commuting with the devil #work #travel #nightmares

In the last few days, my son has acquired a Brompton, which for the uninitiated is a fold up bike so he can commute to work. He’s dead chuffed, mostly because he sourced it at a discount (his mother’s genes).

I’m rather pleased as well, since for 30 of my 35 years working in the City I commuted by bike. I loved the freedom it allowed me from the tyranny of the train timetable. I felt healthy, even if I ingested a sack load of particulates following buses as they ground their way towards the Elephant & Castle. I knew how long my journey would take me since bikes have a way of inveigling themselves to the front of any traffic queue (it’s not the cyclist, you understand).

But I did have a few… Hmm, countless disasters.

The white van who mistook me for a bollard and pulled out in front of me. The bike was totalled and I surpassed my personal best in the airborne (hard landing) category of man powered flying.

The DHL delivery van driver who 24 hours after I replaced the totalled bike above opened his door to create an informal slalom and rendered my brand new machine a piece of performance art (as well as reducing my suit trousers to something out of the Walking Dead wardrobe).

The flash flood that filled the dip under a railway bridge on the way home and into which I ploughed mistaking the likely depth. As I surfaced, spluttering and initially grateful of the cushioned landing the water gave me I was somewhat perturbed to see a buoyant turd float past.

The pedestrian who surprised me by stepping off the pavement in front of me. My initial delight in the efficacy of my brakes and the speed of my application was tempered by the despair as my back wheel caught up belatedly with the rest of us and tipped me slowly and if I say so myself rather delicately onto the road in front of said pedestrian. As I looked up, expecting contrition or at least concern, I was greeted by a moue of distaste and a rather unnecessary ‘plonker’ as the unscathed drongoid went about his day.

The unexpected dump of snow that cleared the road of traffic and allowed me the delight of uninterrupted roads on my way home. I learnt long ago that if you cycle reasonably quickly and make wide turns, cycling on packed snow is both possible and a pleasure. I relearned equally fast that stopping is something of a lottery as I ploughed into a roundabout and had to dig me and my machine out of a municipal display of daffodils.

The formula one start line that are the traffic lights at the gyratory system at Elephant & Castle. Some are terrified by the snarling lines of cars and vans, buses and taxis that jostle here, waiting for the lights to change as a precursor to unleashing the dogs of war. I was inured to such worries. I would wend my way to the front and set off before the lights went amber when I saw the corresponding lights turn to red. Ahead of the pack and in my little lane I felt pretty secure and smug. That is until the day my chain slipped as I pressed the accelerator, aka the pedals and wrapped my goolies around the handlebar. While I subsided to the pavement, trying to take the positives out of my self inflicted castration – no expensive vasectomy, then – the multitude of motorised morons peeped and tooted their support for a fellow commuter.

I wish none of these for my lad. I’m sure he’ll have enough of his own to recount. Looking back I just grateful I can still walk though my soprano singing is nothing short of appalling…

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published several books: a four book series following Harry Spittle as he grows from hapless student to hapless partner in a London law firm; four others in different genres; a book of poetry; four anthologies of short fiction; and a memoir of my mother. I have several more in the pipeline. I have been blogging regularly since 2014, on topic as diverse as: poetry based on famous poems; memories from my life; my garden; my dog; a whole variety of short fiction; my attempts at baking and food; travel and the consequent disasters; theatre, film and book reviews; and the occasional thought piece. Mostly it is whatever takes my fancy. I avoid politics, mostly, and religion, always. I don't mean to upset anyone but if I do, well, sorry and I suggest you go elsewhere. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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29 Responses to commuting with the devil #work #travel #nightmares

  1. Ritu says:

    How manage to collate such a smorgasbord of memories? Brilliant! I’m glad you’re here to keep telling us the tales!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. trifflepudling says:

    Laughed aloud at the shredded suit trousers! Sue and Simon are Brompton experts and inveterate cyclists who have done cycling hols in many countries. I think they belonged to the Singapore Foldies when they lived there.
    I have managed two man-powered flights, both without the aid of a bike. I found that tuck and roll seemed to be instinctive – I’d never heard of such a way of landing til I did it!
    Happy cycling to your lad.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. George says:

    I feel guilty for guffawing out loud, but if it’s any consolation:

    1) it’s down to your masterful storytelling


    2) The vision of the buoyant turd floating by has put me off my tea.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. noelleg44 says:

    I can empathize with the shredded suit pants – I’ve enjoyed the same myself. Biking in the US is like taking a ride to outer space – you KNOW you probably won’t return. I did laugh all the way through this – sorry to chuckle at your pain!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. What a marvelous machine, that Brompton. And I also confess to chuckling out loud while reading, not at your mishaps and pain (never!) but at your delightful delivery. Well done!
    (The description of Elephant & Castle traffic alone is a gem, never mind what you were setting us up for – bravo!)

    Liked by 1 person

  6. willowdot21 says:

    Good grief Geoff after your cycling days at college I would of thought common sense would of kept you off the bike!! ….you are a walking miricale !

    Liked by 1 person

  7. JT Twissel says:

    Oh my. Yes, I hope your boy is luckier than you were!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Mary Smith says:

    Excellent. I have a friend who blogs about the 101 uses of a Brompton!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Did chuckle. Been there as well. It’s not a good look.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Chel Owens says:

    Haven’t tried this, but your words are worth a thousand pictures.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. petespringerauthor says:

    One of the growing trends in America is motorized bicycles. That seems to defeat the purpose of a bicycle to me.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. This surely has to be your ghost writing this

    Liked by 1 person

  13. KL Caley says:

    🤣 My husband is a keen cyclist but now mostly sticks to mountain biking at the weekends, far less dangerous 🙈. Great post. KL ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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