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.
Whom 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.
As I was pondering which authority to summon, a motorist passed by and rolled down his window. We had a brief discussion about whom 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: