I won’t say accept it, that would be silly – what difference would that make to anything (or anyone)?
Tolerate it, perhaps? No, it was a smidge more positive than that – but anyway.
A few days ago I opened the garage door and led out my plum-coloured steed to bask in the warmth of the sun. No, don’t call the RSPCA – it’s not a horse. It was just a silly metaphor – or do I mean analogy? Whatever – it’s a bike.
I was going to say, no-one would keep a horse in a garage. But I know someone who did. A chap called Fingers who – of course – had none on one hand.
He was a rag and bone man. Had a garage behind the Victorian house in which I took out my first mortgage. A flat in south east London.
An Irish man called Sammy mended washing machines in a sort of large, glazed shed at the bottom of our garden. He was almost always there, alone. Or chatting with Fingers.
After the Harrods bombing by the IRA (we were in the Science Museum at the time and were evacuated through the basement) I’ll be honest, I began to wonder about him …
But back to my sunny day.
It wasn’t just sunny, it was warm. The two don’t often coincide here.
And seeing sugar-plum bike standing there, all idle and shiny, I thought, why not? Let’s go for a spin.
Despite a yearning to feel the wind in my hair, I donned my helmet (with very bad grace) and pedalled off up the road.
There was hardly a whisper of wind to ruffle my hair. Which was squashed firmly beneath the health and safety head-wear.
A few minutes later I was going up the only ‘hill’ around. I made it to the top without resorting to dismounting and pushing. Proud of myself, I was. And not so breathless that I was distracted from the reward that greeted me as I reached the (let’s be honest, not very elevated) crest.
Tall, strawberry-blonde grass, rustling – ever so slightly – in the tiniest of breezes. Coltsfoot flowers, dotting the scene with points of yellow, like stars dot the Milky Way. Poppies playing the harlot round the edges.
And beyond it all, tantalising – the electric-blue of the sea.
Down the shallow slope lay a cluster of angular white buildings. They reminded me of an early aerodrome, in the days when to fly was to travel in style. If slowly.
Royal Birkdale. The golf club.
It was a scene out of Poirot, if you see what I mean. Sort of nineteen thirties and unspoilt.
Now. Fast forward to today.
I’m distracted as I drive (four wheels, no helmet) past on my way to the supermarket. Rehearsing the ingredients I need for tonight’s pasta. Determined not to forget the window cleaning stuff.
On the way back, window-cleaning fluid successfully purchased, driving at a sedate 30 in a 30 mph zone, I turn to relish the sunny sea.
But something’s changed.The grass is shorn. No cheery yellow coltsfoot or daring scarlet poppies.
And the aerodrome of my imagination? Eclipsed by a massive temporary structure in white. As if a vast crime scene has been discovered and a CSI squad has moved in.
It’s for the golf. The Women’s Open.
I guess they don’t want flowers.
At least the sea’s still blue.
Shame about the grass however this has reminded me that I need to mow our lawn which resembles a meadow right now. Actually that makes it sound grand, it is actually only about 20 feet square but I still find it a chore when the grass is 6″ deep and covered in flowering clover. The bees aren’t too impressed by the mowing either 🙂
I am not too fond of the cycle helmets myself however after insisting that my children wear them when cycling the rest of the family made me feel so guilty that I have reluctantly started to wear one too. It is very sweaty, itchy and irritating on a hot day when I just want to cycle along, like you, with the wind in my hair.
It incenses me when I see parents insisting their children wear helmets then don’t themselves – who is going to look after them if mum and dad crack their skulls open? As for the ‘lawn’ – yes, the less grass to mow the better, though it does look good when mown… But clover is nitrogen fixing isn’t it, so good for the soil thus A GOOD THING 🙂
I never wore a helmet in all the years of cycling I did as a kid all the way through to my twenties so it is one of those things that you think I’ve lasted thus far without one so why wear one now?
If you check out the various tests that are carried out on these helmets, especially the very cheap ones, they are actually only designed to prevent injury when simply falling off a near stationary bike directly on to the ground. I have seen tests done when a car is involved and the cheaper helmets don’t make that much difference at all at speed and sadly we couldn’t afford to spend £100 each on helmets so we opted for £30-50 ones. Thankfully my children, wife and I tend to cycle along very deserted back country lanes and off road tracks to minimise the risk of cars. The hemlets are also useful for our girls who have recently moved up to big mountain bikes and are still a little unstable when going over rough tracks.
Yes clover is good for the garden and for the bees but then our garden has plenty of wild foliage, veg and trees elsewhere for the wildlife and I do like to have at least the lawn looking vaguely respectable 🙂
I worked with a man who cycled to work every day up a dual carriageway – one day he came into work with his shirt torn and someone asked him why – he didn’t remember but later discovered he had come off his bike and hit a signpost head first… perhaps the helmet was just enough to prevent his death… Not being scaremongery or anything 😦
LOL, true and I do always wear mine when on the road now. I have however ‘forgotten’ it a few times when cycling around the farm tracks/fields by our house so I do still get the ‘wind in the hair’ experience every now and then 🙂
Don’t tell, but I ‘forget’ ,mine now and again too, m