Sunday, 2 September 2007
Bring Back the Bike
This is a favourite photo of mine. Taken by S when he was living in Toyama, Japan.
There is something admirable about bikes. Go here to read S's effortlessly-written impressions of bikes and life in Japan.
Avus has restored a vintage Raleigh bicycle. You can see what a magnificent job he's done here.
Such workmanship and attention to detail I can only gawp at in wordless admiration!
It put me in mind of a poem I wrote about ABM's Raleigh bike.
Loose-mudguard rattle, sixties'
and your faithful charger
on through the seventies
The only thing it guzzled,
your energy. One day
in the nineties
just before you finally
the boys and I spotted it
parked in its usual bike rack,
a donkey in a stable
of mountain-bike thoroughbreds,
a tin fork
in a canteen of silver cutlery.
To them, an object of ridicule
and shame. Already they'd forgotten
the familiar kerklunk
over the driveway's kerb
and the brake's strangled screech
outside the front door,
their cue to hurl themselves
headlong into your handlebar arms.
An old bike also featured in a poem of mine ABM read out at M&K's wedding.
it's a relic
Saw it, loved it, bought it at the tip for four dollars,
an old-fashioned bike with a red, round, winking tail-light,
a torch-shaped front light driven by a dynamo, a carrier
and - this is the coup - 'straight handlebars'
(their hands draw them for us, square in the air.)
It's another of their lame ducks - they have an eye
for such things, M&K. They're into classic retro.
He wears his father's cast-off 80's t-shirts. They prefer
the calmer waters of this 21st century's white-water
rush; the slipstreams, where you find discarded treasure.
I got my first bike when I was eight years old. That was also when I got glasses. So there I was, this scrawny little thing with a short haircut and fringe, big front teeth, freckled face and pink-framed glasses, riding my new, sapphire-blue bike along a quiet, gravel road. As the humming tyres ate up the road underneath them, it seemed to me that the world had suddenly become far more manageable. I was riding the top surface of the planet earth. I was going places and getting there faster.