Rule #4 is clear but how do you explain to your five year old what a twatwaffle is? I was left trying to define twatwaffle to a room full of relatives, none five years old but a few close to ninety-five years old. Someone opened The Book of Rules and loudly read out Rule #4. Some hand waving and muttering about the Dutch deflected things, thankfully. Five year olds would not have let me off so easily, “but uncle Gianni, what is a twatwaffle?” @blackpooltower or @blacktoolpower introduces us to Boffo’s take on Rule #4.
If you’ve been Breeding and Blimping and are busy schooling your Velomini/Velonipper about The Rules … or even if not, there’s a legend you need to know about.
The Great Boffo is the eponymous hero of Frank Dickens’ outstanding 1973 book. To my knowledge the only children’s picture book depicting a professional stage race.
It’s the story of a chubby lad who works as a delivery rider for a drinks company. He’s desperate to watch the race going through town, featuring The Great Boffo on his beautiful shiny red bike, but his hardass boss insists he does his rounds instead.
Later, the boy stumbles upon the race feed station where the official drinks have failed to turn up. When the peloton arrives, he passes out drinks from his basket to the riders “who took them without stopping, the way racing cyclists do”.
Unfortunately one of them drops a glass bottle and Boffo gets a double puncture. He’s just about to abandon when he clocks the kid’s boneshaker and asks if he can use it, dismissing protestations that it’s an unworthy bike on the grounds that the rider is what matters. He hops on and lays down some V, “the great muscles in his legs flexing and unflexing as they drove the bicycle forward”.
Boffo smokes the pack in a bunch sprint and wins the race. Next morning, our boy wakes to find at the foot of his bed “a gleaming new bicycle, with a note tied to the handlebars. “From Boffo in gratitude. But remember my words: the machine is not as important as the man.””
The Great Boffo was published in 1973. It’s Not About the Bike was published in 2001. Just saying.
Anyway, Boffo is clearly an iconic fictional cyclist you need in your life. Frank’s daughter keeps the book in print using Lulu (a print-on-demand service) but I reckon if enough Velominati say they like it, it might just be possible to find a way to get it properly reissued. So, what do you think?
(All drawings courtesy of Frank Dickens – www.frankdickens.com)