Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Of white vans and buckled tyres

This is the blog post that had to happen eventually: earlier today a white van ran into me and knocked me off my bike. Not fun, but I'm OK! It could have been worse! No broken bones, trips in an ambulance, or long-distance funeral for my parents to attend. Just a few superficial scrapes and bruises. The first thought I had once I sat up and took my bearings was my best jeans are ruined! My second thought was my bike is ruined! and my third thought was I'm alive! Which tells you a lot about how important those jeans are to me. I have only ever had one pair of jeans that have fitted me properly in my life, and now they have an irreparable tear down the left shin. Grr.

To put it in perspective, I've been cycling the mean streets of the capital regularly for the past two years, which is a decent amount of time to have gotten away with no incident. Truthfully, I feel a little bit triumphant - like I have finally been indoctrinated into the inner sanctum of true, hardcore London cyclists: entry only on presentation of x-rays, colostomy bag and/or scars over 5 inches long. I felt pretty cool as I rocked up at the local Old Bill on Borough High Street in my ripped jeans and nonchalantly asked the attending copper for an incident form.

Pity I've only got a plastered little finger and a brand new batch of bruises to show for it.

* * * *

Oddly, the very same night of the Bike Crash Incident, I went to see a play about three elite cyclists competing at the Tour de France, staged in a disused office space near Oxford Circus. I highly recommend it for a couple of reasons - firstly, even if you don't follow cycling as a sport (I don't), it is a riveting account of three very distinct sporting personalities - American Lance Armstrong, Italian Marco Pantani and German Jan Ullrich - and their relationship to each other, as well as the psychology of competing at such an elite level. Secondly, it is incredibly inventive in the way it utilises very basic props - the actors use plastic chairs in a variety of ways to evoke cycling in various conditions, and crash barriers stand in for everything from a press security barrier to a car to a jail.

Gripping, intense, and more than a little inspiring.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Happiness is...

...cycling through the stunning Slovenian mountainside behind a fat little Dutch kid singing to himself.

...wandering down to where the Soca and the Tolminka merge into one magnificent, pristine, impossibly bright aqua-coloured river; and watching as the mist that is suspended ethereally above the water turns from cool white to gold in the light of the sunset.

...one euro beers on a warm evening.

...the respite between rapids while paddling down the Soca on a hot, clear day, when the rush of water over rock recedes and once again the only sound is of the oar dunking into the ice-cold water.

...finally working up the nerve to launch myself off the first of a series of waterfalls, starting with a baby 3-metre jump and culminating with a 27m cascade over which they lower you on a 20m rope (the last 7m I don't remember very clearly, I was too busy screaming). My main motivating factor was knowing that if I couldn't do the first jump, they wouldn't let me do any subsequent ones. I'm stubborn like that.

...coming home with a suntan and freckled shoulders. And an almighty bruise that covers my left thigh in a hideous yellow and purple swathe, proof of my exploits.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Romance at the bus stop

Romance at the bus stop
Awww. Actually, my brother met his (Swedish) girlfriend at a bus stop in Cricklewood - perhaps waiting for public transport is the new speed-dating?

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Wherin Mr. Random helps me break out of the female singer/songwriter rut

I have a self-confessed predilection for vocalists of the feminine persuasion - the quirkier and more distinctive her voice, the better - which means that my music collection has always been dominated by women in the past. I love a bluesy, ballsy soul-sister, an alt-country belter, a heart-breaking waif, a gentle folksy gal, a 90's alterna-goddess and a defiantly unclassifiable kook.

Oh, and also the occassional sassy R&B diva to mix things up a bit.

The lyricism of the words is important to me (despite Beyoncé's best efforts), and I'm a sucker for a wrist-slitter no matter the gender of origin; but if these qualities combine with an outstanding female vocalist - ka-ching! - I've hit auditory paydirt.

However, I have been trying to rectify this inherent gender bias* by gradually adding more male artists to my nano by stealth, one album at a time. Last night while walking home in the sweet-smelling wake of a Summer rainshower, Mr. Shuffle selected a gorgeous all-male lineup (albeit including one in particular who is very much in touch with his feminine side), and I loved the unexpected change of tone.

Rain on the Pretty Ones - Ed Harcourt
Your heart is an empty room - Death Cab For Cutie (I have been listening to this a lot recently)
Heretics - Andrew Bird
Nylon instrumental - Scott Matthews
Crown of Love - Arcade Fire
Tiergarten - Rufus Wainwright
Up With People - Lambchop
Two Silver Trees - Calexico (featuring what is surely the prettiest song intro ever)
Theme to Pinata - Bright Eyes
Heartbeat - José González

I think my next musical resolution should probably be: 'listen to less depressing music and see if it a) turns me into the kind of girl who has an "I believe in magic!" sticker on her back window; b) makes me want to smash things; or c) has no discernable impact on my emotional landscape'.

I'll let you know how that goes.

* Actually, I just realised that the last playlist I mentioned was all-male as well - and I didn't even notice it at the time! Perhaps I am more aurally gender-balanced than I thought..?

Friday, July 03, 2009

The fourth rule of online dating is... don't lose heart

A while back - about a year and a half ago now - I took a leap into the world of online dating (which you can read about here). I was lucky; my experience was a positive one overall, and thankfully weirdo- and creep-free. I went on several nice enough meetings/dates with dudes of varying attractiveness; the loveliest of whom I found myself in a verging-on-serious relationship with. Ultimately however, we had to face up to the unavoidable fact that we are at different stages in our lives - and that was that.

In my experience, heart-break only gets harder to recover from the older you are. However [grits teeth], I try to remind myself that there are some consolations to be had from growing older - it is only at this point in my life, for instance, that I have felt confident enough about my body to wear a mini-skirt. Not that my legs are better than they were in my twenties; it's just that now I am that much less prone to giving a sh*t about the imperfections.

There's a spirit of recklessness that kicks in during your thirties - I've only got a few mini-skirt wearing years left, so might as well get my pins out, no? Maybe I will get that tattoo after all...

But back to the point: I've gathered the pieces, dusted myself off, and have been thinking about giving the whole cyber-dating thing another whirl. Despite the fact that I have been just one text message away from bitter (to paraphrase Carrie Bradshaw) - and have felt like dropping out of the game altogether at various points - when it comes down to it I'm a romantic at heart. I believe love is our only real purpose in this crazy mixed-up world - to give love, to accept love and to cultivate love in our hearts defines us as human beings in my opinion.

And it couldn't hurt to meet a few more nice English guys, surely.

However, I want to be fully ready before I throw myself back in there. Internet dating is most decidedly not for the faint of heart. I want to be in that strong, resilient, contented place I was in when I originally signed up and logged on.

I'm nearly there. I'm hovering at the edge of the water in my bathers, my toes curling around the ledge as I give myself a little pep talk and take a deep breath...
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...