Smith - Doney - On the Side of the Angels

John Smith and Malcolm Doney - On the Side of the Angels
He was big, greasy and drunk. I couldn’t tell, as he shambled towards me with an almost empty flagon of cheap port in his large fist, whether his intentions were friendly or hostile.
I was new to the bike scene, but had learned already that you could never predict what reaction you’d get when you first made contact with a group of outlaw bikers. I stood there under the street lamps only too conscious of my leathers, still shiny from the shop, and my own club colours emblazoned on my back. Gods Squad, Melbourne they read in mock gothic script.
I’ll tell you later how I, a thirty-year-old preacher’s son whose idea of fashion adventure was to wear a tie with a stripe in it, came to be in this get-up. But for the moment I recall that I was more concerned for my safety than for fashion.
This character had turned up in town with his mates because he’d heard this group of ‘religious’ bikers had arrived and were willing to talk. But bikers are very tribal and very territorial, so I couldn’t be sure whether he wanted to shake me by the hand or smack me in the teeth. I felt either would have been preferable to what actually happened.
I wasn’t fully street-wise and I was unsure if I was sending the right signals, but concealing my innocence in silence, I tried to appear both fearless and welcoming at the same time.
As he drew nearer I copped a blast of his foul breath, which was enough to send a skunk scuttling for cover. Rotting teeth and cheap Aussie plonk are a formidable combination. I held my ground. He shifted his bottle from right to left hand and threw his meaty fist towards me. He did want to shake hands.
We stood facing each other, me with my relatively new beard and hair recently grown long, he with well-worn leathers and Levis which gave new dimensions to the word ‘grime’ We shook hands, thumbs interlocked as if we were about to start a bout of arm wrestling. This is the biker tradition in Australia. I knew that much at least.
I was about to start off a conversation along the lines of ‘How ya goin’, mate?’ when he stepped, or rather stumbled, forward and wrapped his arms around me in a friendly, alcoholic bear hug. It had been a warm day as I recall and this particular biker had obviously not heard of deodorant. But it was a welcome and I was glad of it. I had been accepted.
I responded, beating him on the back in a friendly way. Then all of a sudden he planted his lips on mine. Even worse, his tongue snaked into my mouth in a slobbering male French kiss! I recoiled in shock and repulsion. My whole being went rigid and my jaw clamped shut. It was pure instinct. I was so stunned I couldn’t think what to do. This was a far cry from the conservative affection of a Methodist manse.
We stood there locked for what seemed an age, then the guy pushed himself away from me. He stepped back and looked at me, his bleary eyes a mixture of disappointment and confusion. It was as if he was saying, ‘You came to us. We accepted you. So why have you rejected me?’ Then he shrugged in that offhand, take-it־or-leave־it way bikers have and walked off into the night.

John Smith and Malcolm Doney - On the Side of the Angels

New, revised edition. - Mitcham, Strand Publishing, 2006. – 386 p.
ISBN 1921202785

John Smith and Malcolm Doney - On the Side of the Angels – Contents

  • 1 Confusion on the Road
  • 2 Roots of a Future Rebel
  • 3 Blessed Be the Scars  
  • 4 Thank God I’m a Country Boy  
  • 5 Treasure Life’s Questions and Mishaps  
  • 6 Lost and Found in the Bush  
  • 7 The Shadowy Side of Light  
  • 8 War and Peace  
  • 9 From Preacher to Protester  
  • 10 Slip Sliding Away  
  • 11 From Hippie to Biker  
  • 12 Don’t Judge the Book by Its Cover  
  • 13 Reordering Chaos  
  • 14 Nullarbor Disaster  
  • 15 Booze, Bikers and Breakthroughs  
  • 16 It’s a Mad World After All  
  • 17 Dreaming of Another World  
Postscript 1: Twenty Years On  
Postscript 2: More Than Tongue Can Tell  


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