Pity it was so cold but today and yesterday the sun was shining as brilliantly and as beautifully as it could at this time of year. Wednesday will be Groundhog Day which for me marks the first stage towards spring. Roll on, spring!
On a more prosaic note, I had a blowout this afternoon. I had set out on my bike, hoping to take full advantage of the sunny weather, and I hadn’t gone fore than 300 metres when I found the back wheel wasn’t rolling like it should. But seconds later, BANG! And within a further two seconds the back tyre was completely deflated. Well, I’ve had punctures in the past, more than I care to remember, but this is the first time I’ve had a tyre burst like a latex balloon. Well, all that did was set me back £4.99 for a new inner tube, an hour to replace the tyre and I was off again…
Wear a cycling helmet. That’s what many well-meaning folks tell me when they see me whizzing around bare-headed. Of course I’m wearing plenty of clothes at this time of year but a cycling helmet? No, not for me.
“But what happens if you fall off your bike?” Well, that has happened to me many times, more than I care to remember. The most serious incident was last November when I broke my collar bone. And I’ve had quite a few cuts and bruises on my legs and arms from spills and other mishaps.
But never once have I sustained an injury to my head in the two years I’ve been cycling, not even the merest scratch. You see? Even when I’m in the most dense and chaotic traffic I’ve had the misfortune to find myself in, my head is probably the safest part of my body.
So that’s why I regard the helmet as superfluous. If it kept the rain off as a motorbike helmet does I would buy one, but it doesn’t. It wouldn’t have been any use to me in that crash on November 13th – it was the shoulder and the collar bone that were damaged. There was no injury to my head whatsoever.
So that’s why I won’t wear a cycling helmet. Apart from anything else I’d look dumb.
I’ve no time for “Reality TV” and I’ve no time for beauty pageants. But I’ve plenty of time for children. Happy, playful and full of life, those are the three qualities I love most about children. They’re totally carefree and they don’t mind if they get wet or dirty.
Well, you won’t see kids like that on “Toddlers and Tiaras”, oh no! This is a Beauty Pageant! We’ll have none of that tomfoolery here! “Toddlers and Tiaras” is an American reality TV series from TLC that combines the glitter and glamour of the world of high fashion and formal attire with “Play School”. The results are absolutely horrendous!
In all the episodes we see little girls, some as young as three, and one aged only fourteen months, dressed up, pampered and groomed by their mothers (very seldom by their fathers), and sent out on a stage in front of a panel of judges. To get some idea of just how grotesque this whole business is, just Google Toddlers and Tiaras and look through the images. Nobody who likes and respects children as I do will find these girls cute. They’re babies dressed up and made to look like women several times their age. And the women who cosset these girls to such a degree, quite apart from being butt ugly, do it to satisfy their own egos. They have no regard whatsoever for their own children or what they’re doing to them.
And what those girls will be like as adults hardly bears thinking about. A dismal sight.
It was on this day in 1992 (23rd January) that I made my first excursion into Buckinghamshire. Or at least the first since the previous August when I took the Chiltern line out to Wendover and walked to Little Kimble. On this occasion I travelled on the Metropolitan line all the way out to Amersham and from there walked all the way out to Chesham. Actually it was quite an unremarkable day as I remember. The only real difference between this and any other day was I was in a county that I had only visited a few times before. And of course I didn’t have a bike.
Well, today I’m marking that anniversary. Like this day in 1992, it’s a dull, damp day. However, I’ve been able to do plenty of exploring on my bike. I arrived at Chesham at midday, took off up Drydell Lane to Pednor and Chartridge, passed St Leonards and ended up back here just before 2:00pm.
And I’m not going to miss out Amersham. I’m planning to catch the train from there to Marylebone.
For the past two months all the things I’ve enjoyed at the weekends have had to be put on hold. What with all the horrible winter weather and my broken collar bone this has been quite a dismal season for me.
But yesterday, right after mass, I took off on my bike towards Crew’s Hill via Stonebridge Lock, Ponders End and Enfield. There was just one fly in the ointment — high winds and the chill that comes with them. Consequently the journey home was an unending battle against the south wind. (Actually the wind wasn’t that strong. I could still move against it. The journey just took longer than usual.)
But at least I got to see some of my favourite sights that lie just within the M25, Theobalds Park, Whitewebbs Road, Turkey Street. They’re still the same as they were last time I saw them.
And while we’re on the subject of days getting longer, today the sun rose at 7:55am and set at 4:22pm. In contrast, in the depths of the winter solstice, the sun didn’t rise until 8:06am and went down at 3:54pm. And it will get brighter as the weeks pass. I’m sick of dark mornings.
Here’s a fine example of absent-mindedness: I had more than usual to do this morning, bath, shave, unblock kitchen sink, take out the trash before the binmen come and then after all that I could have breakfast. Then get ready for work.
But in my haste to get to work on time I forgot to bring my folder. I only realised that when I was halfway there. Now that’s like a schoolboy going to school without his schoolbag, and that’s something I never did in all my years at school between 1976 and 1990.
Well I had to go back for it and that made me later than I already was. Another minor talking point in an otherwise dull existence,
So how did 2011 begin for me? Was I down at the Drum, raising the roof with dozens of revellers? Was I in Trafalgar Square with thousands of yahoos, getting plastered?
No. At midnight, just as Big Ben was ringing in the new year, I had already gone to bed (although I did wake up around 12:35 to answer a New Year’s text from my mum).
I set out at 8:45am on a bike journey that would take me through Edmonton, Enfield and Potter’s Bar, eventually finishing at South Mymms. Well, near enough to South Mymms. I took shelter from the drizzle at the Welcome Inn, just off the A1(M) and the M25.
It was here that I had a good nosh followed by a sizeable muffin and two mugs of tea. It was a good way to pass what was by all accounts a dismal day. It seemed to be turning into a nice, sunny day at 10:00 as I passed Trent Park, but it clouded over again within an hour…
Oh, and I got to hear the New Year concert from Vienna. It’s the first New Year’s Day I’ve ever got up early enough to hear the whole concert from beginning to end.
All in all, a good start to 2011.