Roadie

These days I fancy bicycles a lot more than cars, but I had good times over the years in the following:

1972 Pontiac Lemans, quite used when I bought it. My first. Automatic, I think. Blue with unpainted bondo in one of the rear quarter panels. Lovely bench seats – remember those? Not necessarily the most comfortable, but if your sweetie was riding shotgun [note: I had no sweetie then] it made for better scooching over than bucket seats…

Late 70s or early 80s Mazda, don’t remember the model. Nothing special. Automatic.
Correction: Monza.

Volkswagon Dasher, also of uncertain vintage and transmission. My hair was a little longer then, too.


Call campus security

That was my last car for a while. Did some hitchhiking. (See also.)

On the road again: Toyota Tercel, stick shift. I loved this car. Treated it terribly; apparently had no idea that Toyotas needed oil. Burned out an engine, replaced it. Totalled when somebody rammed into me zooming out of a gas station. My introduction to the jaws of life.

My wife had a red car for a while. Sorry, don’t remember what it was. Automatic. It suffered from various seemingly undiagnosable ailments, and applying the brakes could require advanced notice.
Nissan Sentra, she has just told me.

1992 Toyota Corolla, automatic. Bought with 5k miles, the newest car we’ve ever owned. Carried us across the US. Eventually shipped it to the UK, the mafia-types who booked it in at Port Elizabeth NJ warning us not to leave the dustbuster in the back seat as it might get stolen. Turns out goodfellas give good advice.

Very fond of this one, which my mechanic always called a “left hooker”. Died of neglect (a broken heart, it’s said) when we both went without a British licence for a stretch.


The buyer thought he might be able to get good resale price for the moss.

2005 Toyota Corolla, automatic; a “right hooker”, if you will. It gets us where we need to go, and the local fauna like it.


Looks like this except different colour. And it’s a hatchback.

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We meet again

No, not our dreamy queen, whom I’ve never seen in person and who, as far as I can recall, has yet to invade my subconscious.

Nor Labour MP Emily Thornberry, one of the speakers outside parliament protesting the presidential visit and generally all things Tory.


she even knitted her own jumper

Nor the ghosted Juliet Stevenson, who I caught back in 2004 alongside a brainy ironside.

Nor Mark Rylance, as seeing him on the small screen doesn’t count.

Making a statement

This is who I’m talking about:

We were most concerned.

I was hardly in my element yesterday, as I don’t like crowds,

ticked the box for Brexit,


(we all have disreputable bedfellows at times)

and don’t see myself voting Labour again any time soon.

But as happens so often, London beckoned.

I can’t imagine Lilibet was giddy with excitement at another opportunity to do her duty, even as the BBC graphically wet itself with anticipation.

Balloonists, on the other hand, had a field day.

As did punsters,


even Photoshop sharpening can’t save this

jokesters,

and anyone in the mood to rattle some cages.

My goal for the afternoon had been to see Jeremy Corbyn, if only for ammunition to give him a speech balloon. This was not to be, as he took to a platform on Whitehall rather than the expected patch of green surrounded by stone cold worthies where I had stationed myself.

Every party needs a DJ. Ours started with Comfortably Mum Numb,


bottoms up

which would come to half describe my arm after holding an umbrella for an hour. Then came the relentless rain and reggae (even groovy tunes can wear one down).

Midway through the speakers


Brian Eno got there early too

I packed it in and commenced escape, only to be stopped short opposite Green Park, where a hassled but humbled group of us were barred from crossing the empty road for an indeterminate length of time.

The only sure way across the border was to catch a train. One expects to be herded through cattle fencing during such events,

but this seemed a pointless exercise in creating a power vacuum.

Before heading home I stopped by the National Gallery. It looked a little like a protest was going on there, too.


“You can’t change him, he’s immutable.”

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High Weald Drifters

I frequently launch my bike into the wee small hours, savouring the peace and quiet and moonlight when celestial bodies are feeling generous. Just the road and me for an hour or two. 20 miles, give or take: nothing epic, unless you count thoughts drifting out forever into space.

Early this morning, later than usual so with dawn’s early light in full glory, I bumped into a pair of horses contentedly having breakfast just off the high street of a nearby market town.  I passed on by, thinking it odd, but unsure what to do about it, when it struck me that this was an accident waiting to happen. Though traffic was still sparse, some drivers take advantage of the usual lack of obstacles to put the pedal to the metal.

Who to call? 999 came immediately to mind, but did this qualify as an emergency?

Either in search of greener pastures or wishing to escape from the guy with the phone camera, they headed down the street, weaving in and out of front yards.


Not all of us know what we are

As I was pondering which authority to summon, a motorist passed by and rolled down his window. We had a brief discussion about who to contact, agreeing it didn’t seem cut and dried. After he left I rang the number for the local police, which needless to say at that hour offered voice menus offering nothing useful.

At this point a guy walked by with his dog, or vice-versa, and sensing my dilemma (staring at him helped), also suggested emergency services. I decided screw it, 999 it was.

The police operator took down the relevant information, including the colour of the escaped ungulates, which I had to think about as they’d disappeared from view and apparently I have the memory of a horsefly, which for the purposes of this post we’ll agree is quite short.

Black wasn’t so hard to remember. The other was brown and white, I seemed to finally recall and told him, thinking there must be another name for that. (Pinto, it turns out.) He thanked me and told me I had done the right thing by getting in touch. Job done, I headed home, pleased to have overcome my initial shrugging off of responsibility and happy at the break in routine.

I live about a mile outside Burwash, best known for its VIP Rudyard Kipling. The village looks like this:

or so I imagine it did in his time. Surely everything was still black and white then. A few days ago I’d led a band of cyclists down this very street, halfway through a ride from Hastings to the sea. This fine morning, parked in front of the village shop was evidence that we definitely live in a less genteel age:


Mind reading number plate

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Easy as 123

Today marks my 123rd day without sugar. That doesn’t mean I’ve given up, say, ketchup, which needs it to keep the tomatoes in line. It means saying no to foodstuffs like this

this

this

and yes, even this sweet thing, as I’m also currently avoiding fructose

So basically, everything that makes a life worth living. Though frankly I can live without apples for another 123 days.

This isn’t the first time I’ve deprived my body of the building blocks of fat. In 2016 I managed a similar fast that lasted almost as long, and reduced to my lowest weight in decades. (Cutting down my usual grazing to three meals a day also helped.) Unfortunately I then spent the next couple of years suffering a case of sugar-induced amnesia that made me forget how good it had felt to be 32 again.

It’s been easier this time. Except for a pop tart [what I call all toaster pastry products by default] -related delirium about a week ago, I honestly haven’t had cravings.

I sense this has to end at some point. It isn’t sustainable. The centre cannot hold. But perhaps it can get smaller first.

PS. “Did you photoshop that ‘Mmm’?” my wife asked. No I did not.

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