Death knocked twice then climbed through the window. Its tongue began to wag like a snake dancing in the sea at night. A husky voice cracked into my mind and two words lodged in my ear...

The Spokesman

The Spokesman

Story by Dean Saffron

James MacDonald was a very enigmatic man who had taken it upon himself to collect a bicycle from each developmental epoch of the bicycle’s progression for future generations to enjoy. He lived in a creaky wooden house, which can best be described as a living museum for bicycles.

I was introduced to James about a year ago at a “show and shine” event, put on by Brisbane bike enthusiast collective Pushies Galore, that brought together bicycles and enthusiasts from around Australia. I immensely enjoyed shooting stills of James and arranged to return later to shoot a short film to convey his indisputable passion.

The film was shot over a couple of hours predominantly at James’s house. When my trusty assistant and I arrived, James had forgotten that we were coming and was adamant for us to return another time. We had driven ninety minutes and didn’t know when we could return so we gratefully accepted a cuppa. James’s hospitality alleviated potential reluctance to interview and he took immense satisfaction from carefully brewing his favourite tea. Fortunately, I too am a tea lover who appreciates a full-bodied Russian Caravan and this was the currency for progressing the cup of tea into shooting some film.

He had a measured manner and carefully constructed his narrative often taking minutes to ponder the next message he wished to convey. It was overwhelming walking inside the treasure trove of his house, seeing bicycles floor to ceiling, with only the narrowest of margins allowing for walk-ways. I can’t think of anything better than being immersed in someone else’s world. I became captivated by his narration while sipping tea and consuming homemade pumpkin pie.

James passed away February 4th 2014 but his son Jack is keen to continue his father’s legacy and continue the preservation of the bicycle’s evolution. Select pieces are on display at the Cobb and Co. Museum in Toowoomba and Jack remains the custodian of the collection.

 

See more of Dean’s work here.