Saturday, 24 September 2016

Thanks for all the Birthday wishes

"Blimey it's hot in this house". If you have ever uttered those sentiments on entering the abode of a relative of the, umm, older generation, it might resonate for you. Like getting up in the night to go to the (American-inspired euphemism alert) "bathroom", feeling the cold, like becoming increasingly grumpy at the state of everything, is a sure sign that time is accelerating.

But I'm not quite ready to dream it's over just yet.

On this, my 52nd Birthday, I feel more than ever In-between Days. I'm not old exactly, after all, 52 is the new 42. But then, I can't really claim to be particularly young either, although I'd still say I am young at heart. Especially as this has clips of music from the 80s that were made when I was supposedly an adult.  Before Facebook was invented. Or even the Internet.

So thanks for all the Birthday wishes. I'm dancing around to Clare Grogan right now. I'd encourage you to do the same.











Thursday, 21 July 2016

Like an angel on a balcony (Cingles du Mont Ventoux)


OK. Cycling. In the heat of Provence. The sunshine, albeit windy. More hilltop villages and lavender fields than any self-respecting woolly liberal can shake a packet of goat's cheese at.  

Then there's Ventoux. The giant in my room for the last six months. Ever since we tilted our caps at it, full of holiday brio and Winter bravado, before the flus of January, and the earaches of Spring, both of which reduced my enthusiasm and form to shrunken olives of their former selves. Not to mention the four horsemen of the Brexopalypse.  

I know I made that word and metaphor up, and it doesn't quite work as a device, but I had to have some reference to it in here. By dressing it up as a fancy allegory it becomes a parody of my own enormous literary pretensions, and a clever way for alluding to the in-built topical tension in the context of the relationship between Monmarduman and me. It wasn't much of a tension to be honest, we spent much of the time just having a laugh, and riding our bikes. Mostly at the same time.  

But that day really was a "watershed day" for me, in the way that Land's End to JOG was. It's a step change when I realise I can go further or higher than I thought possible.  

Before last Friday I had huge doubts that I could do it. Through the day I had a few moments and arguments with myself, when I thought I was going to fail. It felt as though it was impossibly hard. But I did it. And I did it through mental will as much as anything. Of course I had years of cycling experience and fitness to draw upon. But you don't succeed or fail as a result of those things. You succeed or fail because of what is in your head.  

But doing things like cycling to the top of Mont Ventoux three times in a day is not crazy. In response to a crazy world it sometimes feels like the sanest thing in that world to do. After all, the perspective from there is vast. You're a mile above sea level. Sometimes you need to get to places the hard way to actually appreciate how easy things are and how endless the possibilities can be.
 
 





Friday, 24 June 2016

I'm going to take that tiger outside for a ride

Oh dear, there's a lot of anger and recrimination flying about isn't there? And I keep seeing loads of comments on social media like "everyone is entitled to an opinion, no need to attack me" or "Everyone likes democracy when it goes their way". It's almost if they feel guilty and can't quite justify what they have done with any real opinions or facts.

I admire my friend whose blog has a link on the right who made a decision based on his principles (and probably knowing him, some research) and was bold enough to defend his position. Even if I disagree with it.

The people I despise are those who can't really understand why they decided to shit the bed, and now are looking at the pile of poo of their own making, and just want some kind of acceptance from me and the other Remainers. Well you won't get it. It's a stupid decision actually driven by misguided notions by some, unconscious or conscious fear of difference by others, with no real knowledge of the implications.

But I will move on, and watch with glee the negotiations to come, safe in my moral superiority and the certainty that I will profit from the chaos. The people I feel sorry for are actually those that voted to Leave, because I suspect you will be disappointed and the mythical 1950s Britain will not emerge.

What a life eh?

Anyway, here's that historic speech and my interpretation of what he might really be thinking:

I want to begin this morning by paying tribute to David Cameron
Fantastic, I’ve played a blinder, only Gove to beat, I’m a shoe-in
 I know I speak for Michael (Gove) as well when I say how sad I am that he has decided to step down
Oh crap, if he’s gone Govey and I will have to do the negotiations, then I’ll have no-one to blame
I’ve known David Cameron for a very long time

Those were the days, you could do all sorts in white tie and tails and no-one put it in the papers
A brave and principled man…with his own brand of compassionate conservatism
What a sap, judged that one wrong didn’t he, and tried to pretend he was one of the people
All of us politicians should thank the British people because in a way they have been doing our job for us
Just got to keep pulling the strings on that Farage chap before he starts talking about "betraying the British people"
This question is about the very principles of our democracy
And how I can manipulate them for my own advantage
There is now no need for haste, nothing will happen in the short term, apart from some thought on how to extricate this country from the supranational system
And I don’t want to get blamed for that when it all goes tits up, so better slow it down till the heat's off a bit
There is no need to invoke Article 50
Otherwise people will see the chimera for what it is and actually want to have their cake and eat it
This does not mean that the United Kingdom will be in any way less united
Let’s face it how could it possibly be that?
Nor indeed that it will be any less European
We are all Little Englanders now, even me with my Turkish ancestry
I want to speak to young people, who may feel that this decision is in some way pulling up a drawbridge or any kind of isolationism
A tough one this, they do so love to go travelling….just keep talking and with their short attention span they'll go back to the x-box
We can pass our laws and set our taxes entirely according to the needs of our economy
When I say “our” and "economy" I’m being very specific so it’s not really lying, just don't mention any real figures or facts
We can control our borders in a way that is not discriminatory
That sounds good doesn't it, I wonder what it means?
And look forward to a wonderful future for our nation
All my posh mates are going to absolutely love me
 
 

Sunday, 19 June 2016

The life inside your head we give to you (Avalon Sunrise 400km Audax 2016)

Sometimes things just go right.

Bustling start in a rush down to Tiverton, solitary climb up the Exe valley under a cloudless moonlit sky, blast with a tailwind along the A39 to Bridgwater, crazy mayhem outside a nightclub at 3AM, levels full of foxes, empty roads near Glastonbury, climbing the Mendips at dawn to a fabulous sunrise over the lavender fields, swooping down through cobbles of Frome in company, through the Two Tunnels, across THAT bridge, cake and ice-cream in Wickwar, hills and more hills (thought I couldn't do any more but Brian coaxed me into it!), duck races in Bradford, pasty at Beckington, warm winds, great company, audaciousness and camaraderie, sunshine and a rousing finish.

Yep, that sums it up. If you haven't done it, sign up for 2017 now. It's magical.


Thanks to all the organisers (especially Jamie Andrews), helpers, controllers, fellow riders, especially Brian Atkins for tremendous company and dragging me around the route, and up that hill!

Honourable mention for Noel Gallagher, whose words kept me plodding on. Because that's why we're really here.

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Achievement and challenge

I know my life is easy. Most of my so-called difficulties are of my own making or imagining, and if you are from the UK, there's a fair chance yours are too. I'm prepared to admit that it may not be the same for my Ukrainian readers, or even some in China, but for most Westerners life has become very comfortable in the last 100 years or so.

Of course it doesn't feel like that, but objective reality and subjective experience are never best friends. You also may be thinking that you are not able to control things like depression, anxiety or random thoughts that just pop into your head, like "what happens if I do sell it separately?" The thing is, human beings are hard-wired to see problems not opportunities, and to measure their state against their nearest comparator. Chances are this comparison  isn't always made with someone worse off than you.

As I hurtle towards death I become increasingly concerned with getting the most out of my life, a task that seems beyond me but in reality isn't. On Tuesday I decided to take up that particular cudgel and challenged myself to wash my bike. Of course, I have been throwing down that particular gauntlet for the last few, sunny weeks, so I was pleased to at last accomplish it.

To you, washing a bike may seem particularly easy, but to my time-poor, stressed out and sick brain, it seemed nigh on impossible. I'm not really time-poor, let's face it if I can afford Sainsbury to deliver to my house instead of walking to the well, how can I be? But I like to kid myself, and it does have the added benefit of increasing the post-wash sense of satisfaction.

Unlike today. I'm supposed to be riding down to the Quantocks for coffee, but on waking the rain was pouring from the sky and the wind was whipping from the relevant quadrant, and quite frankly it was a step too far. You know the one, the first one out the door. I let my friend know of my failure to observe Rule 9 & 5, only to receive a cheery message about how nice it was down at his place. Sure enough, it's now brightening up and I'm left sat in my pyjamas.

Back to the bike wash. It was a bit too easy really. It was, after all, a warm and sunny evening, so no great chore. I finished my carton of Muc-off (more evidence of soft living), and I wondered. Could I throw the empty plastic container to the back door, and make it bounce, just once, on each of the six steps in front of it.

I pondered this, and after successfully completing the challenge and fist-pumping the air, I realised how no-one would ever know of my moment of triumph, it would be a secret I'd keep to the grave, secure in the intrinsic motivation of Achievement. Anyway, to tell anyone would risk revealing more Mendip Rouleur dysfunction.

But of course Junior saw me from a window didn't he? He asked me if I'd set out to do it deliberately as he often did stuff like that, and thought it was just him. Maybe it's a Rouleur thing, all in our genetic make-up, seeking out challenge and problems when is none, instead of just enjoying life.

Six steps though! What a life.


Life is getting better too, it's just started to rain again. Let's see if I actually make it out the door next Friday too. That one's unfinished.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Just the start of me and you


Sometimes someone is in your life who amazes you. Sometimes that person has been there all your life. Sometimes that person had it in them to do amazing things but just needs a bit of courage and a push to get going.
 
This weekend my sister will do something amazing, push herself outside of her comfort zone and prove what I always knew about her, how much she can do. So please, take a moment to think and recognise people like my sister.

Some people aren't prepared to put up with mediocrity, but decide to do something worthwhile, for others and for themselves. My sister is one of them.

If you are feeling materially generous, sponsor her here, if you are feeling spiritually generous just take a moment to recognise what it was like the first time you cycled 100km, or ran a 10K, or spoke in front of 50 people, or whatever your own personal barrier was.

Good luck Claire, I know you will do it!



Here's something to keep in your head as you speed through the night.

Friday, 13 May 2016

I've looked everywhere


 
Fergie said it was "obscene", how we laughed. Then we were relegated
 
 

 

My name is Miklosko, I come from near Moscow
 
He had no right to make some of those saves,  Schadenfreude was never this good
 
 

 
It was along drive back, but it was worth it
 
 

 
Reo-Coker didn't score that many, but one was enough
 
 

 
But it was to be the last for a long, long time
 
 

But nothing can ever beat THAT night
 
The best of them, the last of them, and I was there.