Friday, November 10, 2006

They can smell the fear....

It was somewhat dishonest of me to imply in my last post that it is only in my adopted country that I am afraid to ride a bicycle. I am afraid to ride a bicycle anywhere. In fact, I am afraid of bicycles.

And bicycles, I feel, can sense my fear - they feed on it, gloat over it, taunt me for it. When I walk past a chained bicycle, I always know that it is straining at its shackles, trying to get at me. Quite often, this stretching towards me will overbalance it and send it crashing to the ground (without any other physical force being involved - really!). This has happened to me many times. I have even seen whole rows of bicycles collapse domino-style, as I pass by a 'safe distance' away.

I had long thought that this terror of bicycles might be a unique hang-up of mine; so, I was considerably consoled to find that my Irish literary hero, Brian O'Nolan, in his greatest work, 'The Third Policeman', elaborates an elegant theory to account for such phenomena. He proposes a riff on 'atomic theory', by which the atoms of a bicycle are constantly being interchanged with those of its rider through prolonged close contact, and thus the rider gradually takes on the some of the character of his bicycle, and the bicycle acquires the character of its rider. (You can always tell a man, he says, who has become more than 50% bicycle, because he has to lean against something whenever he is not moving forward.)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"I have even seen whole rows of bicycles collapse domino-style, as I pass by a 'safe distance' away."

Are you sure they aren't bowing to you in respect? You do cut an imposing figure. And the bikes may have heard stories of what you'd done to their comrades in Monmouth and Eigg.

(aside: Eigg makes me think of Egg from the Great Gatsby. What does it mean?)