Musings of a Septuagenarian Cyclist

Conversation with a rough sleeper

 

What a fantastic day!

Astride my bike on top of Box Hill, a blazing sun in sky so blue, a nip in the air it’s true but with bursting lungs and hope in my heart

All’s well with the world.

What a shitty night!

The ground so cold, my fingers are numb and I can’t think straight, my mind is so dumb. Why does no one think to ask

What’s up with the world?

 

Down the hill, with a wonderful view, I sweep through lanes, not a care in the world. The leaves on the trees with autumnal hue

My heart soars on high.

I can’t sit here, they’ll move me on, I’ll plod round the town till I find a spot to squat and stare at passers-by

My heart sinks to my boots.

 

Towards Epsom Town, past the RAC, a gin and tonic in the clubhouse bar? Perhaps next time I pass this way.

No harm in drink on a beautiful day.

Past Pirie’s Bar and the Anchor Tap, the pain in my gut gives a lurching leap; thank God for the kids who throw a can

To see me through this bloody day.

 

Down in the square I choose a place to enjoy a drink and a bite to eat. I use my phone to find a train to return me back

To my blissful home.

I sit in pain on a wall of stone, and look at geezers as they wander by; will they, or won’t they toss some food

To lift me out of this bleeding mood?

 

I must get back, catch up on the chat; there’s Brexit, and the election news, so important to know as soon as we can

Which way the big money is going.

Brexit? Who gives a fuck; whoever wins won’t put food on my plate. And as for the election, I ain’t got no vote and if I did

Who would care what I might think?

 

With Christmas approaching, two moods fight their corners; all the presents to buy, and the food and the wine, but at its heart

There’s the family and love.

Christmas? Family? Love?

What are they?

 

Musings or a Septuagenarian

Peacehaven – haven of peace;

truth – or a lie?

Conceived in haste, nurtured in poverty,

last resting place of Pinkie Brown.

now replete with fish and chips, and betting shops.

Peacehaven – haven of peace?

I’ll let you decide.

Telscombe – valley of gold;

truth – or a lie?

conceived in the womb of history, nurtured through guilt,

crossed by the prime meridian

now replete with privilege and power.

Telscombe – valley of gold?

I’ll let you decide

Peacehaven or Telscombe?

I’ll let you decide.

Musings of a Septuagenarian Cyclist

                                    AUTUMN

Season of mists and wistful listlessness.
Summer now gone, ‘though golden leaves rejoice its former glory;
hov’ring kestrel and white-arsed jay lift my spirits on this dull grey day.

Memories seep from field, from tree, from stream
of recent days when summer flowers bedecked the roadside verge and
courting couples lazed beneath the sultry sun.

Those summer nights, when birdsong marked the early dawn
of days, which stretched through noon towards an eve
of heavy-scented air, with acrobatic bats upon their prey.

This season has its charm of course, for when the sun shines bright
upon the land, true peace descends upon our hearts and minds;
autumnal tranquility now prevails.

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A time for looking back – but also through approaching winter
to the coming spring. Spring! That time of resurgent growth; of life reborn anew – full of vivid colour, full of hope.

If seasons are a metaphor for life, autumn is happily where I now reside
with love and wisdom stored through spring and summer;
autumnal tranquility now pervades my life.

One difference though, I share with all mankind – whilst after winter
I’ll rejoice the coming spring, a metaphor of seasons clearly means
that each must be employed, enjoyed in full …… with no return.

Musings of a Septuagenarian

                               The Lake District

Water, water everywhere, enough to make you blink
with awe and wonder.
It earns its name – born and shaped through years of ice and rain.

Drawn in as always, when on bike or foot, by senses sharp.
A beckoning feast,
I soon submit to all the natural pleasure they impart.

I hear it first – the rush of brook cascading down the beck;
it stirs my heart.
A sound that delves primeval mind for memories lurking deep.

I see it soon – around the bend it grinds the stones so smooth
they almost shine.
The water spits and sparks as on its downward path it falls.

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On Dollywaggon Pike I count the lakes and tarns I see:
they number nine.
And in the distance to the west through haze, I see the sea.

I touch it now – a chill-thrill through my fingers, up my arms
and to my heart.
It sends a shiver up my tingling spine towards my brain.

At last I drink! So pure and sweet upon my lips and tongue –
it tastes divine.
No wine or beer could match its power to quench a thirst so deep.

I end my walk along the stream that runs to Patterdale:
the sun now shines.
Since first I trod these paths in sixty-two not much has changed.

So water water everywhere – it makes me stop to think
of cost and worth;
the things we surely need in life, we often value least.

Musings of a Septuagenarian

                     Fingers of Fortune

Whilst out today on bike in wind and rain
I pause to ask a question lurking low:
where am I going?
“The elephant in the room” I hear you say;
why start a journey if you do not know
your destination?

You may indeed be right, but I would claim
that life itself is full of many paths
that take us …… where?
A signpost! Yes, that’s surely what I need
to point the way to where I want to go.
But that’s no use.

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From Bedham – yes, I know I’ve come from there,
but that’s no help for me to pinpoint yet
my journey’s end.
A choice in hope, that’s all that I can do;
the route my instinct tells me I should follow –
to Wisborough Green.

In life, it’s surely often much the same:
a choice we make with heart as well as head
to lead us on.
There is, of course a difference ‘tween the two –
on bike it matters little which we choose;
in life it’s key.

The signpost on the road it seems to me,
although it has some use, is nonetheless
a finger of fortune.
On bike, in life there is one common thread
whatever the route; the ultimate destination –
I’m coming home.

Musings of a Septuagenarian Cyclist

The farm – a page in history no less;
written in the sweat and toil of men
who laboured hard to tame the wilderness.

With scythe and plough they cut and clawed their way
through stubborn shrubs and stone, until long last
emerged the nascent shoots of wheat and hay.

These early hillside farmers knew full well
that should the harvest fail through blight or drought,
famine would hastily pave their road to hell.

But now, from in our ivory towers we see
a different picture of the gentrified farm,
as food arrives from Waitrose, trouble free.

A visit planned beyond the farmyard gate,
will likely be with child, to stroke the lambs;
or walk alpacas while the farmers wait.

When maize is grown for maze and not for food,
those early farmers might well feel betrayed
by this dramatic, modern change of mood.

Their spirits, though must try to bear in mind
the flow of history throughout the centuries past
builds only on the progress left behind.

Musings of a Septuagenarian Cyclist

The magic of a lane for me when cycling
in rain or shine; it lures me further on,
ever exploring.
Now in the wood, and then along the shores
with shrieking shingle churned by tide and wave,
the wild sea pours.
A turn – which way to go? It matters not,
for each will charm me in its unique way;
I know not what.
Is that the top? “You’re joking” moans the hill
in voice lugubrious, mocking the upward toil;
a bitter pill
to swallow. But it does me good, for when
the top ‘fore long looms large, I shout for joy
– a climb well done.
Whilst cycling ‘tween a Kentish oast and mill
I spot a kestrel hovering in the sky;
he hangs so still
while searching down below for movement slight,
that may betray a mouse or scuttling bug;
then stoops with might
Swift most gone, the swallows scooping low
dissect the fields in search of insect fare
before they go.
And so the country lane once more, for me
holds pleasure as it draws me further on
in ecstasy.

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Trundling to Telscombe

Love it or loathe it, try as we may
The topic of rainfall now hangs in the air.
Whilst trapped in a heatwave, week after week
Our zest for good weather is fading away.

After a night with a downpour so welcome,
I’m out on my bike in air that’s so fresh
That, though the sun’s shining, it’s ten degrees cooler;
Nigh on perfection for trundling to Telscombe.

With farmers on tractors and campers in vans
I’m sharing the road rising up to the dyke;
Each with a weather eye cast to the sea
Wond’ring how any rainfall may alter their plans.

With nettles hung high on the bank o’er the lane;
With fresh bales of hay toppling down to the sea;
With knapweed and blackberries fringing the fence,
The sensuous messages rush to my brain.

So, when we are constantly talking of weather
Our views about rain will rarely concur;
Though heatwave and sunshine are good for the goose,
We mustn’t forget what’s good for the gander.

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Musings of a Septuagenarian Cyclist

The wind, the wind, into the wind;
I struggle on, through Bury and Bignor.
Is it my friend, or is it my foe?
Whatever the answer, this I know:
It’s good to be alive.

Under the Downs, where Romans once walked,
Expensive stone houses now sharing the space
With wattle and thatch, where peasants once dwelt.
I wonder whether they ever felt
It’s good to be alive.

Cycling now through heather and gorse ,
Past a campsite snuggling so pretty
Beside a stream in corn fields of gold.
I don’t think the campers need to be told
Its good to be alive.

So what of the wind that started these thoughts?
It’s certainly there, though now at my back;
Wonder of wonders, it’s hast’ning me home.
With joy in my heart I can finish this poem,
It’s good to be alive!

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Musings of a Septuagenarian Cyclist

Cycling aside the gently flowing Thames,
Contrast the dramatic event of yesterday;
Knocked off my bike by a fast emerging car,
Escaped with bruises – continued on my way.

The most important question I must ask
Is how to view this sunny, shocking morn:
Was it a glass half empty, or half full?
‘Tween anger and thankfulness I am torn.

The answer soon for me is plain to see;
My guardian angel did not let me down.
Seconds before, or inches either way,
And I would now be clad in a hospital gown.

Another thought then quick occurs to me:
The errant driver clearly was dismayed
That I, upon the ground, might fail to stand;
And so he rushed to help with nerves sore frayed.

A final silver lining to the cloud
Was when a bike shop kindly, without cost
Two pedals to my folding bike did fit
So I, with care could make up time I’d lost.

The thought that I would offer now to you
When trial and tribulation do annoy.
Remember, every coin has got two sides:
Ignore the pain – and try to find the joy.