Wednesday, 8 December 2010
Towards a theory of Cycling; A Post Modern Discourse
"Ah" I thought to myself, "Based on the truth that our world is socially constructed, and because no-one appears to be watching, this wont hurt a bit".
A second or two later, I had discovered the limitations of that particular post modern discourse as I splattered face first into a road surface made even more unyielding by a three inch covering of ice.
Of coiurse, like all things, it began with interior decoration, and the observation that at least one scientific law was, despite having been de-constructed ad nauseum, immutable, that law being of course that for every action , there is an equal and opposite re-action. In this case, the carpet that had languished in our front Survivor-watching room, had been moved to the rear room. RHB, applying all action research skills at her disposal critiqued my reaction:
"Looks great" I said "Watcha think?"
THere was a pause. At this point, I should comment on pauses. Over a long, and, in the main bloodless, relationship, I have learnt - possibly through reflection, neural pruning or the actions of mirror neurons (take your pick) - that a pause can be as eloquent as any of the Psalms. Pauses (issued by my partner) can mean "Good idea but I dont agree" (ie 'You have the wrong idea '), they can mean "I am about to explode with fury" (ie "You've done something wrong") or they can mean "What happened to ..." (ie "Whatever you are about to do is wrong"). In the instance of this conversation, the pause was quite long (thats a good thing), did not involve pacing ( even better) and there were no flailing arm movements (phew!), and was simply followed by
"Hmmm... the whole kitchen's the wrong colour now. It doesnt match the carpet."
It was my turn to pause. ALthough not personally endangered physically, this was terrible news. Paint colour selection at Large Mansions is a lengthy process. Colour swatches that I simply cannot tell apart are presented at the breakfast table for my opinion, and I invariably pick the one that "only an idiot would pick". The epistemology behind the process - a joint decision taken by consenting adults - is reasoned and inclusive, but the execution is less so. I cannot see the difference between many paint colours and get bored rapidly. RHB not only sees the differences between paint colours but makes associations between colours that are close to eachother. I think in my case, this inability is the product of being raised in a 1970's wallpapered home, but whatever the reason the only redeeming feature of the process is that the paint store is right across town, a good forty minutes bike ride away.
Which is how I came to be approaching the railway lines near Chanterland Avenue Cemetary at a speed approximating that of a scared cat, bearing several lites of paint in my panniers. AFter sixteen previous trips for samples, the final colour had been decided. Despite the snow, unprecedented in this part of the world, I had been indoors all week, writing term papers and had seized the opportunity to get out on the Crosstowner and have a good old play. En route to the paint shop , I had seen no other cyclists, but had successfully navigated snow-covered side roads, a field and a couple of slippery major roads. THe return route took me over the railway lines.
THere are two ways of crossing icy railway lines in sub-zero temperatures on a bicycle equipped with 'slicks' (in my enthusiasm I had neglected to change the tyres and have been still riding on my summer tyres). The first approach(described retrospectively by a critical friend as 'the only') is to get off and push the bike across, calmly and sedately. The second approach(described by the same friend afterwards as 'sheer stupidity') is to be imagining that you are a resistance fighter in a post-apocalyptic world couriering a vital message, and that despite the travails of snow and ice, the message must get through at all costs, quickly. In the second scenario, the ONLY way of crossing the railway tracks is to accelerate, attempting bunny hops over the icier bits.
"Had a little spill" I am forced to announce as I return home. The limp from a badly bruised knee cannot be disguised. Nor can the dented tins of paint, bruising and minor chip to the bone of the right elbow and torn waterproofs. RHB pauses. I am temporarily alarmed. "Did you get the paint?" she asks. I nod. She grins "You had fun, didnt you?". I nod again, and we laugh. SOme things dont need an explanation.
Posted by MJN at 18:35