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Saturday, 16 February 2013

Urban Riding With Flannuering

It feels like an eighteen pound weight is pressing down on my forehead - not suddenly, but with an inexorable pressure. The reason it feels as if  an eighteen pound weight is pressing down on my forehead is because an eighteen pound weight actually is pressing down on my forehead. Said weight is also furry and pinkish ginger. It is five am and once again I am in a desperate race to wake up before aforementioned eighteen pound weight abandons its policy of gentle pressure, and with an accompanying loud "Miaow" commences to claw at the tip of my nose. When the unimaginably sharp tip of this particular cats's scimitar claw - for by now you should have realized the eighteen pound item  in question is a cat - hooks under the leading edge of one's nostrils and flicks ever so gently, it can cut like a razor. Strangely enough, it does not hurt at the time, but days later, you may have occasion to sneeze violently. When you do so, the lining of the nostrils come under some pressure and when a healing cat-inflicted paper-cut re-tears as a result of the odd sniffle, the pain is indescribable.

[NOTA BENE: I feel it is incumbent on me to point out that at this stage, I am not now going to go on and describe the pain which I have just categorised as "indescribable". It is necessary to mention this because I read so much bad science fiction where the writer says something like "The pain was undescribable. It was as if .... etc etc". Frankly I am thinking of launching a campaign to stamp out this sort of stuff].

All of which explains why I respond to the animal, desperately,  and quickly,  at five am every morning. Difficult as this may be for non-cat owners to believe, getting up at this unGodly hour is the best course of action available to me, and arguably, to all of humanity.  This  is because there is  nothing that will stop him (the cat) in his morning rituals. I cannot even physically confine him, because he can open most doors, so he simply paws at door handles of closed rooms until the door opens. If he (the cat) cannot open the door, he miaows loudly and repeatedly and claws at the door.  Once, I him (the cat)  an a cage overnight (for other reasons) and he (the cat) overturned the cage (it)  by sheer brute force (the noise of which woke both self and RHB).

[Another Nota Bene: you may notice that in the proceeding paragraph I have adopted the particularly  annoying stylistic affectation, to wit:    " he(the cat) " . Imagine marking fifteen five thousand word essays where practically all of one's students have spontaneously decided that this grammatical device is the correct way to write academically.].

I have to confess, I also have some sympathy with Tosh (the cat in question) as  his mission is simply to get outside. So every morning at five, after I feel the soft pressure of eighteen pounds on my forehead, and unwilling to risk a nose scratch, I arise and let him  (he ) out the rear door (I will ignore any comments about cat flaps - inconceivable because of heat-loss/security). He (him)  always gives a little "miaow"of victory as he (Tosh)* escapes, which I am convinced is - in his mind - the roar of the mighty lion as it exits its lair (Tosh doesnt read sci-fi but does read a lot of Sword and Sandals stuff about lions).  As winter has drawn on, an envy of Tosh has grown. He may be a cat with delusions of lionhood, but in that there is about a square acre behind the house of interconnected gardens and fields before you get to the next road,  he does get out into the equivalent of wilderness every morning. He gets away from the clutter and comfort of home and enters the wild spaces where there are foxes and squirrels, birds and beasts, dragons and snakes, relying on only his wits and (probably more useful to him as his wits are so small that if he had to rely on them, he would be in very serious trouble most of the time) the annoying "whine" he utters when he is threatened. This "whine" is supposed to be intimidating, and accompanies an arched back and fully bushed up tail, but in truth it is so irritating that I expect that when he does encounter another animal that he considers threatening (and he is so stupid that this has included hedgehogs, frogs and lawn mowers in the past) and therefore deems it appropriate to start whining, the threat rapidly retreats, irritated beyond sanity. None the less, the cat is enjoying himself in the great outdoors and the principle that  nature, red in tooth and claw is an experience that is good for the soul, holds also for humans.  According last weekend, we headed out, striking boldly for the coast, Crosstowner and Trek united on a mission to convey their riders (self and RHB)  to a location where we could all see some semi-rural industrial farmland.

 Above shows a section of track shortly after we set off. The picture below shows the same section of track two hours later, and not on the return journey. In fact it is only when I went to upload these shots that I realised it was the same bit of highway  and that we must have ridden  it at least twice when we thought we were going somewhere else. .
In truth we did not make it out of the city. This does not mean that we did not ride for a relatively long time. It was on a cycle path that had looped recursively so that after two hours of riding we were closer to our own house (about 400 yards) than we were to our destination (about sixteen miles minus 400 yds) that RHB observed that I might have considered purchasing a map. I agreed, shamefaced at not being able to find my way out of such a tiny city and we went home for a nice cup of tea. However, later that evening in the pub, chatting to an acquaintance who had observed us - on our ride-  pass his house (several times), I could not face admitting that we had gotten lost in a perfectly flat signposted environment and instead claimed that we were part of a new 'urban riding' movement that had incorporated 'flanneuring' into its activities. Ashamed as I am of this deciet, I would also say that I would not be surprised if "urban cycling with flanneuring' becomes a 'trend' in social media.

*I added a few more examples in this paragraph just in case you didnt beleive how irritating it (doing that) is. 

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