Friday, September 12, 2008

He met the man behind Enfield's "Bunty"

Pete Snidal, author of the Royal Enfield Owners and Workshop Manual, met the man behind the fictional Maj. Bunty Golightly.

Prompted by my call Sept. 10 for information about the long-lost "Bunty," Snidal recalled a visit from the author himself to Snidal's home in British Columbia.

The Royal Enfield Yahoo Message Board is the Internet's largest independent forum of Royal Enfield enthusiasts. There, from 2000 to 2005, "The Major" kept up lively accounts of hunting "peasants," chasing "fillies" and imbibing before, after and possibly during.

Along the way, the bigoted, imperialistic "retired British Army officer and country gentleman" insulted, infuriated and ultimately amused his readers. His posts ended suddenly, in November, 2005.

Snidal writes:

"Did you know that The Major actually paid me a visit once? It was a few years ago. I returned from a trip to town to find this heavyset bearded guy (much like myself, actually!) sitting at our patio table with a bottle of Glen Livet (I think) sitting there in front of him. We rolled into a pleasant conversation — I supplied a couple of Czechvar chasers, I'd imagine, and we whiled away a pleasant hour or two discussing shoes, ships, cabbages, kings, sealing wax, Enfields, etc. He waited awhile before pointing out that he was also The Major.

"Seems he lives in my Province — BC — up north somewhere. Was on a motorcycle trip through the southern end and dropped by for a vis. Didn't have a lot of time; couldn't stay the night, but he did have an hour or two which we passed very entertainingly.

"I can't remember his name, now. Thought at the time we'd still be in touch via the RE list, but I don't think I ever saw him here after that day. Name was Roger something — we remember that only because one of our cats has the same name.

"But I'll always remember him as The Major!"

I pressed Snidal for details.

Pete, that is tremendously interesting. Can you recall anything else? What year it might have been?

"No more than two-three years ago, I think. At the time, I didn't think that The Major was no longer a participant in the reading group, so his last posting couldn't have been much previous to the visit."

Was he riding an Enfield?

"No, regrettably. Some kind of JAPCO unit. Didn't notice, didn't care."

What would you say his age was?

"Born in the '50s or early '60s, I'd have guessed. i.e. 10-20 years younger than my ancient self."

Did he post on the board only as the Major, or did he visit under his own or another name as well?

"I'm fairly sure that I recognized his name as a more regular participant as well. Roger something."

Did he describe his line of work or where he got the idea for the Major?

"I must have asked, but those brain cells have since scrubbed themselves. I'm thinking some sort of primary production role — mining or logging or some such. Not a white collar kinda guy."

I'm not trying to play the detective. Just curious. I think the guy had a lot of talent. He certainly had me going. I wonder what else he might have written.

"Well, Dave, judging by your blog, you're no slouch yourself! And you've certainly paid him a fine if well-deserved tribute!"

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