I do learn, but it is often a very slow process. Every now and then I publish a Little Fiction, often dropping back in on characters that I love writing and every time that I do so I am surprised to learn that nobody else is in the slightest bit interested in any of them. I write an odd Guide to… and I am often quite overwhelmed by the sheer apathy that they engender. A couple of weeks ago I prattled on about my annual flu jab for a few hundred words and not only was it (by my own very modest standards) very well read, it was the welcome subject of much WordPress conversation. What I have to learn is that I am obviously at my most engaging when I have nothing to say. Thankfully, that is quite often.
So, today I am reviewing my life, peering deep into my insignificant soul in order to find something with which I can divert you for a few minutes. I have recently had my Autumn Covid Booster, I could tell you about that I suppose, but I’m not quite certain that the world is yet ready for ‘Flu Jab II’, even if the lady did drop my vaccination card into the Sharps Box. Oh how we laughed!
I am lucky enough not to have been made ill by it and so do not have to take the Paracetemol that the nurse recommended. I am happy about that: I think my liver is up against enough already.
Anyway, with Autumn on my mind, on getting home from the vaccination centre, I set about getting my bike ready for the winter e.g. chiselling the old batteries out of the bike lights before refixing them to the frame as close as possible to the light-clips that I broke getting them off. I cycle a bit, not in a Tour de France kind of a way, but more in the manner of Norman Clegg from Last of the Summer Wine. I do not ride a finely tuned racing machine. My proudest boast for my bike is that the wheels match (or at least they’re both round). The frame is probably best described as ‘robust’ in that it appears to have been made from old scaffold poles. It weighs more than my car. I have a lock for it, although God knows why. If I am honest, it is probably worth more than the bike.
I’m not terribly keen on all the peripheries that appear to come along with a pushbike: I have a helmet that I wear whenever my wife is looking and a set of lights that actually make my surroundings look darker. I have a bell, but its little ‘dinger’ is stuck. Not that I ever go far. The local Co-op is about as far as I ever dare trust the tyres – the inner tubes have had their integrity challenged more often than the government. They probably constitute the world’s greatest repository of Rubber Solution. I’m sure that, if I asked them, the W.I. could probably crochet me new inner tubes that were more airtight.
I’ve ridden much worse, of course. I come from a time and a place where bicycles were generally assembled from bits and bobs found in the bottom of hedgerows. It was rare to have wheels of the same size and saddles were most definitely optional. Mostly these construction were ‘fixed wheel’ and without brakes. If you wanted to stop, you had only three choices: a) slow the pedals – perfectly effective unless you were moving at speed or downhill in which case you’re most likely to break at least one of your legs, b) launch yourself at the first available friendly looking privet hedge or c) throw yourself at the ground and prepare to tell your mum that your trousers were shredded by the pixies.
The current bike, despite its wilful intransigence, is rather safer to straddle than those of my youth, and I am more than aware that any attempt to use a fixed wheel now would almost certainly lead several hours in a clapped-out ambulance before the fortuitous death of an impoverished pensioner allowed me access to a hospital bed.
As I said, I do learn…