OK, I’m a bit too hot, after nearly an hour in the sun. I also seem to have a lot of road on me, and grease all over my hands. Most annoyingly, I have a bicycle that sounds like Einsturzende Neubauten (did I spell that right?) in concert when I even push it down the road which is all I am likely to be doing with it for the foreseeable. If I try and ride it it sounds like Sooty & Sweep meets the Velvet Underground crossed with Stockhausen on amphetamines. Still apart from that, a few bruises and a twisted ankle are the extent of the damage. I can still hobble about, for which the world can be grateful or callous as the mood takes them. So what happened?
I have no idea. The facts are simple. Took bike out for spin. Notice odd clanking. Get off bike, look, not much wrong, apart from my back brake cable has been taken out – that requires considerable force, but could have happened I guess somehow. My front brake is fine. I turn for home, and noise gets worse, but luckily I’m almost outside Paul Wheeldon’s flat. I decide to wander in and see if he has a moment and any tools, and to see if I can fix it, at least reconnect the back brake. I say hi to Paul’s landlord, a nice chap, and then park my bike by the kitchen window (in the yard) and knock. No reply. I curse my luck! I knock louder, still no reply, so finally remembering Paul is at the back of the house i try the door, and finding it open wander in. Him or Rob might be asleep, but with a spoon I can always fix it. I don’t normally burgle people’s houses! Then I hear someone out back, so I shout “Paul, yahoo, it’s CJ!” And he appears, looking like I have just shot him. Maybe he thought I was a very cheerful homicidal maniac come to slay him in his bed, or in true Mayor Quimby style his bed was actually filled with sexy young interns? Or maybe he really was juts trying to prepare his pub quiz for tonight, and could not be disturbed. He explained politely, but in that manner people have when flustered by unexpectedly being visited by people they really do not want to see right now that he was really busy and I’d have to go. I looked around for a spoon or something, but he did not seem very amenable to any further discussion, just kept repeating “you have to go I’m busy” so I left. And then things got worse.
I’d hurt my foot wearing some shoes which are not utterly disgraceful when I went to Dudley on Friday – the wrath of Becky is far worse than sore feet – and my left foot must be bigger than my right, for it currently has plasters on – so I was limping a little. I climbed on the bike, and gingerly set off up the road, when three things happened at once – firstly a car came down the (dead end to traffic) street far too fast, on my side of the road as people are parked on the other. Secondly my back wheel suddenly stopped turning, and then as the wheel left the ground as I put the front brake on, came off my bike entirely. I’d like to say it went rolling down the road in a cinematic manner – in fact it just seems to have fallen over on the spot, being already stationary. I leapt left, in to a wall, entirely unnecessarily as the oncoming driver stopped, and I believe nearly died of apoplexy laughing at the sight of my ungainly impact with the road. Well actually I think it was quite graceful? Who knows. Of course I land on my bad foot and twist my ankle…
OK, so just superficial bruising, and a twisted ankle. If it had happened on the Tewkesbury Road could have been fatal, but it didn’t, it happened at really slow speed in an alley. I now stood up, and found that my back wheel had come entirely off – the noise was caused by the nuts working free. Someone must have loosened them? That and the back brake not being attached led to the rather odd crash. Never had anything like that happen before! For a paranoid second I wondered if someone was trying to kill me. I keep my bike in the living room, and I never ever leave it unsupervised outside – I don’t even carry a lock nowadays. I just use it for pleasure jaunts. It has no panniers, and it’s hard to ride with shopping balanced on the handlebars. If I leave it at Richard’s while i go to TESCO he stands and frets over it like a mother hen guarding her young. If it was sabotaged it was done in the house – but who would have any reason to kill CJ? Not Lisa for sure! She has access at work to far better methods anyway.
So a homicidal visitor? A mental review does not suggest any! In fact, I am totally puzzled. Yet there is one prime suspect. A young lady, from Somerset, who has a known history of sabotage…
I have an exercise bike here. Occasionally we ride on it – I used to use it a bit till one day it fell apart under me. Lisa had exactly the same experience. We tighten the bolts, and yet it falls apart as soon as we are riding. And one day we found out how.
The young lady, who is two years old, has uncanny strength in her paws. Hansine, a small tabby cat is also a gremlin with an amazing ability to destroy things. Unlike other cats he does not just chew them – she undoes them, with her paws. She has no malicious intent – she just plays with any loose nut, working at it till the object in question falls apart. I don’t believe she could have disconnected the brakes, but if a nut was loose, she would have amused herself for ages unscrewing it. I would not believe a word of this, had we not witnessed repeatedly her sabotaging the exercise bike. So is she trying to kill me? Nope. But if there is a prime suspect, well Hansine is it. (NB: My cats are rather dangerous. I recently had to inform Cuddles he was not Corgi registered when he started to get very interested in the gas pipes.)
Well I got too hot standing on that blasted road. I would normally have wheeled the bits of my bike back to Paul’s, but he was VERY busy and quite insistent. So I wandered home, having reattached the back wheel after a titanic struggle in which I discovered the British public has an amazing capacity for telling you what you know and stating the obvious “wheel come off?”, “you got a problem with the bike?” and one girl who nervously said “do you live round here?” Yes, of course. I live just opposite. That’s why I’m standing by the side of the road sweltering covered in grease with a dismantled bicycle. I thought it so much more fun than repairing it with tools in the privacy of my own garden! One cheerful bearded fellow offered to help, but that was just as I finally got the wheel on and the forks bent back enough to actually wheel it home, and coast the last few triumphant yards down the alley where I live, bring Tina out to see what the noise was. Maybe she thought a scrap iron merchant pulling a wagon load of metal with a boneshaker, or the Angel of the Millennium heralding the Last Trump. Whatever she thought was drowned out in the cacophony of my triumphant arrival back!
Anyway enough. I’m going to the pub. I know I don’t drink, but hell, I think I might tonight. I won’t be repairing the bike in my perilous current financial state for a month or two, but I might ask DC over to have a look. For now, I’m just glad to be in one piece!