The car passed very close, so I cycled at the edge of the road, then pulled into the edge forcing me to stop. “What did you shout at me?” demanded the angry driver. I told him, correctly, it had been “Don’t stop!” So there we were, and I was not going to back down.
He said it was a private road, and I should go by the footpath over the fields. I asked, politely, if he would not mind me going by the road through the farm buildings, and he refused. So I refused to go by the footpath. It is not clearly marked. He told me I would have to go back, and I refused.
He then grabbed my front wheel and started dragging me back along the road. That did wind me up. I said “Let go of my bicycle. This is criminal damage. Let go of my bicycle now.” He stopped, and we continued confronting each other. He called to his colleague to shut the big gate across the road. “That’ll stop you,” he said. “I am sure I could get my bike through the gaps in that, I said.
“Where have you come from?” I told the truth. “Is that where you live?” “Yes,” I lied. He threatened to call the police- please, please do; run my bike over with a tractor, or the car, or throw it in the ditch if I moved an inch forward- so as he retreated, I moved forward. He called me a whore, a mental patient and a benefit claimant. I have a day off work, I said. A man with a pressure washer cleaned one of the farm vehicles, and the same idea crossed his mind at the same time as mine. “Have you got a long hose?” he called out. He did not keep to this threat. “Are you a thief? You are on private land, so you must be a thief. What have you got in your saddle-bags?” But he did not try to open them, either.
-Why are you so angry?
-Are you a psychologist, or something?
He phoned his boss, and complained. “Do you want to talk to him?” he asked. No. “She is refusing to talk to you.” I asked if he wanted to talk to me. The man on the other end of the phone was abusive, calling me “mental”. Andy put out his hand and demanded his phone. “He’s asking for the phone back, are you finished?” I asked. “It’s my phone!” Andy expostulated.
He sat down on the gate, his back to me. His colleague brought him orange squash to drink. I replaced my chain, which had derailed in the scuffle, and watched men replace the wheels on a tractor.
After eighty minutes, the owner turned up, with a rather different accent.
-Are you feeling all right? he asked.
-Yes, thank you, I said politely.
I still claimed to live in G-A-, which is slightly posher than where I do live- everywhere is posher than where I live- and agreed I would not cycle through this way on my return. I won’t go that way again. So Mark told Andy to open the gate and let me through. Then, as I had missed the Story-telling- I would have missed it had I turned back and cycled the long way round- I turned round and cycled back the way I had come.
The thing which makes me feel some compunction is that he told me they had had “people with guns” in the fields, and the police from Kettledrum took three hours to come.
“Add Media” says the button, and Medea is so close…