~ => Freewheeling => Topic started by: sam on September 25, 2019

Title: Cycling Life
Post by: sam on September 25, 2019
I'm on a bike most days. I use it to exercise, to help me think, and to be out in the world; less often, to go places. For example, yesterday I went here

chain's a bit slack

but that was hardly my destination. It was just a convenient place to fix a puncture.

About a hundred yards before, I had heard, over Joe Walsh ( singing in my ears, a sound like water spraying from a hose at high pressure onto foliage. This seemed odd for as long as it took me to realise that the recently rained upon and micro-debris-strewn lane had claimed a victim.

actually flat (

Well, you know how it is. Puncture repair has never been one of life’s joys. However it was a nice enough afternoon, and I had managed to get the flat at an ideal location, with space to work and a handy rack to hang the bike on. Plus I'd be getting a post out of it. What was there to complain about?

those gloves could be less pink

It all went quickly enough, and could have gone quicker if I hadn’t stopped to take pictures. When I got home and got my hands on a floor pump to top that sucker up, the attached gauge informed me that I had only managed to inflate it to 60psi on the road, which is half of normal. I don't have an Adonis Complex, ( but have to wonder ( if that upper body strength needs work, bro.

They say it’s a bad workman who blames his tools, so I won’t fault the Lezyne. Most of these things are awkward to use. Perhaps I should’ve gotten the model with the fold-out foot peg, which allows one to anchor the pump against the entire earth.

the badger is for scale
Title: Re: Cycling Life
Post by: shadow on September 25, 2019
PINK gloves?!?!?!?

Love them!

p.s.  Achieving 60 psi is respectable in my opinion - enough to get you home without further distress.  A higher level might be achieved but your lungs may not appreciate the workout - that's what hills are for.
Title: Re: Cycling Life
Post by: sam on September 26, 2019
I feel I could've done better under laboratory conditions.

From the Rapha Mechanics Collection: (

and check out the woman with the big wrench:


If that doesn’t make Archimedes ( happy, I don’t know what will.
Title: Field trip
Post by: sam on September 28, 2019
If the clothes make the man, I probably wouldn't be mistaken for a cyclist. Neither shirt (often overlaid with fleece) nor shorts ( are what you'd call regulation. You'd have to look at my hands or hooves for a clue, because I do opt for cycling mitts, and these, traditionally stocked at the LBS:


I started wearing them years ago, delighted to find hosiery not given to falling down on the job. They are now my permanent default socks. Shame the quality has gone downhill – they bobble like so much these days – but that is the way of all things.

Socks are the gift for the man in your life when you don't know what else to get him. I buy my own, partly because I'm very particular about what I wear ( due to perhaps persnickety issues with seams & such, and because a) I'm not a father and b) I'm married to someone who lets me get on with stocking my own stockings.

"You're looking decidedly old school, old chap. ("

I'm grateful to the Ovis aries that make them possible,

Revenge, ( when it comes, will be sweet  [credit] (

though haven't thanked any personally despite living with them literally on our doorstep. (

You don't have to live out in the country for a close encounter. Every year a flock gets a field trip to the City of London, there to be mobbed if not precisely worshipped. ( I caught the show back in 2009, when Gordon Brown was PM and the base interest rate was a heady 1.5%.

Because they don't always look both ways

Sheep have right of way over pretty much everyone

The tailors of Savile Row laid out the green carpet

Something is happening here and you don't know what it is, do you, Mr Jones

No means no

There's always one more (

next on Cycling Life

So that's where dosimeters ( come from
Title: Fishing for bicycles
Post by: sam on September 29, 2019

Virginia Woolf hasn’t featured in my reading, but she does make an appearance in my music library via Jimmy Somerville’s Coming, ( from the soundtrack to Orlando. “The longest and most charming love-letter ( in literature” was set at Knole house, in Sevenoaks. My wife and I paid a visit.


They don't allow photography inside, so this concludes the exhibition.


Stretching out for a nap on the billiards table – now that would've made National Trust history


Has enough rooms to make the typical British floorplan seem like a rounding error


Later, thinking to find a picture of a fish Woolf riding a bike, all I could locate was

"not even her disguise as a bicycle could deceive us" (

which wouldn’t look too far out of place in the Today in history ( collection. My search did yield a nice Guardian ( piece, complete with empowering vignette from the life of Simone de Beauvoir, who wasn't afraid of nuthin':

Forbidden to ride as a child (her mother equated it with other “sensual” pleasures), De Beauvoir learned in occupied Paris using the bike of her lover, Nathalie Sorokine: “I really handled it with ease, except one time I crashed into a dog and another time I collided with two women, and I was very happy.” Her mother might not have been wrong: De Beauvoir’s letters to Jean-Paul Sartre are full of the joys of bicycling, which she said made her like a “lusty wench”.

Vita Sackville-Wench
Title: When the world was flat
Post by: sam on October 10, 2019

My pride and joy parked in front of the family ranch, ( small town Ohio, circa MCMLXXX. This was a time and a place when bicycle may as well have been spelled Schwinn (though the unionized shop that made them was affiliated with the United Auto Workers). Those folding baskets were briefly the bees knees, and usually held tightly rolled newspapers to be thrown at soon-to-be-dented aluminum (4 syllables are all you really need) doors. That big chrome headlamp was also a selling point. Three speeds, all of them sedate. It weighed a significant percentage of my own bodyweight, but it wouldn’t have occurred to anybody to put a bike on a scale.

The house in the background belonged to a man whose wife later left him for a Mr True, who owned a bike shop. Guess who Mrs True ended up with.
Title: Her eyes
Post by: sam on October 11, 2019
A blind young American woman bought a microwave and needed help figuring out the buttons, so she used the Be My eyes ( app. A number of potential volunteers were immediately notified. My wife ( was the first to respond, so she got the opportunity to talk the woman through this very mundane task, which took 5 or 6 minutes. She said it made her day (coincidentally, the day after we decommissioned our own microwave – sometimes you’ve got to think the world is bugged) to finally get a call; her first since signing up last November, not counting a missed chance about 3 months ago when she picked up her phone too late. There are far more volunteers than blind/low-vision people registered, so it’s a bit of a lottery, but the good kind, where everybody wins.

I think we could use some help with all those SMIDSYs out there.

Title: Rabbit, eat
Post by: sam on October 12, 2019
Thanks to a potentially sick rabbit, I missed my opportunity to go to Shoreham ( last night in the company of what I’m going to assume turned out to be very soggy cyclists. This was after seeing the lurgy (mostly) off, so it was a ride that just did not want to be ridden, by me at least.

The beastie in question

Helping clean – note the Brexit stash in the background

has been acting odd the last few days, which puts alert rabbit owners on high alert, their charges being creatures of habit. You get quite attuned to their behavior when they live in the house. Among other symptoms, his appetite hasn’t been normal [normal = almost always hungry]: this sets klaxons blaring. It came to a head shortly before I was to catch the train to London.

Bags inside of bags packed

Offered his usual dinner,

Nature green in tooth and paw (

he expressed no interest. Our little bundle of energy was listless as a teenager on a rainy Sunday afternoon suffering a power cut.

If you know how fast rabbits can go downhill, you’ll know it doesn't take long to feel like you're sitting in the ICU. After a very anxious period, he bounced back. We're not sure all is definitely well – rabbits can turn the corner from ill to fine and back again in the blink of an eye, and they have the world's best poker face – but we're much more optimistic about the state of his health today. Current opinion is he’s been having intermittent difficulty processing the fur that he naturally laps up while grooming and which we've apparently not been doing a good enough job brushing away. Unlike cats, bunnies can't regurgitate hairballs: it's all got to find a way through that hardy if problematical digestive tract. Which is probably enough about hairballs.

Chompsky is currently behind the couch. I'm off for a ride soon, into the rain, as penance.
Title: Punctures 101
Post by: sam on October 16, 2019
Years ago on a group ride, one of my first, I had a flat. This was back when such repairs were a major enterprise for me. The worst part wasn’t fixing it: the worst part was being in that spotlight.

Everybody’s sympathetic, depending on how many other mechanicals have preceded yours; a fumble may be enough to tip them into silently testy impatience. (Or so one imagines… or not.) Now, if you’re on a FNRttC, you will practically be knocked over by people who will want to do the job for you. I don’t rightly recall if that was the case back then, or even if this was a Friday nighter - just that it was a group ride. I only remember that it was my puncture, and therefore, I felt it was my responsibility to do the deed.

Fortunately we were already stopped, so I wasn’t the cause of the loss of momentum. Still, we weren’t going anywhere until this got sorted. I got down to work.

My first mistake was not pumping a bit of air ( into the new tube to shape it. My second was not taking the advice of a quantum mechanic (people seldom talk about their work, but he could've been) that it would be wise to do so. For some reason, I simply refused. I can’t explain why. My best guess is that the act of observing disturbed the observed ( so much that his [my] brain simply froze and refused further input.

This in turn clearly disturbed the observer, to the point his hands were practically twitching to grab the tube from me to relieve their frustration. There was a kind of causal loop going. In the end I was forced to collect my things and seek privacy, doubtless leaving a baffled silence in my wake.


Punctures. To quote Adam ( the snakebitten tube wrangler: They do get easier.
Title: The joy of captioning
Post by: sam on October 20, 2019
A picture is worth as many words as it takes to complete the picture (
Title: Crash
Post by: sam on October 23, 2019
Yesterday on my ride:


I don’t know the story behind it,


but I know what it’s like to be inside one of these crumpled metal boxes before the leaves have a chance to settle.

Back in my New Jersey life, ( I was rudely introduced to the windscreen of the Toyota Tercel pictured here ( in a lineup. Never wrote about it, though I did manage to get a story out of my previous encounter as a crash test dummy, ( pedestrian division, where I never saw the automobile in question.

Fast forward to Collateral Damage, ( which broke me in as a first responder. That was in the middle of a bike ride, too.

A few years later ( I found myself fishing the phone out of another wrecked car, so a woman with her tibia sticking out of her leg could call her boss to tell her she wasn’t going to be in that day.

I keep meaning to take a first aid course.

( (

My wife has lately started volunteering for speedwatch ( in the village. That's right, she's become a do-gooder! ( While I still think inattentiveness and leaving enough distance between you and the guy in front are equally if not more to blame for accidents than excessive speed, I can now see firsthand how she is effecting good in the community, which is a beautiful spot mostly ruined, like so many others, by that bloody motor vehicle that most of us need so much but a significant minority don't know how to drive properly.

It’s even come with homework: she tasked herself with commiting her Alpha Bravo Charlies to memory. I quizzed her and she got 26/26, which is about 20 better than I could probably manage. I'm forever reaching for a suitable word on phone conversations to people who need to know my postcode, and pulling all kinds of weirdness out of the air. Triangle Noodle, anyone?

Just because she’s a member of the force, I don’t expect any favours. It is in fact her sworn duty not to let me off the hook if I go over the limit. That's not going to happen anyway, as she has the car.

Yesterday she put 8 notches on her safety vest, so that's 8 letters going out to people who will either be suitably abashed, or crumple the letter until the next one, then the one after that, which will come with a visit ( from the bizzies. (
Title: Re: Cycling Life
Post by: shadow on October 25, 2019
Tango. November.
And surely you know 'Y', being mercan an' all that.

(I only know my alphabet from my stint of driving doctors around out of hours.)
Title: Re: Crash
Post by: sam on October 25, 2019
It’s good there’s an international standard for this sort of thing.

C for clicky (
Title: Fall
Post by: sam on October 26, 2019
Squirrels don’t normally grab my attention, unless one of them furiously remonstrates with our sliding glass doors, as happens on occasion; or hides his stash ( in my wellies; or comically ( stars in a social media post. They’re a little too scarily frantic to be comfortable around. The scampy Chompsky is a creaky elder statesman ( by comparison.

I passed a dead one on the road yesterday, close enough to the edge so that he had so far escaped being flattened under another set of wheels. His innocent posture, curled in on himself, preyed on my mind until I was forced to turn around and give him, if not a proper burial, ( at least the benefit of a relocation service out of the path of further insult.


RIP little guy.
Title: The Time Lord
Post by: sam on October 27, 2019
There are clocks everywhere. Society really wants us to know what time it is. Then we get our heads messed with twice a year – more if you count stopped clocks like this St Mary the Virgin, which was about 4 hours off last time I rode past.


Stop all the clocks, people! (Not in a W H Auden way.) Follow whatever natural rhythm comes to you, even if you have to go to a meeting.

In Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Richard Dreyfuss used his mashed potatoes to tell the time.

Fine, I understand if that’s too radical. Do me a favour though and just take off your watch (if you haven't already ( Keep it off for a while, and notice how you can kind of tell the time anyway, even if it’s cheating by subconsciously clocking all the clocks in the background as you go about your business every day. Get back to me sometime and let me know how that works for you.

You now realise I have no choice but to post this, don’t you?

Looks like 1970 all right (

Thank you, Time Lord. ( Because of your good works I will be enjoying a nice hot shower this morning, rather than a tepid one because the boiler is still on BST.
Title: Forever young
Post by: sam on October 29, 2019
The devil feeds nostalgia. Let me translate that for you: Amazon sells many tempting books from my childhood. Occasionally I succumb, to see how well they’ve aged – as if the present was a test the past must pass.* If I haven’t yet clicked the button on this,


it’s only because I have a bad habit of buying something (from £0.01 + postage is too tempting) only to set it on top of the last unread book. There will always be time, is my laughable motto. My loft is filled with stacks of time.

Beverly Cleary, now 103+, had one of those careers that, while it didn’t bring her the riches of a J. K. Rowling, must have been immensely satisfying. "I've had an exceptionally happy career,” she agrees on Wikipedia.


She’s sold 91+ million books, and is credited as “one of the first authors of children's literature to figure emotional realism in the narratives of her characters, often children in middle class families.” Her critical significance ( is echoed in Amazon reviews:

“I loved the wholesomeness of this book. That the kids in it were basically nice and said things like 'jeepers'. No one was sassy to their parents like in so many middle-grade books today. This is a great book to read and discuss with your middle grade reader.”

“What I found most fascinating about this book is how Beverly Cleary manages to weave a subtle thread of friendship between Henry and Beezus throughout the book. Beezus emerges as quite a likeable character as she and Henry (along with the other regulars -- Ribsy, Scooter, Robert, and Ramona) continue with more adventures on Klickitat Street. I enjoyed reading it to my seven-year-old as much as he enjoyed listening to it. Every night he would refuse to go to sleep until I'd read another chapter in Henry and Beezus. What I really loved was the way Cleary portrays the friendship between Henry and Beezus. She is a true friend, the only voice in the crowd urging Henry not to eat dog food while others are happy to stand back and watch him do it. Beezus is always there in some quiet way to help Henry throughout the book and he reciprocates as well despite all his protests about how girls are so much trouble. I found it to be a wonderful portrayal of a sweet friendship. We loved it and are moving on to the next Henry Huggins book.”

"Reading the Henry Huggins books written by Beverly Cleary is like a walk down the lane of my childhood memories. Written and published at the right time for the right audience, the stories have the ring of truth for anyone who grew up at that time. Immensely enjoyable. One thing, as minor as it may be, that does not ring true, though, is the illustrations are contemporary to current times in that the show kids wearing bicycling helmets, which did not exist at the time, and one of a kid wearing a baseball style cap backwards with the type of universal adjustment that also did not exist at the time Beverly Cleary wrote these stories."


"I would recommend Henry and Beezus. I don’t have any sons, but I do know that it can be hard to find books for boys because many of the books featuring young male protagonists revolve around pranks and naughtiness. Henry always tries to do the right thing. He sometimes has some rather dismissive thoughts about the “dumb things” that girls do, but he keeps his thoughts to himself and is not deliberately rude to his family and friends."

Jeepers! Not everybody is pleased:

“Do we really want to perpetuate these gender divisions?
Unfortunately, the datedness of this story reared it's ugly head. I lost track of how many times the author had Henry thinking to himself, in a derogatory way, "isn't that just like a girl?" or "only a girl would do something like that!" Since the story is written from Henry's perspective, it made the girls appear like total dolts. We are trying to raise our children in an open-minded way, to believe that they can be themselves and not be limited by people's stereotypes. Our son and daughter get along well and the last thing I want to start hearing from my son is, "Oh, that's just like a girl" in a negative way. I want them to fell comfortable with and open to having friends of both genders. Besides this complaint, the book didn't offer anything particularly special. I liked that Henry used some ingenuity and found objects to turn his unwanted girl's bike into something he was proud of; but overall, I would have preferred not having listen to the misogyny of the book. Sorry Beverly Cleary!”

There’s agreement with this reader over at Bookriot, where in her article Gender Essentialism in Beverly Cleary’s Ribsy (, Raych Krueger reasonably laments:

There is a wild squirrel running loose in a classroom. “The girls pulled their feet up from the floor. The boys sat on their desks to get a better view.” The boys actually remove themselves further from the squirrel but the way the girls’ actions are described implies fear while the boys’ implies interest. Representation MATTERS and words mean things.


Pardon me, animated GIFs past a certain number [that number being 1] make me weepy. Do carry on:

And I’m so mad about all of this. I’m just trying to read to my kid at the end of the day so that she goes to sleep, I ain’t trying to have a conversation about sexism.

OK. I’m reasonably confident the misogyny was met by equal if not greater levels of dumb boy-ism, though as my wife points out, an evenly matched number of insults doesn't mean they might not still play along gender stereotypes. And here I was just trying to get her to nod her head along with me about silly critics.

Cleary has also taken hits in the past at what some perceived to be unnecessary highlighting of the low tides of family fortunes, examined by Sarah Curtis Graziano in Why We Still Need Ramona’s Realism: (

Ramona and Her Father is the most anxious book in the series, and sets a darker tone for the ones that follow. Ramona is consistently a worrywart, but now her worries, such as her father's chain smoking and the family's grim finances, gain substance and merit...

The adults in Ramona's world hold tremendous sway over her emotional life. She obsesses over grown-ups' slights and negativity, from the teachers who find her annoying to her neighbor's dull grandmother, who grudgingly watches her after school when Mrs. Quimby goes back to work. She agonizes daily over things real and imagined: her parents' bickering, her father's unrealized dreams as an artist, her mother's news that she's pregnant with a baby whom Ramona worries will consume her mother's love and attention. It often pains me, reading Ramona to my daughters, because I don't want to believe that my own stalled ambitions and daily grievances affect them so. But, as Cleary reminds us in the introduction to Henry Huggins, she didn't write her books for adults. She wrote them for "kids like us," the sensitive subjects of adults' imperfect regimes.

Ramona actually figures larger in my memory than Henry, because she was such a great character. Is further research required for my thesis that Outnumbered's Ramona Marquez is a direct descendent?

( (

I haven’t paid a lot of attention to young people’s literature, despite having once worked at Bank Street Bookstore, part of the Bank Street College of Education, which also incorporates a fancy private children’s school. (William Hurt's kid went there. He will always be the man who liked his new shoes to me. What, no clip of that, YouTube? Guess I’ll go with this ( The last thing I read on the subject had to do with how difficult it now is to write and sell things which don’t raise the ire of a twitter mob; the forces of uncorrectness ( are outnumbered. Doubtless many would retch at the wholesomeness as well. I might make fun of it; I'd never gag.

Having had a paper route ( as a 11-16 year old – this remains my record as longest held job, easily beating all my postings at bookshops (, several of which closed on me – I am also tempted to add


to my wish list, at least.

Here’s to Henry, Beezus, Ramona, Ribsy, and Beverly. May you stay forever young, ( even as the clock keeps racing along.


* It appears to be, which is why I've gone with was rather than the subjunctive were. As if I knew what I were talking about. (
Title: Not llamas
Post by: sam on November 01, 2019

We meet again. ( Are you ready for your close-up?

Fodder for Twitter? ( Is that all I am to you?


‘Llalpaca’ ( sounds like a good compromise.
Title: Priorities
Post by: sam on November 02, 2019
The story ( about the man reunited with his £250,000 violin rather buried the lede:

The violin, which was made by master craftsman David Tecchler in 1709, was left on the London to Orpington train on 22 October when Mr Morris got out at Penge East with his bike.

Where is the picture of him kissing the bike which took first chair in his affections?

( (
Title: 1000000
Post by: sam on November 07, 2019
Russ Mantle ( has met many challenges on the road, including jealous bystanders who have repeatedly tried to topple him from his bike.

"Drunk before you're thirshty," he advises.

Russ spent many years on the run, easily evading the plod.

Forensic accountants detected possible 'corrections', but gave him the benefit of the doubt.

Installing a new toe clip sent by the pope, ( one of many celebrity well-wishers.

Asked how much he thinks he should be paid for his accomplishment, he chooses a nice round number.
Title: The Crowborough Fairies
Post by: sam on November 08, 2019
Incontrovertible proof which puts the Cottingley Fairies ( to shame:

Sir Arthur would be thrilled (
Title: The Constant Bromptoner
Post by: sam on November 10, 2019
You try coming up with a title ( that combines topiary and Bromptons.
Title: The sound of silence
Post by: sam on November 12, 2019
Brain: I want to say one word to you. Just one word.
Me: Yes, sir.
Brain: Are you listening?
Me: Yes, I am.
Brain: Zip tie.
Me: That’s two words.
Brain: Whatever. It should stop the mudguard on the Litespeed from rattling where the mount, well, unmounted. Easiest fix in the world. Think about it. Will you think about it?
Me: That’s your job.
Brain: Then just do it.


Me: It worked! The bike is quiet again! Why didn't I think of that?
Brain: Beats me... You couldn’t clean that up for the picture?
Me: Bothering your anterior insula, is it?
Brain: My what?
Me: According to Scientific American in The Neuroscience of Beauty, ( that's the specific part of you which is involved in aesthetic appraisal.
Brain: Beauty might be pushing it. You realise we're talking about a zip tie, right? By the way, some people call those cable ties. They might be thinking 'WTF is a zip tie?'
Me: Then we've just expanded those people's vocabulary, haven't we.
Brain: About this anterior insula. Surely it's more complicated than that.
Me: It is, and don't call me Shirley.


Brain: You know I saw that coming a mile off.
Me: Read the article and see for yourself. Then head over to the page on neuroesthetics and consider Ramachandran's eight laws of artistic experience. ('s_eight_laws_of_artistic_experience)
Brain: I'll be sure to put that on my to do list.
Me: Is your dance card really that full?
Brain: Which part of me decides when to wrap this up?
Title: Lo-vis
Post by: sam on November 15, 2019
Remember ( my advice column on No? This was back when David Cameron hadn’t yet tricksied himself out of Number 10,


Charles Saatchi was showing the world ( how not to treat domestic goddesses no matter how much "arrowroot" ( they've got stashed in the kitchen,


and Extinction Rebellion was just a book about dinosaurs revolting over the new world order. (Don't check Amazon, it's not. But it could have been.)

Lacking clients, it behooved me to cherry-pick from fora, my remuneration enhanced by the knowledge that if at least one person was helped, including an advertiser, it would balance out those bewildered readers who fled to the comforts of reviews and the latest roadie rage.

The magazine rack: not all tortured prose (

It was a cozy niche, like all the others I’ve carved for myself over the years. Unfortunately it only lasted as long as it took for the editor to realise that "The audience isn't quite where we thought it was." (Oh no, I've revealed my source. (

I was reminded of the urgent need for advice by a recent discussion on a FB community group. Names have been changed.

Here's my card. It's printed with an apology for being a cyclist.

Deep Throat: May I introduce the new WEAK-KNEED WHEELERS, a small, friendly cycling club serving all surrounding areas.

Mary Whitehouse: Please wear high viz clothing so you can be seen, not dark clothing as you are putting your safety at risk.

Deep Throat: Good advice. Most riders wear something that is high viz - jerseys, gloves, helmets, socks, etc. We also run daytime lights and the ride leader and anchorman (at the back of the group) always wears a hi viz jacket and helmet. Rider safety is paramount to us. That’s why helmets are compulsory on our rides.

Mary Whitehouse: Not enough cyclists think of how vulnerable they are and should make themselves as visible as possible. Too many cycle with no lights, wear dark clothing, probably because they think they look cool, don't want to wear helmets and don't know how to ride safely on the open roads. I'm a keen cyclists and drive 55,000 miles per year. Some of the things I see and have seen would apal most people.


I don't normally rabbit on ( about cyclists in this group, but as we don't get mentioned that often, this seemed like a good place to add my two bitcoin, after giving the club a friendly reception:

Lights? Definitely, when necessary. Hi-viz? Up to the individual. No thanks. I’ve been riding around here for quite a while without it. It’s the responsibility of motorists to be paying attention.

I drive too. Not quite 55k miles a year, but enough to know the main problem is people not giving cyclists enough room, which has little to do with what the cyclist is wearing (though see this study ( and everything to do with impatience and lack of knowledge about how much space we are allowed. If you read the Highway Code – rule #163 – you'll note it's the same as a car. You should be on the other side of the road when passing. I realise that's not always practical, but people need to do their best.

If anything’s appalling, it’s how close cars and lorries sometimes pass, apparently without a thought to what should happen if either road user wobbles.

Helmets? Definitely up to the rider. If you're hit by a car, it's unlikely to help much; in any case they're not safety rated over about 12mph.

The frequent implication is that the cyclist is the problem. Sometimes, yes, but mostly not.

Safety is largely a matter of having respect for other road users and pedestrians, and not being inattentive behind the wheel. All the hi-viz & helmets (first rule of cycling: don’t fall off) in the world won’t help if the motorist isn't paying enough attention in the first place.

Roadlife (

This got not a single response – on a medium which thrives on reactions. Either I struck everyone dumb with unassailable logic, or my point of view was so off-kilter that I became, effectively, invisible.

SMIDSY: ( for some of us it's a way of life.
Title: Radio gah
Post by: sam on December 04, 2019

Extra-linguistic cues ( are apparently why we don’t like sound of our own voice. All the rubbish that comes out of our mouths probably doesn’t help.

Speak for yourself, you say?

Very well.
A link to a recording can be made available.

PM me. Supplies limited. Does not affect your statutory rights.

That's a radio discussion ( from 2006, after which the BBC banned me from the airwaves, or so I imagine.

It's so painful that after digging it up for the purposes of light entertainment, I refused to listen past the first few minutes I managed after writing this to confirm my worst fears (and incidentally my guess that nobody can resist Rodney King (

Not sure where to rate my voice confrontation on the list ( perhaps slightly better than #8, squealing brakes ( on a bike.

I have prepared a transcript. Bear in mind that memory is notoriously fallible.


Not Nolan: Welcome to today's show, Petrolhead vs Lycra Lout.

Petrolhead: Thanks for having me.

Lycra Lout: [inaudible]

Not Nolan & Petrolhead: SPEAK UP!

Lycra Lout: Please don't call me that.

Petrolhead: My name actually is Mr Petrolhead, so I don't mind.

Not Nolan: Moving right along, why can't we all get along?

[sound of raucous laughter in studio]

Not Nolan: That was a joke for my producer. Lycra Lout, why are you always at the centre of controversy? Why are we powerless to frame it any other way?

Lycra Lout: It makes for good radio.

Not Nolan: So are you going to play ball?

Lycra Lout: Probably not.

Petrolhead: You brought me in for this? Yet another example why cyclists are so bloody annoying.

Not Nolan: We're experiencing technical difficulties...
Where did you find this guy? This is even more boring than the segment we did on pillow fights in nursing homes. Wait, is this mike still hot?


Oh to be "a magnificent figure of a man, over six feet tall, handsome, with flashing eyes and a gloriously resonant speaking-voice" like Orson Welles! ( At least the voice part, otherwise none of my clothes would fit.

The camera adds 10 poundcakes
Title: An almost allegorical daytrip
Post by: sam on December 14, 2019
Killing time on the train platform. Sorry Lib Dems, Canterbury didn't go orangeyellow. (

Santas Claus were coming to town. And so was I.

"Are you part of my paid group?" Asked almost at the end of the Around the world ( tour that I innocently joined midway. Er, no. He was nice about it though.

Title: Classic paperweight
Post by: sam on December 15, 2019
This was my view for years. (

credit: Casual Photophile (

I still miss those simple, beautiful old cameras and luscious manual focus lenses.


The golden age of unboxing

You pressed a button and it took a picture: an honest click. A loud click-let's-not-forget-the-clack, thanks to that mirror jumping out of the way. (If you wanted quiet, you went Leica.) There was no waiting for lenses to unfurl or buffers to clear. The moment you just captured may not have been recorded on that gelatin-based medium (sorry vegans) with technical excellence, but provided you’d loaded film in the first place – there was a frame on the back to hold the end of the film box to remind you which kind – no helpful wizardry had thwarted your ambition.

It didn't even need batteries! Though if you needed the light meter, it kinda did.

This is how it looked through the viewfinder. Below was your f-stop & shutter speed, and a needle you aimed to center unless you wanted to under- or overexpose. The screen had focusing aids, including a microprism ring and split screen. (

Focusing is fun!

So is constructing visuals. Alas, I couldn't accurately reproduce the microprism effect.

Rose is looking overexposed

The ship went down pretty fast, are you sure about 1/15th? Better push ASA to the limit

I once had the incredible luck of finding a brand new F2A languishing in the stockroom of a camera store long after the model had been discontinued. It mostly then languished in a drawer until I decided the cash would come in more handy after all. I still regret that decision, even though it would now only be a conversation piece suitable for fondling, napping save for the occasional orgy of shutter releases all through the range to exercise the titanium curtains.

Half a dozen years ago Nikon brought this out to tickle the fancy of people like me:


Too expensive, and frankly too heavy. I’ve gotten too used to pocket digicams ( which also fit in my overcrowded saddlebag to go even halfway retro.

 That's so 2008 (