I love movement. I quite like standing still too, please don’t get me wrong, but movement does it for me. The act of travelling thrills me. I know that some people like to get all blase and tedious about these things and complain about air travel for instance, but I get a kick out of going somewhere that can always usefully be described as ‘away’, no matter how irritating the security checks, no matter how annoying your fellow travellers.
Boats too. Rolling on a sea swell lifts my spirits and makes me realise that life has many deep purposes. Hoping to avoid drowning is probably one of them, and getting soaked in the spray thrown up by breaking waves is enough to remind me of my mortality there.
Obviously, I don’t get many chances to travel long distances, so the three mile walk to work in my little high street retail bakery slash coffee shop and back every day is about as close as I get to being a local Marco Polo. Spooning the sugar slowly into my coffee and watching the grains sink and dissolve is as near to excitement as I come most days, so don’t mock my everyday limits, please. This is my life I’m talking about here.
So, in order to lift the everyday experience from torment to something resembling endurable banality, I go cycling every evening. I don’t go far, and I don’t wear any special gear. Just my swim shorts, a tee shirt and my battered, oldest pair of slip on beach shoes. And a facial expression that hovers somewhere between grin and grim. I always follow the same route as well. It’s a five mile ride from my house, down the hill, along the estuary trail, beside the gently sweeping bay past the Tidemills, skirting the Martello tower and along past the beach huts to Splash Point. Then I stop, admire the scenery from the base of the cliffs, and return home the same way. Occasionally, very occasionally, I take the beach path to Tidemills and back over the railway crossing rather than the more direct route, and boy do I appreciate the variety that life can throw at me.
I was chatting the other day to one of the girls who frequent my shop about my evening bike rides, when she asked me ‘Why do you do it? Why do you ride your bike when you’ve been here in the shop all day?’ I had been expecting my raunch factor to increase due to my sporting prowess and all round fitness. I was wrong.
“Because there are no hills my love” I replied. “And also, I really enjoy the feel of salt air whistling tunelessly through the hairs on my naked limbs. That’s one reason why I neither wax nor shave. Try it.” She looked at me like I was talking Chinese. Maybe that’s something I should learn.
One strange and mysterious phenomenon I have noticed on my evening journeys is the growing tendency for dog owners to bundle up their vile companions’ turds in small plastic bags and rather than dump them in the bins provided, they simply drop them on the path. I don’t like dogs, I’ll tell you that now. I don’t go in houses where dogs live, and relatives and acquaintances who have dogs know better than to risk the inevitable upset that they face if they try to enter my house with their dogs in tow.
So peculiar habits like wrapping poo in plastic and abandoning the end result on a public path is behaviour that I for one expect from people who choose to share their lives and homes with the creatures. But why, dear friend, why? What do they expect to happen to their little parcels? The contents won’t degrade in the normal fashion, owing to the limits on oxygen and bacteria available. I can only imagine that some form of fossilisation is expected to occur, with some future archaeologist confidently deciding that some members of 21st century society were in the habit of leaving strange little ritual objects all over the place, wrapped in sandwich bags. They’ll probably let their children play with them too. It’ll be alright though, the smell should have cleared by then and the ancient dog poos will be as hard as rock.
I just do my best to avoid them.