classic Moto Guzzi. I didn’t think too much about Norton again until about a dozen years ago when my brother called having attended an evening lecture given by a man called Stuart Garner, who had outlined his plans for Norton.

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