8 Jan 2013

8th January 2013 and the ME-FA 864 WMD.

8th 43F, 6C, light winds, heavily overcast, quite misty. Just another 20 mile shopping trip.

Or rather not: I brought back a shiny, new, galvanised, lenticular, ME-FA 864 postbox. It had been on special offer at branches of  monopolybuildersmerchants.com.  Our present postbox leaks like a sieve and has all the security of a damp window envelope. The previous branch of monopolybuildersmerchants.com had no stock, despite it being the first day of their offer. The woman behind the counter demanded to know why I couldn't wait for more stock to arrive? As if it was my fault they hadn't ordered sufficient stock in the first place! Being driven by corporate guilt she obviously felt that attack was the best form of defence.

I was going to trot out my well-rehearsed explanation that I had just ridden 10 miles and had 10 more to do just to get home (without my shiny new, ME-FA 864 postbox) in the rain. Or, I could have paraded my fall-back accusation that many of Denmark's retail chains were a bunch of monopolistic crooks for never having any stock of their special offers. And, that these specially discounted offers were all just a cynical ploy to get mugs (like me) through their doors! But I looked at her irritated face and realised that she was just another uncaring victim of the system and that it was I who was wearing the stretchy Lycra shorts in midwinter... and walked out.

A day, or two, later (today) I had taken my frustrated purchasing power to the next , tax avoiding, money laundering, multi-billion investment holding fund, scammer's business premises in the exactly opposite direction from home. So you can add another 10 miles there and ten more back (into a damp headwind with an implied threat of drizzle) just to obtain my legally-required, regulation postbox.

At the second branch of monopolybuildersmerchants.com I met a rather more sympathetic lady. One who was far more accommodating and actually had some stock. She cheerfully provided some free string and even suggested I borrow a large, black, plastic bin bag (against a deposit) to aid my perilous journey home with my shiny new post box in its shiny, new, cardboard box. Alas, my No2, reserve, zipped, waterproofed nylon, shopping bag may have the maw of a common Basking shark but had not not quite stretched to a lenticular, galvanised, ME-FA 864 complete with decorative, protective packaging.

Having made my purchase, and left with the air full of grateful thanks, I hung the postbox in its supporting bag from the saddle post. Lashing it well down with the free string. There was no telling how awful my journey might become at the hands of the local kommunes. (Councils) When they realised that it was too expensive a ploy to keep the cycle lanes clear of debris, by means of a once-a-century storm, they had fallen back on their tired, old, plate tectonics as a last resort. After all, the most highly taxed, democratic society in the Western World has no funds left to waste on such basic services. Not when they have to buy brand new, Danish modern art for every newly-built, town hall office and furnish it throughout with uncomfortable, but terrifyingly expensive, long-dead, Danish, architect-designed furniture. Not to mention the war! (Shush!)

When I arrived home I began to wonder whether ME-FA 864s weren't designed by some long dead, Danish architect, but made in China. Postboxes reach (in price) from my (slightly) immodest 250DKK (£25 equivalent) to a fairly astronomical £350+.(or its Danish Kroner equivalent) Given that we are talking about simple, folded, metal boxes, mass produced from extremely common, sheet materials, one is inclined to ask why? None of them claim any great advantage over any other. At least, not when the latest generation of Danish, knuckle-dragging immaturity feels duty bound to insert an ignited and  illegally-powerful, New Year firework into the regulation postbox flap. Thereby rendering said postbox to a splayed and mangled atrocity. More in keeping with a North African, battlefield relic.

Image from Wikipedia: Sprængt-postkasse.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch: The shiny, new, galvanised, lenticular, ME-FA 864 proved to be even more lethal than illegal Danish fireworks in the hands of the wilfully immature. I actually wondered if ME-FA had contracted out their weapons postbox production to a Chinese, Gillette razor/munitions factory by mistake. Every edge (exposed or concealed) of its entire construction was literally honed to a razor sharpness. A sharpness which would be the envy of many an amateur woodworker. Even with the best will in the world I could not obtain such a sharp edge on my finest, Swedish steel, woodworking chisel using my best Arkansas whetting stone! What does ME-FA mean anyway? Morbidly Effortless-Finger Amputator? Mindlessly Easy-Flesh Abbreviator? Manically Exciting-Fatal Attractor? Mercilessly Excoriated-Flayed Appendages?

Simply removing the postbox from its packaging proved that it (the cardboard box) was not so much decorative as primarily protective of any stray fingers brought anywhere near the postbox's vicinity. Do Danish postpersons routinely wear chain mail, butcher's protective gloves? This thing was potentially lethal at several yards radius! It has much the same blood-letting capability of an anti-personnel mine! Even the exposed edges of the decoratively bowed top and bottom were scalpel sharp! I know cats who routinely mark postboxes with their cheeks as they attempt to perch as artistically as possible in their unfashionable fur coats. Perhaps hoping to be discovered by some budding, YouTube film director.

Opening the ME-FA's front access flap (with Govmint. approved safety catch) proved that every edge of the postbox was eagerly seeking a new victim. With all the damaging potential of a red-neck, chainsaw massacre! The galvanised steel was not so much guillotined as a wannabe guillotine. Heavy metal blood lust looking for more soft tissue to dice into bite-sized chunks. A human makulator by any other name. Just think of the losses to the poor old wildlife and odd stray moggies who haven't read the dire warning signs! It is all too horrible to think about! Imagine the distress of stepping over a mountain of accumulated offal just to get your bank statement? And what about the fly problem?

Reluctantly, we re-holstered the ME-FA 864 in its protective armour. Then turned our attention to mopping at our copiously bleeding, open wounds with freshly laundered bed-sheets. Hoping to avoid getting any serious quantities of the vital red stuff onto the protective ME-FA 864 packaging. After all, you can't be too careful: The shiny, new, lenticular, galvanised ME-FA  864, in its decorative box, might have to be returned for a refund. Though not before a few swift blood transfusions and some post traumatic stress therapy.

By now you must be wondering what (on earth) all this has to do with tri-cycling? Well it's obvious, isn't it? I collected the ME-FA 864 on my trike and will probably have to return it by the same means. Bringing the sum total of potential tricycling mayhem (with a ME-FA weapon of mass destruction secreted thereon) to some 60-odd miles entirely without protective body armour. Stretchy Lycra may look sexy but is is not well known for its blood absorption coefficient! It doesn't even contain any Kevlar! So cyclists are even more at danger from ME-FA 864s than normal people!

Good grief! I even passed several schools and old people's homes! Can you imagine the twitter headlines, racing around the world, if they had known I was carrying an unlicensed M864 in public? I could easily have been up on terrorist charges! Spending the rest of my days in (blood-soaked) orange, mechanic's overalls in Guantanamo. Listening to endless renditions of 'Slade' through a weapons grade, Black & Decker, PA system!

Needless to say: You should remain in absolutely no doubt that we would NOT risk ourselves, nor any postpersons, nor wildlife (not excluding domestic cats) with such a lethal contraption! It would be tantamount to setting out a bear trap in the drive! In fact it (the ME-FA 864) makes the case of a local home help, being held up with a sawn-off shotgun, look like rather small beer. All entirely IMO, of course. ;-)

9th 41F, 5C, heavy overcast, rain forecast all day with wind. Tell me about it. Rest day. Well, not quite. I took the lethal postbox back in the car. The assistant tried every M864 postbox in stock and they were all razor sharp. So I had a refund and lived to ride another day. Though the doctor at A&E said I would probably always ride with a limp.

BTW: The Shimano scull cap (Size Large) which I had reluctantly exchanged for the grossly undersized (Size 48!) Shimano overshoes has proved to be similarly undersized. Shimano obviously bases its sizing upon Oriental human proportions. (Or some long forgotten Pygmy tribe with a penchant for head and foot shrinking)  In fact, my sole defence for the post of the 8th (above) rests entirely on having placed the offending Shimano scull cap briefly on my totally unprepared bonce. The effects of which were not unlike those science fiction films where all the hero's thoughts and memories implode.

My assorted GripGrab (Large) scull caps fit my head to such perfection that I am usually totally unaware of their presence. (Other than the wonderful warmth, comfort and windproofing they provide) Conversely, the Shimano cap is so small (read: tight with no worthwhile coverage) that my eyes bulge and it will take weeks for the impressions made by the oversized seams to subside to public acceptability. (Slow skin depression recovery times are just one of the crosses we wrinkleys have to bear!)

Though I am reluctant to mention it in polite company: <cough> I shall remain forever grateful that I had not exchanged the undersized Shimano overshoes for a pair of Shimano cycling shorts instead! <cough> The consequences of which are simply too awful to contemplate.

No doubt Shimano cycling clothing enjoys a warm acceptance from those who like to engage in a nice bit of S&M at the weekends. Its "strict confinement" probably offers benefits which we normal mortals usually find slightly distasteful or secretly amusing. Suffering, as I do, from acute claustrophobia I am wondering how to stretch the offending scull cap to human proportions. As the cap still owes me £15 (equiv) I am rather reluctant to pass it on (so soon) to the local kindergarten. In the form of (tax deductible) sponsorship for their track cycling team.

Click on any image for an enlargement.

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