I was at a cycle campaigners’ day on Saturday up in Edinburgh which was not just a nice opportunity for me to stand up and talk rubbish at people who could neither interrupt nor politely leave,* but also to meet others who could talk sense about their own campaigns. In among the other speakers was a local politician who was there to tell us how best to influence local politicians (and no, you cynics, brown envelopes full of cash didn’t feature although given today’s headlines perhaps that’s where we’re going wrong). There are a lot of people who would like cycle campaigners to be more positive generally – back-pedalling somewhat on the whole cyclists getting squashed by lorries thing, not getting too shouty when misguided advertising campaigns attempt to foster mutual respect by accusing all cyclists of running red lights, and not simply pointing and laughing when councils release plans for cycle paths that send cyclists into the side of a bus stop. Obviously, politicians are usually included in this group; indeed we have had representations made to us that it was unfortunate that a minister got heckled at the last Pedal on Parliament but one because now they won’t want to come any more, the poor delicate wee flowers. To which I reply: have these people never had to go to a hustings in Glasgow? I mean seriously? You’re a Scottish politician and you don’t like to be heckled? Because being heckled is, in fact, your job.
So anyway, at this point, I was about to develop an elaborate metaphor about how I don’t clean and oil my chain when it’s purring along nicely telling me what a wonderful job I’m doing maintaining my bicycle, but wait until it’s bitching and moaning with every gear change about my dreadful neglect. And then I rode into to town today and I realised that in fact, I don’t oil it then either. I wait until it won’t get into the lowest gear when I need to get up the steepest hill into an icy headwind because of my neglect and THEN I promise that when I get home – if I get home – I will definitely oil it, and give the whole bike a good wash and brush up to boot.
Oh, and then I get safely home and forget all about it until just now. You may develop your own elaborate metaphor about the political process, poltiicans’ promises and the coming election if you like.
*I’m possibly the only person in the country who actually looks forward to doing a bit of public speaking. Don’t tell anyone though because it’s a bit embarrassing.