Friday, 18 December 2009

Hah, Bumhug, and mobile phones

I'm typing this out, at home, in the middle of our third blizzard in less than 24 hours. Being England, a blizzard is not like the ones my cousin Jane gets in Cobourg, Ontario, in the depths of their winter, but for me, the last 18 hours has seen a lot of heavy snow falling and swirling, with the air thick white and visibility down to just over 100 yards. Quite a bit has settled around here, the garden is under about 4", although a text just in from Mrs HD says that 4 miles up the road and it's all stopped - the snowing, that is. Aha, a snow plough has just trundled through the village. I may yet ride to work later. Its nearly the Christmas holidays. I'm in a bit of a quandary over this time of year. Not a religeous type, having lost my faith many years ago, I still enjoy the Christian celebrations and give due deference to them and the faithful of other persuasions. But I do not like the commerce of our Christmas, one little bit. Yesterday, during my Pilates class, the coach was playing `Christmas` songs instead of the usual background music. As song after song played, I could hear two ladies in the class identifying each tune with a TV commercial - "Oh this is lovely, the Marks and Spencers ad` or ` Isn't this one Tesco's?` My feelings were nicely encapsulated in an editorial written by an acquaintence of mine in the latest publication of the quarterly magazine of a motorcycle orgainisation I have supported, sporadically, over 3 decades - The Motorcycle Action Group or `MAG`. The magazine, "The Road", is a very entertaining and sensible read, probably because its editor Ian Mutch, one of the founders of MAG, is also a very sensible and entertaining fellow and several times published author of books for the discerning biker. He was recently treated to a thug driver's violent abuse as they almost met on a London road junction, Ian being on his trusty pedal cycle at the time - his other bike is a Harley. It was of particular relevance to me, as a `white-van man` tried to unknowingly hospitalise me yesterday as he blathered away, his mobile phone clamped to his left ear, whilst negotiating a mini roundabout, left hand struggling with the steering wheel and indicators (which is why the direction indicator signal never came). Thank you, BMW, for those fabulous anti-lock brakes on my `other` bike, that big 1150GS. I got the 0800 number on the van, together with the vehicles fleet i/d that invited me to grass up any crap driving, so I rang it when I got the chance. I actually got through and a nice Northern lass was most supportive and sympathetic. I expect nothing as usual, so that I won't be disappointed, but I wanted to play my part in trying to prevent an unnecessary death further down the road. I have reproduced Ian's sentiments below, in italics, with his permission. If you're a biker, JOIN MAG! Speaking of crashing, a motorist tried to kill me on my bicycle recently. You know how you can tell when someone is approaching a junction too fast with that `I really can't be bothered braking` message coming at you loud and clear. I slow right down in these situations to broaden my options and did so on this occasion. To my surprise the driver did brake and virtually stopped and then when I was six feet from his bonnet, hit the gas, spun his wheels and charged forward. I was at walking speed by now and with brakes that can stop me on a sixpence I was able to stand the bike on its front wheel as the madman shot in front of me with microns to spare. My tirade of abuse provoked him to slam on his brakes, stick his hideous head out the window and challenge me to a fight. He acted like a total psycho and inviting him to apologise produced nothing but more violent threats so I took his registration and called the police. Most people will ask what the point in that was, since they will do nothing. In fairness, without a witness what can they do but check him out and hope that they catch him at home unloading Kalashnikovs from his boot. (HD: No Ian, they won't even do that). (This is the Christmas bit) Worse than violent thugs is my local supermarket which has had a life sized animated Father Christmas waving his arms and yo ho ho`ing at me since Nov 7th. I detest the commercialisation of the birth of Christ. Actually, I resent the premature celebration of everything as if life is too dull to be savoured for itself, without carrots of excess forever being dangled before ones slavering faces on the most insincere of pretexts. And as if jolly mannekins and homicidal thugs bring insufficient misery, I've just heard the police in Sussex are stopping bikers who aren't wearing hi-vis kit and giving them orange vests. Come back Father Christmas, all is forgiven. That sentiment in bold italics did it for me. Well said Ian. But at least the Sussex police weren't giving out sensible shoes and blankets to pissed women tottering home in the wee small hours in micro dresses and transparent knickers. By the way, I hope you enjoy the bit of classic Johnny Cash and friends at the top. Ride it safe. Do check out the below links: Motorcycle Action Group Bikerlifestyle Pics


Scarlet Blue said...

Goodness me! Premature celebration always leads to anti-climax. Sad but true.

Blue Eyes said...

As an avid urban pedal cycler I entirely empathise with that. The other day I push biked over to my mum's place and lost count of the number of near misses. It never used to be that bad! I have perfected the angry glare as I swoosh past, but what effect it has I don't know.

I think the use of the phone whilst driving is a symptom of the underlying lack of giving a shit about anyone else rather than the main cause.

The larger smarter cars seem to be more dangerous than the smaller scruffier ones. Is that because the larger ones are harder to drive or because their drivers care less about their fellow man?

Can I go on the back of your bike sometime Mr H?

Hogday said...

Scarlet Blue: I never have a problem celebrating with Mrs Hogday!

Blue: Modern cars insulate and isolate. Heavens help us when electric cars can perform like Golf GTi's. They will have to broadcast a soundtrack of some sort to alert the poor bloody infantry. As a biker, you feel, hear and smell everything. As a cyclist you will be most welcome on the back seat. Harley or BMW Sir?

Blue Eyes said...

It's interesting isn't it - that by becoming safer in themselves, cars have probably become more dangerous.

Bring back those flimsy shitty 1970s cars which couldn't do more than 50mph and took 20 miles to wind up to full speed!

And real minis.

Blue Eyes said...

Whichever I am least likely to shit myself on!?

Hogday said...

You shit on my bike, I smacka you face.

Hogday said...

and real Minis!! What with being a beer coin-osser as well, you and Mrs HD will get on just fine.