My Seventy First Week as a Budding Author
Through this blog I have managed to alienate a fair few people in the relatively short period of seventy one weeks. For starters there’s those who are looking for some unique and meaningful insights into the process of writing a book. Within four weeks they quickly realised that all they could ever expect was a sort of anti-manual. Basically a documented list of things not to do if you’re ever going to get a book to market. These people are not alone, I’ve had a go at motorists a few times, vented my spleen in the direction of facebook boasters (hypocrisy it’s what makes us human) and even taken the piss out of a little old lady on a mobility scooter.
There’s nearly one thousand words somewhere having a go at a bloke who dared to suggest that road cycling was a little bit crap and as for the woman on her mobile phone in B&Q car park, she took both barrels. This week the alienation continues, but it’s a really dangerous group that I’m about to have a go at. A group that could potentially wipe all traces of any meagre readership that this blog currently owns. In fact I think this group would be the key to starting the one truly effective British uprising. Deprive them of their things that-do-exactly-what-they-say-on-the-tin and our government would fall within weeks as militant wheelbarrow attackers laid siege to parliament square.
Yes, I’m talking about gardeners.
Now this rant is a really risky one indeed. Almost all of my relations garden. including my closest family. I grew up surrounded by small pots of horseshit with green things growing out of them that we were then made to eat. My Dad took bits of his planes home from work to use as propagators and we spent many a merry evening in front of Benny Hill peeling shallots for the pickled onion jars. I’m still not sure who ate them all? I even had gardening friends in my student days. Staunch anarchists who’d be “fucking the system” one minute and then watering things in the bathroom the next. These things were quickly buried after a visit by the CID one evening, which seemed a shame as they’d grown really well and the cats loved them.
Anyway, gardeners, bastards. Or more specifically, gardeners with those leaf blower things, bastards. Or narrowing it down even more to attempt some alienation damage limitation, gardeners with those blower thingies who blow stones onto the main road leading down into Kingswear, bastard.
I’ll explain. Last week I spoke of my deadline. So this week I made my way down to Devon to complete some outstanding photography. This was planned for Saturday, therefore on Friday afternoon I took the bike out for a trial run. Or a bit of a sneaky bike ride as it would be better described. I chose a route from Brixham then round Totnes, which included the ferry from Kingswear to Dartmoor. It’s a cracking little ride kicked off by a forty mph descent down to Kingswear on a well surfaced, quiet main road.
This is where the pillock with the blower was hanging out ready to ambush me. Five miles into the ride I sped past a set of white gateposts and heard that terrible cycling duet of both tyres flattening instantly followed by the thud of rims hitting the deck. Somehow I stayed upright, pulled to the side of the road and looked back up the hill. The gateposts area of road seemed to have a smattering of something upon it. I dragged the bike back up there as it was the safest place to sort the punctures and lo and behold here was the green fingered pillock.
This guy was nonchalantly using his blower to clear his drive of small stones, leaves, twigs and vagrants by blowing it all into the road. He’d done a bloody good job, his driveway was spotless, the road looked a shambles in comparison. I looked down at two flat tyres and back up at Al Quaeda’s Percy Thrower. He hardly even noticed me as he spotted a beetle ambling across his property that need to be forcefully removed using air.
I puffed out my chest and strode over to confront him. “Excuse me mate, I don’t think you should be doing that as I’ve just shredded my tyres on the stuff you’ve blown into the road”. I felt that was fairly polite and imagined that he’d give me a look of contrition and then offer me a lift home. Instead he shrugged his shoulders and wandered off back to his house. A large number of swear words bounced off his head as he made the journey home but they had no affect at all. He honestly could not give a shit leaving me to the woeful task of a double puncture repair.
Now. you’ll be surprised to know that I am fully prepared for such a situation and always carry a spare tube, puncture repair kit and two packs of “speedy” patches as back up. I started with the front wheel and removed the tube. A stone had cut right through it below the valve which had torn almost free. No point even considering a repair. The spare would go in the front. Next the back wheel, on removing the tube the news was very bad indeed. Two half inch long pinch cuts within a centimetre of each other. A very difficult repair.
I’ll spare you the pain. After an hour, all of my rubber patches, 3/4 of the speedy patches, a weird sort of dance where I shook the pump at the tube whilst rotating around it. I gave up. There was no way of fixing this tube as each inflation simply increased the tears and lost me patches. I sat next to the bike looking down the tosspot’s driveway where I spotted five green bags full of grass. In another life I would have emptied them all over his drive and then entered his house and throttled him with the ruined tubes. But a moment of calm convinced me to be the better man and walk home with my tube between my legs (I don’t have a tail).
Feeling very sorry for myself I started to push the bike up the hill. It’s a very big hill nearly a mile long and the sun was out for once. Then another cyclist came hurtling down. My hopes were raised that they would stop and give me a tube, instead he waved. I was confused for a moment and then realised that he thought I was knackered and had got off for a push. How humiliating, and to make matters worse I was in my club kit thus letting the side down.
Typing this I struggle to believe what I did. But it clearly shows that cycling has now not only taken over my life, it’s made its way into my DNA. I picked up the bike and carried it the rest of the way to the top of the hill. I did this to remove any illusion that I’d got off and walked. This was a clear message to anyone passing and waving. This bloke would ride if he could, but his bike’s shagged. So instead he’s going to burn a few more calories with a carry.
Five miles and a few hours later I was back at base. The legs felt decidedly odd as SPD-SL cleats make you walk funny and five miles of walking funny hurts a lot. I was also smarting after having to walk the gauntlet of Brixham’s finest hoodies who took a keen interest in my blue and orange lycra and could apparently see my willy. Which makes a change, I did say the sun was out.
Fortunately the tyres were intact and I was able to replace the tubes for Saturday’s photo shoot. This went surprisingly well and another chapter is in the photographic bag (I hope). I even managed to alienate someone whilst take piccies. On Dartmeet hill I set up the camera and rode up and down a few times to try and capture the steepness of the hill. The lady in the photo below was clearly not impressed, mainly because she was completely wasted after trying and failing in the first fifty metres of the hill. But what wound her up the most was the idiot sat by the camera tapping his fingers and hoping she would get a move on out of shot. I bet she’s a gardener as well.
Dave, August 12th 2012