Biker Boys, Sao Paolo

It is of some obscure comfort to me that my brother Parton retains some of the famous Bargreaves absent-mindedness, despite his last drink being some half-decade whence (a decade he sees as half-full and I as half-empty). On the last day of the fair I realize, somewhat characteristically, and with a long-distance doff of the filial cap, that I’ve left our all-important banner at the English Old Boy’s Club the night before. With the doors about to open and my greatest besiegement outside active service about to begin, there is no way I can fetch it from the other side of town, but the advice of a colleague leads me into a hitherto unexplored realm – that of the ‘biker boy.’ With one killed on the roads each day, this is no job for the faint-hearted. Upon meeting the rogue entrusted to weave through traffic on my behalf I wouldn’t wonder if he had no heart at all – a xylophone of ribs over which hangs a battered leather jacket; a cigarillo dripping from a face smeared head-to-toe in engine oil and city smog. The discernible expression is one of melancholy – changing to desperate greed only as he whips away my cash, in return for said rolled-up advertisement.

Perhaps I would be a shade lighter in my appraisal had his fellow biker not later walloped my fellow delegate with his helmet; my fellow having tried to take down said fellow’s vehicle license plate (this following – almost inevitably – a hairy smash-up on a major highway into town). Siamee tells me that once reported the biker boy will almost inevitably be sent tumbling into a life of far lesser volition, so in this case took drastic action – perhaps in the hope of preserving his family. Mixed feelings on these desperate warriors then, as on much of the Brazil I see. It is a country striving for better things, many of which it will achieve, but the crime is criminal and – shuddering in my taxi en route to the Balloon Port – likewise the hellish-looking prisons. Yet something amazing happens in the queue through customs to persuade me into positive thinking. Imagining I am joining my fellow travelers, I brandish my documents within a line of all creeds and colours, only to realize (characteristically slowly) that I am actually amongst those most at home here, and nowhere else but this diverse, pulsating nation.

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