7 Mar 2016

7th March 2016 The butterfly.


Monday 7th 35F, 2C, breezy, overcast with thin blue stripes. The forecast is for another grey, but dry day. A little sunshine would not go amiss even if it is blinding and a serious health risk. My walk did not go well. It rained twice so I headed home. So much for the forecast being dry! The rain and sleet showers continued until after lunch. I filled the rest of the day on a project at home.

One alcoholic fuckwit's private shame. Publicly dumped  over a hedge into a rural garden under the cover of darkness. There must have been 100 cans scattered widely amongst the trees. Denmark used to have a returnable bottles only system but big money crushed that idea and hurled it straight onto the verge for "the greater good."
I have decided that I will no longer publish my endless rants here. History suggests that my sense of humour is far too opaque to decipher. Or simply far too obvious for most people to believe my original intention was to be funny. Dumping my pointless tirades on a captive audience, who are expecting only discussion of cycling and tricycling is [arguably] unfair. Though most of my repeat visitors must know what to expect by now.

You might call me an angry young man who never [wanted to] grow up as the decades accelerated past him.  Still living in the fading memories of his endless small triumphs where others seemed to do absolutely nothing at all. How do people survive on so little personal stimulus? Where the results of a football match, watching a vacuous soap and washing the car on Sunday define their entire lives.

Any interest in football was quashed as a child when I discovered that mercenaries were allowed to play for the local tribe. I haven't spent more than a grudging few seconds in over a half century watching the UK's "national sport" for the redistribution of wealth. Robber barons stealing from babies in their prams doesn't even begin to describe the obscenity of ticket pricing and commercialization of this week's kit. Just be careful you don't get run over by your drunken hero's Lambo or Bentley as you queue in the rain! 

My continuing obsession with reading the news and the frustrations it causes may simply be an unconscious desire for far more stimulation than my life currently provides. I lack the skills or timing to be a contextual stand-up [online] comic. Nobody laughs at my jokes in real life so why should they bother on a cycling blog?

I readily admit that I write my rants largely for my own amusement. Seriously though, I really do find them quite funny. Whether they are/were remotely as witty as I thought them myself I have absolutely no means of knowing. The numbers of my followers has remained fairly stable over time and the number of visitors largely unchanged. What brings any of you here, so regularly, still remains a complete mystery to me.

I can imagine my pictures of the Danish landscape hold interest for some of you. I try hard to maintain a reasonable standard and do my best to avoid obvious duplication. Sharing photographs of almost every building of interest, within my regular cycling radius, has become steadily more limiting over time. My morning walks produced many more simple landscapes but inevitably become mere recordings of the endless seasons' passing. I feared for my regular audience when I started walking almost every morning but found new and enjoyable stimulus from spotting birds and animals. Not to mention 'joining the dots' of the tangled road system and orienteering myself to a constantly changing geographic understanding of my locality. Why does the road kink just there? Who put that village telephone tower off in that direction? Binocular views merely confuse as they foreshorten hours of walking into a mere tricycle ride. The next village becomes your closest neighbour without ever having been invited to do so. And why is the traffic passing behind that farm?

Walking is very unlike cycling and the conscious experience and stimuli are very different. The wind is of much lesser importance on foot. It takes a gale to impede my progress along the lanes and roads which connect my favourite, solitary haunts of woods and pond. I often think that it would be some time before my body was discovered in the event of an unexpected fall. Fortunately I am still remarkably fleet of foot and secure in my gait over the roughest ground. My morning travels take me through hidden fire breaks, traverse dense bramble thickets and cross soggy, marshy bottoms. Few others have any reason to go there in any particular year taken at random.

The 'Head Gardener' expresses occasional worries as to my general whereabouts in case she needs to send the police, search dogs out in a hurry. Can you just see the headlines? "70 year-old tricycling clown found safe but wandering in circles in the woods." [They always exaggerate age to make the new story more gripping.]

I suppose the solitude is what makes it most interesting for me. There is no need to maintain the stony facade of social indifference required for a public place. One can even grin to oneself without triggering a call to the police or the residential home up on the hill. Nor do I need to put on a show of confidence in the face of other's presence, however brief. Not that I am incompetent in social situations even with my handicap of pidgin Danish and worse grammar. They used to say that I had a larger Danish vocabulary than most ordinary Danes. But, I readily admit that I still have no easy way of knitting the words effortlessly together into easily recognizable patterns for absolutely everybody I meet. Do I still miss listening to the 'serious' Danish stations on my 'radio controlled' ear defenders? Probably not. My only exposure to any Danish these days is strictly of the "deeply meaningful" variety with the supermarket checkout staff and reading between the Danish news headlines. 

Meanwhile, back at the ranch: I love the gently folded Fynsk landscape as much as I enjoyed the impressive mountains in the UK. The low altitude of Denmark's features have a unique way of exposing satisfying glimpses previously hidden from view. A mere field hedge can easily conceal a perfect saddle, or the transverse shoulders of the most modest of hills. Leaf fall can drop new vistas and landmarks effortlessly and unexpectedly into my consciousness. To be instantly recognized for its novelty and hopefully, captured with my camera. The light changes constantly on the simple slopes and corrugations of my [almost] daily journeys to nowhere in particular via nowhere remotely important. Taking repeated pictures of these changes, while maintaining blog interest, is more difficult than the quiet, visual satisfaction they bring.

There are certain views on my walks which always defy becoming mundane. Never the same from one day to the next, I often stop to simply stand and stare in admiration. The curves of the low, mounded fields, the arrangement of that corner of the retreating forest and the lines of the crops are easily enough for me in the right combination. They need no embellishment to add fleeting "interest". It would be fascinating to make one of those stop motion videos over an entire year from the same viewpoint. Though few would bother to watch it if I posted it on YouTube. Not enough 'instant gratification' for most tastes and where, the hell, are the kittens?!!?

For years I would automatically adjust the gamma and contrast to give my blog pictures more 'sparkle.' Now I sometimes find the merest touch of the "magic software buttons" can completely destroy the sense of mood and time and place. Here, the controlled, mechanical destruction of the countryside will be rewarded with dense, new, hedge growth. The land is patient about such things.

Once, my tricycle rides were personally compulsory and I used and abused every means at my disposal to maintain their frequency. [Rather than take the car.] Retirement means I no longer have that urgent drive to be somewhere else and still be back in time for a very late lunch. No hardened psychopath at the local job center needs to bully me into riding yet further on pain of threatened poverty and saddle soreness. Somebody should have explained to him that the multinational sold all our jobs [and decades of technological development] to China. A series of promising young hit men would exchange a given number of dismissals for a new Audi. I used to grin every time I entered the factory because I felt a small part of something vitally important in combating global climate change and improving billions of real people's lives. But the billionaire owners had far more important goals. Like having another ought and several more kilos to add to their "bottom line."

So I was sent forth as a 63 year-old, walking wounded, to seek employment in a grossly unfair world of factory closures as production jobs were/are bulk exported to Asia and even Eastern Europe. My daily rides were journeys into my own little world of economic depression and weed-infested industrial estates. Sometimes peopled by lonely, broken men. Still fiddling around the edges of their former place of business. My daily doses of Denmark held only badly faded house sale signs, rows of blind shop windows in every village high street and no hope in hell of a job offer. Certainly not for an elderly clown on a tricycle when literally hundreds would apply for any formal recruitment notice. Why choose me? When I was the one closest to retirement and who spoke only in Danglish-gibberish. Rather than the local, agricultural, factory fodder, Fynsk-Danish. [Fyn is the island I live on now. The middle blob of the three landmasses of tiny Denmark. Fynsk is Danish for things form Fyn.]    

Time for today's walk under continuing grey skies. Where I know I shall be dodging the same psychopathically selfish, homicidal, speeding commuters as yesterday. Before suddenly being allowed to immerse myself in the refreshing silence and emptiness of the farm tracks and rural lanes. Where the focus is shared equally between the nearby and the distant. Where I can stop completely at will without fear of being rear-ended. My separate, tricycling world, is crowded with mobile phone abusers behind the wheel of their "pride and joy" or 7-axle continental behemoths. Spotting a driver without a handheld device is like spotting Robins. They are extremely rare, quiet and more often seen as road kill.

Once away from the busy road, only the sound of my boots intrude in a world of nature and sticky mud. Where I have no need to maintain a constant eye out for debris and potholes over a yard wide strip, stretching out to an infinity of damaged asphalt. Where I have no need to keep a third eye open for dangerously inadequate or obviously drunken drivers. Where the unexpected sound of tyre roar means I glance down instinctively at my [absent] rear view mirror. Only to feel I have lost a fifth and vital limb to fend off the inevitable brush with potential, mortal danger.