"An ever-intriguing writer."
"A genuine talent."



Colour Him Lucky

If you laid all out the plastic
Evel Kneivel Stuntcycle toys
sold during X-Mas 1976 end-to-end,
they'd stretch clear across Idaho’s Snake River Canyon.
Clear across that Magic Valley and back again.
Dressed in his clean white leathers,
his shoulder-cape and his star-spangled crash-helmet,
Robert Craig “Evel” Kneivel Jr. always looked to me like
some kind of a real-life honest-to-goodness American superhero.
A kind of Elvis meets Liberace meets
Gary Cooper meets Superman. On a Harley Davidson.
As a child, I watched in awe as he jumped
a succession of cars, cargo vans, mountain lions,
Mack trucks, London routemasters and Greyhound buses.
All fuelled by true-grit chutzpah and Wild Turkey 101.
As a child I watched him fracture
his jaw and his skull
and his sternum and his pelvis.
And both his arms. And both his ankles.
And both of his clavicles too.
I watched him break his lower and his upper back.
I watched him break his knees and his shins
and his hips and his femurs
and his nose and his toes and,
at one time or another, all 24 of his crazy cockamamie ribs.
For Evel’s was a life of casts, comas and blood-transfusions.
His battered body rattled with pins and plates.
In my time, I’ve never so much as suffered a dislocated finger.
But then, I never tried strapping rocket engines
to the side of my Raleigh Tomahawk Mark 2 neither.
And that’s why Robert Craig Kneivel
will always be the Daredevil’s Daredevil,
and why I’m destined to be just
another hairdresser’s son from North Oxfordshire.


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