We are now served on our trains by a retail manager who serves from the retail trolley. This used to be known as the drinks trolley or simply 'the trolley'. Retail feels a little formal doesn't it? Theres an honesty about 'the tea man' or 'the tea lady'. Sure, they sell other shit, but deep down most folks want a tea - maybe with a wee cheeky bit of shortbread on the side. These managers always seem to work alone as well which makes me wonder what they are managing- the crisps? And are they on a managers wage?!
I remember visiting Italy and seeing the kerfuffle that happened at interchange stations on the platforms as overheated passengers angled for cold, fizzy water during summertime. I recall watching guys selling from vast pots of chai in india on Michael Palin's aroud the world. The tea man in India was respected and there was theatre. He was an important part of the journey.
It now seems incredible that we are allowed to buy hot drinks at all given their scalding heat on a rocking carriage. Who could deal with such a balancing act? We are now offered packaged hymogony, probably best described on a thomas cook flight to greece where, having travelled past juicy, fresh watermelons served off a cart by the side of the road, we are offered pot noodles and cup a soups, instant coffee and maltesers.
Bring back theatre and informality to journeys!
Posted by stupot at 08:18 PM Friday 13 Jun
I still read a cycling magazine and Viz comic fairly regularly - I've done this on and off since I was 15 and I'm pretty proud of the fact. I found myself on the verge of an asthma attack last week, crying with laughter as I read excerpts of the Profanasaurus. I think the term in question was 'Tramps tongue'.
Cycling weekly doesn't quite have the same effect but it gives a reasonable amount of enjoyment and keeps me up to speed with the peleton. The other thing I've been doing for 25 years is going to gigs - something that usually inspires, elates but rarely induces asthma attacks.Continue reading "Elevation"
Posted by stupot at 12:19 PM Saturday 7 Jun
Etape is a French word which has been engrained into my vocabulary for many years. I know various obscure words and phrases with the common theme of cycling: Roleur, Poursuivants, Col, Grimpeur, Parcours, Chute, Domestique, Flame Rouge, Maillot a pois. Etape has now become synonymous with sportif events, the name coming from those who race one stage of the Tour de France each year, and the original closed road event, in the UK, is in Perthshire in Scotland.
I usually do a bit of touring each year as well as some longer one day rides on top of the week to week cycling. Manuela shouted me in November when the organisers get everyone in order - this is why I don't enter these events: Im too busy or unorganised, or both, to plan ahead enough, taking usually only 2 months to organise a holiday or trip in advance. Thankfully I was entered by proxy and even got a hotel room by the start line as a result of having other well organised friends.
Posted by stupot at 07:20 PM Sunday 18 May
Despite the harshness of a serious crash just after Mahogany, the subsequent increased workload and generally poor, mild, wet weather - there is the positivity of impending Spring flowing around just now. Being back on the bike is a massive boost as the mood is enriched through the sense of freedom, elation and energy that exercise gives. The sun has been out this week but the air still fresh. Windows can be opened - the cobwebs literally being blown away. Work is busy but fulfilling and coming to the end of an intense year with a break booked in the calendar - something that should never be under-rated.
Posted by stupot at 05:21 PM Sunday 23 Mar
Celtic connections has been another great way to start the year and ward off the bleak, damp January weather. A coarse, frank but ever articulate Aidan Moffat warmed up for R M Hubbert at the packed out Mitchell Theatre, a venue which is obviously dated but ageing very well due to some decent joinery. Despite spotting some youngsters and starting with a warning of hard language, the parents of the 11 year old in front of us had to do some fairly constant ear-covering as Aidan Moffat crescendo'd his Glasgow tales with a very filthy tongue indeed. R M Hubbert? Not my cup of tea but a man obviously loved by many and a very talented guitarist indeed. His harsh language was at massive odds with the delicate quartet who joined with him as well Emma Pollock (Ex-Delgados) who was the cream of the gig with a voice from another world. I was sorry though to miss the Moffat / Hubbert duet which came at the end. Such is the pain of a broken collarbone in a confined space!Continue reading "Winter Festivals"
Posted by stupot at 02:19 PM Sunday 2 Feb
Normally we'd all jump at the chance of some time off work: being aware of working too hard is a valuable, if easy-to-miss, insight. The fact I'd already set out for a calmer January made me question the accidents' motives. My pace had obviously not slackened off enough. This fell under the same banner as trying to thoroughly set the flat straight, only for the boiler to go on strike.
It's also a bit like going to a meeting expectant of a certain result - you're invariably going to be wrong. Especially if a positive result is assumed.
In any case - or every case - this is what we generally call 'life'. You do not find guarantees but rather some times things work out well and other times you get a run of 'shit' happening. As we understand that this is a given, it is then how you deal with 'the shit' that is most important.
Anyhow, this was just meant to be a record of recuperation development so I'll get back to facts:Continue reading "Recovery "
Posted by stupot at 12:44 PM Sunday 26 Jan
ride. ride. traffic. ride. rain. ride. dry. warm. change clothes. change bike. go. go. go. round. round. round. round. stop. drink. round. round. round.
touch collarbone. bumpy. sit at table. whats your address. eyes wide. an ambulance is coming. responses slow. no pain. bit of pain. more pain. nice folk. in the ambulance. gas and air. pretty sore. talking deep and slow. is my voice deep and slow?
sit on bed. clothes in a bag. wide eyes. in a cubicle. alone. taken to a corridor. sit watching wall. shiver. x-ray. and another. and another. sit outside. back for another. back to cubicle. splint and sling. sit alone. pain. Laura arrives. relief. waiting room. everyone looking. look at floor. taxi comes. rain. overwhelming. mixed with reality. pain. home.
Posted by stupot at 03:25 PM Thursday 9 Jan
I look away from people when I'm talking to them.
Some traits you pick up from other people (parents / contemporaries) and some traits you just display without thinking. I struggle with finding the right word some times, so I look away from people. Without intending to labour the point I strive to find the correct word. Looking at the human face is one of the most off-putting (& interesting) subjects to look at and so I tend to look away a lot. It helps concentration but it annoys the majority of gentrified humans (they think there is something more important than them going on).
It's a bit like writing this stream of consciousness - it IS a stream of consciousness but even as I write I still need to think of the right word. Correct word. Appropriate word. Proper word. Applicable. This is not contrived - I don't do it to appear more clever: sometimes I repeat words too much or I know that there is a more relevant (better, pertinent, suitable) way of describing something. Staring at the page doesn't help so I look out the window and develop a 'thousand yard stare'.
This is similar to the way the brain deals with other problem-solving situations like design: riding a bicycle can help solve problems because you allow the brain to switch off from the subject and be free to answer the question without pressure. Focus can come from being, as someone might perceive it, completely unfocussed. As someone else may describe it - meditation.
Posted by stupot at 12:03 PM Monday 30 Dec
Our summer this year has been one of the best. Warm and dry with splashes of heat and lacking in wind. But you know what - I have a craving for really bad weather. Not just a bit of rain but really windy and nasty. I like nothing more than battening down the hatches, finding the candles and a good blanket. The feeling that you don't have to be anywhere and, in fact, would be positively encouraged to stay indoors. Cars splashing through puddles outside, branches knocking on the window, wind whistling through miniscule gaps. Aye, I'll have a wee bit of that thanks. A wee reminder of who's in charge around here.
Posted by stupot at 11:04 AM Sunday 15 Sep
I have to say I've found an increase in awareness of cyclists by motorists in the past few years. It's still not universal but then cyclists aren't that perfect either. You could argue that with the amount of bikes on the road these days that it's in your interest to be more aware. Manslaughter is a nasty charge for being lazy with your mirror usage.
In any case, cars are very different to bikes. Notably they go a lot faster, are capable of causing great damage and motorists are surrounded by all manners of protection. It's a safe, sealed environment which adds to issues faced by those on the other side of the windscreen. Ignorance works both ways and just as non-cycling motorists may not understand how exposed you are on two wheels, non-driving cyclists may not understand how many blind spots a motorist has. Empathy and good etiquette are key.
Here are a few things I've noticed, being a driver and a cyclist, that might help us all......
1. MOTORISTS - YOU KNOW WHEN you're overtaking a massive lorry and it's very intimidating and you just want to get past it, and some times it get's a bit too close? That's what it's like having a car go past you too close. So leave a bit more room if you can. In fact - if there is a clear road - just go onto the other side of the road - it's no more expensive.
2. CYCLISTS - YOU KNOW WHEN you're at the traffic lights in your own little box and you sit in the middle of the road? Well, the box is both for lots of cyclists to occupy if it is busy but more so it is a device to keep cars back. This doesn't mean to say that you have to sit in the middle of it if you are alone and hold up traffic. Hold your own and take your space but don't give other road users good reason to get pissed off at you - lot's of us have to share it!
3. MOTORISTS - YOU KNOW WHEN you peep your horn and it doesn't sound THAT loud? Well, for everyone outside your car; pedestrians, cyclists, priests, plumbers, it sounds really loud to the point that it can unsteady you. It certainly fazes you and there's always a chance of a freak out. That's why, you know when the whole street turns around when you peep? That's because you have made a lot of people jump. So shut the fuck up unless its an emergency. Or become a taxi driver. none of these rules apply to them.
4. CYCLISTS - It's not just down to motorists - in order to greet the dawning of the all new shiny Utopia we all need to be a bit nicer to each other. Let cars out, tell them if the road is clear, acknowledge if they wait to pass at a safe place, It's not that hard.
5. MOTORISTS - BE MORE CONFIDENT - If you are going to overtake, OVERTAKE. If you do not have the confidence to make a decision or commit, get Smooth FM on and chill out until you are ready. A nervous driver makes cyclists nervous. And half committing could kill someone.
6. CYCLISTS - If a motorist endangers your life make sure you have a carbohydrate solution in your bottle. When you spray this on the interior of a car it is very hard to remove.
7. MOTORISTS - MOMENTUM, BASIC PHYSICS - Cycling is a healthy way to travel. Some sections of the scientific community are even suggesting that it may be a greener mode of transport to motor cars. Mumbo Jumbo aside, cycling takes a lot of effort. Every pause in the journey means the rider has to push on the pedals and exert great effort to reach the speed at which they was going previously. So when a cyclist is approaching a set of red lights for example, and they are freewheeling, there is a good chance they are doing what's called 'conserving energy'. Instead of trying to get past them at any cost why don't you try to conserve energy in your car? it means you won't burn as much fuel and you will also be able to get in to bed at night knowing you aren't, what's known in the cycling community, an arsehole.
8. CYCLISTS - shut it.
9. MOTORISTS - calm down.
Posted by stupot at 04:46 PM Sunday 25 Aug