Cycling on the Footpath

While lying in bed listening to the radio alarm clock this morning, my other half sat up with a start, and nudged my shoulder.

“You need to get up for work”

“I know”

She thought I was asleep. I looked across at the alarm clock again. 7:30am. Normally the morning would consist of making breakfasts and packed lunches, but we are now officially in the summer holidays. The younger kids were at a sleepover, and our eldest would probably require TNT to dislodge from her bed.

I finally got up and 8, stumbled into the shower, had a shave, brushed my teeth, threw on a t-shirt and cargo shorts, and extricated the bike from the shed. We had no bread, so my master-plan involved stopping in town to buy a baguette from the grocery store in the high street.

It just so happens that the most direct route into town cuts behind several houses, and past some allotments (a strangely British institution, where people rent a strip of land from the town council, and farm it). The footpath is perhaps 200 yards long, and I always get off my bike and push it through there – mainly because I’m Dudley Doo-right. The path is split into two sections – at about the mid-way point a road intersects with it.

As I reached the mid-point, a sixty year old man on a bicycle came whistling past me. He had no helmet on, and was cycling on the path. What’s more, he was doing that old man thing of cycling with his knees splayed – maybe all old men have testicles the size of watermelons or something? The irony that I had a bike helmet on, and was walking with my bike was not lost on me either.

As I finally exited the footpath and re-joined the road, I could still see him – a few hundred yards ahead of me. I continued to watch as he approached a junction, and swept straight across it without slowing, without looking, and without indicating at all.

I won’t write down what I called him under my breath.

I don’t understand how so many older people blame the young for having no civic pride, no respect, and no manners – and then the vast majority of them (and it *is* the vast majority) continually try to get away with as much as they possibly can. I’m sure the guy on the bike would be the first to complain about anybody cycling on the path, and yet when I left the supermarket, guess who I saw merrily wobbling along the footpath on his bike in the high street.

“Do as I say, not as I do” seems to be prevalent. People like to make all sorts of rules, expectations, and obligations, and then completely and utterly ignore them while simultaneously complaining that everybody else is at fault.

Here’s the thing – as soon as you start to have problems with everybody else, you might want to start taking a look at yourself – because you’re kind of the odd-one-out.

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