England Being English

Blue skies, white clouds, green trees and lambs in the field

England being English

A good long ride on the 16th, largely south of Reading, and with fairly decent weather too – nothing to complain about. It’s not that warm and it’s very unsettled, but of late England is starting to look, well, quite English – it’s starting to be richly green (though some trees are still to get going); there are lambs in the fields, fluffy white clouds against (occasional) blue skies …

And today’s ride up towards Wallingford was reasonable enough too, albeit with greyer skies. Two drivers caught my eye. Both would be listed as ‘normal’ under the R.U.M. categorization, but they both looked thoroughly harassed and miserable as I waved my run-of-the-mill acknowledgements to them. I could imagine they were miserable with me, the irritating cyclist slowing their progress for a few seconds, but in truth the way lines on their faces were so ingrained suggested they weren’t happy bunnies at the best of times. And so, perhaps, I ought be feeling sorry for them rather than thinking of them as miserable sods.

The second chap, particularly, looked thoroughly unhappy … perhaps he was. He was in a new, towards-the-top-of-the-range Audi, late middle-aged, pulling out from one of those expensive not quite ‘gated community’, not quite sheltered accommodation but nearly type of developments … Perhaps it’s all gone sour for him. Perhaps he’d hoped for a nice, secure-feeling retirement but it’s turned out to be terrifically dull. Perhaps he earned his deep-seated unhappiness working hard to buy all that he has, only to find it’s not what he wanted. I passed him. He had to wait behind me for a few yards before a crossroads; he hung back politely; I looked back to wave my thanks; he looked at me blankly and I turned left, he turned right.

R.U.M. Categories and The TK Challenge

A Real Challenge

A short ‘rehab ride’ with Charli on the 12th, a ‘grab the chance while I can’ ride in very so-so weather on the 13th, yesterday was a wash-out and all of a sudden it’s midweek again. If all things are relative, given how much time seems to be speeding up, whatever it’s relative to must be slowing down to a snail’s pace.

Today’s jaunt was just a quick 20 miles – Sonning-Wargave-Henley territory – but it turned out OK; I dodged the showers and there was even a bit of sun, which was something after a dismal morning. The only thing that can be said for weather like today’s is that sometimes the light can be striking – bright sunshine and dark clouds, and everything is greening-up abundantly now.

I was moaning about idiot road users, both the other day and two years ago. I was thinking today that in reality, all road users fall into four categories:

  • the ‘helpful’ – the ones who go out of their way to be helpful and courteous;
  • the ‘normal’ – the ones who just do what they do without causing anyone any problems;
  • the ‘irritating’ – the ones who don’t do any real harm but who are sure to get someone’s back up, at least some of the time; and
  • the ‘dangerous’ – the ones that genuinely put lives at risk – their own or other people’s.

The helpful and the dangerous are quite rare. Most of us like to think we’re in the normal category; most of us would probably benefit from remembering that to others we’re almost certainly irritating, at least occasionally. I think we need a road user manual – a R.U.M. – to explain this, to drivers, cyclists, pedestrians and everyone else. Essential reading along with the Highway Code.

It occurred to me, too, that if it’s true that we’re all often unwittingly irritating to others, then a real challenge would be to try and think positively, or at least kindly, about the strangers that it’s all too easy to find irritating. I think I’ll see if that’s possible in coming rides: the TK (Think Kindly) challenge!

 

Green trees and threatening skies

Green trees and threatening skies