In a time long ago, when Jeremy McWilliams was only a great granddad, there was man and wife called Mary and Joseph Rossi. Mary was heavily pregnant with their fist child but claimed that she didn’t know how it all happened – a score that a disgruntled Mr Rossi was fully intended to settle with her at a later date.

Now Mary and Joseph had to head to Bethlehem as Joseph was up in court there for refusing to pay a parking fine that he was issued six months before. The trip to Bethlehem was long and very slow, their only means of transport was a knackered old donkey. “This ZX-RR sucks” exclaimed Mary “I don’t know how Pitt and that diminutive primate ever put up with it.”

“Quit y’whining woman” replied Joseph “It’s not strong enough to pull both of us so I’m having to bloody walk. Having said that I don’t reckon much to the pillion perch anyway. I knew we should have upgraded it to a Honda Cub when we had the chance”.

Despite their very slow progress eventually Mr and Mrs Rossi made it to Bethlehem in 18th and 19th place respectively, almost 6 days behind the leaders. It was getting late so Joseph, despite fancying a kebab, decided to look for lodgings for the night as Mary was giving him earache about being tired.

They tried the local ‘Travel Inn’. “Get stuffed.” said the owner “We’re packed to the rafters here – it’s Christmas.”

“But my wife’s heavily pregnant.” whimpishly replied Joseph.

“That’s not my fault.”

‘It’s not my fault either’ thought Joseph and decided to look elsewhere.

Eventually they found a ‘Bed and Breakfast’ that had a ‘No Vacancies’ sign in the window but optimistically thought they’d give it a go.

“Please, we’re desperate – have you got a spare room?” asked Joseph to the owner as he answered the door.

“Are you bloody blind? Read the sign matey.” replied the kind innkeeper. “You interrupted me watching the ‘Only fools and horses’ Christmas special to ask me that? I ought to punch your beard in for that. And you can tell your bird from me to do us all a favour and get on the Atkins.”

A slightly peeved Joseph returned to the street where he’d left Mary doing an oil change on the donkey.

“Are we in?” optimistically asked Mary.

“Are we hell” replied Joseph.

“Oh no. We’re doomed. What will we do? I can’t sleep on the freezing streets with all the filth, disease and lowlifes.”

“I’m keep telling you – Hayden’s improving. Anyway, what are you on about? We’ve only tried two places so far. I was planning on shopping around for the best price anyway. The more money we save the more money I can spend on ale tonight”.

“But the baby’s coming, I really think I’m ready to drop.”

“Yeah right. You always say that to get your own way don’t you? Remember that time you made me creosote the shed because you said you couldn’t do it as you thought you were getting contractions?”

“Well I thought I was.”

“You were only two weeks pregnant! It wasn’t until I consulted my ‘Junior Illustrated Medical Dictionary’ that I realised you were just being lazy.”

“Ha! Yeah, you’re such a gullible ignoramus at times!”

Begrudgingly the couple moved on to find the third and final location (as with all good stories, everything happens at the third attempt, it’s the industry standard).

“Christ, this place looks like a run down dump” said Mary eying up the exterior brickwork and poor quality mortar.

“Agreed” replied Joseph. “‘Hotel KR’? What kind of daft name is that?”

“Dunno Jo. But who cares? Let’s get inside as I’m freezing my…err…well I’m cold and I swear this baby is coming.”

“Oh stop whinging Max…err…I mean Mary”.

Joseph tried the bell but it was broken so resorted to banging on the door with a piece of rusty green metal that had fallen off the donkey en-route. A kind looking man answered the door. His grey hair was almost completely hidden by a baseball cap worn, Joseph thought this was in a poor attempt to try to recapture his youth. In the background Joseph could hear screaming and crying coming from within the house.

“How y’doing there partner?” asked the innkeeper.

“Uh? Oh…err…not bad. How’s your doings?” replied Joseph instantly, not adapting to the lingo like a Yorkshireman in Spain. “We need somewhere to stay for the night. We’re desperate as my wife’s heavily pregnant.”

“Well that’s not my fault.”

“We’ve had that gag.” whispered Joseph.

“God damn it! Beaten again.”

“So have you got anywhere? Anything at all? It doesn’t even have to be en-suite, although tea and coffee making facilities are a must. What time’s breakfast?”

“Sorry pops but we’re full up. What with all the kids and the McWilliams’ staying over too…that reminds me I must order a few more kegs for tonight.”

“But she’s really tired and I fancy a kebab.”

“Kebab eh? Just hang on a sec…” The innkeeper turned around and faced back into the house as the volume of screaming and crying seemed to be on the increase. “Junior!” He yelled “If you don’t let Kurtis play too I’ll tell Santa not to bring you that extra cylinder for Christmas! And it’s no good crying like usual either!”

He turned back to Joseph. “Sorry ’bout that. Anyway, we’ve a shed ’round the back that you could kip in. It’s rather damp and the asbestos roof is badly breaking up, but I think you’ll find it suits your needs. Also, there’s a great kebab shop over the road.”

“Oh thank you, thank you!! I can’t say how much I appreciate that. Cheers for letting us stay in the shed too.” With that Joseph nipped to the take-away and then escorted his pregnant wife into the shed.

That night, amidst of the rusting two-stroke parts and artificial hips Mary gave birth to a small lanky baby with odd coloured hair. (I know that’s kinda rushed but already the story’s dragging on). Joseph held ‘his’ newborn child and whispered “We shall call you Valentino and you will be the greatest motorcycle racer ever! And I mean proper motorcycling, not superbikes.”

And from that moment there was a heavenly glow from above the lowly bike shed that signalled to the world that the King of Kings had been born…although it was later put down to leaking radiation from the plutonium used to power the KR3 in a vane attempt to keep it up with the four-strokes.

****

Meanwhile out in the Bush just outside Bethlehem two shepherds and a monkey were setting up camp for the night.

“Strewth mate! What’s that dingbat McCoy up to now?” said a shepherd. “I wish he’d get down from that bloody coolibah tree. I knew we should never have planted it.”

“Get down this minute Gary! And help with the barbie or you’ll be getting a punch right up yer billabong”

“Damn straight Troy” said Pitt “Now turn on the old tele mate I wanna watch Neighbours.”

But before Troy even had a chance to switch the television on a brilliant bright light appeared from the heavens.

“What the in the name of all flaming swagmen is that?!” asked a startled Pitt.

“Must be some sort of waltzing matilda.” Replied Troy.

As the light came closer it began to take shape – it was an angel, sponsored by Repsol.

“G’day sports!” said the angel “I am the archangel Doohan winner of numerous 500cc titles and a far superior rider to Carl Fogarty, who, whilst I’m still thinking about it, is nothing more than a moaning piece of crap.”

“Oh right, good for you mate.” replied Pitt “Now do you mind leaving us so I can get back to Ramsey Street or else you’ll be getting a swift boot up the barbie!”

The Archangel Doohan was less than happy “Oi! You cant talk to me like that, I’m not some crappy superbike rider you know.”

“Hey he’s looking at you there Troy!” giggled Pitt.

“Rack off green boy or you’ll be beefing into your ZX-9 faster than you can say Shinya Nakano.”

“Now boys” continued the holy Repsol clad messenger “A king has been born in Bethlehem and I’d like you to go have a looksy, it’ll help fill the place out a bit. And take the monkey too as they’ll be plenty of other animals there to wind him up.”

“Fair dinkum mate. But where will find the little didgeridoo?” asked Troy

“He’s staying in KR B&B in a shed round the back using a Proton as his manger. But no waggin’ ‘cos I’m hoping we’ll have all this wrapped up in time for Christmas…so best leave the Kwaka where it is and get the bus.”

And with that he disappeared into cloud of un-atomised two-stroke smoke.

“Rip snorting!” exclaimed a jubilant Pitt. “If we set off now we can be there by tomorrow arvo. We’ll grab some tucker at a watering hole on the way.”

“But what about these damn sheep?” asked Troy

“To hell with them. They’ll be fine here on their own. Now pass me my beating stick as I need to get McCoy down.”

So the shepherds packed up their boomerangs and within minutes were swaggering towards Bethlehem.

*****

Elsewhere, many miles away there were three wise men called Sete, Max and Loris. Whilst trying to look through a neighbour’s bathroom window with his telescope Max spotted the strange glow.

“Ey up!” said Max “Is that Sputnik?”

“No!” replied Sete. “That’s a sign! A sign that a new king has been born. We must follow the glow and find the king.”

“Let me see, let me see” asked the pint sized Loris.

“Later” replied Max “And only if you eat all your vegetables.”

Max turned to Sete. “Follow the glow? That will cost us a fortune.”

“Narr” replied Sete “We’ll charge the state. That way we get to stay in posh hotels and we can claim back expenses. I reckon we’ll make a tidy amount.”
“Let’s go!”

The very next morning the three wise men set off on horseback following the mysterious glow in the sky. On the way they passed through Blackburn and decided to inform the current self-acclaimed king about their new discovery thinking he would know more of it.

“When you find this new king” he said “please come back and tell me where he is so that I can punch…err…praise him.”

“Will do!” replied the miniature Loris. “And actually while I’m here” continued Loris “I’ve always wanted to know why you never rode in GP’s?”

The king turned red and started to fume. “I NEVER GOT A REAL CHANCE!!” Bellowed the enraged King. “AND IF I WOULD HAVE HAD, I WOULD HAVE EASILY WON!!”

“Hell, let’s get out of here” suggested Sete. With that the astute trio legged it out of the Blackburn palace and continued on their way.

After many days of travel, and countless room-service calls, the wise men arrived in Bethlehem and set about seeking the out the new born king via the kebab shop. They found him lying in the lowly bike shed wrapped in carbon fibre.

“All hail the MotoGP savour!” roared Sete at he burst through the door.

“Oh great, you’ve woken the sprog now” said Mary angrily “How would you like it if I burst into your house and starting yelling and balling the odds? Who are you anyway? Coming in here with your daft sunglasses and cap on backwards. It’s not Glastonbury y’know.”

“We are wise men from the east, near Hull, and have come to worship the king” interrupted Max “And we bring you gifts!”

“Gift eh?” said Joseph as his eyes lit up.

“Yeah. Gold, frankincense and a kebab with extra chilli sauce.”

“Shhhhhhh!!!” whispered Sete to Max. “We said we’d keep that one for ourselves! Remember?”

“Oh yeah! Sorry, we bring you gold, frankincense and…err…myrrh…whatever the hell that might be.”

“Idiots.” replied Mary. “What a pile of rubbish. You might as well brought us a Petronas. Gold? And how do you suggest we get such a heavy lump of metal home? Our ZX-RR Donkey can hardly pull it’s own weight let alone the weight of a dirty great ugly lump of yellow metal. I’ve no idea what myrrh is and if you think I’m giving a scary monster to my baby then you’ve another thing coming. Wise men? Says who? David Beckham?”

There was an eerie silence as everyone digested the insults.

“Is she always like this?” whispered ‘wee-man’ Loris to Joseph.

“Pretty much so.” he replied. “I’ve learnt to switch off now, the perforated eardrum helps too.”

Despite his dented ego, Sete decided to continue. “Anyway” he began “we have travelled many miles to see your new born child. We would have got here faster if Max hadn’t have kept lagging behind.”

“No fair!” interrupted Max “My horse wasn’t up to the same spec as yours. I did the best on the equipment I had, despite it being so slow”.

“Get lost, I was as fast as the other two mules” said Melandri.

****

Within hours of the wise men arriving the shepherds (remember them?) too found their way to the holy shed and were instantly taken back by what they saw.

“What in the sweet name of marsupial chundwazza is that?” exclaimed Troy.

“I think my diggerybong’s just gone a wacka!” agreed Pitt.

Luckily team owner Kenny Roberts was in the shed, collecting the ever increasing rent, at the time. “That, my lads, is my Proton V5” he explained. “It’s just gone a tad rusty over the off season that all.”

“Strewth! It looks a few crocs have had a chew on it too!” said the still startled Pitt.

“Hey who’s the little kid in the corner?” inquired Troy.

“My name’s Loris and I’m not a kid”

“Crikers! Does your mum know you’re out this late?”

In the heat of the moment the startled shepherds had taken their eye off of McCoy who’d swung over to the new born Rossi and stated to drag him around the floor.

“Argh!!” exclaimed Mary “That filthy monkey’s trying to kill my baby!”

“Ah, he’s only playin’ with him.” reassured Troy “I think he just wants to be friends.”

“Anyway, who are you?”

“We’re a couple of shepherds. We heard from the mighty angel Doohan that a new king had been born. So we set the vid for ‘Home and Away’ and rushed straight down here.”

“We’d have got here a lot quicker too” added Pitt “if that blighter McCoy wouldn’t have caught rabies on the way!”

“Rabies?” inquired Mary as McCoy was playfully biting Valentino’s foot.

“Oh yeah! But don’t worry ma’am, we gave him loadsa beer and then let him sleep it off. We reckon he’s fine and dandy now.”

“Beer to monkey?”

“Best medicine available my dear mum would say. And she lived to 23, so she should know. Also it was great fun to watch him stagger around in drunken stoop wasn’t it Troy?”

“Hell yeah! The best bit was when he fell into the barbie! Man he was smoking for hours afterwards, we couldn’t stop laughing!”

Despite the excitement it had been a long day for all and everyone was feeling tired and already fed up with the daft Australian lingo. Soon everyone in the holy bike shed were fast asleep, although McCoy had to be coaxed into sleep with the trusty aid of Troy’s beating stick.

****

After the shepherds had turned up the bike shed was getting rather crowded, so the three wise men decided enough was enough and to head off home. They’d done their part and were looking forward to getting home and cashing in on their expense forms. Loris was particularly pleased with this as for the past couple of nights he’d been forced to sleep on a partly worn crankcase which was playing havoc with his kidneys.

The following night, as the three wise men lay fast asleep in their state-funded luxury hotel beds the Archangel Doohan visited them in their dreams. “Do not call in to see the King of Blackburn” warned the mulleted messenger. “He is not the real king and wants to bring harm to the new kid. And, while I’m here, he would have never have kicked my arse. No way.”

The next morning the intellectual trio discussed their dreams and were amazed that they’d all had exactly the same one (although Loris’ had fluffy bunnies and cartoon characters in his so as not to frighten the wee lad). After a few hours and several rounds of bacon later they decided that it must be a sign and that they should pass by the King’s palace, hoy a few bricks through his window for good luck and then peg it straight home. This secretly pleased Sete as the horrid turquoise colour of the palace décor made his eyes bleed last time.

Meanwhile, back in the bike shed, the Arch-Angel Doohan was earning his keep by visiting Joseph and Mary too. He warned that they were in great danger and that they must leave immediately as the evil king had ordered that the first born child of every family must be forced to take up cricket at least at an amateur level. Such devastating deviousness would stop any young rider from fulfilling his true destiny and cause a lot more smashed windows.
So the next morning they decided to leave Bethlehem as they’d milked Roberts enough and Joseph had run up a fairly hefty tab at the local kebab-house and was keen to leg it without coughing up.

Even at this early stage it was becoming clear that the young Valentino was gifted rider. The day before, riding a hedge trimmer he’d found in the shed he managed to beat Kenny Roberts on the Proton in a race around the makeshift track in his garden. But in fairness to Kenny, the hedge trimmer did have a distinct power advantage and handled far better.

So later that day Joseph, Mary and the sprog left Bethlehem as fast as the ZX-RR could take them, which obviously didn’t help matters. But despite the slow progress they all managed to avoid the evil king and the young Valentino kept his parents amused by practicing his after race winning celebrations all the way home. (Which was the only time in recorded history that any winning celebrations have been performed on the ZX-RR).

And the rest, as they say, is history.