I was walking around London the other week. Usual load of smog, noise and repressed rage.
At some traffic lights on a nasty crossroads, in front of a long chain of cars, there was a bloke, dressed a bit like a 70s pimp, on a horse. He looked very pleased with himself. I was less impressed.
It’s pretty much the same when you see someone in a BMW trying to get through Ugglebarnby – it’s just not right. There should be a park and ride for people with posh cars, on the edge of the moors, where they all have to get on a tractor.
Anyway, I walk a lot, often on the Cleveland Way, the old railway line (I refuse to call it a Cinder Track), or on the beach. With the rain this winter though, that’s basically been a choice of getting very muddy or very drowned.
So I go out on the country lanes quite a bit, walking as my mum taught me – towards the traffic, so that I can see what is about to hit me.
There’s a very British etiquette here. Upon sighting each other, the driver swerves to the other side of the road, and I dive into a hedge. It’s a bit excessive really, but better overkill than roadkill.
The great outdoors is essentially an open zoo, and seeing animals a thrill, especially when they’ve not been flattened. The wild ones tend to scarper though, so it’s always nice to see someone riding a horse. On the road the etiquette is difficult though.
You really want to look at the majestic and beautiful beast, but the fact there’s someone on it makes you feel a bit, weird, just staring. I’ve been known to let them go by and then cast an admiring glance backwards, but that is far from a horse’s best side.
And so to cyclists.
I’ve noticed motorists getting a bit uppity about cyclists lately.
“They cause more accidents than cars!” people confidently announce, ignoring the fact that, by and large, the cyclists come off worse.
It’s a bit like when people post a photo on Facebook with a man next to a shark, and the question – ‘which is REALLY the most dangerous?’ It’s the shark mate, trust me.
I’d rather not be stuck in a lift with one. I think it’s the tiny, tinny bells that annoy people, the road hazard equivalent of Scrappy Doo. If I had a bike I’d have a big hooter on it, like that one on the car at the start of the Waltons. Showing my age.
I’ll give final mention to the guy I saw last week. I was on the 93A bus just outside of Hawsker, when it mysteriously stopped.
Naturally, I and the other passengers thought “Oooh, has there been an accident?” and peered out the window.
No, just a farmer. And about 100 sheep.
Moving from one field to another with all the urgency of a sleepy panda.
If that guy in London had wanted to know what cool really looked like...