Author Topic: Cycling/Life


« Reply #10 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.

Re: Cycling Life
« Reply #11 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.)


Re: Crash
« Reply #12 on: October 25, 2019 »
It’s good there’s an international standard for this sort of thing.

C for clicky


« Reply #13 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.


The Time Lord
« Reply #14 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.


Forever young
« Reply #15 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.


Not llamas
« Reply #16 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.


« Reply #17 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?


« Reply #18 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.


The Crowborough Fairies
« Reply #19 on: November 08, 2019 »
Incontrovertible proof which puts the Cottingley Fairies to shame:

Sir Arthur would be thrilled