Before adulthood, before higher education, before Jenny, Jayne and Joanna. Before Grace and Eliot. Before art and Renoir, Dali, Warhol, Basquiat, Titian and falling into an adolescent unrequited love with my art teacher. Before sculpture and Giacometti, Hepworth, Moore and Gormley. Before music and Bolan, Bowie, the Floyd, John Foxx, Joy Division, New Order, Chicane, Ferry Corsten, Nick Drake, John Martyn, Van Morrison, Górecki, Allegri's Misserie. Before Literature and Amis, Hitchens, Tolkien, Acker, Swift, Blake, Owen and the others, before Chaucer and Sam Harris. Before photography and Bailey, Avedon, Bert Stern, Bresson, Lichfield and Mankowitz, Before architecture, Mies Van der rohe, Frank Lloyd Wright, Bauhaus and modernism. Before Lotus cars and Colin Chapman, Ayrton Senna and my Lotus Elite 2.2 and the magenta Triumph GT6 that Jayne and I owned. Before the birth of multimedia, the world wide web and business. Before both good times and bad. there was this...
One sunny morning circa 1972, I saw Steven Livingstone, who lived just along the landing on Tidey Street, coming back from the newsagents on Devons Road, with his copy of Scorcher magazine, chewing on Black Jacks and Fruit Salad, riding his new yellow Raleigh Chopper. To my eyes, in 1972, this looked like Apollo 11.
"It was the ultimate object of desire." Sadly, like a lot of other parents, my mum simply could not afford the £34 and 19 Shillings (that's around £360 in new money). She was simply too busy, keeping the wolf from the door. Below is a picture of me aged 11. The boy behind the wall is Harry Wright. To the best of my knowledge he was the same age as Paul, my younger brother. This image was taken by Paul around the same time that I became aware the Raleigh Chopper. I am reclining on the wall we used as the net for our summer tennis tournaments. This is Tidey Street in Bow, London E3. It was a truly wonderful place to live and to be 11. (I'm not sure my mum would agree?)
I would have to wait until I was in my late forties (Over 35 years later) until I owned a yellow Raleigh Chopper. I bought it on ebay. It did not look like this when I bought it. I lovingly restored EVERY NUT AND BOLT, or replaced parts that were beyond restoring with original parts from around the world. I am only going to admit to restoring one Raleigh Chopper, as restoring more than one would make me a very sad individual indeed ;) I hope you like the images Kind Regards C