The Stolen Vespa, Prophetic Consciousness and Gratitude
Today I went outside to prepare myself for a motorbike trip into central London when I sensed something was spatially awry in the front garden. The Vespa had been stolen. There was a tire mark depression back to the path from where it had been parked, inside the hedge. To add insult to injury, they had used my portable heavyduty removable ramp (stowed behind the hedge) to get the Vespa down off the curb!
For a minute or two I stared in disbelief. I had seen it at midnight last night when I returned home on my motorbike. And now it was no more.
Coming to my senses, my first thought was to call the insurance company. A few seconds later I realised that was a stupid idea: starting a claim before events had been settled, claims, raised premiums and the like. I then remembered: I have a tracker device fitted to the scooter. I raced indoors and logged on.
And there it was, a blessed red pointer indicating life (and not death by conversion into spare parts), close to Millwall football stadium between New Cross and Surrey Quays. It had been stored a mile away from home! Not a salubrious area — you know how London can get from pukka to dodgy in just a few metres? This was such a journey.
So I called 999. It’s amazing how they answer before the first ring. I got through to the police and explained to them what had happened and where my bike was. They said they would send a car to the address shortly.
All I’m thinking is Yes but when? They could be dismantling it or moving it on from there at any time! But I kept mum and thanked them.
After a few minutes, I went back online and checked the tracker. It was no longer possible to ping the bike for a location — as if they have removed the battery or something! The last known location began receding in time…
So I call the police again. Again I first of all get through to 999 in less than half a second. Amazing. They say there’s loads of things happening today and I’m way down the list at the moment but they will try to send someone round at some point.
I pace around the flat, trying to keep calm. Impossible to do this, I race out, get on my motorbike and tap in the postcode of the tracker address into my satnav.
I turn off the Old Kent Road in the general direction of Millwall stadium. There are factories ahead, unloved estate buildings and a sense of hardship and meanness in the air. Dodgy London happens quickly, as I said.
It felt menacing when I entered the estate where the Vespa had been stashed. I spot a gang of white, mean looking blokes stalking the pavement coming towards me: that Fred Perry wideboy football thug look. Strong aftershave and putting the boot in. Perhaps they are the thieves? Who knows who anyone is around here?
I steel myself and carry on into the estate, crawling forward in first gear. I go to the first car park. No rosso coloured Vespa. Then I backtrack and spot a left turn. At the end, propped up against a wall, is my beautiful Vespa. Yay!
But then I feel scared and potentially surveyed. What if the thieves are nearby, in a flat, or will return for the scooter soon?
I beat a retreat and park a few hundred metres away and call the five-o. I tell them I’ve found the scooter and can they come because I don’t feel like getting it by myself. I give them my coordinates and wait.
An hour or so later (it felt like months) they come and I park up my bike and we go into the estate, me in the backseat of the police car. I feel relieved that I have the police and my Vespa in the same place. Things are finally going to be ok. They take my details and one of them starts doing a door to door.
By this time, I have walked back to retrieve my Triumph, and called the RAC on the way. Its going to set me back £170 for the transporter service — simply to carry my Vespa a mile down the road! Grrrrr again.
But then the police will have to leave soon — too much is going on this bank holiday weekend.
So I’m to be left alone with the motorbike and my beautiful but wounded Vespa. I check and try to start it. The throttle has no resistance. I open up the seat and take the storage bucket out and see that they have pulled out the throttle cable by the engine. I also notice that they have replaced the front wheel with some yuk looking old wheel. Perhaps they did this late at night/early this morning?
I have to pay innit. I give my card details as one of the policemen does a door to door. And then they leave.
So I’m waiting for the haulage company and this is when the story takes a turn for the worse (and better).
There’s a guy having a joint in a ground floor flat close by. I had knocked his window earlier to let him know i was waiting for a pick up and what had happened etc. — just so he wouldn’t worry about what was going on.
We get chatting — through the window, and have a lil smoke. His stuff isstrong-ass skunk, mixed with tobacco. All it took was three or four puffs from circles of shared smoking. I felt it immediately because I’ve been doing a lot of energy work and out-of-body preparation, my psyche is more and more attuned to other dimensions of consciousness.
Immediately I had floated up to a different level of being in the world. I was in spirit, feet half here and spirit half there.
So D. and I, a black 24 year old Belgian musician from Wavre who clearly smokes way too much weed, proceeded to have the deepest conversation on faith I’ve ever had, in all my days.
We dived deep on the nature of God, of sin, of authenticity and it wasn’t me doing the talking. It was as if a higher spirit took over me.
I probably sounded like a pastor or worse, a prophet from the Life of Brian. I could feel the presence of a higher spirit around me and in me. I could tell D. is a sweet hearted but mixed up kid, falling from the path of purpose. I felt like I was able to see deep into him. For instance, at one point a message came through for me to tell him to stop smoking weed.
He was amazed to hear this — almost crying.
“I’ve been waiting to meet someone who will tell me this” were his precise words.
Another time, he asked me what I thought sin was….
Just to say, I never think about sin; it doesn’t have a place in my vocabulary of thought or explanation. But still I found myself saying that,
“Sin is whenever you are not true to your authentic self. Sin is when you do something that is not in line with your core talent, your core energy, your core purpose on this dense material level. Sin goes deep, but it begins with this.”
So, we are vibing like this and D. seems to be getting a lot from whatever is speaking through me. I’m telling him about someone I know who has done lots of Out of Body Experiences and been close to the energy of Christ and the Buddha, and ask him what the core truth of the Bible is in one sentence. He struggles out something about the righteous path, half admitting defeat. I speak that the core truth is “love thine enemy” and that only when we can love the enemy can we have a true measure of how humble we must be before the higher spirits: those who could love those who wished to kill them.
I start practising compassion for those who stole my bike, realising that they are sinning in the sense i have already defined it. I feel in truth, and on a level of spirit-truth I’ve not encountered before.
And then a white van turns up.
Earlier, I had moved my Vespa from where it had been parked. Some intuition had told me to move it a little way around the corner but still in the estate. Good move.
The white van travels past me and then reverses to where my Vespa had been, disappearing from view. Before it disappears I can see another bike inside (only the tailgate is up). I knew something was about to happen.
Sure enough, a few moments later, the van re-emerges and creeps back towards me, parking a few metres away. Two rough looking guys eye the Vespa, then eye me. They could be Turkish or Serbian — somewhere in that general part of the world.
We stare each other out. I sat on the parked Vespa, they sat in the van.
It was like the Wild West, a spaghetti western for the Old Kent Road.
After an eternity, the stand-off receded; they took a right and parked the other side of a hedge about 25 metres away. A crocodile biding his time in the water.
I’m thinking, “They are trying to work out what to do” or “they are calling higher up the food chain for a decision.”
I was also thinking, “I could be a) really fucked up by this and b) a Vespa down.
A few metres away inside the window, D. asked me by hand signal if he should come out. I signalled a quick yes back.
As it turns out, D. isn’t that big a guy, but he’s black (I know, that sounds terrible) and there’s now symbolically two against two. I’m staring at the top of the van poking above the hedge, while D. asks me, “what do you have to fear bro?” His body posture was entirely relaxed, as if he had morphed into Anthony Joshua in a jiffy. The van, and malicious intent, was just a few metres away.
He continued, “If you are truly next to God, you should submit to the divine now, as you were talking about earlier.” A gentle smile stretched his lips as I recalled that we had been talking about submission to the Father earlier, and the loving power of Christ and the Buddha that each loved those that hated them.
By this time I’d called five-o again (my head converting the scene in real time into an episode from The Wire) and told them the situation and that i don’t feel safe and I’m scared for my safety.
And then all of a sudden the van started up and drove off out of the estate.
I called the haulage company again — yet another delay and another “in the next 30 minutes”.
Moments after the call, a small sports car appeared, crammed with lads and a bad energy. I was feeling paranoid and shook up and sunk far down from the prophetic/ecstatic state of a few minutes earlier. They U-turned and left. I felt fragile and raw and vulnerable. I found myself compulsively searching for keys that I knew were in my pocket already, clutching for a tangible but non-feasible symbol of security.
Then the police came, and I gave them a description of the van and the registration number.
Eventually, the haulage guy turned up. He smelt of working class cleanliness and nights at a proper pub with brown ceramics. I was grateful, his odours were a comfort.
It was raining and cold. After tying the Vespa to the trailer, he followed me home in the monochrome grey of a damaged day.
Just as we were leaving, we heard a police siren. It felt like they were on the chase, but perhaps that was more hope than reality.
Mayhem in April, or Aprilhem before May?
Later, in the calm of home again, I had two thoughts.
First, the practical realisation that there are two types of scooter/bike theft — opportunist lads on joyride thrills, and then the altogether more serious organised crime variety, which are the lower rungs of the second hand parts trade. I had simply come face to face with low-level street thugs who go round doing the “collections”.
But more importantly, I had an insight when in the state of prophetic consciousness. The idea was so powerful it took on a viscous form, floating in and around me like a Fairy Liquid bubble about to pop. It is the First Noble Truth of Buddhism: that life is suffering. That’s there no way around it but to walk calmly and with grace into your pain. This is what this life is about.
I realised that if we don’t walk (or track) into our pain and our trauma (and end up taking refuge elsewhere), we cannot transform ourselves. That the only way forward for us all is the pathway into the darkened forest, for it is only there that we might find the light of transformation beyond what we can actually conceive is possible. And that the only available response to all this painful inevitability is to be grateful.
Thank you for reading this.