New Brakes, New Lights, New Haircut

A few minutes before leaving the house this morning the telephone rang. My other half.

“You know that bag I got ready last night with cakes for the school bazaar?”


“I forgot it.”

I looked behind me on the kitchen floor, and sure enough there it was. I also knew that “I forgot it” really meant “will you cycle a mile out of your way across town to deliver the bag to me?”.

“I’ll be there in a bit”.

And so it was that I found myself struggling with both my work backpack on my back, and a bag full of cakes dangling from the handlebars – occasionally swinging against the front wheel and making a terrific buzz-saw sound. I had repeated visions of the cake box snagging in the spokes and catapulting me into the road, with cupcakes scattered all around me. I pictured a police officer arriving on the scene, and complaining about the state of the icing on the cake he would stand there eating.

Seeing as I was already late for work I took it upon myself to get my hair cut. It just so happened that Russell Brand (the actor/comedian/asshole) had switched the Christmas lights on in town last night, so the lady cutting my hair inevitably asked me if I was there.

“No – sorry

Russell has lived in the town for the last couple of years apparently. There’s a few people from TV and movies living locally – I guess we’re far enough from London that it’s quiet, without the journey in being too onerous. I suppose I should know, after commuting in several times this week.

Anyway! After chit-chatting about whatever forgettable rubbish you do while waiting for your hair to be stolen right off your head, I climbed back on the bike, and set off up the road towards work.

After finally arriving in the office, I discovered two boxes sitting in the middle of my desk – no doubt put there by the wonderful ladies that work downstairs. New lights, and new brake blocks for my bike. For the last few weeks I have essentially had no brakes on my bike – the back break in particular has been making curious metal-on-metal noises that I worried might eventually wear through the rim. Guess who stood out in the car park for half an hour later in the day, covering his hands in a pretty spectacular coating of soot, oil, and whatever else comes off a bike that very rarely gets cleaned? By the time I finished I could have passed quite easily as a car mechanic.

You know the funny thing? Having oily hands is kind of like wearing makeup, but in reverse. Many years ago, the company I worked for dressed in drag for a charity in the UK called "Children in Need”. The girl that worked in reception did my makeup in the morning (to go with a dress I borrowed, and a wig from a joke shop). I learned that day that when you’re wearing eye makeup, you cannot so much as TOUCH your eyes. You can’t rub them, scratch them – nothing. This morning I quickly became aware of the reverse, after scratching my nose while fitting the brake blocks. I wondered if I had a huge black smear across my nose for some time, and bizarrely forgot to check while washing my hands. For all I know I still have a black smear across my face.

Thankfully the lights were much more straightforward. They charge via USB, and strapped onto the bike in a matter of seconds. I felt like the second sun of Krypton as I cycled home, illuminating the road ahead rather magnificently.

I need to stop writing. It’s already past 10pm, and I need to be up at 6 in the morning. Myself and Miss 17 are headed to London for the day – the “Hyper Japan” festival at the Tobacco Docks, near the Tower of London. Expect lots of photos of Manga and Anime cosplayers, and insane J-Pop bands tomorrow night.

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