Hooray for consumerism! What do you do when you have any problem at all? You buy stuff. Everyone would like to be fitter, and even if you think you will go walking you buy new shoes, probably a new jacket, perhaps Nordic Walking poles. How many of those beautiful bicycles in Halfords will do a hundred miles before they lie cobwebbed in the back of a shed, tyres deflating?
I got my Falcon in 1986 for £40 from a fellow law student who had not used it. I used it for holidays, and after my finals I took the train to Inverness then cycled to John O’Groats, Durness, Ullapool and back to Inverness, my mind happily blank after the hard work. I sunburned my forehead and the backs of my hands, painfully. I walked along the beach at Durness at 11pm in bright twilight, with new friends and a joyous dog. When I smashed my car up the bicycle became my main form of transport. I did not adjust the front brake properly, so that it rubbed through the tyre wall. My rear brake was worn down. The chain was losing runners and the gears worn out.
Why bother chaining it up? asked John. Thieves would be doing you a favour. I told him it had a chrome-molybdenum steel frame, state of the art before modern carbon.
The cycle shop man told me it had non-standard wheel sizes, 8mm larger, and a non-standard gear cassette- made in the 80s in Japan, you can get one on Ebay from the US for $90 plus $20 shipping. It could not be repaired economically.
Friday morning I lay in bed, hopeless. If I go to that interview I will not get a job. If I go on that date I will not find love. My ways of being in the World do me no good, and I cannot trust myself to look after myself well enough to survive. I have the choice of just not going- no hope- or going, for illusory hope and disappointment. There is no point walking down the street to the butcher. I had to email out the minutes of AM, and added, my bicycle is a write-off. Has anyone a bicycle in reasonable order they do not need? I have had five offers, and one Friend has delivered her bicycle to me. It is beautiful. There has been such an improvement in gears since the 80s.
Another Friend sent me this Quentin Blake picture, saying “This is the best I can do”.
And another was driving past a community project which reconditions and sells bicycles for around £50. She had not seen it before, and thought of me, texting a photograph. A mild synchronicity.