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This is another story about the background to a painting to inspire other artists to be as 'cheeky' as you can be, and suggest to do something that you don't expect to happen in a million years, with someone that might give you a commission.

     I had always wanted to learn to ride a motor bike, especially a Ducati. I did some research to find a course somewhere around Oxford, and there it was in the Yellow Pages (remember, no internet then), situated near Oxford Stadium. I immediately went out to the address and found some Portakabins next to a tarmac rectangular track with an assortment of 125cc bikes parked outside. However, the one bike that caught my eye was a lovely, original T140 Triumph Bonneville named after the Bonneville Salt Flats in the state of Utah, USA.

     I stepped into the reception area where there was a group of lads sitting round a table being lectured by their instructor about... how much flesh would be lost at different speeds if they weren't wearing suitable protective clothing and boots and crashed! The instructor immediately grabbed my attention, especially when he went on to say that the hospital wouldn't bother to pick the individual bits and pieces of tarmac, stones, or whatever else ended up in your wounds, but employ a 'brush' to tidy up the mess! Mmm... I thought, This lesson is thorough and one that I won't forget!

I pulled out some of the brochures with a picture firmly planted in my mind of a surgeon wielding a kitchen brush over my scarred body. The brochures set out the different courses I could choose and their costs, but I was dismayed to see the one I wanted was over £300. Too much, I thought, but I really wanted to learn. I thought, This needs some sideways to get my lessons for free. I went across to the trainer behind the desk and asked who owned the ‘Bonny’ outside.

    ‘I do’, he said, giving me a 'stare' and a 'tone'. ‘Why?’ he asked narrowing his eyes.

    I swallowed hard before explaining what I wanted to do, and that his £300 + was out of my league at that particular time. My cheeky side appeared and for some reason the following words came out of my mouth: ‘How’s about a painting of your bike for all the lessons?’ I explained I was an artist and I would paint his Bonny for him - if he liked the picture and wanted to keep it, I would get my course for free.

     He 'stared' at me again, thought for a short time, and said with a smile, ‘OK, paint my Bonny, and we'll see what happens.’  We shook on the deal. I was gob-smacked and immediately left, eager to paint that picture! Of course when the 'deal' began to sink in, I had the feeling that this was not going to end happily with a free course – I was going to end up with a painting of a bike that no one else would want, if the trainer (the owner of the bike school) didn't like it. Ah well, let's give it a go, and see what happens.

I painted the bike over a week, and went back to the bike school crossing everything, hoping to get those lessons... but not really too convinced the deal would happen. I really hoped for a positive reaction to it, with free lessons at the end of my second visit – I really didn't want to return home with a painting between my legs –  if you see what I mean.  

I entered the main Portakabin with the painting and everything stopped happening inside – everyone stared at me bringing a painting into motorcycle school.

     The owner of the school and the Bonneville stared at the painting. He put the it on a chair and stepped back to look at it again; he shifted his head from side to side, and simply said, ‘It's great, you've got your lessons.’ I couldn't believe it – I just couldn't believe it! FOR FREE! In fact, not only was the course was free, but they also put me through the test for free too.

It was a great bike school, and hearing the brush and flesh lecture again, and many more 'down to earth' facts and lessons about riding a bike safely from my superb teacher, my experience with him is always with me, especially when I am riding my Ducati!