There was a moment on Saturday when I realised I really had been out of London for too long – and it wasn’t just when I was surprised at the way a silver Golf cut up not just me but a dad and a couple of kids in a bakfiets on a roundabout to shave, ooh, microseconds off the journey to the next traffic jam. No, the realisation came earlier when sitting outside (outside!) in the sunshine (sunshine!) at the cafe on the South Bank with Dave Warnock of 42 Bikes waiting for the others to arrive for the Cycling Embassy Launch. There was a guy shambling around with a can of Skol in his hand addressing remarks to the world in general and then, when he realised that we were failing not to see him as proper Londoners should, to us in particular. It’s very hard, I find, not to answer a direct question put to you in a reasonable manner (Skol or no Skol) and pretty soon he had pulled up a chair and joined us at our table. And as the others arrived and introduced themselves (for most people we knew by twitter handle or blog name rather than actual name) he introduced himself too, with handshakes all around. I think it took some people a little while to realise he wasn’t actually part of the Embassy* – perhaps they thought he was the mysterious Freewheeler, under deep cover – and he seemed happy enough to join in with our chat and properly appreciative of some of the more glorious bikes showing up for the launch. And then, possibly realising nobody was going to buy him a coffee, or perhaps because he had bigger fish to fry – he’s been part of the old Brian Hay Peace Camp outside parliament for the last few months – he wandered off to rejoin his own demonstration leaving us to ours.

In fact, I’m not sure that even when I lived in London I ever entirely mastered the city art of not seeing the people that you’re not supposed to see. Maybe as an invisible person myself (when on my bike, at least) I have too much in common with the other oddballs of this world – certainly they seem to have a tendency to home right in on me. And, besides, half an hour in his company was far more pleasant than just 30 seconds spent in company with the driver of that Golf…

*cycle campaigners aren’t always the best dressed of people although generally they aren’t on their second lager by 11 am.


6 Responses to Blinkered

  1. dave42w says:

    It was a bit surreal wasn’t it 🙂

    One of those unexpected encounters with people that makes life more interesting.

    As for the Golf, sadly it was not the only bad driver around 😦

  2. I find that I have some of the most interesting conversations with the sort of person that common sense might say ‘ignore this one’.

  3. disgruntled says:

    Dave – I know, you’d have thought the kids (and balloons) might have made them a bit more careful. *sigh*
    DM – to be honest he wasn’t entirely coherent, but it’s true, I’ve had some interesting encounters with people you’d generally cross the road to avoid

  4. welshcyclist says:

    Cyclist, as you say, are oddballs without the Skol, well most of the time. I, and perhaps it isn’t PC, call such people weirdos, and sadly I have that victim face, that draws them like flies. Always a bonus to have the bike with me, so that I can flee the scene quickly.

  5. Anonymous says:

    cycle campaigners aren’t always the best dressed of people although generally they aren’t on their second lager by 11 am.

    Maybe their 3rd or 4th

  6. disgruntled says:

    Welshcyclist – I’d locked my bike up, unfortunately, so no quick getaway…
    John – hehe! I think they’re fuelled by cake and coffee mostly …

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