All entries for June 2009

June 27, 2009

Work Avoidance

Today’s chief method of work avoidance has been reminiscence. Daydreams led me slowly towards a dinner I shared with Caroline at what was at the time Dubrovnik’s only vegetarian restaurant, not particularly fine food it has to be said, during which we only managed to name 49 American states. Times and technology have changed and now sporcle provides a much more efficient way of wasting time on such problems, my knowledge of US states hasn’t improved but somewhat more worryingly I was only able to name seventeen of Time Magazine’s top 100 books given the authors. And no matter how many times I entered ‘The End of The Affair’ it just wasn’t there. Then I went to Waterstone’s with three of the top one hundred on my list and they didn’t have any of them. Troubling.

Anyway, cleaning to do…..

Notes on a Car Crash (2)

Follow-up to Notes on a Car Crash from Kempez's blog

I don’t see her until too late. And I guess she doesn’t see me either. I always like to catch the eyes of the car drivers who are joining the roundabout to check that they know I’m there, so as I’m cycling across I swing my arm out in a huge exaggerated movement to indicate that I’m turning left. The woman in the third lane smiles at me. And then her smile is replaced by a look of absolute horror and I have only a fraction of a second to wonder why before I can see something out of the corner of my eye coming towards me at speed. There’s a huge noise as I’m rolling across her bonnet and then I’m lying face down on the road and for a full five seconds nobody moves. The road is hot. And then I get up, very calmly, drag my bike to the side of the roundabout and sit down on the pavement.

Everybody is asking me lots of questions, and my head is buzzing with thoughts but I can’t think of anything to say. So I just stare at them. I find it funny that the whole roundabout has stopped for me. They all seem quite anxious and my silence doesn’t seem to be helping things, so I say that I didn’t hit my head and I don’t want to go to hospital. I don’t know where the words came from but they’re something I can hold on to and I repeat them five or six times because they seem to calm things a bit. Someone protests that I did hit my head but I don’t want a return to the squabbling so I Ignore him and say that I’d like to go home. My bike is already in the back of a car so I guess that’s where I’m meant to go. The woman who hit me is crying so I smile at her and say that everything is okay really. She gives me her business card and tells me I have to ring her. Apparently she’s in PR. And then somebody drives me home and I’m sitting on the bed in my house and it’s cool and quiet and I’m completely alone. My legs are starting to shake so I lie down and put on Eddie Mair. And finally I sleep.

June 19, 2009

The Banned List

I like banning things. It makes me feel important. The following people are banned from my house.

  • George Galloway
  • Robert Kilroy-Silk
  • Richard Dawkins
  • Ken Livingstone
  • Anne Robinson
  • Julia Hartley-Brewer

Chief crimes are arrogance and general offensiveness. Catherine thinks we should ban Fern Cotton. I don’t think she understands how important my list is. Any other suggestions?

June 16, 2009

Notes on a Car Crash

This entry has appeared in various forms in my head over the past couple of weeks. There’s the dreamy confused sitting at the side of the road and wondering what happened version, the far too graphic to publish in a place my mother might stumble across it version, the euphoria of being alive and the misery of being in pain. Somehow none of these quite captured what I felt, so we’ll have to settle for the matter of fact what can I learn from all this version; I’m sure it’s rather dull but I wanted to write it.

Two weeks ago I was hit by a car. I was riding home from the maths block at about four thirty and crossing over the roundabout by Canley fire station when a car who was joining the roundabout failed to see me. A last minute squeal of brakes was not enough to prevent her hitting me pretty square on and I rolled somewhat ungracefully over her bonnet before landing back on the road. As collisions between cars and bikes go this was not serious, spectacular maybe, but I walked away apparently undamaged with my bike needing only minor servicing.

What I did for the next thirty six hours wasn’t especially sensible. I felt no pain, I’d walked away from what could have been an extremely serious accident, I had adrenaline coursing through my veins and I felt on top of the world. I refused people’s offers to take me to hospital and got people’s details only as an afterthought. When the extremely upset driver rang me to check that I was still alive I assured her that everything was fine and that there was really nothing to worry about. Had my opinion been sought, I would probably have told her not to bother with her insurance company as it would just end up more expensive for her. So when I woke up two days later unable to sit up in bed I realised how fortunate I was that she had done everything through the book and her insurance company were accepting responsibility.

My mum reacted furiously, as is a mother’s prerogative, insisting that this stupid woman should be banned from driving. But I don’t think that covers it, this was bad driving but not the kind of bad driving that I don’t see regularly on the road, and to dismiss it as a chance encounter with an atrocious driver would be to close my eyes to the real danger of being a cyclist.

I have lived with the notion that one can ride defensively, setting yourself a metre out from the pavement so that cars will have to think about overtaking, that if you always have lights and don’t behave in a way that drivers won’t expect then you’re perfectly safe. This is a myth. Of Warwick’s fifty or so maths PhD students, at least four have been knocked off a bike at the Canley roundabout, a staggering statistic given that not all of them ride a bike or commute from Earlsdon.

Bike riders are vulnerable and hard to see, and while we may fume at the actions of bad car drivers we must also accept their existence as a reality that isn’t going to go away any time soon. So from now on I won’t be doing big roundabouts on my bike, and while I’m hesitant to start lecturing people on here I’d really encourage people reading this to think twice before tackling the fire station roundabout again, as far as I’m concerned it’s just not safe.

June 03, 2009

Swine Flu on Campus


help, swine flu is on campus, we’re all going to die. Run my friends, run for the hills, take your girlfriends wives and mistresses and escape. Write a poem, sing a song, live each day as if it were your last. We’re all going to die, argh help help…..

End of message

June 2009

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