Juno Watt 

D'you know what. D'you know what. My wife said such a weird thing yesterday. -

[The children say "D'you know what" almost all the time, usually twice, and before I can ever say whether I do or do not know what, they tell me what, though I always do because it's always to do with a certain teacher -
'Juno Watt, Juno Watt, Mr ― is such a ―.'
And the fact of the matter is that Mr ― actually is a ― so we can't argue with them. Mr ― has solemnly assured his pupils that Peak Oil will never happen in their lifetimes so he ain't much of a chemist, and he ain't much of a physicist either because he was driving them to some event and passed another car with so little space that they were white with terror, feet pressed hard and uselessly against the footwell of the car. Should Mr ― be up to a little arithmetic, he could calculate that whereas the time saved by overtaking on New Zealand roads is negligible, the energy a car possesses at even slightly higher speeds is highly significant and the death rate on New Zealand roads from head-on collisions is horrific. There are roadside white crosses everywhere. So when the children come home in a rage - yet another rage - shouting 'Juno Watt, Juno Watt, Mr ― is such a ―' I can't fault them, because he actually is a ―.]

Er. - Where were we before that rather dubious aside? -

D'you know what is where we were. - D'you know what, my wife is weird. The other day she said I had enough bikes. I have hardly any bikes, almost none in fact. She deceives herself by thinking that all those I have artistically hung round the garage don't belong to Other Family Members. In fact I have the bare minimum. I have one road bike and that's all. Well and Walter Haenni's racing bike of course, but that is an icon and I can't ride it anyway because of my neck. And I do have a recumbent bike but where would I be if I hadn't? and a recumbent trike because there's no sense in having made - um - counts - goes bright red - decides *not* to say how many - if you don't keep just one for yourself. True there are two in the shed but the other is actually hers or Susie's or someone else's in the family who I've forgotten I've set it up for. And there is that upright trike I built, but that's set up to do the shopping. Amazing how much you can get into an ugly old cardboard box on the back of an upright trike, if you can't afford for Mr Hembrow to make you an elegant basket and ship it out here. Good bloke, David Hembrow. I think I raced against him in the days when nobody ever knew who they were racing against. He now lives Abroad in our colony of Europe so I shall nominate him for the Colonial Diaspora. He did once live - vexingly given my current basket needs - in New Zealand. David Gordon Wilson lived in New Zealand too, before moving to Loughborough where they still haven't installed an appropriate Blue Plaque on his boyhood house. (Philistines, the Loughborough council, even though Ariadne Tampion was a councillor and rode a Claud Butler racing trike with a great heap of children on the back.)

A cardboard box that David Hembrow didn't make

And all the other bikes - all of them - belong to my wife or the children. Well except for the rain bike. And you can't count the penny farthing because I was going to leave it in England and it was the children who made me keep it for when they're big enough. And the one that we keep for visitors but that's for visitors. And the Brompton - Juno Watt, it's my wife's Brompton and she blames me for buying it. And she nicked the mountain bike that I had bought for myself, a perfectly good gentleman's mountain bicycle and she despite, or because of, not being a perfectly good gentleman, simply said 'Thanks' and got on it and made me adjust the saddle for her, the horrible witch. And the tandem's half hers. I mean what use is a tandem if there's only one of me? So she's a dissembling lying git saying I have enough bikes.

But then she always does this.

She said I had enough longbows when I was a longbow person, carefully scraping six-foot lengths of ash and elm and lemonwood and osage orange and yew, delicious sweet-smelling yew that eventually poisoned me and now makes my nose seep blood if I start scraping it. I had hardly any longbows. She said I had masses. She said Was I trying to corner the market for when there was Peak Gunpowder.

Hardly any longbows. Almost none. Well there *are* a few more on the other wall, and some propped up between the wardrobes, but that's still hardly any.

And now Mr Gillions is on at me to go and buy that lathe from Invercargill but he doesn't care that I've got a wife who will make Peak Lathe remarks. So I shan't. I shall buy a shaper instead.
Thursday, November 12, 2009 8:36:17 AM Categories: longbows


My tandem wheels have all appeared and much work has taken place to weld holes onto the frame in the right places to fit disc brake callipers or whatever they're called. You *can* weld holes onto something. It isn't an argument about semantics. Actually *I* can weld holes into something and often do, and then I weld nails and all sorts of other junk into the holes to conceal the fact from an otherwise admiring audience. If you're a spider you'll find it a pretty alarming sight when you creep up a tube and encounter one of my welded joints. Looks like a torture chamber. You expect to see Rowan Atkinson wedged in the middle in a Blackadder costume.
Anyway arrival of wheels and fitting of brakes and whatnot necessitated an e-exchange with my tame Arbiter-of-Tandems, who, as has been established, lives in Rangiora in the County of Quite a long way away. - (If he lived round the corner I'd have merely popped in and asked, and this web-log would have been deprived of the correspondence. And what a loss to the world's literature that would have been.) - Because when I went on the back of their tandem, I found that Mrs Bob Knight's handlebar had an unexpected bar-end gear change lever which, duly fiddled with, I discovered worked the rear wheel's disc brake. Accordingly I enquired:
Right my good man, on a wish-to-know-what-the-answer-is-basis, what is the advantage of having the back rider operate a gear-change-lever to the rear disc brake of your tandem?
and following on from that question, how does your tandem also have a back brake operated by the front rider? Cos I've peered at the photos of it and can't see how it works at all.
Arbiter-of-Tandems replied thus:
The rear break (sic.; I see this all the time) is a cable operated disk as was poplier in the old fashioned days. The brake cable attaches to an arm in exactly the same fashion as on a drum brake. In the case of the rear break on our tandum (sic., again) it has two cables attached to the same pinch bolt. One goes to the front and is for me to operate and one goes to the gear change lever on the back. When either one is operated the cable for the other one goes slack. The purpose of the rear one is twofold.
1) It gives a warm fuzzy feeling to the stoker; she feels she has an important job to do.
2) It is used as a speed regulator on long descents where keeping the break on by hand becomes tiring. The stoker *may* occasionally need to be reminded to take the break off again when the flats are reached. Being a gear change lever, you can set it on by degrees. We hardly ever use it for that purpose but we have done in the Pyrenees, before we had kids.
The third reason is one that you have alluded to in your blog.
3) use it as a parking break to prevent the bike rolling over when badly parked and breaking another Mirrycle.
[And, incidentally, it is true. Mr Knight is my sole source of Mirrycles. My spies inform me that his father is visiting New Zealand for Christmas, and I anticipate a large sack of Mirrycles will fall in my lap, for which I shall gladly supply a mince pie and a glass of sherry. - This is a very, very, gentle subtle hint the results of which will decide whether I write a letter to The Honours Secretary to see if we can't bag Mr Knight Snr an MBE to go with his wife's. (I think I can afford the bribe for an MBE. I'll ask Mr Brown how much they cost these days, and report back.)]
I have also fitted a flag to the tandem. This isn't for visibility. It's for psychological warfare. I surmise that motorists will see the flag and it will make them think
'Oh, there's a flag. Maybe there's a person on that bike, or even a proper reason for me giving that cycle some road room.'
Otherwise it's dangerous putting a flag on a bike. Crying wolf. If they pass by and perceive nothing unusual, they think
'Well *uck that for a game of soldiers, why's the *ucker got a flag up? what's so special about him? Why should he have a flag up? He's not even disabled. Is he trying to tell me I shouldn't cream him with a fender? I'll go right close to him next time and teach the little *ucker a lesson.' - Believe me, this is what motorists think. I knew a motorist once. He told me.
On the other hand, if they pass the flag and see that we're a tandem, they immediately feel pleased and generous and strangely happy. This is one thing we've noticed. Everyone smiles at you when you're on a tandem. Everyone. No, really. Everyone. Even roadies smile at you when you're on a tandem.
Friday, November 6, 2009 10:20:51 AM Categories: tandem


Satan, and I know you've been wondering this, doesn't live in Hades any more. He's moved. He now lives in Richmond and goes about under the name of Duncan McDonald and he's just emailed to tell me that there is an old Colchester for sale on Trademe and bless my soul the vendor is now happy to take three hundred dollars for it. That's about a hundred and fifty quid. Get thee behind me.

Here's the offending lathe. Now you as an engineer are going to fall over chuckling not only at the rust and general decay and tin shed (all sheds in New Zealand are tin. It is a Law of Nature) but also because after gazing upwards to the left and half closing one eye for a moment, you've recognised this as almost certainly not a Colchester but rather a Britannia probably dating from about 1899. And you'll at once have gone zipping off to Tony's website where we all spend far too much time of an evening dribbling enthusiastically down our cardigans, and have located this pickchure:


and thought to yourself, Yes, hey! that's the little chappie.

Trouble is I possess this lathe

which is its baby brother. Get thee behind me, Duncan. It's in Invercargill. Invercargill is to Motueka as Inverness is to Marble Arch, with the addition of the Southern Alps to negotiate. And a Britannia 17 lathe weighs two-thirds of a ton. 13.5 cwt, in fact. (Why did we stop measuring things in cwts? 20 cwts in a ton, 8 stone to a hundredweight, 14 lbs in a stone, 16 oz to the pound and four-hundred-and-thirty-seven-and-a-half rather delightful grains in an ounce. A marvellous divine system. Whatever possessed the Frogs to invent kilograms? Philistines. Barbarians. Savages. Foreigners. Etc etc etc)

'D'you think I should buy a lathe?'

'You've got a lathe.'

'I know but d'you think I should buy this one? It's like mine only bigg - '


'But - '

'What would you use it for?'

'Well nothing. But - '

'Could you fix the cutlery drawer with it?'

'Hush.' Sore point. The front of the cutlery drawer fell off this week, and inspection revealed two diecast rivets (can you have diecast rivets?) had sheared, which rivets I carefully drilled out and tapped 4mm and replaced and it still fell off and slightly closer inspection revealed that a diecast lug had also sheared and so I went to see Bryce who built it and Bryce had closed-down-or-gone-bankrupt so I got mad and fixed a *ucking great bolt through it. It was a completely *ucking stupid unnecessary bit of engineering Bryce'd used, an absurdly complicated device for fixing the front of a drawer onto the remainder of a drawer, and Bryce'd used it even though it was expensive because I'd asked for something that was so good I wouldn't ever have to spend some distant Wednesday evening fixing it back on. And they'd made it out of cast zinc or something equally pathetically feeble. Here it is, a crappy out-of-focus photograph but since it was a crappy fitting it deserves crappy photography. I hate it.

There's an eccentric lug to save the woodworker having to measure where to put the screws in accurately, and a twisty-sort-of-spring-loaded-quick-release-thingy to get the lugs out of the way of the slots as you fit it to the steel drawer, and yet they'd made it out of utterly feeble zinc only 2mm thick and thought it would be adequate in a kitchen, for God's sake, where children do not carefully close cutlery drawers nor ever have in the whole history of washing up. I hate them. They are stupid stupid stupid baaaaarstards and probably foreign to boot and when I take over the world I'll make them measure the zinc for their bloody castings in drachms and pennyweights. - And while we're about it, how do you stop Shimano cleats twisting in your soles? Eh? Eh?


Friday, October 30, 2009 4:34:37 AM Categories: engineering problems

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: 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 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, 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

A week of woe 

She's rubbish at corners is my wife. She practises being rubbish at corners and is now quite good at it. It has taken her a little while but now she has a special skill and whenever we're coming up to a corner and I command her to stop pedalling she ignores me with a bewildering comprehensiveness and the synch chain comes flying off. Yesterday the chain came off four times in 18 miles.

Being rubbish at corners is a heritable condition. Last week Jane found herself outside a blackberry bush wondering why she couldn't push her bike and why she was holding a broken Mirrycle in her hand. A Park ranger drove up and together they established that her last memory was that of riding gaily along, no hands, towards a corner. She was knocked out. The hospital did the usual head injury stuff and her bike suffered a crinkled downtube and may now be regarded as a useful ensemble of spare parts. What makes repair difficult is the intervening 12,000 miles because Jane happens to be living in England and her faithful bike mechanic, viz., moi, doesn't.

Which raises another heritable condition. In the process of mapping the humane genome they've discovered that my wife and daughter have a special gene that forces them to prop their bikes up somewhere inappropriate so that any small gust of sideways gravity will tug the bike over and smash its Mirrycle on the pavement below. I like Mirrycles enormously and fit them to every bike I can which is harder than it sounds because nobody in New Zealand imports Mirrycles and you can't get them here at all. (I shall scour this entry later in the hope that a) a New Zealand bike shop owner is reading this, or indeed anyone at all for that matter, and b) they will add a Comment telling me where to get them.) I fit a Mirrycle, and immediately a wife-or-daughter breaks it. Then they sneak off and buy one of those flimsy Cateye mirrors which, however you try to position it, you can't see because light only travels in straight lines and elbows, such as connect shoulders to handlebars, are generally opaque. I have a bag of Cateye mirrors with which my female relatives have tried to assuage their Mirrycle guilt, and I no longer even bother trying to fit them.

Turning to other matters one of the doctors popped in, he erroneously thinking that I might be able to give him recumbent-buying advice, and over dinner he told me that pip fruit workers are 9 times as likely to get one sort of cancer and 4 times as likely to get another sort of cancer, though which sorts of cancer I'm not sure because I wasn't paying attention. Anyway this slightly worried me because a) the chap who lived here for the last 22 years recently had a kidney removed and b) the chap next door who has lived here for even longer had a neck tumour removed and c) yesterday the tractor driver in the commercial orchard immediately behind us cleared out the sprayer fans right next to the gate, and the shed, garden and house were engulfed in a cloud of swirling mist. The orchard owners aren't supposed to do this. I had an interesting talk with Tony Frost a little while ago and he told me that when he founded the national Horticultural Research Station, of which he was Director, they used any number of sprays, being sequentially assured by the makers that all were safe. Over the years, and following some alarming deaths, the sprays were equally sequentially removed from distribution. It all bespeaks what we happen to know about the agrochemicals industry, which is that it doesn't get terribly flustered about spraying people until they start dying. Mapua is ten miles down the coast.

To add to the week's woe I have a cold. Because I happen to know that Mrs Bob Knight is outstandingly sympathetic to men with colds I have emailed her thus:

I have a Cold, and it is a Man Cold, and I am Very Ill, Close Unto Death, and to show how deeply you treasure my existence I graciously permit you to cut off one of your fingers (without anaesthetics) and send it to me in the post like the Triads do.

Mrs Bob Knight omitted to send me the required finger, and referred me elsewhere:

In which case you must view this video at once. Have the sound up so you can hear the instructions.

Luckily my Man Cold failed to prevent my brazing a single short lateral tube onto a very old, very battered but very light-weight (3 lbs) Peugeot frame someone had given me, which had been less than useful because it had no seat-post clamp, Mr Bob Knight having told me (he knows everything. Everything.) that it was designed for a quill seat post and that they weren't very successful.

This is such a rubbish picture I only include it to leaven the dullness of my text. Mrs Bob Knight who saw the original usefully commented that I might need to cut a slot in it. She will be dealt with next time I see her.
Saturday, October 17, 2009 11:37:54 PM Categories: bike crash New Zealand seats and saddles


And another thing, don't tell me an iron's an iron and it's worked well for hundreds of years. Think how impoverished our lifestyle would be if the box just said 'Iron' or at a pinch 'Steam Iron'. How very, very much more satisfying is the retail experience if it says

Innovation in ironing. The Australian Design Award winning Ultura range delivers exceptional steam performance in a lightweight, ergonomic design.

My wife came rushing over to me in Farmers, which is a shop. Actually it's a department store for poor people. Or at least those who are rich enough not to go to the Warehouse which only sells crap, but aren't rich enough to fly to John Lewis Nottingham where there is an entire department at the bottom of the escalator devoted to tasteless lamps disguised as statues of nymphs and shepherds. - My wife came rushing over with great excitement and exclaimed

'Why Richard! Darling! I have found the very thing! The Sunbeam Ultura 90 has Safety auto-off! A 2400W element for fast heat up! And it has a Scratch-resistant Resilium ® Soleplate!'

'Oh, a scratch-resistant Resilium ® Soleplate?' I said, surprised.

'Yes! You know how I longed for a scratch-resistant Resilium ® Soleplate. And it will give me a Super shot of steam at 80g/min and 35g/min continuous steam!'

I exclaimed, knowingly,

'Ah! But does it give a vertical shot of steam? And has it a Drip-stop steam system?'

But she was too quick for me.

'Why yes! It has both functions! Both! Moreover it has a Fine mist spray, a 280mL water tank, a Soft grip handle and an Extra long 3 metre cord!'

I was defeated, of course.

'Oh well we must buy it at once. An Extra long 3 metre cord is not to be sneezed at. If it were an ordinary 3 metre cord I would hesitate, but an Extra long 3 metre cord means it's a good consumer decision. But one last thing. Does Sunbeam have a strong history in design and innovation, and is it dedicated to delivering a variety of high quality irons and ironing accessories to help you achieve perfect results every time?'

She consulted the box.

'Why yes!'

'Well then,' I said, greatly relieved, 'We'd best make what is clearly going to be a wise investment. I believe Sunbeam are also proud inventors of the revolutionary safety auto-off feature - first introduced on the Sunbeam Selectronic iron in 1984, and are committed to making ironing easier.'

And then to celebrate our purchasing skills we went off and had a KitKat because Nestlé believes that proper nutrition and physical activity are important in maintaining good health, whereas Another Confectionery Manufacturer only believes in selling chocolate because big fat people like eating it.

Now is there any Human Powered Vehicle relevance in all that? Er - no.


Friday, October 9, 2009 10:28:53 PM Categories: Shopping

Human sacrifice 

The Aztec gods are still alive and well and this is an actual fact. It is a fact because completion of any job in a workshop cannot be effected without a human sacrifice. You know how it is when the router suddenly lunges sideways through the wood and 17,000 revs per minute of honed tungsten carbide gouges a chunk out of a thumb and a teacup-full of blood splashes all over the workshop floor? Human sacrifice. Yesterday I stuck a chisel in my hand and today I dropped the angle grinder and caught it, both being mistakes. Sticking a chisel in my hand was the revenge of the Aztec god of domestic fowls, because I was walking past my wife's chickens and therefore made a jabbing action at them so that they would know I hate them. They only lay eggs in batches so you either have thousands and join a crowd of chicken-owners wandering up and down the road trying to give eggs to people who already have too many, or else you and everybody else has none at all. And all the time they generate stuff you can't eat, especially early in the morning. 90% of what comes out of a chicken is inedible; 99% if you count the clucking. When you walk past the chickens they rush up squawking hopefully and you have to make jabbing motions at them, and now it turns out there's still this unpleasant git of some ancient Aztec immortal who's a protector of chickens and makes your other hand get in the way. Ever so sharp, are my chisels.

It is school hols. It is school hols so John thought he'd ride up the valley with me to test my saddle, freshly mounted on his Peugeot 531 because all his saddles are uncomfortable. Mine was too. We tried all the saddles in the bike shop and found them wanting so to take his mind off matters I took him into the shoe shop to effect the purchase of trainers. John is 14 and my experience is that among fourteen-year-olds, shoe replacement is a race between total destruction and growing out of them. Buying shoes for a child is a trauma I shall be glad to relinquish; indeed my wife has already relinquished it. The trauma is enhanced by the fact that trainers being relatively practical footwear the evil marketing gits include titchy sections of pink or yellow and a note on the box announcing 'Ladies'. This does not encourage your teenage son to try them on. If all marketing men died tomorrow, the world would be a happier place. Marketers are totally useless. All they do is make retail choice a minefield full of junk you didn't want and don't need. They don't even lay an intermittent egg. What baffles me about shoes is the sizes, which come in UK US and EUR sizes and they are wildly differing numbers and there isn't a size 41 EUR. People who live in EUR don't have size 41 feet. Here is a short list of shoe sizes, faithfully copied onto a bit of paper I begged from them, without actually mentioning why. (Not that it would have made any difference. The shoe shop lady is like that bloke who blew a tamping iron through his head but didn't die - what's his name - quick Google - Phineas Gage, that's the chap. Whenever I go there I try to peer at her scalp to see if there's a gruesome scar where her brain fell out.) Anyway, here's the List:
UK 5            US 7              EUR 37 1/2
UK 5 1/2      US 7 1/2         EUR 38
UK 6            US 8              EUR 39
UK 6 1/2      US 8 1/2         EUR 40
UK 7            US 9              EUR 40 1/2
UK 9 1/2      US 10             EUR 44
Notice anything? There are certain feet dimensions that are banned in Italy and France and they don't even have the excuse of metric.

It's a bit like bike saddles, except they only come in three sizes, 155, 130 and somewhat oddly 143, and given that a bicycle seat like a shoe has a weight-bearing and therefore a critical function, we need attention giving to the matter. - Atsh'lly I should ask Mr Knight, because he knows everything. He once explained to me what a 700c was, and there are only five people in the whole universe who know that.
Friday, October 9, 2009 10:01:26 AM Categories: seats and saddles

Reaming Tapping and Cutting Fluid 

Statement 1. Eugen is my mate, and he is working with Andy on the house.
Statement 2. Nothing in Statement 1 implies that Rocol Reaming Tapping and Cutting Fluid pinched briefly from where I keep it next to the lathe is an appropriate stuff to squirt on Andy's ladder to stop it squeaking. Does he have any idea at all how much RTC fluid costs?
Statement 3. No.
Statement 4. When Mike says of your new tandem wheel 'I'll have it ready next Friday' he doesn't actually mean next Friday, nor Saturday the week after that either. They are figures-of-speech.
Statement 5. This Tuesday was a figure-of-speech too.
Statement 6. When the tandem pilot says 'Stop pedalling' it should not be taken to mean 'Carry on chatting and also carry on pedalling.' Stop Pedalling isn't a figure-of-speech. It's a now speech.
Statement 7. Because the synch chain immediately comes off, you cretin.
Statement 8. B****cks. Never mind, we can both get off and I'll fiddle with it if you hold the damned thing up. See that derailleur mech there? Ad hoc tensioning device. On the bottom half of the chain because it's slack when I'm pedalling, but it suddenly goes into t'rrific tension if I've bloody well stopped and you're still going you great brain-free clotworthy, and then the top goes slack and cascades all over the damned shop. Are you stupid or something? Did Andy drop a mortising chisel off the roof into your skull and scrape the contents out with a tea-spoon?
Statement 9. Yes I know I didn't sort the washing. What's that got to do with it? Anyway I was in a frantic rush trying to get it inside before they sprayed the orchard (they spray the commercial orchards here, several times a week, and they don't tell us beforehand like they're supposed to) and then I was hoovering the lawn for an hour because of all that insulation stuff. (Polystyrene. The little balls go everywhere. It was windy.)
Statement 10. Ow! For *uck's-sake!
Staement 11. Yes I know we agreed I'd start off with the left foot clipped in but if you gaily whizz your pedals backwards when I'm standing here then mine whizz round too and whack the inside of my knee-bone - ow! *uck! Like that!
Statement 12. We like our tandem. It doesn't necessarily mean we're going to stay married.


Tuesday, October 6, 2009 10:07:04 AM Categories: tandem


My wife is this thing: a horrible barstard; and she is a horrible barstard because she just told me off for opening the cheese in the wrong way. How many ways can you open cheese? - No. You're wrong. There is only one way to open cheese and it is my wife's way and therefore my cheese-opening skills are faulty and require training.

We have just been for a ride to Ngatimoti where we had a long chat with a roadie whose wife fancies a tandem, and we like our tandem hugely because although she is a horrible barstard is my wife, it's fun whizzing along in a Bolt Upright position at the sorts of speed I used to manage on Herbert's bike. - Herbert gave me his old racing bike a few years ago, and it is a fine racing bike because Walter Haenni gave it to him after Walter Haenni won the Austrian road championship on it. Herbert was Herbert Franz and he was Walter's coach, and he was also Karen Holliday's coach when she became New Zealand's first cycling world champion. I expect you can Google all this if it excites you, but I don't suppose it will and anyway I only include it because I like name-dropping. It is my vice. Along with incorrect cheese opening.

It was a lovely sunny morning and we got to Ngatimoti and waved at an oncoming cyclist and stopped because it was Celia, and while my wife and Celia wagged their jaws at one another I fixed Celia's front brake which she had disconnected 'because it rubbed'. I shall not give my views on Celia's bicycle maintenance other perhaps than to say cheese opening is uncontroversial by comparison.

While we were variously wagging jaws & repairing Celia's brake two tandemists came hurtling past in a racing crouch. Well, four tandemists, in four racing crouches on two - anyway you know what I mean. And then a third tandem, and soon we discovered we were in the middle of Tandem Rush-hour. One after another came past, occasionally two or three together, occasionally shouting 'Hi Richard' which left me wondering who they all were. So we left Celia and headed back to Motueka and half an hour later found that Mike Gane, who is a famous cycling event organiser, had for our convenience organised an entire tandem race, and we joined him at the finish line and commanded him to build us some tandem wheels because mine, as everyone had assured me they would, are going all agly. Spoke tension is astray, rims are beginning to nudge brake blocks, and since I know for a fact that Mike Gane has a tandem triplet - actually it might be a tandem fourtlet so I don't know it for a fact at all - and a bike shop in Stoke, I was happy to take his advice which is that 40 spokes on a 559 wheel will be fine for a tandem.

Back in town a boring old bloke with shaggy black hair whom, unfortunately, I happen to know came over and started telling me how I should have braced the frame of my tandem. From past conversations I have established that he has made this many tandem frames:
and he has this much experience of making recumbent-or-trike-or-any-other-cycle frames:
and the advice that he gave me today was misremembered from something that I had observed to him a while ago and what he told me was this:
and I started to wonder what it is about me that turns me into an Advice Victim. Wherever I go I find myself on the receiving end of large amounts of advice about what I have already done from people who have never done it themselves.

Since the children, who are up on bullying, have told me this is against my Yuman Rights, I shall now take a leaf out of their book and start to dish out advice in a similar manner.

I shall start by advising a former cabinet minister not to read his text messages while he's driving his car. I have never myself done this on account of not having a mobile phone, but on an occasion when I was passenger in a motorcar driven by a cabinet minister, he did read his text messages and turned me into a Very Frightened Passenger. I have chosen this advice carefully because it's about to become illegal anyway, and ex-cabinet ministers always obey the law.
(Well, some of them do. Some exercise their constructive spin skills on their having deliberately run over and killed a cyclist )(I wish I could read Dutch. It would be interesting, given their attitudes towards cycling, to see what the Netherlands media make of the story.)

I'd quite like to advise our present cabinet ministers that $25 a tonne (about ten quid, the current NZ proposal) as a cap-and-trade price for carbon dioxide is not going to make folk more thoughtful about cars since it'll only cost each of us a hundred quid a year. But, when he's set his heart on it, advising a cabinet minister not to do something completely pointless is like advising a teenager not to smash his bourbon-and-coke bottle on the BMX track.
Hmm. Maybe I'm a wuss. Maybe I need to be more assertive. Maybe I need to get in training. Maybe I'll go and advise my wife how to open cheese.
Sunday, September 20, 2009 6:33:51 AM Categories: New Zealand tandem


I have been showing off my tandem, as one does, to all who come my way, among whom was Biffer. For reasons that may become apparent Biffer may not wish to be identified. Biffer admired my tandem in a perfunctory way because he is actually not in the slightest bit interested in tandems or indeed anything else with pedals attached - and then - I can't remember how - got onto the subject of the local council, of whom he had recently made enquiries regarding his replacement shower. Biffer had been into the Council offices.
'Do I need a building permit for replacing my shower?'
'Okay. How much?'
'WHAT! For replacing an existing shower?!'
'Can you tell me what I'm getting for that?'
'We have to accept and inspect the correct documentation.'
'Which is?'
The Council officer gave him a long list, concluding with an Original Certificate of Title for the Home.
'What d'you need that for?'
'To prove that you own the house.'
'Hang on. Last week I paid you $700 Rates. You didn't need me to prove that I owned the house then. What's happened in the last seven days? You forgot or something?'
'And another thing. Look at me. Do I look like the sort of bloke who goes about surreptitiously breaking into people's houses and installing a shower when they're not there?'
'And now I expect you want me to provide an architect's drawings of the shower.'
'We will need to see plans.'
'What for? What are you worried about? I'm just replacing a shower!'
'We need to see plans for the drainage pan, to check it doesn't leak.'
'So what will that be? A square with a little circle in the middle of it?'
'Well, yes, that would do.'
'Tell you what. Gimme a bit of paper and a pencil and I'll draw it now for you.'
Needless to say Biffer went away with a pocket full of documents none of which will ever be returned, and should the council officers busy themselves poking into his basement, he will assure them that you can do wonders in making an old shower look like new with a little floor soap. A similar problem arose a while ago when the council took it into their heads to charge a $400 Resource Consent for a solar panel, which a number of people declined to pay, taking their chances on the local council's ability to withdraw access to the sunshine.
Meantime I swept up another smashed beer bottle today, because although the council officers assure me that all I need do is submit the appropriate form to draw the roading engineers' attention to the matter, I'm the one that fixes punctures in this household.
Thursday, September 17, 2009 11:03:13 AM Categories: New Zealand stupidity
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