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About me…

For those unaware of my glittering career, I started scribbling for the underground press in 1968 and by complete chance was appointed Music Editor of International Times when I happened to visit their office for the first time in ’69 on a day trip down from Birmingham. Naturally I took all of a stoned nanosecond to accept the offer… and it’s all been uphill ever since. 

If you really give a stuff, a full resume of my, er, resume is available on the Career page of my website, http://www.markwilliamsmedia.co.uk, but for now just be content to know that I’m an opinionated media junkie of a certain age who won’t sit still.

Comments»

1. Peter Smith - May 4, 2009

‘So pleased to read your words again. I first read your ranting rabid prose in 1973 in Bike mag, probable edition 10, it had the Bsa and Laverda (I think) on the front with spagetti involved somewhere if my memory serves. What a dull, run of the mill mag Bike is now, facts and figures with no style or guts. That’s what you read Motorcycle Mechanics for, but you bought Bike for the fun, fast and the edgy reporting.

I’ve just learnt from reading the above that you worked for International Times- now I understand!

I’ll still pick up a copy from time to time, mainly for Ogri.

Cheers and good luck

Peter

2. Martin Craig - May 18, 2009

Just when you thought… last time we corresponded I was letting you know about HST’s ‘suicide’ with his grandchild in the next room – not that HST had offended anyone in the USA, mind, so it obviously was self-inflicted. You seemed to be out of your skull for 10 kopeks in a shit Moscow hotel suite, going for one of those ‘how many ways can a man be a snob at one time?’ record attempts. Like having a rusting Maserati and refusing to let it go into the Scrappage scheme for a new Fiat Panda.

Really great to see your web site and to read these excellent blogs. Keep well, middle-aged chap, and write on. Right on? er,

3. Cliff Gingell - September 3, 2009

One of the great unsung writers of our time….Gonzo for the bike generation and those who wouldn’t rather count carbs than the cost of being cool

4. Nigel Bull - November 21, 2009

Mark

I have listened to your rants since I fell in love with a Ducati 350 Desmo through Bike in June/July 1973. You do have some good stories to tell……perhaps you would like to come to Caerphilly Motorcycle Club and rant in front of an audiance! We like all sorts of bikes, but almost all are into trail bikes. We have previously been entertained by Lois Pryce, Frank Perris and Paul Edmondson. Is your greed for cash matched by a recolection of Jota’s, Jail cells and ROW issues…….if so get in touch and perhaps it will all happen, if you have not finally run out of road!

Regards

Nigel Bull

02920 869340

markswill - November 22, 2009

Your reckless flattery is, of course, disarming but sadly I’m crap at public speaking so must therefore decline your offer even though as an ex-member of Caerphilly M/cycle Club (yes, really) I am of course tempted.

Cheers – Mark

5. JG - November 27, 2009

Another Bike mag fan from the late 70s-early 80s checking in. Can’t even look at it today though I try every couple of years.
Some of your media stuff is interesting but everyone’s doing that. At the risk of sounding like one who asks Ricky G to do that dance or Bob Dylan to do that song, what we’d like here Mark is some golden Bikemag-era bikes revisited. Find them, borrow some and write us a shit-hot yarn!

markswill - November 28, 2009

‘JG’ eh? The only initials I recognise in my address book are those of lexicographer jonathan Green who’s never ridden a bike in his life. But thanks anyway for the flattery and yes, I’d be happy to rediscover the bikes of yesteryear that fired me up, but getting someone to publish that sort of stuff is another matter altogether.

6. Frank Westworth - December 4, 2009

Not entirely true, of course, but I would certainly never argue with a man of Mark’s … years. Didn’t you once write a scoop Voskhod 175 test? I would pay to reprise that one, oh yes!

7. markswill - December 4, 2009

I’m putting pen to paper immediately, then…

8. colin higgins - December 18, 2009

Another early Bike reader here, hanging on your every phrase and lusting for that Kawasaki 500 triple (‘thanatoid’ IIRC) while riding my MZ 250 Trophy to the local tech. It lead to a string of similar East German strokers until I realised one day I didn’t love bikes anymore, or perhaps I was just bored with quarter litre single cylinder engines and recurring hypothermia.

I Goggled because I used you in a tortuous metaphor on a fogeyish angling message board, basically saying how some magazines create the spirit of the age, dragging the reader with them, rather than pandering to the popular taste for bite sized chunks of generic crap. Anyway, read Powerlines an anthology by Dexter Petley because my thoughts are in it.

The early seventies seem another planet, let alone country but glad to hear you’re alive, unlike old Setright, God rest his Latin.

9. Double One - January 18, 2010

Mark,

“Ripped on the freeway, booze broads and acid”. Colin was right, although planet could usefully have been replaced by galaxy.

“We were somewhere past….when the acid began to take…”

I can’t remember every word, but I do remember it fondly. I never met you but I saw your Jota underside cranked well-over at Chalk Farm tube, the left hander as you head North.

What happened to Bill Haylock, who cost Bike the Honda advertising for a year? The man who tested the Ural 650, whose name I forget?

I was a despatch rider in London from ’78 to 86-ish. Although I tell my children as we round HPC in the Merc that it didn’t count unless the inside footrest scraped all the way round, I was far more of a pussy than that in reality.

“One of the poets – which is it? Sings,
That the crown of a sorrow’s sorrow
Is remembering happier things” (LJKS I think)

Bless you for the things you wrote, and the writers you allowed to write freely.

I hope you are well, and content.

10. markswill - January 19, 2010

Flattery will get you… well a swift reply. Kind of you to offer those kind words and as for Bill Haylock, well spookily enough he now works for my sister in Childrens’ Services at Newcastle/Tyne Social Services.

Well? Yes(ish). Content? Nah, still to much to try and achieve but it gets harder as you get older. Oh dearie me.

11. Dapper Dave - March 19, 2010

Mark, I think I was an innocent 14 year-old when I spent all my pocket money on Bike No.3 and your writing was both hilarious and inspiring. I think you were very lucky to grow up in the late sixties/early seventies as far as motorcycle writing went, being in the right place at the right time. It was not just your own writing, of couse, but also your ability to attract other muttering rotters to the magazine. I used to also read Car magazine around the same time just for the quality of its writing, though they were powered by much more easy advertising money than the motorcycle press. I guess the big problem with being an infamous motorcycle journalist is that it is something of a dead end, when you try something else you are back at ground zero with little kudos for past efforts. Those still in the game are basically just churning out the same nonsense over and over again whilst the actual industry goes into self-destruct mode during the recession.

12. Paul Had A Thought - April 8, 2010

mark. p gordon here. chris sent me a “link”. not wishing to crack your glacial cool, but if you provide a site, i will upload a digitized likeness of donna posing in the mojave with her M3 which will grind your teeth enamel like 30-grit slurry. cheers.

13. John Young - April 17, 2010

Yet another Bike (and MCI) reader who bought a Montjuic after reading the spaghetti brains mag. I recently discovered that they only made about 240 of them – ever, and it shocked me.

Your words and magazine career had a profound impact on my formative years (oh no – fanboy moment) but outstanding as they are, I’m now sick of reading my old, well thumbed copies of ROOR and ROOR2.

So…. could you please do a deal with Classic Bike Magazine and provide them with some quality columns? It’s about time someone took a different view on the classic bike sector and you’re just the man to do it. I for one would buy CB just for that and I suspect that their circulation would benefit significantly.

14. markswill - April 22, 2010

I’m v. flattered and tempted to forward this to CB’s editor (who has thus far resolutely resisted my attempts to scribble for them…) but of course modesty forbids this.

15. Eddie Marrian - July 28, 2010

Hi Mark……Yet another rider and BIKE reader saying hi……I started on a KTM comet cross in 1973, and still have the first 4 issues of BIKE up in the attic!…..I still chortle to myself at things I read back then, that for some reason get set off by a sight/smell whatever….I recently saw a Velocette being put through the “starting drill” at a steam fair, and that road test you guys did, and better still the comments the next month “how you were allowed over the threshold of the maestro’s premises”……”you sir, are typical of this generation” etc. etc. from all the annoyed of Surbiton classic riders…all came flooding back after all that time as I listened to the VMCC badged, reflective jacket wearing rider explaining the “procedure” to a rapt audience ……..I felt like saying “a few soggy pumps with some plimsolls will have that going mate!”……..I am remembering more as I write this…..is there something wrong with me d’ya think!

You were our hero against the “establishment” mate, and I am glad you are still out there somewhere!

Best regards, Eddie

16. Jamie Buxton - April 11, 2011

FYI – hope you can intercept this before it’s posted so you keep your shameful hobbies a secret:

http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/1998-CITROEN-XM-EXCLUSIVE-TD-AUTO-SILVER-/150589534030?pt=Automobiles_UK&hash=item230fd5ef4e

markswill - April 11, 2011

More of a dirty little obsession rather than a straightforward ‘secret’ Jan, but thanks for the heads-up. Note sure if you’re the seller or not, but I’ve already launched off a few pertinent queries before I start throwing money down the inevitable drain.

17. John Flaherty - February 2, 2012

Hi Mark
Good to read your stuff again…was a BIKE reader from issue 1.
You and Setright…what writing and what larks on wheels.

Keep it up…

markswill - February 2, 2012

Thanks for the flattery, Mr, um, Flaherty. Will try and keep it up as long as I can.

18. Linda Stokes - February 7, 2012

Oh Goody 🙂 Just wanted you to know i read this..even if I don’t
always have a comment. I’m always a Fan.

19. RH - February 17, 2012

Strapping cabbage leaves to one’s head is not a good idea, as the sulphur lends to leak into the eyes and it really stings. On the upside, it’s yet another pain to discuss, and a comprehensive exchange of infirmities, their diagnosis, ongoing treatment and prognoses, is the staple of all conversation between those of us who have inexplicably survived to claim our reward for doing so.

20. neil harrison - December 10, 2012

Mr Williams i presume .
I’ve been reading your blogs for a while, and feel i should offer encouragement, rather than just absorb.
So i’ve subscribed to your blogs.
We do have a tenuous link. Dear Keith Morris (god bless) .
He gave me a signed copy of your book(let), “Running out of Road”, which i still have and thumb through.
I Still manage to cock a leg over my bike and try to relive my youth. Only i don’t seem to remember the hip pain and aching muscles that now seem to be a part of riding a bike.

Toodle Pip
, .

markswill - December 11, 2012

Re-living your youth is always a dangerous pursuit, Neil: watch out, or you’ll end up like me. And even with the caution of parenthesis, how dare you describe my mighty tome as a “booklet” ?!

21. oscar - August 30, 2013

where can I find a copy of running out of road?

markswill - November 3, 2013

Hello Oscar,
I’m afraid I only just noticed your request but if you get this reply and are still (weirdly?) interested in getting a copy of RR or RR2, then try the dreaded Amazon or slightly better still, fleaBay.

22. simon wall - November 3, 2013

As a huge fan of ROOR and the books that followed I was very sad to learn of your, shall we say, enforced holiday. I was so sad infact I left Blighty and sought solice between the thighs of an American girl. Many years later I Google you and here you are safe and sound. HOORAH !!!!!

Best wishes from the other side of the pond old chap, Toodle pip indeed.

markswill - November 3, 2013

Well Simon, the thighs of American girls having provided me with solace and more over the years, I am surprised that you ever returned to these shores. That you did and flatter me I shouldn’t really complain about, so thanks and welcome back.

23. simon wall - November 4, 2013

Well Mark truth be told, I now live in the USA, hold a Blue passport as well as a Red one and married the girl with the solacious thighs. Life has a funny way of working out. Really loving the blog so keep up the good work.

24. Roger B. - August 18, 2014

Mark, the link to your website on your About Me page goes somewhere dodgy. I found a window with the advice to click on ‘OK’ to gain some £500 voucher, with no other way out but shutting down my browser, which is what I did.

Graham Koster - September 20, 2014

From the murky depths come I too, mixing at times with the likes of Willis, Schiller, Ryder et set .. still mounted on trusty steeds and whistling along at neck-breaking speeds along lonely roads (Sussex Downs.. and ups) reflecting upon glorious days of yore and metaphysically marrying said times with now times by utilising osmotic processes of molecular transfer and Atomic Phasic Displacement!

‘Ooh, you are awful’ I hear your readership declare, as synapses strain to locate the Dick Emery Lobe with a ‘Hello Honkytonk’ rattling into the foreground and vague mental recollections of the sadly departed star’s Honda 750K1.. Our New Age of sparkly bolides is now captained by today’s so-called Celebs and motorcycling has escaped it not but reclothed itself to suit.

So, this odd-ball sits astride his bellowing beast, foregoes the excitement of participating in bike-meets, track-days and ride-outs.. preferring to take, naturally, The Road Less Travelled… hang on.. isn’t that where you came in, Mark?

markswill - December 30, 2014

Hi Graham and nice and very surprising to hear from you. Glad you’re still at it, too. FWIW I also am and for good (bad?) measure about to create a street-tracker/scrambler out of a crap old CB400N, Just don’t mention the words ‘project biuke’, for that way madness and failure lie. Quite right about the new generation of hyper-bykes: and who knows how/where to ride ’em anyway?

25. Treve - July 1, 2016

Thanks Mark, if you are still above ground for your great writing

26. Ken Ward - November 1, 2016

Hi Mark

Always been a fan of your writing. First got introduced to Bike mag by a motorcycle mad fellow squadie while “serving” in Germany in the early seventies. Even when you’d lost the reins of that august publication your “Running Out of Road” column was always essential reading.
Currently enjoying your contributions through CBG and was interested to find that you’re customising a 500 Ascot, something I’ve pondered doing myself. Is there anywhere we might get to see the result of your efforts? Maybe a possible article in CBG?
In the meantime, don’t run out of Road and keep it shiny-side up.

Cheers, Ken.

markswill - November 1, 2016

Well that’s very flattering Ken, but if you were still reading Bike, you’d see that there’s a whole page on my finally finished Ascot in the current issue!

27. John Leigh - December 4, 2016

Dear Mark

Forgive the familiarity. I’ve been reading your stuff for 40 years so “Mr Williams” seemed a bit formal. In those 40 I’ve ridden over 400,000 miles and read every copy of Bike magazine. I have enjoyed every word you’ve written, especially when I disagreed with you. You might find the following offensive. I hope not but I am compelled to write it.

I am stricken over the condition of Bike today. I knew the owd lass was sick when Ogri was replaced by a road safety cartoon. She’s almost dead now. My monthly hit has become turgid, safe and dull.

The strap line for Bike Magazine in your day was “all that’s fast, fun and furious on two wheels.” Perhaps it should now read “all the facts and figures for old farts with too many toys…”. Compare Dan Walsh’s epic journeys in South America with John Westlake’s jolly holiday in the USA and then tell me that Bike is going anywhere but downhill.

Bauer Media has throttled our favourite magazine into unconsciousness. Brain death is minutes away. One more BMW GS dissection and she’ll slip away peacefully.

Surely death can be avoided? She’s not yet 50, FFS!

Here’s my idea. You start crowdfunding via the loyal readership, raise the cash, buy back the mag, become CEO, hire some young – and old – maniacs to run it and put the edge back. Put me and my mate down for a grand each.

Results? The mag becomes relevant, hot, controversial, hip and rude. A new generation of Bike readers swings in behind the existing readership. Street lads on scooters, bearded sleeve-tattooed hipsters and gnarly old vets come together in a new wave of rock & risk.

You make a big wad. Your samsara wheel turns full circle as you become the Yoda of the UK bike scene. We get our mag back and get to call ourselves co-owners. In a true Nirvana attainment, Paul Sample would ride back into our lives too.

Did I write that out loud? Sorry. Still, better out than in.

Season’s greetings and all the very best, Mark

John Leigh
Altrincham
Cheshire (not Trafford, ever)


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