I have long pondered, but never got round to, writing about nods. No wait, let me explain. You’re on the bike, out there in the elements on a lonely road. You approach another lonely soul also out there in the elements – whether another cyclist, a workman digging out a drain, a farmer on a quad bike. You nod, they nod back – a little interaction that is probably universal across rural cultures where everyone, including strangers, gets an acknowledgement of some sort in passing. Except I began to notice that people nod slightly differently up here. I’d bob my head up and down as I learned as a child and in return, my interlocutor would not so much nod as rotate their chin through a few degrees – from say six to eight on a clock dial. One of those things you note, think must blog about that one of these days, and then totally forget until someone comes along and writes about it (or its Norn Iron equivalent) far more eloquently than I ever did.
So far, I’ve confined myself to my own native English nod, uncertain whether I could actually pull the authentic South West Scotland version off without looking like a complete fake. But after such encounters I do sometimes find myself practising it as I ride along. Just, you know, to see if I can manage it in case I ever need to go into deep cover.*
It’s lucky our roads are really very empty indeed.
Oh go on, it’s Friday: what embarrassing things do you do when you’re out on your own on a bike?
* See also dropping ‘outwith’ into casual conversation.