Thursday 9 November 2017

Sins of the father

The thing about being successful in our society is that it enables you to buy stuff.  The more successful, the more stuff, and better stuff.  We buy it because we like it.  And if it stopped there all would be fine. But we are emotional beings, and we form attachments to stuff...your favourite coffee mug, the old jumper that keeps you warm in winter, and so on.  I have been lucky because at a relatively young age, my favourite mug did get broken, but I was told and quickly took on board that it could be replaced.  So for me stuff has generally remained just stuff...though some stuff, presents, for example, I have an emotional attachment to.  Probably the downside to that thinking is that I may buy something, but when something better comes along, I want the new in some ways it has fed my insatiable desire for stuff.

The one thing I have bought and have broken the rule about emotional attachment to is my bicycle.  Man and machine in perfect harmony, it has taken me thousands of miles up hills and mountains, down valleys, along the straightest of roads, and down narrow, twisty country lanes.  Every yard, every mile has involved sweat, and sometimes tears.  It has given me great joy and an immense sense of success.  There are the obvious big rides London to Brighton, London to Paris, London to Amsterdam, Exeter to Essex, London Revolutions, Birmingham Velo London to Cambridge, London 100  and many more.  I have a fantastic set of medals to remember my endeavours. But there are the smaller rides which have been just as rewarding - cycling round the road track at Lee Valley Velo, doing my short circuits up and down hills to get fit.  I have momentarily faced death when I've been knocked off by thoughtless drivers.  This year has in some ways been the most rewarding - an injury in March kept me out of the saddle for weeks, and generally I have spent the months since regaining my strength to keep me pedaling.  Despite some tricky times when I thought I wouldn't be able to turn the pedal another revolution and could hardly bear to look up from the tarmac on a seemingly ever-steepening hill, I can say I have loved every minute of riding.  And in truth I bonded with my cycle.  I never once thought of replacing it, never looked at another bike and thought I want that one.

The other cycle I own is the one I rode when my son Fred, then 13, and I cycled from Brighton to Buckhurst Hill....that was the most remarkable bonding experience imaginable.  It was a most amazing achievement for him, and something I hope he remembers all his life.

So perhaps you can understand my devastation when, this week our garage was broken into and my motorcycle and my two bicycles were taken.  A tracker device on my motorbike has meant it has been quickly recovered...with relatively little damage.  But my bicycles have gone for good.  I'm devastated.  Heartbroken, because at the moment it feels that with it's disappearance, so too my memories of my cycling triumphs, and disasters, have been damaged.  I am very sad.

Tragically, the two people arrested when my motorbike was recovered appear to be a father and son.  The son is a twelve year-old boy.  That makes me weep.  How could a parent do that to a child?  That child's life is blighted, and generally experience shows, his life is ruined.  There is a pattern to people who get involved criminal activity so young and it is so rare that they make good, that when t does, it makes headlines.  There is not a strong chance they will be convicted either as there was no witness to the crime itself, and that is a tragedy in itself because the lad will feel that he's got away with it, it will boost his confidence to carry on breaking the law.

At home, we are increasing the security measures again, gradually turning a home into a fortress.  Every time we have had someone either break-in or attempt to break in we've added another layer of security.  It's not nice, it doesn't encourage a feeling of comfort and cosiness.

No one is a winner from this.

Sunday 5 November 2017

Out of Africa

It was an extraordinarily happy moment when my son and his girlfriend joined us in South Africa for our safari holiday.  Apart from that, here's the video...sorry it runs to  twenty minutes, and redefines the old phrase about coming round to watch my holiday movies