Wednesday, February 15

Heathcliffe, it's me I'm . . . Oops!

The bitumen and I have regular close shaves and so I'm constantly amazed that it's been over three decades since we've actually made first-hand contact. The run of good luck ended abruptly on Friday night, under cover of darkness (I'm grateful for small mercies). Not wishing to build tension to a point of anticlimax the sum total of injuries amounted to a bruised knee, a sore hip, a squashed boob and a battered ego.

I wish I could say that it occurred due to an amazing feat of defensive cycling on my part, resulting in a narrow escape from death by motor vehicle due only to my stunning coordination and lightening reflexes. Alas, the truth of the matter is that it was entirely due to my own stupidity with ne'er another soul in sight. But, I may be able to lay just a little blame with the ukulele.

March 13th, the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain is playing at the Perth Concert Hall. This is their first trip to Australia in the quarter of a century they've been together and I never dreamt I would get to see them 'live'. Not only have I got 'Reserve A' tickets, but, miracle of miracle, I've found three suckers, err, dear friends to join me. With the concert in mind, Friday night found me cycling to work through the suburban streets with this playing through my headphones:

I challenge anyone to listen to the whole clip without smiling and bobbing along. Although 24-carat geek, it's strangely compelling. In the dark, safe from public ridicule, I was not only singing along tunelessly, but, also tapping my fingers on the brake-hoods and my feet on the pedals, and generally swaying to the beat. All of which may not sound very wise, but, trust me, things were under control. That is until I 'blissed out'. You know those moments in life when everything is sweetly delicious and you have a toe-wriggling sense of wellbeing. Unfortunately, as well as wriggling my toes with bliss I have the tendency to shut my eyes to savour the moment. I opened them just as I hit a steep kerb, giving me 20/20 appreciation of the view as I sailed over the handlebars.

I find it very reassuring that, after all these years, my first instinct was to tuck in limbs and head and land on a well-padded bit of body (spoilt for choice in my case); especially as I was flaunting WA's helmet laws and cycling in my favourite summer cap (umm, and headphones). What was less gratifying was the total lack of 'bounce'. As a teenager, sailing off the bike resulted in language that mother would have disapproved of, leaping to my feet and pedalling off. As a forty-six year-old it takes a good deal of cajoling to convince yourself to move. The sensible course of action seems to be to stay exactly where you landed, have a little snooze and deal with the consequences later.

I was alarmed to find my vision blurred and my thoughts ran to concussion, a slow bleed to the brain and, if I'm honest, my body lying pale and lifeless with tubes and leads attached, and a grave-faced doctor stating there was nothing more they could do. I realised I didn't have a headache at about the same time I spotted my glasses where they had landed three feet away. With my vision restored, I played a complicated version of the game 'Matchsticks' where I tried to pick which limb to disentangle from the bike frame without making anything else ache.

The dear, old Surly got off as lightly as 'yours truly', landing the non-derailleur side. A teensy bit of paint scraped off the pedal and the trailer connection and a scuff to the handlebar tape, that I've all but polished out, was the sum total of the damage. This was due in no small part to my panniers being stuffed to the gills with rain-gear, a warm jacket and lashings of knitting. The green 8-ply jumper I've nearly finished will, hereafter, be thought of as the woolly that saved the Surly!

Comments are always lovely to receive, however, if you feel inclined could I please request you refrain from mentioning the following, of which I am well aware:

1. I'm a blithering idiot!
2. I should have been wearing a helmet.
3. I shouldn't have been wearing headphones.
4. It's not the coolest thing to admit to liking the ukulele.
5. There is nothing lady-like about lying in a crumpled heap on the roadside.
6. At my age I should know better!


anniebikes said...

Oh Blythe. I'm glad you are okay...Ouch. it's okay to admit that you are human and have a little fun in life. As a woman who is also in her 40s (for only six more months) it's great to let your hair down and act like we're 20 once in a while.

BB said...

Annie, I might do it a smidge more often than once in a while. An Ex- always used to giggle that I had "Peter Pan Syndrome". I think that's why I mention my age a good deal, in the hope that, with constant reinforcement, one day it will sink in and I will become 'age appropriate'.

Thanks for the tea and sympathy!

Matt K said...

I am glad to hear you are ok and want to let you know that if there is one good thing to come out of your mishap, it is that I now know that the UOGB is also on their way to Brisbane and am now in search of my own dear friends. I will endeavour to contain my own euphoria and stay vertical on my bike. Thank you.

Aeria said...

I'm sorry about your unfortunate encounter! I'll admit, though, that I laughed through the whole thing- but not out meanness.

I wouldn't dare mention any of the 6 at the bottom,considering that I am guilty of all of these(except possibly #4... though yes, I was toe-tapping along)!

BB said...

Ah, a fellow fan! Wonderful news about the UOGB isn't it! You get to see them first Matt. The Perth concert tickets have apparently been selling like hotcakes.

Good luck with any elbow-twisting required to solicit company and have a smashing night!

Oh, I'm sure you'll do better than me by not making a fool of yourself in the gutter. For what it's worth I think the main tip would be to keep your eyes open :D

BB said...


Be afraid, be very afraid! Toe-tapping is one of the first signs of the dangerous slide down the greasy pole of ukulele obsession.

I would steer clear of their version of 'Teenage Dirtbag', because by then it will be too late, and you will find suddenly find yourself the proud owner of a new Uke. Resistance is useless!

Don't worry, I was chuckling too by the time I'd reached the train station :)

ian... said...

Hi BB.

Am also reluctant to mention the 'six at the bottom' having had many 'moments' when using Spds!

Thanks for sharing, glad you're okay & am now off to Youtube in search of that Teenage Dirtbag rendition :>D

BB said...

Ian, have heard many a horror story of initial forgetfulness when switching to SPD's - you are so not alone! : D