This months Whit jets around the world for his commentary and musical gigs
Things were going spectacularly well for us in Phillip Island and we did nowt to the bike in practice. We seem to have a good base setting on it now. It's a really good feeling that - you can just get there and concentrate what you're doing at each track - which is important because we're down to 45-minute sessions this year.
Everything went swimmingly early on, went out in morning warm up and did a time quicker than anybody, on an old tyre that we had done ten laps on the day before. It started well, I got the front and I couldn't work out why I crashed in the race. I really didn't feel like I were pushing it. I think in the back of my mind I was pushing to try and get away but consciously I was really taking it steady. So I just dunno what happened.
On the telemetry it was the same as every other lap, no discernible difference at all, so it seemed a bit odd and worrying when it happened at a time when I was just trying to finish every race this season, like I said after Valencia. It was all a bit of a mystery, really.
We left Australia Sunday night, which were a bit rude, because we were going to have Sunday night out with Josh, a friend who works for BA. He's a really nice bloke, his wife Anna and their kids are great and we were going to have a really nice night out with them. I was so pissed off that I said to Andrea get on the phone, to get us a flight if we can. We were home Monday morning local time. I just couldn't stand it so I had to get out of there.
When we came back we got straight into the building of the barn conversion we've started. There's everything going on in there, you name it. Walls going up, floors going in, walls coming down, underfloor heating being fitted, people measuring up to make windows. The builder is asking us all sorts of things that we never even thought of yet - do we need wall lights? Where do you need radiators? What about sockets? We have to make decisions as we go along but it is looking very good.
Did my first gig for three months with the Po Boys, at the Irish Centre in Leeds, and it sold out. 850 people we had, and that place has hosted Stiff Little Fingers, Glenn Tilbrook and his solo band - it were absolutely kicking.
That gig were between Valencia and Australia. Spot on it were, we all played reasonably well and everyone went home happy. The new guitarist, Rick, went down well. He didn't make any mistakes - or at least no more than the rest of us. He's a bloody Manchester bloke, though. A Manker, which to me is almost a Scouser. He's only one step up from a Scouser. He's all right, mind, at least he ain't thieved owt yet anyway...!
When we were in South Africa all me mates did an over-40s motocross weekend. Coddy borrowed my trail bike and Zac and another five or six of them did it. The rules were that if you were under 40 you had to do it on a twin shock bike, and if over 40 you could run any bike you wanted. They turned up, didn't win anything, all enjoyed it and went round and round and round until they got fed up. A real good do. Zac sent me a text message next morning. "I'm not sore, and I don't ache. Mo, will you just push that straw a little closer to my mouth so I can finish my breakfast please?" They were all fooked, and some of them couldn't lift the bikes back onto the trailers again. It really knocked the shite out of them, it did.
I went down to Silverstone, commentated for ITV digital, with that bloke Matt Robinson. That were good, but sort of a bit funny really because I were sort of half commentating and half spectating for my mate, because Shooey - who runs our Speed Freaks track days - were racing. It were always borderline whether or not he was going to qualify or not because there are about 46 or 48 people trying to qualify on the grid in Superstock, and the times are so bloody close. Basically he didn't qualify but he thought he had. Problem was, he bought one of these cheap lap timers and it tripped off on someone else's lap, so his time didn't correspond with that of the official timekeeper's transponder.
He thought he was well inside, came in from his lap peaking, only to finds out his time was two seconds slower than he thought it were and he was 41st, one place away. So he went away with his tail between his legs. He'll be in top 20 at some of the circuits, because the times were really close, once he gets to Donington and Mallory and that he'll be fine.
It were a good meeting really, and I was pleased that Rob Mac got a good result first time out with the R1s. After practice all the 1,000cc lads seemed to be saying that they needed a bit more time to set their bikes, up, seemed a little disappointed, but I think it were more like a case of Hizzy going so fast rather than them going so slow. I'm pleased to see Plater going so well.
South Africa is a really lovely place, and we all went out for a big night after the race. We took all the team out. We had the equivalent to about fifty quid's worth of food each - for a tenner a head. The only thing is I don't like stopping at traffic lights, and you feel intimidated all the time, because of the reputation for shootings and that.
We went on Safari with a bloke called Clive Strugnell, who lives out there, and he used to be an old mate of Mick Grant. We went on these open top Land Rovers and we got to cuddle a baby elephant, a big lion cub, chase round after stuff - it were really fantastic.
The SA race were nearly perfect, qualifying went well and I were on pole about ten minutes from the end. I like to get my time set nice and early. I got to a 1:36.2, and for ages nobody got near me so I thought I was going to get Pole. Then Chambon did me on the last lap, and I were a bit disappointed because you get a nice watch now for pole position, so I was spewing a bit. In the race me Chambon and Pitt got away, and Pitt did mega times. I was disappointed that I didn't have more of a go, but I was not 100% sure that I could get past him without crashing. I wanted to come away with some points, so I didn't try a risky pass. It totally goes against my ethos of racing, because I'll always have a go. The team were pleased, and I'm back somewhere in the championship, coming up to a couple of circuits I really like. I'm really looking forward to getting to Sugo.
Since we got back from South Africa the weather's been so good I even went out on my LC a few times, and realised how shit old bikes are and how cold my hands get, even in the Spring time. I still love the bikes to bits, though.
We've sold my house, the one we're in now, to my sister Jane and her husband Phil. It means we all save on fees here and there, and there is another reason. My present house is through the wall from me mam, and I were a bit worried who would be moving in next door. So everyone's happy this way. They have been down measuring up and talking about changing this and changing that. And how cheeky is this? My mum said, "oh I'm so glad Jane and Phil are having the house, they'll have it sorted out in no time... They'll have it really nice." I thought, 'you cheeky bag!' It's not as if it's a squat now.
Andrea has started doing her horse events again now, and she had a third on one horse and a fourth on another, the very weekend after I fell off in Australia. I think it's the new horsebox that's done it for her. I told here she was going to have to start making a living out of it, because she was having better results on four legs than I was on two wheels at the time!
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