Rosie Paterson and James Fisher share the truth about cycling, and wonder how it is that March was simultaneously 28 years and yet only two months ago.
Our writers Rosie Paterson and James Fisher — who have both, one way or another, ended up alone for the duration — are sharing slices of their lives.
So far they’ve ranked musical instruments (and not in a good way), mused over mysteries, shared tales of curious robins, video chat and little old ladies winching shopping through windows. You can catch up on all their columns here.
I appear to have missed the Government briefing mandating daily raves. Fortunately, a rave on Clapham Common isn’t high up on my list. In fact, I’d say it’s at the bottom. My idea of mixing it up in lockdown is going out on a bike ride instead of a walk.
Wild, I know, but I don’t think I’m the only one because bicycle sales are up 40%. Lycra-clad cyclists will be quick to list all the reasons why two wheels is the way to go, and a little less willing to share the not so good side(s).
So, in the interest of being fair, I present to you the seven rules of cycling that no seasoned cyclist will ever tell you:
So much has happened, in such little time, that you can be forgiven for forgetting what, exactly, is ‘normal’.
What was normal in January? It’s hard to remember, but I think it was being cold, being hungover after a lengthy Christmas break and staring in abject horror at images of a scorched Australian outbreak. We huddled tight, in pubs, close to one another (as if to prove a point, it feels unhygienic to even type such a phrase), lamenting the state of the climate, Brexit and house prices.
That was to be the highlight of 2020, remarkably, and having lived through the September 11 attacks, various wars, a pandemic and two eye-watering recessions before my 30th birthday, I will gladly break social distancing rules to slap anyone who dares to suggest that my generation ‘doesn’t know how good I’ve got it’.
Then came Coronavirus. Slowly at first, of course, far away, like SARS, a thing that was someone else’s problem that we should keep an eye on.
Except we didn’t, not really, and in the space of two weeks we went from hating the rest of the world (as is the English tradition) to hating our own neighbours after they dared go for a 2nd walk. We hooted and hollered as police vans chased people around parks like some dystopian Benny Hill sketch. That was normal for March, which was a month, you may remember, that happened 28 years ago and also somehow this year.
But even that feels not normal now. Parks and beaches are full up, with people and their dogs in excruciating numbers, and that’s normal. The take-away pubs are gouging their customers for pints that cost £5, even though the punters can get the same beer for 1/5th of the price at the corner shop next door and buy a mask that they then wouldn’t wear with the change.
We spent months talking to people that we haven’t seen in years and, now we can see them again, we won’t, because that’s not what British people do. We can take comfort that the newspapers scream ‘Slobs!’ over pictures of litter not taken home, seemingly forgetting that we have always left our rubbish everywhere, every year the second the sun comes up, as a slight sign that ‘Normal’ is returning.
So when people tell you about normal, or reminisce about normal, or say ‘we can’t change this because it’s the way it’s always been’, remember how many times normal changed in the past six months. I miss normal, but I can’t wait to see what’s normal next.