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Human
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Rainbows 

You think your family is gifted. Huh. We are much better than you will ever be. We have just won the world sock-washing championship.
 
It rained and rained last week and the valleys filled and emptied into their rivulets and streams and eventually the Wangapeka overflowed its banks and the citizens of the Baton, where they say gold is still to be panned, were helicoptered to the Tapawera School and popped into sleeping bags for the deluge, and the Motueka River swelled and rose and by watching the downswept logs steadily overtake me as I cycled alongside I could tell how fast the water was flowing and by joining the sightseers clogging the cyclepath that abuts it I could see how close the water was to the undersurface of the bridge. (Very close.)
 
And delightfully it's now been raining again, with the start of some morning sunshine to amuse me with the curious observation, wot I have never before noticed, that the lower of a double rainbow has the blue on the inside and the red on the outside, while the faint upper rainbow has the red inside and the blue out. So the reds, with a gap between them, are adjacent. I never knew that before. I was never a student of double rainbows.
 
Anyway the scullery steadily filled with washing but now with blue skies peeping in the east I have first thing this morning pegged up ninety million socks to dry.
 
The mystery is this.
 
There were no laundry baskets.
 
If you own a teenage daughter then one of the things you do each week is buy a new laundry basket because however frequently you assure her that such are not part of her bedroom furniture, a teenage daughter's bedroom door is a laundry basket valve. They only go one way. In. And this morning looking for something to carry a great mountain of damp socks outside I peeped into a certain bedroom and was mystified and stumped, because though the floor besported piles of clothes tumbling out of open cupboards, there were no laundry baskets. That certain bedroom floor, with some effort, held up the following:
 
1 camera
1 computer
Approx 200 miles of wires and cables attached to approx 2 million electronic gadgets that I didn't even know she had
Assorted
 
The last is a sort of dustbin category and includes more stuff than I care or have time to list but it's an essential taxonomic box (just wait - if you don't believe me - until you own a teenage daughter. Then you'll see. Then you'll jolly see) but the salient point is that there were no laundry baskets whatever. None.
 
It was as if there'd been a sudden laundry basket famine, as if a laundry-basket-vacuum passed over the house in the night and sucked all of them up and they all disappeared into the ether. I was completely mystified and stumped and am even more mystified and stumped now because somehow all those socks got pegged up, yet I have no idea how they managed the semicircular, rainbow-shaped trip round the outside of the house from scullery to clothesline. My brain is defective. It has a gap the shape of a rainbow in it, and somewhere within that gap lurks the fascinating information as to where I found all the laundry baskets.
 
The Human Power bit of this post being a bit thin, and my notebook (an envelope) revealing only the enigmatic information '3 lbs 2 ¼ oz' with nothing to tell me what possessed that weight and why I needed to know it, I shall justify my web existence by stating that a black tandem tyre lasts just 2,735.4 kilometres and then has to be replaced. The tyre was black and the mudguard was black but on inspection identical adjacent colours was all they had in common with a double rainbow. Unlike my morning rainbows, there was no gap whatever between them. They had, in fact, been rubbing all the while. As I say, my brain is defective. (The mudguard is now zip-tied to the rear rack for a bit of clearance.)
Wednesday, May 26, 2010 2:26:58 AM Categories: bike clothing cycle path tandem

Evil Things 

Right, I'm going to tell you a series of things that you're going to find hard to believe. First, Mr Knight, a previously respected member of the Colonial Diaspora, has this week done an Evil Thing. Specifically, he failed to buy this item: http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=280410386202&ssPageName=ADME:B:EF:GB:1123 which very definitely caused Mrs Knight consternation because I'm certain she really wants him to own a British racing trike so he can wear those diamond-pattern  socks http://www.tricycleassociation.org.uk/History.html?image=med4278ee0ee414d. For weeks now Mrs Knight has been waking up fretting about Mr Knight not having a British racing trike. She rings me up to say so.
'Richard I'm worried about Bob. He doesn't have a British racing trike (red) to hang on his garage wall.'
Why even Mr Larrington of the parish of London, who incidentally has dismally failed to move to New Zealand, has a British racing trike. And that's two Evil Things that Mr Knight has done recently, the other one being that he failed to move in next door where I can pop round and borrow his Campagnolo one-inch 24TPI die. There is a distinct and worrying lack of consideration on the part of members of the Colonial Diaspora. What earthly use is it to me if he lives six hours' drive away?
 
Second, this of course forced me, also a prev. r. m. of the C.D., to do an Evil Thing, which was to haul myself along to see Josh who works at the local bike shop and borrow a tool off him. Now you know my views on lending tools. But it's become a constitutional duty. Under the new Government we're all to grab as much as we can for ourselves, the Finance Minister recently having been caught helping himself to a generous grant of public funding for his family home http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/politics/2853258/Come-clean-on-trust-Bill-English-told, and as of yesterday they want to extend this to seats in parliament. (They've proposed a couple of referenda to see if they can do away with Proportional Representation, under which unfortunate system they have to listen to what other people say. Bush and Mugabe and Dame Shirley Porter and Hitler were also keen on meddling with electoral law, as I recall.)
 
The tool I borrowed was his one-inch 24TPI die to convert a Raleigh fork into a Peugeot fork and make a hack bike out of my latest new old light-weight frame just in case the shorter crossbar will permit me to use drop handlebars for a few more years. I am busy painting this bike which is a process I abhor; yesterday it got a cursory rub with a bit of sandpaper and I sprayed it with primer before dinner and a bit of gloss afterwards and this morning I noticed certain runs and blotches and whatnot and fell to thinking about Mr Knight's Claud Butler which has taken him (consults recent emails) two months to paint but then Mr Knight is a dangerous obsessive who abrades his frames with a single grain of sand glued to the tip of a toothpick.
 
The third thing you won't believe is that the people of Motueka all drive rubber cars and they can make them go narrower by reducing speed alone. The Motueka river is spanned by a long bridge and whenever two cars approach from opposite sides they go slower and slower until they meet, whereupon each car becomes dead narrow and they can just squeeze past each other. I know it sounds improbable but I've seen it happen lots and it's always the same. It only applies to bridges, though. This morning a lorry passed us when another lorry was coming the other way, and as we were none of us on the Motueka bridge, neither lorry needed to become narrower so we had exactly three inches of space outside our handlebars as they roared past.
 
And the last thing that will tax your credulity is that because I am clever - you know, immensely, hugely clever - I have cured my wife of pedalling the synch chain off at junctions. Moreover I did it without recourse to beating. - Wives and dogs and walnut trees, like it says in the rhyme, except I expect Mr Blair managed to make it illegal to say anything as scurrilous as wives and dogs and walnut trees but since when did I ever care? I committed political correcticide years ago. - Anyway I seldom beat my wife and anywayer envisioned that it would be unproductive, given the advantageous retaliatory position she occupies on said tandem. - No, what I did was provide a second front mech. I reasoned - but I expect you can guess what I reasoned and you'd be right. It worked.
Friday, October 23, 2009 9:47:01 AM Categories: bike clothing cycle path tandem

Behold! a bra. 

At the considerable risk of Larrington reverting to a view of what I am bonkers in, behold, I shall now state that I have taken to wearing a bra.
 

This is not the sort of admission one normally makes unless one is the late Julia (formerly Jim) Wiggins, who rode a Kingcycle and shot Turkish recurve bows and erected a camera obscura from the roof of her (formerly his) Berkeley 3-wheel car and took to wearing high heels and progressively other items of effeminata, and I daresay young Carol Hague will now wake up rather abruptly because she's always alert, I find, to mild eccentricities such as public transvestitism. Jim Wiggins was an eccentric right from the beginning, incorrectly imagining the members of the Society of Archer-Antiquaries would prefer to see the Annual Shoot projected, up-side down, in his passenger seat. In fact he discovered that most of us found it altogether more convenient to stand outside in the August sunshine and watch the real thing, upright. Jim rather cunningly tricked the doctors at the private hospital in Leicester into thinking he wasn't on heart medication, whereupon they performed his desired operation and turned him into a her, but unfortunately his heart, deprived of its drugs, couldn't cope and he - I mean, she - died, admittedly content in her new identity, a fortnight later. (His Kingcycle, should anyone start getting all acquisitive, had already been stolen.)

 
I have taken to wearing a bra as a combined result of retail mismanagement and my wife's mendacity. I used to have one of those - er - wossname - Trek thingies that you stick on your head, a sort of hat with the skullcap missing that makes you think a Jewish person from Golders Green visited the shop with a pair of scissors just before you got there and nicked the crown for his Saturday's devotions. - Headband. - A headband, that's the word I was groping for. I got cold ears so bought a Trek headband and my wife thought it so excellent a garment that she immediately nicked it. I went and bought another headband. She lost the first and nicked the second. She denies losing the first because she is a Big Liar, and she denies nicking the second because she is Another Big Liar.
 
 
It still being cold I went to the bike shop and behold! no headbands. The sports shop yielded big thick furry headbands such as won't go under helmets, and in New Zealand helmets are mandatory by law. (This is because the politicians here believe head injuries among cyclists are frequent. Head injuries among motorists are statistically more frequent but motorists do not have to wear helmets because politicians drive cars and wouldn't be seen dead in a car with a bicycle crash helmet on. Hey! A humorous joke has just occurred to me involving the phrase 'wouldn't be seen dead' but I will not trouble the Internette with it because I'm kind.) I went to see Jim and behold! even more No Headbands. Jim runs the bike shop in Richmond and also runs Cycling Nelson which is all about racing and whatnot, and in defiance of the UCI he encourages recumbents at all Cycling Nelson events, which is a bit of a bugg - a bit of a nuisance because now there's no excuse to avoid training.

 
So then it went through my mind that since sawn-off socks, extracted from the bin after my wife has been through John's washing, make convenient ankle warmers, perhaps there was a garment that might make a convenient ear-warmer.
 
I went to a certain bedroom in search of a suitable garment. Behold! there was only a single pixel of carpet to be seen. On the floor of this bedroom, and to avoid embarrassment I shall not say whose bedroom it was, I found the following:
1. A piano score of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor (sic.) Dreamcoat.
2. A pile of clothing.
3. A school bag.
4. Another pile of clothing.
5. Spillage from a bag of clothing. (Hasn't she got a wardrobe?)
6. Another schoolbag.
7. A Harry Potter DVD.
8. A French folder.
9. A tin containing 22 cassette tapes.
10. A maths textbook.
11. Another pile of clothing.
12. A paperback: Popular Card Games.
13. 2 loudspeakers.
14. Another French folder.
15. An office chair with a basket of washing on top.
16. A plastic bag, containing clothing.
17. A graph of a parabola.
18. A hardback: Pride and Prejudice.
19. A bag of miscellaneous paper shapes.
20. A chessboard with two brown sandals in the middle of it.
22. Half a history essay.
23. A plastic bag of university prospectuses.
24. A digital camera.
25. An English exercise book.
26. A physics exercise book.
27. A lunchbox, containing last week's wrappers.
28. Another loudspeaker.
29. A pencil, pen and calculator.
30. A DVD player.
31. A loudspeaker attached to the bedpost with the string from a kitbag, the kitbag still in situ.
32. A straw hat and a resuscitation doll.
33. A Fawlty Towers DVD.
34. A used chocolate cake plate.
 
And - handy to have teenage daughters in the family - I found a - well, a garment. Which garment, after suitable modification with scissors and thread, does not betray its origins when I cycle up the Mot Valley with it wrapped round m'lug'oles.

An anyonymised cyclist wearing 1. a brown paper bag and 2. a bra round his ears. To be legal he is required to wear a crash helmet. Brown paper bags are not an acceptable substitute in NZ law.
 
You may depend that I have no intention of disclosing any of this to anyone at all. Altogether too many BHPC members would howl jubilant derision. But at least there is a reduced likelihood that my wife will nick it.

 

Thursday, July 30, 2009 10:35:16 AM Categories: bike clothing
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