In A Bad Mood

Lousy weather again – gales or very strong winds, a bit of rain, cold – and so the last few days have been short rides to just get out; rides in order to have ridden, to have done something physical, but nothing particularly pleasurable.

With that as the background to the last few days, I just found myself in a bad mood today:

The climate is wrong and the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is the highest it’s ever been, but there’s no real noise about it; there’s no decisive action, there’s no leadership. Today I found myself grimly hoping that the world’s leaders, the ones who could have taken action, along with all the nay-sayers, live long enough to see the world worsen significantly and their children inherit it – live long enough to have to look their children or grandchildren in the eye and say yes, I could have done something about all this but I didn’t.

And with climate change, of course, comes the roads. If the councils’ standard excuse for our rotting infrastructure is the exceptionally bad weather and climate change means more and more of the exceptional, then they need to adopt a higher standard of road repairs to cope with it. There’s no sign of that, not the faintest whiff. Let’s keep wasting the tax-payers’ pounds on ‘repairs’ that don’t last a year – we can always repair it again next year, it’s not our money.

Blackbird Egg - broken into by a magpie


And that leads to money – the repetitive cries of ‘it’s all too expensive’ – to mend roads properly or to do anything about the climate. It’s even more expensive to do nothing. It was – and still is – possible to find the billions to rescue the politicians’ friends, the banking class. What it comes down to is that it’s not possible to find the money for the common good but it is to line the pockets of chums. Such is the quality of our politicians. Again, about all we can hope is that they live long enough to see their children despise them. The only mystery is why we don’t lynch them all.

And as you cycle around, doing your best to avoid the craters, all around you there are idiots – idiot drivers parking on blind bends; idiot cyclists riding on the paths; idiot pedestrians walking their dogs without leads and getting all surprised when little fido goes running off to bark at horses. I was attracting idiots this time two years ago – perhaps it’s the time of year.

And then you get home and find a pecked-open blackbird’s egg on the grass – robbed by a foul, thieving magpie from the nest under the kitchen window, and it looks like ants have scavenged whatever was left.


Potholes- filled badly and needing re-doing

Please, just do the job properly

A tedious, never-ending winter. A tedious strong and cold wind from the east. Today’s was a short, tedious ride on a fixed wheel – short because it was too cold to be anything else and remain even vaguely pleasurable.

The tedious predictability of sleep-wrecking jets overhead well before dawn – when the prevailing wind, a westerly, is in charge they’re not audible around here. You could, perhaps should, get very angry about the insult to all the people beneath flight paths that allowing flights at this time – from any direction – represents. That there are people willing to allow these flights, whatever the cost in human happiness and health, is as tediously true as anything else about human nature.

The tedium of pot-holes appearing time and time and time again where they’ve previously been ‘mended’. Whatever happened to doing a job once, and doing it properly. Councils: don’t plead ‘cuts’ and and claim to be hard-up when you’re visibly, crassly, painfully obviously wasting thousands upon thousands of pounds ‘mending’ roads to such a dismal quality standard that you’re just throwing good money after bad, time and time and time again.

The tedium of repetitious problems. And, stupidly enough, the tedium of finding so much about day-to-day life tedious. I can only look upon my response to it all with contempt.

Gender Equality Made Real

A cold and fairly strong south-easterly wind, but the sun was out and it was warmer than it’s been most days of late so a ride was simply irresistible. It was enjoyable enough but, that said, riding now is ample proof that time on a turbo-trainer over winter is no substitute for the real thing. Anyway …

As we all know, the cliché of the bloke in the vehicle, picking his nose seemingly oblivious to the world’s gaze, is all too real. Today I couldn’t help but register a woman (middle aged, in a green Peugeot, approaching a roundabout joining the A4) doing just the same, and with some gusto.

With that experience fresh in mind, near Wargrave I was witness to a woman in a “onesie”. Some might say that’s bad enough, but this was no ordinary adult romper-suit-by-another-name, strictly to be worn in private. Oh no, this was a very bold all-over-print Union Jack onesie … and she was wearing it outside.
Yer average bloke is supposedly oblivious to his fashion faux pas. Women, on the other hand, always were supposed to be far more self-aware than dumb ol’ men. Times, it seems, have changed.
For better or worse, one suspects this is all evidence of gender equality as it transpires in the ugly real world.

There are times when you have a camera to hand and get the photo you want; times when you have a camera but miss the moment. There are times when you wish you had a camera but haven’t brought one along. And there are times when you don’t have a camera with you nor wish that you did.


A dumped fast-food chain's cup with 'thirsty fun' written on it. It is not fun.

This is not fun.

Brilliant fun; great fun; excellent fun – really, really, bloody good fun. Jolly fun. Damn good fun. Simple fun or, maybe, innocent fun. Good, old-fashioned fun. Even fantastic fun if alliteration’s your thing. Any kind of fun you can think of – a fast-food-chain’s cup with ‘thirsty fun’ written on it is none of them. This is ‘fun’ eviscerated. This is fun abused. This renders the notion of fun wholly, utterly and completely meaningless. This is desecrated fun; debased fun. If this is now understood by anyone as fun, whoever they are, however old or young they are, where ever they are, however otherwise deprived of fun in any sensible sense of the word they are, then they have been cruelly conned. If I was feeling forgiving, I’d feel pity for the foul, fun-free, fun-wrecking individual responsible, because somewhere along the line, someone was.

The Greater Reading List

Today it was forty miles in reasonable summer-ish weather around the edges of Reading.

There’s something to think about in the ‘why’ of what I’ve noticed sufficiently to remember – why is that these things lodged in my memory.

A wind turbine, here next to the M4 passing through Reading

The best we can do

  • A very young couple, him looking totally knackered and pushing a pram, her in a huff a few paces ahead, the pair of them looking like they weren’t coping. His Burberry cap looked something akin to tragically inappropriate. It might be appropriate if it were fake.
  • A pointless wind turbine that costs more to run than the value of the power it generates; a joyless planned environment.
  • A living cliché – a middle aged chap with a beer gut in a string vest, with one of those thuggish dogs on a thick studded leather lead, fussing over it with a fat woman. I imagine he was saying something to the effect of “Oh, he’s lovely; he hasn’t ripped anyone’s face off for a couple of weeks now.”
  • Two late teens/early twenties girls with a lot of flesh on display, holding hands, holding eye contact with each other to an unusual extent as they walked.
  • What looked like a boxer with a boxer’s nose, doing road work in a grubby tracksuit.
  • Some Sloan Ranger throw-back, all back-combed hair and green coloured clothing, totally distracted as she chatted on her phone, barely controlling her Range Rover as she tried to take a corner.
  • Bushes being grubbed up around a building on an industrial estate, when what the whole area needs is more planting.
  • Everywhere, rotting, crumbling infrastructure.
  • Two iffy looking types in semi-combat gear on all-black no-name mountain bikes. If a bike’s been home-painted like that you can almost guarantee it’s been nicked.
  • Flooded roads, flooded fields, hacked off horses.

Yes, that that’s what I noticed is as much a reflection on me as anything else. It’s also all real.

Horses standing in flood water

Perhaps it’s anthropomorphism. Or perhaps they were as unhappy as they looked.


Ugly Day

Today featured a nasty, fairly strong, unseasonal north-easterly wind and a ride more-or-less for the sake of it on the roads around Woodcote. It was an ugly day. It started with two different groups of no-two-ways-about-it ugly people walking ugly dogs – untrained dogs, straining at their leads and sort of wheezing as they pulled. It deteriorated from there.

There was the ugliness of indulgent middle class parents watching their sprogs trashing bluebells in a wood and doing nothing at all to stop them.

Bluebells in woodland near Goring Heath

Bluebells in woodland near Goring Heath; soon to be part-trashed

The ugliness of a young-ish man in a new sporty Jag picking his nose didn’t help.

The ugliness of a white van man in his white van, fuelled by too much testosterone and presumably with bald tyres, all rapid accelerations and wheel spin, all sound and little action, was just grimly predictable.

There was the depressing ugly stupidity of a young girl in her little ‘run around’ Ka, holding her phone to her ear so she couldn’t indicate as she struggled to steer and change gear at a junction, eyes fixed in the middle distance, visibly thinking about anything other than driving.

Inevitably, there was the familiar ugliness of any number of pot holes where roads have been patched badly before. Workmanship, if you can call it that, pretty well guaranteeing the reappearance of the pot hole, guaranteeing yet more public money being wasted, guaranteeing more work for those subbed-out to fill in the hole and all the while threatening accidents to anyone on two wheels.

The ‘I’m so dumb I shit in my own nest’ ugliness of fly-tipping just defeats me; today it was exemplified by a computer monitor on the side of the road.

I couldn’t help but see the waddling ugliness of two seriously obese women, dolled up for a wedding but looking all the worse for it, dispiritingly perfect poster people for our age – an age that’s managed to take the opportunity to eat well with ease and abuse it with gross over-indulgence.

The undeniable ugliness of an overweight man in cycling clothes but off his bike is never cheering: I could happily live without any mirrors in my life.

And being in a frame of mind that only notices the ugly is, in and of itself, pretty ugly.