Eric MansfieldVincentSpeedRecord


All I ever needed was an excuse. Not one reason could convince me not to do something if I wanted to do it. No matter what the possible, or even predictable, outcome. The excuse was in case I needed it in the eyes of the law. If you’ve got an excuse you don’t need to learn the law. It’s not as if footballers know the rules of the game. That’s what referees are for – yellow card then red card. But life is not about yellow and red cards, the law can be reasoned with, and that’s what lawyers are for.

Fear is a survival mechanism. Controlling irrational fears is part of the same mechanism. Discriminating between the rational and the irrational is not part of that mechanism because it belongs to logic and neither life nor death is logical.

The drug taking wasn’t excessive, not as far as I could see. But to my mind it was enough. Enough to take me to my limits. There was no doubt about that. And there was no doubt that it was now time to head off into the night across the Massif on a borrowed 1955 Vincent Shadow.

The last of the legendary Black Shadows, the 1955 D series saw Vincent close their doors leaving a legacy of high tech, state-of-the-art, fast and dramatic motorcycles. The Black Shadow, first introduced in 1949, survived through 1955 and along the way broke speed records on several continents. On a cool Monday morning on Sept. 13, 1948, Rollie Free

 lifted from Harley Davidson the US national motorcycle speed record by riding the first Vincent HRD Black Lightning racing motorcycle to a speed of 150.313 m.p.h. When Rollie’s leathers tore from early runs at 147 mph, he discarded them and made a final, heroic attempt without jacket, pants, gloves, boots or helmet. Aboard the motorcycle owned by the California sportsman, John Edgar, this final run resulted in the most famous photograph in motorcycling, the “bathing suit bike” shot taken from a speeding car on the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. Rollie lay flat out on the motorcycle wearing only a speedo bathing suit, shower cap and a pair of borrowed sneakers. The Vincent was the first true 100 mph touring bike

Friends are an unnecessary distraction in life. They need to be considered, as do loved ones and family. If it’s freedom you desire then do without them. They will only hold you back in your lonely pursuit of true freedom. Society has been constructed to control the dangerous, animalistic forces inside us. To repress the savage barbarism that lies just beneath the surface. Man’s psychic ills are a manifestation of a maladjusted society unable to meet man’s inner needs. Out here there is no society. Out here individual freedom is possible – true democracy – the freedom to express oneself fully. Civilization and society is a trap for the would-be ‘modern-man’ and only brings discontent, depression and despair.

Fallacy – Divergent sequences are unpredictable. According to some science everything is, in principle, predictable and controllable, and everything that is not will soon be with a little more knowledge. This view is wrong, not merely in detail but in principle. The prediction and control of many things are simply impossible for the simplest of reasons, especially homogeneous material. Under tension, a chain will break at its weakest link. That much is predictable. What is difficult is to identify the weakest link before it breaks. The generic we can know, but the specific eludes us. Some chains are designed to break at a certain tension and at a certain link. But a good chain is homogeneous, and no prediction is possible. The Vincent has such a chain.

One thing that is predictable is the possibility of the unpredictable occurring at some point in time. The Vincent left the road like an eagle taking flight. The sky was bruised and night was near. Fly me to the moon.

No time for stopping now and no care for the wolves that prowl these mountains after dark. Huge animals the heathens use to protect themselves against the oncoming future and religious fervour. I was ahead of both, even though I was hideously lost. The map I was following in my mind had disintegrated some time ago and had let me loose out here in the Wilderness to fend for myself. It has been said by many prophets from many religions that ‘to truly find one-self you must truly loose yourself’. Well I was truly hoping that my new self was going to be suitably dressed for the weather. I was drenched and I had made some bad decisions made on some of the worst choices I had ever come into contact with. Choices that would become apparent once the results of the decisions came into reality. Every decision would prove to have been wrong. I was in the middle of an unrelenting avalanche of wrongs and the only thing left for me to rely on was my reptilian stubbornness. Courage and determination had never dwelt within me and I have no appetite for pain.


The last sheep had indicated that on this insidious night, not fit for man nor beast, death was at large. Death is a strange mystery. On one hand it is mystical and beyond our knowledge though still full of wonder and mindless possibilities and on the other, it is simply The End. The idea of ‘parallel Universes’ is on the rise again. The idea that at every quantum event another possibility becomes a reality. So at the moment of my death I immediately exist within an identical universe except in which this knew one I didn’t die. Ergo, it doesn’t matter if I die. I can never die. I will live forever, somewhere, in some space, in some time.

They were here, the bastards were all around me – Ill Gwylliath – The Men Of The Dawn. I could hear them in the trees drawing their broadswords, ready to pounce. Men Of The Dawn don’t pounce, they plummet from rocky crags with a great mass of wool and woad, crushing you beneath their leather souls. Myths, without them we are infected with society’s insanity. A society without courage and soul.

It didn’t matter how many people were praying for me, human sacrifice had obviously been called for and was required.

What felt like forty days and forty nights wandering in this wilderness had amounted to no more than a series of stumbles, wrong turns and a seemingly endless string of failures.

There are many possible responses to being lost in the wilds. You can stay put and wait for help. You can build fires and flash mirrors and construct huge SOS signs by piling stones on the ground. You can pray. You can throw yourself off a cliff. You can try to find your way out by backtracking, or you can plunge on ahead, or sideways, or in circles. It makes no difference which method you adopt, though it is a reflection of character, and an expression of style. They say the romantic is a dangerous impulse, easily confused with the most pathetic sentimentality, yet so wonderfully capable of a magnificence borne and illuminated not by mere endurance, but by a joy so elemental it will gladly risk the foolishness of its likely failure. There are lessons here that even the wisest council can’t prevent us from learning. Have we dreamt this world up? Have we convinced ourselves that what we see and hear and touch and smell combine to form these hideously real experiences, or is it simply hideously real and no amount of dreaming can remove us until we board Death’s dawn train and head off into a less uncertain future full of myth and legend. There is no drug stranger than reality, because reality, despite our arrogant, terrified and hopeless insistence, doesn’t require our perceptions, merely our presence. There can be no hard distinctions between what is real and what is unreal, nor between what is true and what is false. In searching out the truth be ready for the unexpected, for it is difficult to find and puzzling when you find it. Reality is final. But it is not complete. And the roads to wisdom are strewn with excesses. The dirt which gives life texture.

My mind was now like a sieve. Taking in experiences whole and quickly letting the finer parts, their intrinsic quality, fall to the floor. My stories, once engrossing, had become shadows of their former recitations. Long engaging monologues that could hold my own attention longer than anything else had been reduced to disengaged rambling that attracted attention for all the wrong reasons. It may have been the accompanying dribbling. Or the apparent lack of sanity.

I feel like I am spread out over the landscape and inside things, in the midst of my true life. As if my mission was accomplished. But I have failed in my foremost task to open people’s eyes to the fact that man has a soul, a boundless soul and that there is a buried treasure out there in the field waiting to be discovered by everyone. But sadly our Western religion and philosophy are in a pitiful state. Lost in a wilderness of their own. The older I get the more I realise how little I know, but the more I believe. Eventually I will know Nothing. Eventually I will be all of nothing.

The State, like the Church, demands enthusiasm, self-sacrifice and love, and if religion requires or presupposes the ‘fear of God’, then the dictator State takes good care to provide the necessary terror…… then the ethical decision of the individual not longer counts – what alone matters is the blind movement of the masses, and the lie has thus become the operative principle of political action. We watch chaos unfold into our own logic, yet we still fail to understand. We don’t know what we what no more, we know we want extremes. We don’t know what they need no more, to bring them to there knees. We hurt each other. We help each other. We kill each other and love each other and generally suffer the slaughter of bored failure in between.

We treat people, plants, animals and the Earth with contempt, deceit, unbound venality and slobbering greed. What faith we muster is often blind with self-righteousness or is merely a rubbish bin lid to keep the flies from making maggots, the dogs from scattering our rubbish on the front lawn, our dirty little secrets and decaying shame displayed for all to see. And then a small child cuts a crooked cherry limb for a sword, lifts the garbage can lid for a shield, and sallies forth to vanquish the real dragons guarding the real grails, the empty grails depicting in precious stone, the marriage of the sun and moon. We didn’t change our minds, our minds changed us. There is no drug stranger than reality, because reality, despite our arrogant, terrified, hopeless insistence, doesn’t require our perceptions, merely our hopeless presence. Freedom consists not in doing what we like, but in having the right to do what we ought. We don’t carry labels on our chests, and even though they are continually fixed to us by others, they convince only the lazy and those with a desire for ignorance. The desire for the verification on the part of all of us, with regard to our own experience of others, is understandable but cannot always be satisfied. There can be no hard distinctions between what is real and what is unreal, nor between what is true and what is false; it can be both true and false. A thing is not necessarily either true or false; it can be both. We will interpret a common experience quite differently, though we prefer to subscribe to the view that there’s a shared common ground all right, but that it’s more like quicksand than solid ground. Because reality is quite a strong firm word we tend to think, or to hope, that the state to which it refers is equally firm, settled and unequivocal. It doesn’t seem to be, and appears to be no worse or better for it.

We live in a repressive, vicious, authoritarian system. A system which is inhumane and immoral, because it deprives 99 percent of humanity of the right to live their lives their own way.

Everywhere in the West there are subversive minorities who, sheltered by our humanitarianism and our sense of justice, hold the incendiary torches ready, with nothing to stop the spread of their ideas except the critical reason of a single, fairly intelligent, mentally stable stratum of the population. One should not, however, overestimate the thickness of this stratum. It varies from country to country in accordance with national temperament. Also, it is regionally dependent on public education and is subject to the influence of acutely disturbing factors of a political and economic nature. Taking plebiscites as a criterion, one could on an optimistic estimate put it’s upper limit at about 40 percent of the electorate. Since the gift of reason and critical reflection is not one of man’s outstanding peculiarities, and even where it exists it proves to be wavering and inconsistent, the more so, as a rule, the bigger the political groups are. The mass crushes out the insight and reflection that are still possible with the individual, and this necessarily leads to doctrinaire and authoritarian tyranny if ever the constitutional State should succumb to a fit of weakness. The bird-feed, if it really arrives, will last a long time. We don’t need to think beyond that. Who knows what will be by then. But through the strength and spirit and fire and dare and gamble of a few men in a few ways we can save the carcass of humanity from drowning. No light goes out until it goes out.


In searching out the truth be ready for the unexpected, for it is difficult to find and puzzling when you find it. Since all is a plenum, all matter is connected and all movement in the plenum produces some effect on other bodies, in proportion to the distance between them. Hence everybody is affected not only by those with which it has contact, and thus feels in some way everything that happens to them; but through them it also feels those that touch the ones with which it is in immediate contact. Consequently, everybody experiences everything that goes on in the universe, so much so that he who sees everything might read in any body what is happening everywhere, and even what has happened or will happen. He would be able to observe in the present what is remote in both time and space. Every object has two aspects: The common aspect, the one generally seen by everyone, and the metaphysical aspect, which only rare individuals see at moments of clairvoyance and metaphysical meditation. A work of art must relate to something that does not appear in it’s visible form. I tego arcana dei. To the north we are bounded by the Aurora Borealis, to the east the rising sun, to the south the procession of the equinoxes, and to the west the day of judgment. Every hour wounds then the last one kills. Death, is the road to awe. We all live in an age when darkness reigns and only the shadows and shapes of love that remain, remain in a place that is forever a strange part of somewhere. Life, is just art, imitating life. Indeed it is even possible for an entity to show itself as something which in itself it is not.

Et quid amabo nisi quod aenigma est. The purity of the abstract.

We have learned that human nature has a black side, and that not man alone possesses this side, but his works, his institutions, and his convictions as well. Even our purest and holiest beliefs can be traced to the crudest origins. This way of looking at things even has it’s justification, for the beginning of all livings things is simple and lowly; we build our houses from the ground up. No thoughtful person will deny Reinach’s explanation of the Last Supper in terms of primitive toteism is fraught with meaning; nor will they object to the incest-theme being pointed out in the myths of the Greek divinities. It is painful to interpret radiant things from the shadow-side, and so in a measure reduce them to their origins in dreary filth. It seems to be an imperfection in things of beauty, and a weakness in man, if an explanation from the shadow-side has a destructive effect. The horror which we feel for such interpretations is entirely due to our own barbaric or childish naivety, which believes there can be heights without corresponding depths, which blinds us to the really final truth that, when carried to extremes, opposites meet.

All Western and good faith become engaged in this wager on representation: that a sign could refer to the depth of meaning, that a sign could be exchanged for meaning and that something could guarantee this exchange – God, of course. But what if god itself could be simulated, that is to say can be reduced to the signs that constitute faith? then the whole system becomes weightless, it is no longer itself anything but a gigantic simulacrum – not unreal, but a simulacrum, never to be exchanged for the real, but exchanged for itself, in an uninterrupted circuit without reference or circumference.

Not only is nothing good or ill but thinking it makes it so, but nothing is at all, except in so far as thinking has made it so.

The romantic is a dangerous impulse, easily confused with the most pathetic sentimentality, yet so wonderfully capable of a magnificence borne and illuminated not by mere endurance, but by a joy so elemental it will gladly risk the foolishness of its likely failure. There are lessons that even the wisest council can’t prevent us from learning. Each raindrop is different unto the river and equally waters the trees. Reality is final. But it is not complete. How could it be without the Mystery Train hurtling through our dreams? How could it possibly be complete without imagining that together we have all dreamt it up, to make it real, so that at this moment, right now, our entire lives could come to this provocative state of affairs. That train is the Dawn Death Zephyr, burning human breath and broken dreams for fuel. As The Weird World Rolls On…….. Ding an sich!

Words by Eric Mansfield

Eric was born in Newcastle in 1963 and raised in Crawcrook.  Aka James Ray singer and band-leader, best known as a member of Andrew Eldritch‘s side-project The Sisterhood[1] and for his own band James Ray’s Gangwar.


  1. In the unlikely event that I outlive you, can I recite a reduced version of this at your funeral please? Your humble and unnecessary friend, Ding an sich x

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