If there's anyone reading who's actually interested in listening to anything other than the carping from those who think that arse wiping is the height of humour, here's my experience:
I'd always wanted a bike since I was a teenager, but didn't have the money then. About 5 years ago I suddenly thought "I've got the money, I've got the time and I don't want to be sitting here in 10 years thinking 'why didn't I do it?'" so I took my Direct Access.
So then I had a bike and was having fun, however realised after a couple of years or so that I could certainly ride better, but I didn't know how.
I could, of course, have just gone on what I was doing learning by trial and error (and hoping that one of those errors wouldn't be terminal!) but instead I looked around the web and found the Solent Advanced Motorcyclists.
I went to one of their SAM Sunday events (where they do free Assessed Rides on the first Sunday of each month between March and November) got a ride (with the Chief Observer no less!) and at the end of it came away with some very useful advice and a much better appreciation of what I and the bike were capable of.
So I joined, did my Observed Rides, passed my Advanced Test and, without buying a pipe or slippers or even a BMW, I'm having a *LOT* more fun riding *and* doing it more safely than I was too.
But, even now, I know that there's more to learn having done Slow Riding Courses, given Motorcycle Gymkhana events a try and been out on Level 3 rides with some extremely good riders.
So you can either follow the "advice" of the soi-disant Riding Gods on here and think you know it all and have nothing to learn from anyone or turn down the ego a bit and get some Advanced Training and, who knows, you may actually learn something you didn't know before.