I've had loads of work offers since announcing me retirement but nothing yet that jumps out as being "well, that will do me just fine, that."
What I don't want to do is rush into something and find later I don't really want to carry it on. I'd rather get into something I want to put my heart and soul into.
I'm in a good position though because even if I don't work for six or eight months there won't be anyone coming along to rip our washing machine out or anything. Plus I want to see my kid growing up, and I'll be able to go to every single Speedfreak track day this year, rather than missing a couple due to racing commitments.
Also I've already got enough stuff to do to keep me ticking over as it is, almost like a full time job anyway. Commentary and studio guest slots for British Eurosport, and there are ten rounds of that. In front of the TV cameras you can't be anything but normal and relaxed if you want to come across well. That job is ideal. It keeps me involved, it's all done from the UK so I can be back with Andrea and Ruby on a Sunday night - and British Eurosport haven't kicked me out. Well, not yet anyway!
What's been nice since I've had some free time has been getting an impromptu snowboarding holiday in the other week with the lads, which Andrea encouraged me to go on - that's the sort of thing I couldn't do last year, in case I got a collarbone or wrist injury outside racing but during the season.
Got my nose burnt to a crisp though, so if you look at the photos of me in a tux and think I'm pissed, it's more to do with the wind and sun burn from boarding. I've got the tux on because Andrea and I went to a local horsey bash of hers. My website guy Kingy looked at the pictures and e-mailed a possible caption to me: "James Whitham, doing his impression of Lord Charles".
The aforesaid Lord was a ventriloquist's dummy in an act that used to be on TV, and if you know the one I mean you'll recognise the similarity right away. The world superbikes from Valencia was the first time I'd been so involved with TV stuff and I was surprised how relaxed it all was. There was none of this "on air in ten minutes," it was just chat off air and then "we're on in ten seconds," and straight into it. It's a good way to work because you're more relaxed and don't get overawed.
I just wish we'd had better racing to commentate on. The superbike races, although brilliant for Neil and the other Brits, were a bit spread out. Otherwise I went to the Ulster Motorcycle Show and there were quite a few top riders there - Michael Rutter, Leon Haslam, Jeremy McWilliams and Iain Duffus - and we had a bit of a night out in Belfast. Oh dear Lord... Over the last few months I haven't been doing much drinking, so I'm even less used to it than what I were. So I got bladdered on three pints and proceeded to fall about the place.
I remember waking up in the morning covered in sick though. I tried to clean it up but it were curry, beery sick and I realised it was a lost cause so I left 20 quid on the sideboard for the poor room-maid so at least she'd know I didn't mean to leave it like that!
I went to this other geezer's place while we were there and he had a collection of bikes like you have never seen. Billy, his name was. He weren't a millionaire or anything but he had four or five ex-Tom Herron factory 250 GP bikes from the '70 s, just as they'd finished a race, four-cylinder 250cc Hondas, through to silly roadbikes, and an absolutely brand new twin shock CBX1000 Honda from 1977. You name it, he had it.
As well as about 100 finished bikes, he had another shed at the side which was full of projects ready to start. I thought to myself, "what am I doing. I've got two 250TZs, an LC and a Fizzie. What sort of collection is that?" I have to state in my defence though, that Billy does not have a Fizzie.
The place was full of interesting stuff, and one particular thing caught my eye. The bloke had the chassis of an old model-T Ford, or at least the front half of one, pushed up against a wall. Seat, steering wheel, old chassis and all sticking outside this milking parlour, with a couple of crates instead of back wheels. When I had a closer look it was actually bolted to the wall with angle iron, and a hole cut in the wall where the prop shaft went through. I said to the guy, "What's this used f..." and before I could finish he replied, "milk churn! We churn our own butter with that. - start it up, put her in gear and get off..." I couldn't believe it!
Before we went he asked me to sign his visitors' book and it turned out everyone's been - Granty, Parrish, loads of racers. I came back from Ireland myself with a 1984 MBA GP racer, just like I used to race, so that'll be a restoration project to keep me busy!
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