Wednesday, 27 January 2010

The futility of a schizophrenic cyclist's indecisive mind

Let me just start by saying I'm not a real schizophrenic...and neither am I! Ha ha - great start!

Right, cyclists.
God they are like marmite aren't they? You either hate them or love them. Usually, unless you are one, it's hate of course (as they break through red lights and zebra crossings narrowly avoiding pregnant women and Cruft's dogs and your wing mirrors). It's easy to hate someone who cycles, not only because they usually wear stupid clothing but also because (in London) they frequently go faster than cars and buses. No one is immune! Oh but when it is lashing rain, how smug we feel trapped in our metal polluting little cocoons with D'Angelo blasting out the stereo and some yogic breathing dissolving the overall stress of the commute.

Now this is where the schizophrenia comes in. I am both a driver and a cyclist (although not a skin-tight leotard wearing one), so I'm very much on the fence when it comes to this debate. I don't own a car, but when i borrow my sisters I find it both liberating, expensive and frustrating all in equal measure, especially when it comes to London and parking zones and crap White Van drivers and dickhead Volvo driving MILFs from Notting Hill or Chelsea, non-indicating bus drivers on the Uxbridge Road and dillusional mini-cabs. The only advantageous liberating thing about a car is getting it out of London on a long haul trip (well anywhere over 10 miles), but only if you have 4 of you sharing petrol and you can avoid all the traffic hotspots, caravans driving in the middle lane of the motorway and the senior Sunday drivers!

But i have to say, considering I cycle every day (taking my life into my hands) that if I had to vote for or against the mass cull of the above people I would vote definitely for. Yes, I admit when I'm driving and the lane is narrow and some cyclist creeps up my inside, avoiding my wing mirror by inches I do get annoyed. But because of my own near scrapes on the bike, I have to assume that everyone on the road is a 16 year old retarded moron (and generally they are) and have in my mind pre-emptive choices on road safety. This has made me a better driver and a more cautious cyclist - all the better I hear you cry!

It is worth pointing out at this point, that since I purchased the third part in the cyclist's trilogy of safety items - the helmet (to add to bike-lights and sexy hi-vis vest!), I have found life far more dangerous on the roads. Now I'm not saying they don't do a good job of saving head injury victims (they do and are advisable), but it is crazy how much more the average driver risks near me since I got the helmet. Before, they used to linger on my shoulder for what seemed hours as I laboured up a hill in the wrong gear, inwardly swearing and sweating out my ringpiece.

Now I have a flimsy plastic helmet, said average driver thinks it's an invincibility cloak, a magical forcefield that allows them to overtake me and take the first immediate left hand turn across my path at seemingly any speed they like without any dangers whatsoever. Or like the mini cab driver the other day, overtake far too quickly then screech to a halt about 7 inches in front of me before honking for his fat and mentally challenged ten-strong family to emerge from the hovel they call a house and slowly labour in single file into the clapped out Mitsubishi Delica with the forged MOT and emissions certificate, the wife clutching her Benefits folder like a newborn.

Granted, bikers probably bend the rules of the road a bit, but usually for the benefit of others (for example pushing an amber / red light, so that when they turn green again the first car doesn't have to wait ten seconds to get going behind the hunched exahling quasi modo ahead and thus enduring the frenzied honks of the masses). This said, if we all had to re-take our driving tests tomorrow, considering all the bad habits we've got into over the years and forgetting our natural egotism that says we are amazing, how many of us do you think would pass? I'm guessing about 40% at a push!

I'm asking for a truce. We cyclists will try not to weave in and out of slowly moving traffic as dangerously as a scooter-wielding lost Nigerian pizza delivery boy and cutting red lights for our own benefit, if you (drivers) agree that it is wrong to overtake us and then pull left into the Cycle lane crushing our needed limbs against the curb, when you have a least a metre of space on your right hand side. This would be such a better place to live if we could just admit we are all crap and stop pretending (especially on a Friday post work) that what we're rushing for is far more important than anyone else's and that no one is responsible for 'anything' - let alone there own actions!

Secondly, i would like to talk about a mother's love and the contentious issue of euthanasia. Yes, I am as you might have guessed talking about 57 year old Frances Inglis injecting her brain damaged 22 year old son Thomas with an overdose of heroin to end his 'living hell' last week. She has been given a life sentence by a judge and jury that we can only guess are not Liberal Democrat supporters! This realistically means she will be out in 9 years, 7 and a half if you take off the 423 days in which she has already been remanded in custody! I won't go into this too much, but if a loving mother (who brought her son into the world) can't take him out for reasons of compassion then how come drunk drivers who kill people don't all face life sentences too?

Guilty or not, the system is flawed, especially when you take into account that Thomas became brain-damaged after he fell from a moving ambulance taking him to hospital for a cut he suffered in a fracas in Dagenham on 7 July 2007!

So for nearly 3 years, Thomas having had life-saving surgery (during which part of his skull was removed to relieve pressure on his bruised brain and a tracheotomy so he could breathe) had to be fed via a tube into his stomach. That's not exactly a great life now is it? Although Inglis dealt with the problem in the wrong way, the system of people in uncoverable vegetative states and euthanasia must be looked at. I know what you're thinking - is Dagenham really bad enought o kill for? I just don't know!

As his guardians, Inglis and family should have a right to a say in his future if he is unable to decide for himself. Think if it was you, would you prefer your family, an NHS hospital or the government's laws to choose for you? It's not a nice choice ot make, but i would vote for option 1 as I am sure most people would. Maybe something good will come of this and as part of the organ donor card or will or something people can say that if the are unresponsive that they choose to die. Then anyone trying to kill them, mother, state or Harold Shipman, must be punished. Until the law and government start listening to its people, this won't be the last euthansia case we hear about.

And one last point before I wrap up this did Thomas fall out the ambulance in the first palce and surely (as none of us a responsible for anything) the emergency services in this case are liable in part? 'Oh no! It's all because of that Essex cyclist we had to swerve to avoid! Down with the cloven-hooved clod hopper - string him up for it..............KILL 'EM ALL!' they howl, as another full moon rises over the semi-urbane disenchanted fields of Essex.

Until next week dear reader, when I will be weighing up life in London and the South East vs life in the rest of the UK - should be a belter!

Cheers :-)

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Freedom & The Star Spangled Idiots

So get this. No pants on the subway day - not sure if you heard about it or not, but on Sunday 10th January 2010 - yes 2010 people! - 3000 New Yorkers decided to ride the Subway to work without wearing pants.

Although I admire them for sticking two fingers up to the man and braving the cold, why do we feel that, as a social networking bunch of overactive apes, we need to prove how free we are all the time? I'm glad to report that only 30 Brits (a mere 1% of the yanks) managed it on the Underground's equivalent No Trousers on the Underground Day but that's probably half to do with the fact that only 1% of streets have been gritted well enough in the nation's capital, making leaving the bedsit a life-threatening activity. It would have been brilliant if hackers had managed to de-stabalise the English version back to the original Pants... and a handful of pasty Brits showed up unknowingly with their knackers and minges out before being carted off to Nonce Jail! Now that would've been worth getting a travelcard for!

Hang on, did I just write Nation's capital? I believe I did. And this is my point. Although I have nothing against America and Americans (in fact I have been to 20 states and lived in Massachussets for 3 months and found everyone very friendly), why do we feel the need to copy words and slang and other social conventions that they have reversed or changed from the original English language that was created right here in the first place? Is it ingrained into our brains. I was speaking to an American company on the phone and when asked for the date I immediately went into mm/dd/yyyy format to appease the lady on the other end of the line. But why are we copying them?

Our youths today, thanks to Twitter and Facebook and text messages are only using something like 800 proper words. I work in a further education college where all the kids talk like: Ah my days blad, it was so dry sick yeah, coz i was like right up in his face wid my bretheren yeah and my chinny reckon etc...and this is the understandable ones. Why are we talking like we are all from a downtrodden black American/Caribbean shanty community where drugs rool and the kids are kool, innit! I swear if I hear another teen refer to Fiddy (50 Cent, the awful rapper and over-generous father who took nine bullets before realising what he was doing might be affecting his kids) - or 33p as I like to call him - again this week, god help me, it could well be time for Columbine Part II. Next, they'll be telling me You's got bad body odor, bruv, what's wrong wiv u innit and check ver color ov ur trainers bladclat! Dat is Japes!

Ok, so America has The Wire and Mad Men and all that shit, but we have Fawlty Towers and irony and sarcasm and The Thick Of It and the proper original Office and nameless other sitcoms and comedians to be proud of. Plus we have about a fifth of the population! After all the negative press the US got in the Bush administration no one wanted to go near America with a barge pole, which goes to show what a job Barack Obama is doing now that people want back into American culture and a slice of the American dream, even if most of the time its unfounded or merely an escapist slice of television for example.

Like goldfish with a 4 second memory, or a smack addict in denial, today's celebrity obsessed youths pine for America and it's gold-paved streets without even knowing it. They are pumped full of socail networking, MTV videos and consumerism from birth as it is, America just amplifies it through Coca-Colanisation.

It's 2010, we've been partying like its 1999 for 11 years and today resembles what it would be like to attend a stranger's dark mass orgy on ketamine, but not the fun part. No, today resembles the morning after when you come to and the realisation dawns with the daylight that there's been an overnight blizzard and you are snowed in with the people you've just been carnal with and have to face a kind of civil ritual of breakfast awkwardness with not one, but twelve folk of all ages, sexes and creeds, for a whole day and as you were last in you have to clean the stains from the furniture with your newly manicured nails!

Our situation can be summed up in one political thought - although I don't agree with the media circus and money orientated election process in America, it does make you feel with Obama winning what can be done when people get together and believe in something. That it doesn't have to be all unemployment and drizzle and David Cameron and boring grey British politicians over-using their expense budgets.

People believe in Obama, in that happy endings stuff, but we don't do that very well in Britain. That's why more people were interested in the US election than our own and embarassingly more people voted for the first UK Big Brother final than the first General Election of this millennium! Put it this way, the US will always have Harry Connick Jr while we have to put up with Robbie fucking Williams pretending to be Harry Connick Jr. Soon indeed Pop Will Eat Itself!

I am going to end now as I am ranting, but American Democracy just seems to allow people to act freakish more freely. I am not against minority sports and I'm a bit of a nerd myself so always root for the underdog, I just can't help feel old and depressed by Brit's lack of communication these days and remembering tradition and where you're from and why that's important.

If we must be FREAKS of the new FREEDOM can't we do it our own way, our uniquely stiff upper lipped British board-game playing way? We need a Life of Brian character to step up to the plate. Or should we simply copy a nation that would sue itself for indecency if ever it could find out where it truly did live, because we can't be bothered to create our own reality! The answer as always is - just be yourself man and find your own path, hopefully people will follow!