Author Topic: everything zen  (Read 1334 times)


  • Quiet please
everything zen
« on: February 19, 2010, 01:56:17 pm »
I take a zen approach to cycling.

I don’t want a commute to be a journey into the combat zone. Some kind of cabbie-populated Helmand. I have a naive belief in treating others as I would like to be treated. So I give way and smile, sometimes when perhaps I shouldn’t, and maybe when I should righteously tear their car apart like an angry Japanese monster awakened from a pleasing submarine dream of an evening with a gaggle of attractive lady monsters and a supertanker-sized bottle of tequila. I know drivers get pointlessly angry but my calm prevails and I like to think that I am that little atom or two of a better person for it. I may shrug and wearily shake my head. I don’t call upon the angels to issue a heavenly smiting or engage an orbital microwave laser to char errant motorists into their elemental carbon. Strictly speaking, I am not sure either of these options exist. A thorough check of my handlebars hadn’t to date revealed any remote means to operate an orbital laser platform and my religious instruction is lacking (I imagine smiting requires some kind of paperwork to be submitted to the appropriate divine authority in triplicate; health and safety is, they say, a bitch and she probably rides around in a chariot wearing hi-viz).

But, you know, sometimes.

Now I might be in a slightly cranky frame of mind after a motorist ran me over at the end of last year.  Which I feel is a bit out of order, but the Metropolitan Police felt was perfectly reasonable. Remember drivers, when pulling out, the crash of a cyclist bouncing over your bonnet is a handy reminder to look behind you and check your way is clear of oncoming vehicles. It most definitely isn’t a sign of careless driving. I confess, on this basis I am not entirely sure what would classify as careless. Maybe tying a bag of parrots over your head and attempting a three point turn on a busy main road while singing La Marseillaise and playing the glockenspiel. With your dick. Oddly, I still await a response from the Met on this scenario. Possibly they are consulting with the CPS over the precise definition of carelessness.

Generally, I am of the strong opinion that drivers should stop running me over. It’s inconvenient for us both.

Especially the more moronic sub-species of drivers who seem to have missed the memo on mobile phone usage. I did relate the marvellous experience of watching a mother with a full load of children attempt a spectacular three car smash the other week. Now, perhaps I am being harsh, she was probably a world-renowned surgeon called upon to direct some radical, life-saving new medical procedure and hadn’t yet found the time to pull over. It happens more often than you might think in the fast-paced world of modern surgery. Trust me, I’m a doctor.

And now we get to the grist of my little tale, the little four-wheeled BMW cherub. Not for him the agonies of lunch time parking, oh no, his little X5 could squeeze on the end of the bays outside the little parade of shops without anyone even noticing. In the same way that no one would notice a whale in a tutu nudging its shopping trolley around Tesco. But what could have came to pass whilst he made that important purchase? You wouldn’t believe it, but the International Space Station had sprung a leak and he was only person qualified who talk the astronauts through their rather elevated puncture fa*rie dilemma. Well, I can only assume it must have been that, since the call was important enough that he had to keep his phone within Van der Waals distance of his right ear while attempting to pull out from his not-quite parking space.

Fortunately, scientists have discovered a significant correlation between stupidly parked cars and many other stupidly variables and being the empiricist that I am, I believe in the convergence of stupidity that is X5 man, and managed to nip around the back as he pulled out. Now of course, since the last time I checked, the USAF hadn’t coated me with super-stealth paint from the shed at Area 51, I can only assume that his reason for not noticing me was that very important phone call. Those astronauts must have been desperate and well, space-based, oxygen-sucking calamity can be a distracting thing to have to deal with. I think we can all appreciate that.

Now my cycling zen, as you’ll remember if you read this far, does dictate that drivers be left to slowly marinade in their own frustrations. But sometimes an open window welcomes a rather mild refrain of “perhaps you could do us all a favour before someone gets hurt and put the phone down.”

Which earned me the usual wall of abuse beginning with “I was nowhere near you” and ending with “road tax.” I can only assume someone is issuing a script for drivers who find themselves in these situations. I’m also gay, apparently. I thought the musicals were my secret. Thank god he didn’t realise that I wore glasses, the barbed insults could have shattered my remaining fragile confidence.

Now, I find angry drivers to be pitiful really. Do they have a wizened little nut of generosity and compassion within their carapace of vitriol? Is a slight transgression worthy of abuse and threats of violence? What essential ingredient is missing from their empty little lives that all they can do is stumble from one angry episode to another, all boiling, priapic anticipation of their forthcoming coronary. I say let them get on with it and all that revving will undoubtedly get them to their final journey all that bit sooner.

I did offer, since he was on the phone anyway, that if he needed an arbiter of his driving abilities, he gave the police a call. He didn’t feel that necessary and roared off claiming that I couldn’t prove anything. Almost into the path of the car was overtaking him and then nearly running over a crossing pedestrian. Since the phone was still jammed to his ear (oh, let’s not forget those gasping astronauts in their hour of need).

Amazing enough at this point, upon rechecking my handlebars, I did note a little red button I had never seen before. With an almighty flash and fizz that may have left any watching angels feel a little inadequate about their smiting prowess (as I said, health and safety is a bitch) he and his car disappeared in a lovely blossom of superheated steam and soot. Oh my.

The last paragraph may be untrue. But I am maybe considering combat gear and a helmet cam.

And a bear.