Thursday, April 19, 2012

Easter holidays

We have passed the Easter period now. For thhe first time Queensland had 2 weeks off for school children, rather than a week and a bit. The girls loved it. Then I told them that meant no more pupil free days. Yessss! I always hated them. Once, still pretty new to Qld, I forced miss 24 and master 21 to get in their uniforms, made their lunches and drove them to school. Despite their protests, off course. Only to be deflated at the empty gate. Since the "damn the pupil free day" has been an oft repeated phrase in our house. See, foolishly I thought schools would be Victoria, which didn't have pupil free days and fortnight long Easter holidays, oh and grade prep.
Qld is now playing "catch up", but has privatized kindy. Go figure.
So where were we? Oh Easter, that's right. Anyway, the only Easter bunny believer I have left is miss 8. I think time is running out there.the kids still like it, but the thrill will have gone for me. At least they will like the Easter egg hunt for a few years. They're also big enough that I don't have to put up with chocolate child anymore.
You know chocolate child..... That hyped up, screaming child that's running around misbehaving after hovering up a vast amount of chocolate in a few small days. I experienced chocolate child (X 2) once only. I learned to trickle out the chocolate very slowly after that.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


This is inspired by that series that is obsessing lots of people, G included, Sons of Anarchy.  Admittedly, when it's on I do watch it, while reading a book, or surfing the web, so to speak. Therefore, I know enough about the series to kinda know what's going on. Theirs enough of the Hamletesque about it to keep a lot interested. A bit like I am with Dexter and Breaking Bad. I do know that Jax is pretty easy on the eye, minus the stupid facial hair and jeans. Anyway, I digress. The reason this series inspired this post is I (and G) am in a position to compare it to what I know of the club culture, unlike most people.

I know bike clubs, or the 1%ers as they like to refer to themselves are probably a different kettle of fish from one country to the next. I think the illegal activities of US clubs probably do involve gun running, far more than they would here, where the trade in stolen car parts etc is more common, for example. That said, I have been known to throw the "as if" comments about when Sons of Anarchy is on TV. I'll explain a bit more......

When G and I met, he was in a biker club. I was initially very dubious of him, because, let's face it, I don't like them, my opinions haven't really changed since and as soon as I open my mouth, they don't like me. However, he seemed a bit of a diamond in the rough, so I said yes to the invite. His friends however.....

Bike clubs have very strict rules. Quite fascinating from a sociological perspective, they are generally what one would call a "total institution", much like a convent, prison or the army etc.

Many (not all) clubs will uproot a nominated/prospective member from his home and get him to live in a clubhouse in a different state, just so that he can be on call 24/7 and also has to rely heavily on other club members for pretty much everything.

The nominated/prospective (nom or prospect) member is not a full member. He has been accepted by the club for potential membership. He has passed initial tests, if you like and is allowed to wear the club vest with a "bottom rocker" stating he is a nom or prospect. Years ago, to even be considered one had to have a Harley, but who knows with some of the newer clubs that don't even ride motorbikes these days. The term for a nom/prospect is usually at least a year and he has to prove his loyalty to the club before being accepted for full membership, or being "patched up". There are different ways to prove loyalty, none of which I will mention here...There are also various other patches that one can earn, by various means, none compulsory and some rather distasteful.

There is a very particular order in which the nom/prospect earns his patch. From memory (and it has been a while), the bottom rocker comes first, then the MC patch near the top rocker, which is next and has the club name on it. Lastly comes, the all important colours. It is given to the nom/prospect at a club meeting and is a very big deal. It is also a big deal for the new member to take the vest and patch home to his wife/girlfriend etc to sew on properly (it's usually sewn on quickly so that it can be worn home from the meeting). Let me tell you, sewing those suckers on is hard, because you're usually sewing a thick patch onto leather. This vest must be worn everytime you go to a club function or even hop on your bike. Clubs generally have their patch designs printed onto tshirts for their members, but they're not compulsory wear. Even if you drive a car somewhere with the club, you should wear the colours. Some clubs give their members' women the opportunity to wear a "property of....." (insert name) vest. It has the top, bottom rocker and mc patch. I'm so glad our club never offered that "opportunity" to us.

Once you become a full member, you have the right to sit in on meetings and vote (noms/prospects can't sit at a full meeting or vote). You have the chance to rise to a higher position within the club and you can order around noms/prospects. You must also back up your "brothers"in the club, no matter what. By the time you've achieved membership though, your loyalty is assumed.

There is a hierachy within clubs. The lowest of the low is the prospect/nom, then the standard member, then there are positions like club secretary, treasurer and saergent at arms. Then you get the vice president and then the president. There may be more, but that's all I remember. I believe members are voted into these positions. The club hangers on (and there are plenty) don't count and neither do the women really. Although, interestingly, there is a "no grass cutting"(don't poach another member's woman) rule. That is more for the club and members than the women. It avoids fights between members.

There is also a specific hierachy when riding as a club, with the prez leading, followed by the vice prez, saergent at arms, club secretary, and so on, with often people driving behind. If a member's bike breaks down a prospect/nom has to help. That's also where the cars come in handy. A lot of clubs will have built relationships with other clubs both local and interstate, as well as those that are intense rivals.

The bad parts (in my opinion):
Too many rule; makes a mockery of the idea behind a Harley Davidson
You don't end up mixing with anyone else really; can become very bitchy (everyone)
Misogynistic; individual members can be lovely, but the general attitude to women isn't great
Takes over your life; you have to love the life
The bigger clubs can really just be criminal organisations; nuff said

The good parts (yes they are there)
Common interest for the members; many love bikes and riding and will often work in the industry
No shortage of company; for both the women and the men
Parties; what can I say? They love a party
It is kinda cool; for a while
There's always something to do with them; busy, busy, busy

There's a myth that bikers women are sluts, tramps etc. There is that groupie element and some of the members really exploit it for all it's worth, but on the whole the women that are in a proper relationship with a member are normal women. I've met some truly gorgeous looking ones that are with bikers, but generally they're just like you and I. They hold down jobs, have kids, run a house etc. Some of the women even ride with the club.

While I'm really glad that G left the club (and to leave there is a price to pay), I did enjoy some of it. The parties for instance (got so trashed one night with a friend that she fell off her boyfriend's bike and I somehow lost my helmet and my scarf ended up wrapped around the back wheel of G's bike). In general, neither of us was suited for the life. G couldn't stand being told what to do for too long and I couldn't control my mouth around the members enough. So he left, but it's certainly left us with some memories. Anyway, he'll never be (supposedly) allowed to join another 1%er club. You might spill their secrets you know.....