Thursday, July 16, 2009


One likes to think that one’s persona is something that has been carefully cultivated over the years and is, if one may use an image, approaching the status of a long matured single malt: rich, sonorous with hidden depths. One imagines oneself as projecting a friendly yet wry character; one tinged with irony yet open to absurdities of life. A complex, enigmatic, subtle and informed person whose epigrammatic utterances delight and mystify.

I say this because I have bought a bike. It is what I call an ‘Old Man’s’ bike: it has an elegant curved frame to allow easy mounting and dismounting and a basket in front with a metal contraption on the rear wheel to take some sort of bag. There are guards on the back wheels and a guard to stop your socks from getting dirty on the chain. It looks old-fashioned in a distinctly modern sort of way. And is nothing like the mountain bike that Toni bought.

The seat on Toni’s bike looks like the skull of a wasted stork while mine looks like a puffin’s skull with enlarged frontal lobes. Not for nothing is the trade mark of my seat called ‘Plush’ (sic)!

Toni’s comment on my purchase (well, one of them) was, “You’ve only bought that bike because of those French films.” This is disturbingly near the truth. I did have visions of getting provisions on a sunny morning, meandering my way through some sleepy foreign village on a sit-up-and-beg-bike. I have to admit that some of my inclination towards such a bike was fostered by images of the redoubtable Margaret Rutherford playing Miss Marple and coping with murder most foul while perambulating in the bike of my dreams.

My real question is how the hell Toni knew all this. It is hardly the thing that comes up in general conversation. And it can’t be that I am so easy to read. Can it? No, of course not. There must be some other explanation. Like mind reading.

Our bikes (made necessary by our relative isolation in the new house – very relative, I have to say) were collected with the assistance of Toni’s sister in her family car. Needless to say Toni’s mountain bike was at a bargain price with an extra amount taken off by the use of a card with accessories at cut price. Mine was three times the price with a free gift of a security chain which Toni informs me is useless. Story of my life!

My first trip on the new bike was to buy bread - so one of my fantasies came true as I peddled along with three baguettes sticking out of the front pannier of the bike! The negative aspect of this trip was that it was to get bread for the rest of the Family who had converged on our house for the celebration of the name day of all Carmens. We have two, one of whom has two small children. One of them didn’t stop shouting and the other didn’t stop moving. I swear that, were they in my sole charge for a whole day I do not think that they would survive. Either that or I wouldn’t survive!

Well, it may be 11.30 pm but we are going for a swim in the pool. That is what living in Catalonia is all about!
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