7th December 2008

Regular readers of the forum & those that actually read the write-ups that accompany some of these photo galleries will know that I hate Christmas. I loathe the whole commercially pressurised false jollity of it all. Santa's just an ageing advertising executive who hit on a great pitch for flogging all kinds of unwanted stock at a slow time of year. And I hate kids too.
So I try to have as little to do with it all as possible.
Except for this toy run.
This is Christmas for me. It's what it's all about. Or at least what it should be about. Making an annual pilgrimage, to gather together with a bunch of total strangers, have a great time & do some good for the less fortunate.
Works for me.
I've been doing the Reading to Wokingham toy run on & off for the best part of 20 years now & watched it grow from a couple of dozen guys, mainly real died in the wool Christian types who happened to ride bikes, to a couple of thousand bikers, travelling from all over the country on all kinds of machines. I spoke to one guy last year who'd ridden up from Cornwall, just for the half hour ride to the Barnados home.
This year I really didn't think I was going to make it. Haven't got a bike or trike on the road at the moment, so I was reduced to going along as a spectator in the trusty Ford Fiesta. So I set out in plenty of time, (Taz was working so I was on my own), & drove the hour & a half journey from Guildford to Reading with no problems. As I drove through Bracknell I passed a bunch of shifty looking Goldwing riding Santas in a side street. Glancing in my mirror a few moments later, there they were, spread out across the dual carriageway behind me, capes & furry hats flying in the wind, bearing down on me like a flight of avenging Christmas angels. It was easy to tell I was getting closer to the Christmas Crew’s meeting point –at every junction more festive folk appeared. Elves to the left of me, Santas to the right, there I was, stuck in the middle in a Fiesta.
Came off the M4 at junction 11 -& hit a solid wall of traffic. There'd been an accident somewhere. So much traffic pouring onto the motorway exit roundabout from all directions I couldn't even work out where the crash had happened. I was within a mile of the toy run start line & not moving at all. I sat in the traffic, watching the time ticking by, for over an hour. Bugger, bugger, bugger.
I texted Janie, (Boopoopadoopgal), & was assured she was there taking photos for us. Good. At least someone is. Fire engines & Police cars weaved their way through the cars & eventually things started to move. I finally made it to the carpark of the Foster Wheeler office building literally 5 minutes before the 2 o clock start time. A quick Hello to a passing Christmas pudding, (Hi Janie), & they were off. A great turn out this year. Around 4,000 people on 2,500 bikes & trikes. A herd of trike riding Santas came streaming out of the carpark entrance, followed by snowmen, elves, reindeer, fairies, even a human Christmas Tree complete with working lights. Riding half a dozen abreast, it took 20 minutes or so for the procession to pass my vantage spot & disappear in a tooting, waving stream of tinselly fun.
Bikers have had a pretty bad press this year, with the jailing of seven members of one club for the murder of one member of another, followed by the wholesale closure of bike shows & rallies up & down the country by the Police. So it’s nice to show the other side of this lifestyle of ours. The warmth & generosity & downright big heartedness behind the bad boy image. Cotton wool beards may only replace real ones for a few hours, one chilly Sunday morning a year, but with luck the goodwill generated by runs like this will last a lot longer. Merry Christmas.