Archive of March 2011

Sat 12 Mar

I have been itching to post on this subject for a while, but having discovered just what a contrast in ride quality we are getting and how solid the investment will hopefully be I can resist no longer.  Some time ago we found a potential successor to our rather venerable "steel wheels" imperial tandem ("Daisy"),  Better yet I managed to purchase a second hand roof rack carrier for a song, and suitable equipped we eventually managed to get out to test ride and, after a brief negotiation, purchase and bring home what we think is a Cannondale MT1000, though thanksfully not in the lime green colours on that link! In fact the bold aluminium frame is finished in a rather fetching almost irridessent purple, a colour not done justice at all in the picture above, which was taken by the previous owner so shows none of the modifications we have made (and more are planned next week when Nigel at the wonderful Brixton Bicycle Co-Operative will overhaul and rebuild the rear wheel for a hub brake and nine speed cassette). Oh! And we still cannot decide if one of these will help in the quest for saddle comfort on the rear!  It would however take the cost of tandem plus modifications to well over £1,000 which does feel quite a lot to me at least!

She went here, to Wheels for Wellbeing,an interesting charity heping to make cycling accessible for everyone, with some quite interesting machinery to help with that!  i was surprisingly affected, it says a lot about me that I could be moved to tears almost at the loss of a bicycle.  I guess the reason is in large part how it was this bicycle that played a part in my fiancee and me discovering a whole new area of life to explore....  Perhaps also because I was veyr happy about where Daisy was going and thinking of other sight impaired riders made me confront slightly the future prospects for my stoker when the RP progresses....

I am hoping to post a better picture of Daisy with all her enhancements and adaptations (not least of which a saddle set suitable for our forthcoming challenge of the London Nightride, again more of which at later date!).

Tue 8 Mar

A day and a night in the life of a book

Well at the weekend we had what was billed as quite the literary extravaganza; World Book Night and I was rather sad to miss the innaugural event, not for want of a desire to participate nor for lack of informaiton or opportunity, but simply because family life was too full, especially since I had my daughter with me that weekend.

Undaunted by this I decided to have my own personal Book Night last night, and to combine it with another of my passions, cycling.  Perhaps you have heard of Bookcrossing?  Well, my bicycle now proudly bears the bumper sticker "I brake for Wild Books"!.

By happenstance the other night I had picked out "The Woman and the Ape" by Peter Hoeg and co-authored by Barbara Haveland from my bookshelf when I was in want of something to read, only to discover that I had read it before, not only that but had started re-reading it once before too!!  So high time this particular volume was not on my bookshelf! and a good reason to "refresh" my membership of the bookcrossing fraternity.  As luck would have it I had already allocated this book it's serial number and applied the sticker to the front inside cover, so it was good to go.

And so was I, with a bundle of energy to expend I flew over London and enjoyed a night crossing of the Thames, a quick dash through Soho towards the NorthWest side of town, where I hit the bottom of Haverstock Hill and could not resist that temptation, proceeding to climb the hill with enthusiasm.  If you are local to London and that area you will know it was quite a climb and took me all the way up from Swiss Cottage to the top of Hampstead.... Where I arrived at Whitestone Pond and discovered my cycling legs were not quite those of the young man who thought nothing of dashing down to Brighton for an evening by bicycle!  Not only that, it was a clear night and my toes were really feeling the chill.

So there I left the book, and you can read what happened next here!

It was really astounding when I got the email notifying me the book had not only been picked up, but a note made to the internet.... Why?  Because in my past bookcrossing life I must have logged about seventy books and "dropped" or "placed" at least forty of those with very meagre results in terms of reportback the book was found or read, maybe two or three, but of those a couple somewhat contrived (since avid BookCrossers will gather in officially sanctioned pubs etc.)

So all in all a happy event.  Strange to tell, but I remember vividly just how glorious a day it was the next day, and althogh I had only been by the pond under cover of complete darkness in my minds eye I have a really clear memory of "seeing" that book where I left it on the bench awash with glorious sunshine!  I think the message here is - if you want to be a "successful" book crosser with feedback pick your place and pick your moment....

Sat 5 Mar

Loneliness and times of war

It must now be a month since I finished reading Alone in Berlin, but I have been too busy to bother with the blog.  However I have manged to file a quick note of things that seem worthy of posting, and this is the oldest so I am picking it up now.  Althohgh it wil be dated March fifth I'm writing the post on the 22nd, but can stand by the memory jogging notes I wrote at the time:-

relentlessly depressing, everyone dies, graphic and awful violence

and attrocity.

Then again, what do you expect from a book written during the time of and under Nazi rule in Germany, not only that but in Berlin and with the subject matter of a protagonist trying to exist and resist at some level.

Interestingly written by someone who was there - his last work - he had a chequered history with psychiatric, drug, and prison casting huge shadows over his life and I can't help feeling probably ultimately responsible for his premature death.

On a more hopeful note I pondered the parallels with the present events and turmoil in the middle east.  I wonder what great works of literature may be getting written which could shed light no some of the world changes underway now.

I am aware this book is enjoying one of those strange fashionable posthumous popularity trends, similar to that enjoyed by the "Suite Francais" of Nemirovsky and I wanted to set out here that anyone embarking on reading this book should be prepared for an extremely and unremittingly depressing read.  There really is no redemption and it is best to have awareness of that and of the bleakness and abhorrent nature of the subject material before embarking on the read!  I think perhaps all the more chilling because you could arguably say the same of a work like "Crime and Punishment", but somehow this work does not have the excitement and detachment that is possible with that work.

I felt a sense of pleasure for the author when I read in the notes that he did finally feel he had created a novel in this work - that was something I could relate to and which I was pleased he managed to experience before his premature death.