Author Topic: Gimme Shelter

Gimme Shelter
« on: May 30, 2021 »
by David

I had one of those bicycle training things once - just a frame on the floor with rolling cylinders.  Put the bike on it and ride in place.  Figured out I had to position it near a wall in case I needed to keep my balance.  Well, that ended sooner than expected.

So I bought a hugely fancy training bike full of controls and strap-ons that measured all my exertions.  Except it didn't, because I have an irregular heartbeat which cancelled out the accuracy of all the other readings.  My sister-in-law has the trainer now.  Says she uses it every day.  I don't believe her.  All I can say for sure is that she cleans it every day, dusting and polishing.  OCD keeps her fit.

Speaking of vacuums, ceteris paribus, could one ride a bicycle in a vacuum?  Is there friction in a vacuum?  Probably the tyres would burst, but that's all.

The old bike - a gold Motob├ęcane, possibly one of the last ones manufactured - rests in peace now in a space under the cellar steps.  These are long granite blocks, cut when the house was built in 1888, and under them was where the family were supposed to shelter during a bombing raid in, oh, any of the wars, actually.

Not my family, though.  I grew up somewhere else, somewhere with its own bomb shelter.  A nuclear bomb shelter.  A fallout shelter.  This was in the 1950s in America, right up to and through the first half of the 1960s.  We were worried about radiation contamination.  We listened for special radio broadcasts on CONELRAD radio station broadcasting on the frequencies 640 and 1240 AM. 

CONELRAD stood for COntrol of ELectromagnetic RADiation, although I don't think we ever learnt that in school.  Cold War education seemed bland and too shy for telling many horror stories.  We had air raid drills which consisted of us sheltering under our desks, in a goalless game of hide-but-no-seek. 

Were I to draw a line between the old Soviet threat and the present-day threat of COVID-19, that line could be any shape, because it is invisible, like the enemy.  We always fear most what we cannot see, cannot imagine.  What we do see are the side-effects, the after-effects, the aftershock.  In the middle of a bomb blast there is believed to be no sound.  The exact middle of a wheel is motionless.

Think of that the next time you get on your bike to flee the invisible enemy.