Peace and Goodwill
The Near Tree House

The Near Tree House

2013 was a good year for motorcycling, at least in terms of weather; the sun shone and our Government has yet to impose the threatened 50 mph national speed limit.  Compared with the wet year before, it was quite a treat.

But I didn’t have a wonderful biking year personally because my first recreational ride of the year involved running my sidecar outfit off the road on the Yorkshire moors to hit an enormous rock half buried in the grass – nice long, springy grass which fortunately cushioned my fall.

Although I rode it home, the damage to the bike was extensive and the insurance company wanted to write it off.  But I wanted the bike repaired so we agreed a cash settlement, under which I could keep the bike and organise the repair myself.

I decided to bide my time about repairing it, partly because I wasn’t sure how to go about it and partly because I felt the bike might be better retired to a museum, in which case a more cosmetic approach to repairing might be acceptable.  The issue was how much damage had been done to the steering head as well as the forks and the bashed in lower frame section, so could the frame be repaired at all.

The way things turned out I never did ride again this year, even though I had another roadworthy GoldWing at my disposal.  Instead I did a lot more motorhoming, including two month-long holidays in France, so 2013 was a year in which the motorcycling/motorhoming balance in my life shifted quite a bit.

There were days when I got the urge to go riding while we were home but one way and continues………

Farewell to the Federation of UK GoldWing Clubs

Fed Badge on BlackThe Wingers who have been running the Federation of UK GoldWing Clubs have announced that it is to be closed down.  They are not pulling the plug all at once and have offered help to their affiliated clubs to make alternative arrangements, especially with their club websites, which will be kept going and handed over to them as going concerns as soon as the clubs are ready to take them over.

The Secretary of the Federation has written to the clubs expressing the Team’s regret for this move but having lost two of their volunteer team last year the remaining three decided it was time they quit too.  They enjoyed most of what they had been doing although sadly not all of it – and eventually the concept behind the Federation was no longer considered to have long term potential.

This concept was of a service organisation rather than another ruling club, offering a menu of services and facilities which Wingers and their clubs could make use of without having to develop everything for themselves from scratch.  The Federation would also provide shared facilities like websites for promoting special events – like the GoldWing Light Parade Website.  IT services were a core feature but grants were made to support new ventures as well.

Established local or special interest GoldWing clubs would be allowed to affiliate or be helped to form from scratch by offering assistance, including practical help with a new and completely free club website.  The clubs would have to organise and run themselves and the Federation would not get involved in either running the clubs or sorting out squabbles if they cropped up.

Essentially the Federation was a small team of skilled volunteers offering to put itself out for the benefit of other Wingers.  There was no prospect of power or gain in it for them and the best they could hope for was a bit of gratitude if it worked well.  They paid their own expenses throughout and often paid for other things personally too.

The Federation Team also hoped to raise funds to pay for its services without asking its affiliated clubs for subscriptions, by seeking sponsorship from the motorcycle trade.  The only thing the clubs ever paid for was their pro-rata share of the club insurance premium, which by combining to make a block purchase through the Federation, worked out cheaper than otherwise.  Only one motorcycle trader, a newcomer to the GoldWing scene, gave substantial support and unfortunately that didn’t last because the company eventually folded.

There was also hostility to be faced, from elsewhere within the motorcycle trade as well as from Wingers who didn’t want the Federation to succeed for their own reasons.  Some of it was personally offensive and threatening, including threats of legal action and that became unpleasant.  Putting up with that sort of thing wasn’t what the Federation volunteers had volunteered for.  The hostility didn’t stop the Federation and there was no urgency about the decision to close down.  But the succession stream of both funding and of suitably skilled volunteers necessary to keep the Federation going long term wasn’t being achieved, so eventually it became clear that it was time to call a halt.

The Federation started well, very well in some respects, but it never really took off.  It could have provided a way for the existing independent GoldWing clubs in UK to develop better fraternal links and to some extent it did.  It would have been compatible with all existing UK GoldWing Clubs if they had been open-minded enough to welcome it as a service organisation rather than obstruct and undermine it for blinkered and selfish reasons.  It nevertheless helped at least one brand new club to form up from scratch as well as other to group together and that was satisfying.  Indirectly its formation probably helped to change the GoldWing scene for the better in other ways too.

The Federation Team still own GoldWings and they wish all Wingers in UK and elsewhere the very best for the future and hope to see lots of them on the road.

Light Parade News
HOW MUCH do they lose? (As they ask in Yorkshire)

They lost HOW MUCH?
(As they ask in Yorkshire)

If you haven’t been visiting the GoldWing Light Parade Website to catch the news, you have probably been missing something.

There have been a series of intersting “newsy” developments lately and although the next Light Parade is some time away yet, there’s plenty going on.

New announcements about additional facilities for example – the Welsh Guards are coming to the Llandudno Light Parade and GoldWings will be providing them with a guard of honour rather than the other way around for a change – but there is other news too, including attempts by GWOCGB’s Committee to scupper the Scarborough Light Parade, which last year was their Club’s only successful National Event.

To read more visit the Light Parade Website click here (and keep doing it regularly) or maybe even better subscribe to RSS feeds from the website to ensure you don’t miss the latest news.

You wouldn’t want to miss the news that GWOCGB lost £27,000 last year mishandling their own big event, would you?

Light Parade Website gets a lively News Section

LPW NewsI mentioned the revamped GoldWing Light Parade Website recently for its comparative information – now it’s got a News Section which is delivering insider information as well.

For one reason or another, and maybe just because some Wingers are grumpy old men and women, bike club politics has been screwing up light parades far more than other GoldWing Events, as one faction falls out with another and takes action to try to queer their opponent’s pitch.

Chris Hinds, GWOCGB Chairman, has featured in this sort of situation before and he’s been spreading the word again – criticising another former Club Member who has fallen out with Chris’s Committee and wanting to undermine his Light Parade for that reason.

You can read the latest news as it affects light parades by clicking here.

This Blog joins the Federation

Fed Badge on BlackI have been involved with the Federation of UK GoldWing Clubs since it was formed, indeed even before it was formed, and a member of two of its affiliated clubs, but my Blog was always kept separate.

Now my Blog has joined the Federation, in the same way that other not-conventional-club organisations have done. Hence the Federation badge is now placed top left on the Blog’s header panel.

Firstly there was no real reason why it should stay separate. And with the establishment of the Federation’s own web-hosting account early last year, I would otherwise have had to set up a special, separate web account to house it.

It made much more sense to take the Blog’s webhosting into the Federation’s account when we had to move from our former Webmaster’s personal webholding setup, where it had all been before.

So this Blog, and its two “members” (myself and deputy editor Ian) are now an affiliated “club” within the Federation, in the same way that the GoldWing Riders Forum, operated by David Williams, has been for some time.  The theory is that a club only has to have two members in order to be a club, so in David’s case the other member is his pet donkey Muffin.

The Federation doesn’t have to accept any club or other sort of organisation into affiliation of course and it can if necessary de-affiliate any that it does, so sanity can prevail. If David does hand over completely to Muffin, the Federation can disengage.

I have always supported the Federation conceptually of course, as indeed has David Williams, the principal of GoldWing Riders, but both bodies remain independent from the Federation in terms of governance, in the same way that the Federation’s affiliated clubs are also independent organisations.

Nor of course does the Federation want to get involved in running clubs, the whole point of the Federation is to provide support and services without bossing anyone around.  It works both ways, affiliated clubs and other bodies can’t boss the Federation around either.  The affiliation relationship is a matter of mutual consent from which either party can withdraw at any time, which provides a safeguard both ways too.

That suits me just fine!

 

 

Club websites, blogs and forums for Wingers
A Federation Club Website - ready to be adapted to your use

A ready-use Federation Club Website – add your name and badge and it’s ready to go!

CLICK ON ANY IMAGE FOR AN ENLARGEMENT

With the Christmas decorations down and packed away, and of course the GoldWing also tucked away for the deep winter, there is perhaps opportunity to put your mind to something non-biking but connected to your biking hobby.  This article encourages Wingers not to be nervous – it’s a sort of an IT confidence builder for Winger Dummies if you like, with the emphasis on showing how websites, like this one and club websites, are really to operate these days.  Easy enough for almost anyone to operate if they wish.

My aim is to encourage those who currently wouldn’t dream of operating a website themselves to consider doing so, whether for their club’s use or personally, by explaining how easy it can be.  If you have got far enough exploring the internet to be able to visit this Blog, you probably already have the necessary skills, even though you don’t know it.

These days operating a websites for personal or club use is no more difficult than taking responsibility for a club notice board on a wall somewhere – you simply put the notices on to the website (like pining them up on a noticeboard) and the website does the rest for you automatically, to display it on the internet for all to see.  Or just for your members to see if you want it that way, using password protection of the information or logging on individually to get on.  It’s more or less as simple as that.

To create and run a big, fancy commercial website like those of Tesco and Amazon you need geeks by the bucket full but for websites like this one and for everything which any blog or continues………

A New Year Resolution for UK Wingers
Handshake

Leave the past behind and be friendly

Christmas was the time for peace and goodwill to all men, even those who you’ve been thinking deserve otherwise, even mothers in law and riders of Harley Davidsons.

And at the turn of the year we look ourselves in the mirror and make new resolutions – for our own better behaviour, as well as to lose weight, again.

2012 was a bad year for Wingers in UK, especially on the club scene, with only a few brighter spots.  In GoldWing clubs there have been divisive tensions and worse, much worse.

Bitterness has being harboured long after the argument should have finished and some of the differences were maybe more about revenge for loss of dignity or loss of face than substance.  And memberships have gone down as a result, in one case spectacularly.  Big financial losses were incurred and expensive mistakes were quietly hidden from view.  Wingers have wanted other Wingers to fail, even in charitable efforts and have even sought to make that happen.  And lots more.

Let’s hope 2013 will be different.  Let those who have been harbouring resentments leave them behind and start afresh, let those who wanted others to fail stop doing so.  And in all other ways, let’s try to behave to other Wingers as we would wish them to behave towards us.

Be friendly, it’s more fun for everyone that way.  You can however continue making jokes about mothers in law and Harley Davidsons, as long as you don’t really mean any harm.

You couldn’t write this stuff as fiction

Should we have come this way?

Back to GoldWing stuff.

The current and continuing row on the GoldWing club scene came out into the open as a dispute inside Yorkshire Region just over a year ago. During 2012 it escalated and has involved the GoldWing Owners Club of Great Britain’s National Committee, which some Wingers feel made (and continue to make) the situation worse.

I reported the bust-up at the time it flared up late last year but I then cleared out of all the club politics stuff.  I’m now trying a “no names” approach so I’m reluctant to re-post the related old stuff so the jist is repeated here, in case you missed it.

As you will have gathered from my previous article, I’m back on the case, albeit with no names this time, to see if that helps everyone to focus on the problem rather than indulge in a blame game.  This is article is an attempt to report the episode and its continuing effects in a balanced way in the hope that showing how silly and damaging it all looks to the informed outsider might focus a few minds.

In essence late last year there was a rebellion inside Yorkshire Wings against what was seen as the undue influence of one member, who withdrew under pressure of having lost overall support, as then did his supporters.  There had doubtless been a build up to this position which had not been resolved by friendly means and the roots of it went back quite some way – and Yorkshire Wings had been rowing on and off for years.  But let’s focus on recent events in order to try to see a way forwards.

The Region has now effectively split.  Until recently both sides were keen to retain their GWOCGB associations and that was a positive sign.  A “non club” called White Rose Wings formed to house the refugees yet allow them (because they weren’t forming an independent rival club) to continue to espouse committed GWOCGB loyalties.  They would continue to be active members of GWOCGB but no longer within Yorkshire Wings.

The row became an issue for the Club nationally because the ousted influential member continues………

Negative advertising works, so get used to it – but in GoldWing clubs?

Click on an image for an enlargement

The first part of the title of this article is a quote from an interview with one of the many expert commentators who appeared on TV during the recent US Presidential Elections, which struck me as salutary.

There was no hint of hesitation or shame about it; negative advertising works, so they use it.  Indeed they spent millions of dollars on using it this time – both candidates in the election.  It’s OK for would-be Presidents of the USA (or rather for their Campaign people) to shovel as much mess as possible over their opponent as long as they make sure it doesn’t backfire.

From my viewpoint negative advertising cast a shadow across the whole democratic process, including the propriety of its result.  It made the President’s victory speech, in which he complimented his defeated opponent on his campaign as well as then pleading for harmony across the nation at a time of challenge for all, otherwise a nicely done piece of oratory, seem hypocritical.  The negative advertising they both spent millions on wasn’t mentioned.  I suppose that’s modern politics for you.  I ended up thinking that if this is democracy in action, I’m not sure I want it where I live.

And if we view the general social scene in this modern political context, in UK as well as in America, we see many other improprieties too.  For example it is OK these days to use whatever might work or might sound plausible to argue your corner if you get cornered.  No one simply holds their hands up nowadays, as they used to do – except General Petreaus of course.  Being discovered to have had a bit on the side did for him as boss of the CIA remarkably quickly and he just walked, making no attempt to brass it out or argue his corner.

But that was very much the exception which makes the unsavoury general rule these days.  Trying to brass things out, which once upon a time would have been unthinkably shameful, has become so much the norm that you end up thinking suspiciously of someone who has simply just walked.  We start thinking that there must have been much more to it than General Petreaus simply being caught having a bit on the side – as if on its own that didn’t matter enough in public life these days.  Surely there must be more to it, we ask ourselves?  And we, the public, have a right to know these things, so our journalists tell us.  So it’s OK for them to hack people’s phones in order to get a good story to titillate us with and sell more newspapers. continues………

Turbulent times on the UK GoldWing Club Scene

As regular visitors to this Blog will have noticed, I ducked out of covering the Club Scene early on this year in favour of writing about technical and touring stuff instead.

This was partly because there were ructions brewing in my own GoldWing club at the time and I was hoping it would all blow over, so didn’t want to air it.  But mainly I wasn’t sure I was helping anyone by covering that side of GoldWing life in UK, even though it always boosted the viewing figures to put something gossipy on.  I’d put a few people down with some pointed humour successfully and some at least had probably deserved it but was it what I really wanted to be doing, I asked myself?

Abstaining from revealing let alone commenting on the Club Scene during this year hasn’t stopped the politics happening of course, in my own Club or elsewhere.  But I decided that until I had it straight  my own mind what I was trying to do I would keep the Blog out of things.

And in the meantime, throughout 2012 civil wars were waging on both sides of the Pennines within GoldWing clubs and we’ve now got to a situation in which factional divisions within GWOCGB’s National Committee have broken out into the open and resignations are looming.  Although one of the civil wars has probably sort of fizzled out, albeit with lingering consequences, the other one has flared up big time and with escalating impact.

But should I be telling all about these goings-on or not, that’s still the quesion which is bothering me?  In the eyes of some I would doubtless be engaging in GWOC-bashing, again,  even if the majority might welcome the hard information about something which people are clearly currently hoping to hide away.

And has the Lancashire feuding ended or merely gone quiet for a bit?  There was a threat of legal action, which was eventually withdrawn – but only on condition that no further disapproving, let alone disparaging or defamatory utterances were made.   So much for freedom of speech then – we’ll have none of that from your side thank you very much.  Avoiding loss of face by suppressing further discussion is one way of coping I suppose.

It’s been an eventful year and it might have all ended up more peacefully had the British Treffen gone a bit better and a Light Parade gone a bit worse, but they didn’t, so the aftermath has to be faced.

Oh, and there’s the real reasons why ‘Appy Wanderers has folded too.

Am I being too obscure?  Should I be spelling it all out and naming names?  That’s still the question for me.

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