Juggling two jobs and a busy weekend hath made me mad.
I am distracted, and though the bulk of what I do is done well, there are moments when, were you to watch me, you would think I might be in need of medication or, at the very least, a little light counselling.
This afternoon I had a solemn duty. While my sister ran training for teachers, I was to collect Big Al, his sisters, and my son.
I had it all planned. It should all have been so smooth.
I have a porch. It it a little airlock between the Shrewsday way of life and the outside world, and it contains bicycles and smells of wellington boots. I stood in the porch, as distracted as Ophelia herself. I pulled the door shut with just four minutes to get in the car and drive to school down the road.
And then it occurred to me that my keys were inside the house.
Not only could I not get back into my house, nor – horrors – could I get into the car to teleport almost instantly to the school gate.
No. I had four minutes to cover a walk of ten. And Big Al would be waiting. I berated myself (out loud) and cast about wildly for some solution.
My eyes lit on Phil’s old bike.
Phil’s bike has seen better days. It was actually my Dad’s, borrowed some time deep in the past. Phil gave up riding it a year or so ago; it has dodgy brakes, I believe, and other idiosyncrasies I have not bothered to fathom.
Until now. There was only one thing for it. If I was to get anywhere in any sort of time, I must get on that contraption and cycle for my life.
Picture, if you will, an overgrown stick insect trying to ride a bicycle. Add into the mix the stick insect’s inability to fathom the whole business of gears, and how they work.
And that was me. I could not seem to get out of first gear, yet the bulk of the first two minutes was uphill. My knees seemed to be somewhere around ear height, and my legs were going like the clappers, a veritable blur. Yet the bicycle was only just creeping along.
Extemporaneously, I tried every single knob, bell and switch on that frame, teetering between stasis and forward motion.
And then something – to this moment I still am not sure quite what – clicked into play and I had a bit more power. Not much, mind, but enough to move forward a little painfully, legs whirring. And off I went. Slow and unsteady wins the race.
This may not have been the opinion of the vehicles who subsequently became trapped behind me. Chicanes ahead meant overtaking was impossible, and there I was, a gangly flapping pied piper to a long row of exasperated cars and trucks.
Finally, excruciatingly, I reached the top of the hill and the end of the chicane and the cars roared past, and I shot down the hill in great triumph. At last. some speed! Poop poop! I would get to that Reception class door yet.
Until this moment, so thrilled was I to be moving, at last, that the queston of braking had not been an issue. Now, however, as I hurtled downhill at speed towards school, the issue became more pressing.
And on application, I discovered I had virtually no brakes whatsoever.
If I pulled with all my strength, I might effect a slight cessation in speed. I pulled and pulled and pulled and somehow slowed to the bottom of the hill, crossing the road and careering up the little footpath to school, drawing reproving glances from the school gate glitterati.
But this stick insect got – a little shakily – off the boneshaker.
And made it to Big Al’s door in one piece, and on time.