Pedal power and a drive to the Hairy Field
ON THE road to Canary Wharf last week I was interested to see how many people travel to London by bike. Although we are used to Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn weaving their way to parliament on their trusty 21st century steeds, it is still a surprise to witness hordes of helmeted commuters, presumably hoping to save the planet by leaving their gas-guzzling cars at home.
And money of course. They’ll be saving quite a bit of filthy lucre.
This may not be as worthy but is not to be sniffed at, with congestion charges, petrol prices and train fares going up yet again in the New Year.
I’d like to think that the cyclists who battle their way through wind and rain and taxis do use their savings to reward themselves with a few treats; maybe unwinding at the end of a journey with a glass or two, perhaps a meal out – or a new anorak? The very earnest could always donate their savings to Greenpeace.
Children seem now to prefer to get their ‘exercise’ from watching others race about on their playstations.
As my thesaurus offers ‘effort’ and ‘exertion’ as alternative words to ‘play’, maybe walking down the road to see friends instead of emailing them, or climbing trees, would be better options.
Do children still ask for bikes as presents? Slipping seamlessly into Old Git mode, I can still remember the thrill of seeing my new bike, festooned with ribbons and polished to perfection by my dad, unveiled one Christmas morning. For me, it simply promised freedom.
Apart from a bicycle pump, all I needed to conquer the world was a basket for my cheese and pickle sandwiches and a plastic mac.
All very Enid Blyton, I know – and yes there was much less traffic then – but somehow my reliable Raleigh and I survived without Lycra, sat navs, helmets or mobile phones.
Progress though should not be knocked. Before I passed my test, Mr F would prefer to balance an atlas on a steering wheel while he drove, rather than deal with me cursing at the wrong page of a map as we missed yet another turn.
Now we have satnavs, which are brilliant inventions and also make us laugh.
Our favourite instruction so far is being told to take a turn into Harefield Road, described by Ms Satnav as ‘Hairy Field Road’.