Tuesday, August 07, 2007

A word of explanation, and some unusual colour 

Perhaps I was being just a wee bit too elliptical. Slip-sliding away – the title of the song Paul Simon sings in the YouTube clip in that last post – seemed like a fair way to describe where I’m going these days. Disconnected, losing touch, losing hold, on all fronts at once. With work, people, blogs; even with myself. Perhaps most of all with myself.

But it was different sort of slip-sliding I experienced this morning.

There I was, pedalling along enjoying the morning sunshine, minding my own business, when all of a sudden I became aware of a black shape coming from behind to slice the front wheel of my bike from under me. Before I knew what was happening, my shoulder was sliding along the length of the car as it bulldozed its way past me; then I was bouncing to rest in a heap of arms, legs and bicycle in the middle of the road.

Someone turning left off the main road into a side turning had decided to ignore the fact that I was occupying the piece of road which they needed to transit, and simply swept me and my bicycle up as they negotiated the junction.

No way did he not see me; no way was he not aware that he’d knocked me over. (10:1 it was a he – I’ll bet a woman would have stopped). But he just drove off without even slowing down. I guess he could see in his rear view mirror that the figure picking itself up off the tarmac, shaking its fist and shouting insults, wasn’t lying dead on the road, so that made it alright. Nothing to worry about. If he even bothered to look, that is.

I didn’t see what kind of car it was – by the time I’d picked myself up it was already speeding down the road and round a bend. Just something big and black - probably another bloody Merc; they’re always bloody Mercs – worst drivers on the road, bar none. The newer and flashier the Merc, the richer and more opulent the driver, the worse the driving. Far, far worse than drivers of white vans (although it was a white van which nearly repeated the incident later on my trip, with a cyclist 100 yards ahead of me this time). Arrogant bastards who think they’re above such plebeian matters as traffic regulations and common courtesy…

As you can see, the residual anger hasn’t altogether subsided yet. And that, I think, is because I haven’t had a chance to get rid of it. True, I shouted all manner of abuse at the back of the rapidly retreating car, but that hardly gave satisfaction. I feel cheated, denied my right to curse the bastard to his face. Although I got back on my bike and gave chase, it was probably as well that I couldn’t catch him. The one thought in my mind was to inflict violent physical harm upon him – a broken nose would have done nicely. Quite out of character I assure you and I’d undoubtedly have regretted it later.

The strength of my anger surprised me. True, I had entirely just cause – injury from a hit-and-run driver who was 100% responsible for the accident (you’ll have to take my word for that) – but even so, I don’t make a habit of playing out in my head scenes where I administer pugilistic violence on those who cross my path. Honest; trust me on that.

Strange as it may seem, maybe the result wasn’t altogether bad. The sharp and bloody connection of my elbow with the road at least connected me with some real feelings I could recognise; I haven’t experienced such undiluted, primary-coloured emotion for a very long time. Usually everything is tempered, controlled, balanced; bland even. I have a hard time making out the shape, the colour, the taste; I seem to exist in an emotional vacuum, filled only by a few occasional involuntary tears should a book or a film get under the surface and trigger an unexpected response.

Which brings me back to where I came in. Slip-sliding into emptiness, apathy. Perhaps I should find a less risky cure than jousting with motor vehicles.

Oh, and in case you were worried, thankfully – and near-miraculously - the injury was no worse than a grazed and rather bloody elbow.

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