The Things I Didn’t See

A short-ish ride with Charli today, on the road because off-road is just so hideously muddy.

One thing we both remarked on was the number of Blackbirds around. It seems that, quite suddenly, they’re everywhere – rooting amongst the fallen leaves, flying out of hedgerows as you ride by or simply just very visible, perched in trees and bushes.

A beech tree lined lane in Autumn in England

What you can’t see are the Blackbirds criss-crossing the lane and rooting in the leaves.

If they’re notably visible now that must mean they weren’t so, previously. I think I’m right in saying that the Blackbirds that were here in the summer have now moved south, and the ones I’m seeing now are migrants from colder countries – Scandinavia in the main. If I hadn’t read that though, I wouldn’t see that as I look around. I’d just see Blackbirds, during some months more apparent than others.

That in turn made me think about other things I’ve seen but perhaps not seen while I’ve been riding in recent years.

I’ve ridden by a couple having sex in a car. I don’t know if I saw an illicit, exciting, even perhaps loving tryst or a woman being forced into having sex for money.

I’ve seen three girls, I thought Chinese at the time, walking hurriedly, holding tightly to each other arm-in-arm, near a lorry park. I don’t know if I saw just three girl friends walking or three stowaways trying to get away. If they were stowaways, did they want to be there or were they forced in to it? You read of gang-masters and modern day slave labour but I don’t know how that all works and I don’t know what I saw.

I’ve seen policemen parked up in a country lane for no obvious reason. Were they there for a genuine purpose or were they just skiving? Was something worse going on; did I see an outward sign of something deeply corrupt? We’d be fools to imagine that’s impossible; look at how many policemen are now implicated in the Hillsborough cover-up. It’s a long way from ‘a bad apple’ or two.

I’ve seen endless examples of what I take to be incompetence when it comes to maintaining the roads but is it something more than that? Someone’s being paid a lot of money to do pointless, appallingly low standard work that just needs re-doing and re-doing time and time again. Incompetence, or a nice little earner for someone, doubtless with back-handers all round?

I don’t know what I’m seeing, day in and day out.

Once you start down that track it’s easy to carry on. I’ve seen Jimmy Savile on TV any number of times but I never saw someone who abused under-age children. I’ve seen any number of politicians on TV but never realised I was seeing a parade of criminals actively fiddling their expenses claims or self-serving ‘career politicians’ only in it for themselves.

It’s dangerous – and wrong – to see a totally rotten world all around. It’s also wrong to think it’s getting worse. It feels like that precisely because it’s getting better – because truths are being spoken. Knowing these truths can easily make us feel worse but it’s the same for all problems of any magnitude: you have to admit to and face up to an issue before you can start looking for a solution.