EDitorial ± 27-Nov-2007
Four Legs Better
He blinked. This was no dog delusion. This -- he gazed up shakily at the seemingly intact animal -- was a singular occurrence. A rum old do. A curious incident.
"Are you OK?," the tall lady enquired. "Let's get you up. Gently does it."
Down below, he remained at 90 degrees to the world, out of phase and fresh out of kilter, cheek brushing the footpath. Bearings would be good, he mused. Looming over there was the Control Tower museum, the one that doubled up as a kids' nursery. I *was* in control, he recalled, and then, I wasn't.
Jagged spokes of pain jolted him back to leaving work a full two minutes earlier. Six pm-ish, dark as an unfloodlit pitch, and dark means danger so Get Yourself Seen. Hence the Argos outing for that dazzling Cat's Eye front light. Look directly into that sucker and you'd become as blind as a watchmaker.
Five LEDs blazing, he'd sidewindered between the dozily reversing cars in the office car park, snaked up and over the hump-backed A12 footbridge and hared into the depths of Kesgrave like a Meatloaf album.
Ahead, he'd eagle-eyed a couple out for an early evening stroll. Man on left in walker's lane, good. Woman on right in cyclist's lane, bad. Without noticeably slowing and in accordance with the Pedal Bicycles Safety Regulations Act of 2003, he instinctively ding-dinged, mouthing Youre In My Hemingway!
At the last minute, she'd ducked aside, saying "There's a ..."
Now, rewinding over that ellipsis, he realised that the first dot was a D, the second an O, and the third a G. I've pranged a pooch, he thought. Mauled a mutt. Hammered a hound. Etc.
As she helped him to his feet, he in turn helped the bike to its wheels. "Blimey!," he exclaimed, "they've already done a chalk outline of me and the Raleigh!" There on the footpath, side-by-side and getting along fine in flatland, were the painted symbols for (a) pedestrian and (b) cyclist. Wish I felt as jaunty as that stick-man, he thought. Then he winced. Wasn't only that last remark that was lame.
"Dog OK?," he inquired, glancing towards Cujo, the four-legged tripwire. He wasn't good with dogs. Liked the Sony robotic version from a few years earlier with its built in camera and, most importantly, off-switch. Didn't care for the real world equivalents. Too smelly, too messy, too much responsibility. Had more than enough of that with the kids.
The walking man spoke: "No helmet?"
"Er, no," he answered weakly, "left it at home this morning." Curses. There went his moral victory. He'd had the same silver protective hat for years. Always wore it. Apart from when he didn't. Here I stand, he grimaced, handlebars on the huh and with a pain in all the diodes down my right side. For a conscientious cyclist, I'm not exhibiting too much proficiency.
"Any road up, best be on my way." Like the cowboy he'd unwittingly become, he gingerly climbed back on the gel-padded saddle and edged away, gears groaning, chain complaining and elbow aching in a non-humorous way. Still, he thought, be home in seven miles.