So every day now I’m going on a bicycle ride in the evenings after I get home from work in my bakery shop. Or if it’s Sunday, or Wednesday when I tend to be able to take a day off, I’ll go earlier in the day. I’m dead adaptable like that. Flexible too. I flex and I adapt and thus harmony with the inner void is achieved.
On a normal day I cycle a round trip of just under eight miles, along the picturesque and fragrant estuary footpath, then under the railway bridge, along the esplanade, pause at Splash Point to admire the scenery, and then I return home along the same route. But naturally, in reverse. It’s that flexibility again you see? About two miles from the end, along a stretch of footpath which is sunken among the fields and lower then sea-level, there is a run of wild honeysuckle. Have you ever smelled that stuff? On a warm evening, and the warmer it gets the stronger the perfume, it’s like sticking your face in Kylie’s lap and inhaling her intimate fumes. You can be sure you won’t get stubble burns there, dear reader. She’s a wax girl, I’m sure. Or even Methodist Electrolysis. I’d do it for her. Any day. Though the thought of a small golden mane there is quite stimulating, I must say. It’s a bit spicy, the scent of wild honeysuckle, with strong undertones of vanilla and lavender tussling gently in a girly embrace with clouds of honey mist, and it wraps you in its comfort and soothes your brow with a languid caress. It’s that fucking good. That’s something else that helps achieve cosmic harmony with the inner void.
Anyway, I sometimes extend my bicycle ride into a triathlon, by chaining the bike to a rail on Boningstedt Promenade, which instils within me a sense of the sheer vibrancy of the concept of twinning with continental Heimats, then strolling energetically down to the shore and plunging manfully into the waves. The water’s very pleasantly warm quite early this year, and I enjoy a twenty minute gambol in the heaving swell before stumbling, dripping wet and stinging-eyed back up to the path. Naturally nothing is planned, so I have no towel on my person; I slightly air-dry myself on the beach, almost complete the process by wandering about a bit, then finishing on the ride back home. If it’s a really nice evening, as so many of them have been lately, I extend the ride to a ten miler by cycling along the Drove instead of turning right up the hill to my house. The Drove takes me to the river, and I cross the bridge and turn South along the riverside towards the harbour mouth until I come to the Lifeboat house, where I turn around a graceful one hundred and eighty degrees, give thanks for school mathematics lessons hard learned but still well remembered, and eventually return home. Still damp. Hair crusty. But happy and ready for a shower and a drink. Or on the particular evening I’m telling you about now, a drink and then a shower.
Anita, as is her wont, had left for work, cheering up sad amputees, and I was sipping at a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice made from a huge bag of fruit what my pal Col gave me which was excess stock on his market stall. Or hemos portokali, as some of us sometimes call it. On the rare occasions when you get a non-English speaking vendor. The doorbell chimed. I answered it. It was Anita’s semi Polish friend Anna Maria. She hefted a canvas sack around and it slammed into the ground at my feet. The weight was fucking terrific, I thought a mild earth tremor was about to occur. Anna Maria, as usual, was chomping on a wad of gum in order to maintain lubrication of the mouthparts and Marius her silent husband was in the background, a beaten look upon his worried brow.
“Hello Graham, I know Anita’s at work, I saw her driving off down the road and I waved but I don’t know if she saw me, anyway how are you are you, you alright, good, you look well, have you been for a bike ride, Anita told me you often go for a bike ride in the evenings do you enjoy going for a bike ride, it’s good isn’t it I sometimes go for a bike ride if Marius will come with me but he doesn’t often want to he always tells me to go on my own, have a bit of peace and quiet but it’s not the same on your own is it well I suppose it is for you because you always go on your own don’t you that’s what Anita told me, anyway I brought a few magazines around for Anita because one of them has a recipe in that she liked the look of but I can’t remember which one it was so I brought a few round she can look through them, find the recipe and I’ve finished with them anyway so she can do whatever she wants with them I don’t want them back so you know do what you want.” She gulped for breath.
“A few? A few magazines Anna Maria? There’s a small copse worth of wood pulp there. Anita probably won’t live long enough to go through that lot. You nearly broke the step when you dropped the bag down.” I said, with a confusingly English mix of accusation and hurt feelings.
Anna Maria looked like she was about to speak again. But then that’s how she always looks when she’s not actually in the act. Of speaking. I doubt that Anna Maria has an inner void with which she ever wishes to harmonise. I saw Marius across the road, enjoying a few moments of silence in their Berlingo thing. I was drowned almost, in the wave of sympathy that came crashing over me. But it wasn’t enough.
“Hey Anna Maria. Guess what? I’ve been on a bike ride. But I’ve also been swimming. In the sea. I haven’t washed yet. I’m all salty. D’ya wanna lick me? Find out what real sea-salt tastes like? Do ya? Before it’s too late?”
“Marius! It’s time to go.” She returned to the van and they left, Marius looking sad.
I had to take the pile of assorted magazines down to the recycling centre. Before Anita got home and decided it might be a good idea for someone to search through them for a recipe you could easily find in a book or on the internet anyway.