Author Topic: Ciao


« on: February 03, 2021 »

This is Jenni. I didn’t catch her horse’s name, so let's call her Bella, which SaddleBox tells me is popular. Bella is 7 years old: adult but not yet middle-aged.

We met yesterday on one of my rides. I’d passed them and doubled back for a photo op. Jenni kindly obliged.

She’s seen me riding these lanes. I’d return the observation, but alas, one equestrian looks much the same as another. I hope she wouldn’t take offence. I just see a woman – it’s always women, men go MAMIL – sitting way up high on a powerful beast, and concentrate on safe navigation.

Jenni thanked me for my "Hello!", which I use in place of a bell. We chatted on the trot, keeping as much distance as the lane allowed. It was only my second real conversation with a stranger since the start of the pandemic.

It turns out she knows everybody that I don’t, which is pretty much everybody. 18 years situated here and for the most part I’ve not gone beyond village cyclist. My fault, not the rest of humanity's.

She had a little trouble with my name thanks to that lisp of mine. I would've spelt it but can never remember the phonetic alphabet. Recently I used Tiger instead of Tango to an amused operator.

Jenni was pleased to discover my wife is from Sri Lanka, being from Singapore herself. She extolled the little international community around us, offering her name as a passport to neighbours.

It didn’t take long for me to get the impression that we probably occupy different social strata. I jocularly said as much. Is that good conversational fodder, do you think? Throwing caution to the wind (it was indeed a windy day), much like stopping her in the first place, was a gamble.

She was taken aback – who wouldn’t be when put on the spot like that – but we survived the bump in the road and parted amicably. Frankly I’m glad to get that out of the way, because I’d like to meet again in the normal, to continue my glacial integration into society.

The next stretch offered up an Italian: Gianni, freshly spun from Tunbridge Wells a dozen or so miles north. Clearly I was in an interrogatory mood.

We only talked long enough for him to give the pesky paparazzi permission for a photo which won’t be entering any contests, and to nail down the spelling of his name.

Smiling but about to reach for his pump

The pleasure was mine, as in racing to position myself up the hill I was propelled into a private mental screening of Breaking Away.

. . .

Jenni later confirmed that the horse is indeed a Bella.