KITCHEN SINK DRAMA
The oddest bit, looking back on it from the long time of a week, was the fire brigade. The sirens were strange as well: hearing the famil iar sound of sirens approaching down the road and suddenly realising — for the first time in my life — they’re coming for me. But the fire brigade? I really didn’t expect them.
By the time they screeched around the corner, I was at least upright, sitting on a junction box, bewildered and beginning to feel a little sorry for myself. As the tender drew up, it did briefly occur to me that this was more or less a sexual fantasy of mine — right up until the point where I saw the attractive firewoman jump down from the engine and approach me.
I even considered asking if Charlie Redmond was on board — an admittedly feeble reference to a legendary story that did the rounds after Dublin won the All Ireland in 1995 — but in the end, I said very little. I wasn’t wearing my funny hat, see.
Instead, I was wearing my bicycle helmet, and a small bruise was already beginning to form on my temple from where it had pushed against my head as it had made contact with my handlebars.
The thing about cycling is that sometimes it is a perfect example of irony. Most of us who cycle do so because we like to be fit and healthy. Sometimes, this can mean that we tend to travel on the higher moral ground.
When I whiz past somebody sitting in a car that is stuck in a traffic jam, and I see them smoking, I usually give myself a metaphorical round of applause. There is, I will concede, a lot of smugness involved in cycling. But there’s also a hell of a lot of danger. That’s why I very, very rarely cycle in town. When we were rehearsing my play October, Victoria Smurfit got her bicycle wheel caught in a Luas rail and came a-proper-cropper.
On Thursday night, last week, on the way home from rehearsals for Greener, I saw another of our actors weave across stationary traffic lanes on D’olier Street and I made a mental note to warn him how dangerous that might have been.
But that turned out to be something of a closing- the- stable- door warning. On the
‘All I can remember is a smash, followed by some dragging, a bit of wingless flight and then a fall to the ground’
Friday morning, as I sped down the road towards the gym — more irony! — a car suddenly turned left directly in front of me. I’m not really sure of the logistics of what followed — a smash, obviously, followed by some dragging, a bit of wingless flight and then a fall to the ground.
The one thing I do remember clearly is that all the time, I just kept thinking, ‘Protect your head, protect your head.’ I did — possibly at the expense of the rest of me — and then it was over, and I was lying a good 20 feet from where the collision had occurred, and a woman — who’d been driving behind me and had seen the whole thing — was telling me not to move, that she was a nurse and that she’d phoned an ambulance. Anyway, I’m fine. Reading back over what I’ve just written, I realise it kind of suggests that I broke at least a few bones and possibly the world record for unassisted flight, but the truth, thankfully, is rather more mundane than that.
The ambulance came and the guards, as well as — briefly, inexplicably — the fire brigade. By the time they all left again, it was debatable as to who was in worse shape, me or the driver who’d hit me, a terribly upset young mother whose only mistake that day had been not to check her wing mirror before turning left.
At the Swiftcare clinic they told me I’d got off incredibly lightly, with little more than a few cuts, some impressive bruising and a story to tell that might make people feel sorry for me. The following day I was stiff and sore — enough for sympathy but not enough to cancel the day — and that evening, in Cork, a woman on a bike was killed.
So here’s the thing: I know we cyclists annoy you drivers. I understand that you think us smug and above the law and the truth is that, sometimes, you are quite right.
But it is really, really easy to hurt us and it is even quite easy to kill us. So always check your left wing mirror. And, fellow bikers: I know the helmet is not a good look, but it might just save your life. Now, be careful out there.