Idle Eye 63 : The Recyclist

Anyone out there that has built up a photofit of your humble author almost certainly would not have me down as a natural when it comes to all things cycling. And you’d be bang on the money, to be fair: the booze-sodden carcass I carry around with me is probably best suited to more sedentary activities such as bee-keeping or G4S security. So imagine my surprise when the exact same bicycle I’d had stolen in 2004 appeared in my eBay search field the other day. In Huddersfield, no less. And despite my advancing years and appalling loss of flexibility in the lumbar region, I decided it was to be mine. Which indeed it was: Huzzah!

Now, if it hasn’t already come to your attention, a lot has changed since 2004. Gone are the days when you could rock up at your local bike shop, stick your fag out in the plant pot outside and make your purchase without a hint of embarrassment about jeans being tucked into socks. Not any more. Bike shops aren’t even called bike shops. They are Performance Centres, where every nuance of your basic humanity is considered a weakness, to be overcome with specialist assistance from a Wiggly Braggins-a-like, employed to seek out your achilles heel and exploit it ruthlessly. Sore knees? Incorrectly fitted cleats. Sore arse? Spend £120+ and we’ll sort it. And don’t get me started on bad gash…

Anyway, I turned up at one of these places a couple of days ago, looking like the boy from the Hovis ads with added alcohol. Call me naive, but I thought it would be a quick in/out affair from which I’d come away with some fancy kit that would get the ladies clucking at work. Far from it. As I pushed my new steed through the door, wheezing with exhaustion from the 0.3 mile trek, a young lady whisked it away and thrust it into a vertical rack. As mild panic set in, I became aware of an even younger man, pedaling as if his life depended on it on some kind of vast treadmill, in front of which was a video screen displaying French byroads which he was virtually navigating. So distracted was I by all of this, I failed to notice the craggy Australian in bulging shorts looming ominously in front of me, there to help me get the most from my cycling experience. Clearly I was a curio to him (as he was to me) and for a brief while we stood there, locked into our very own Bateman moment.

I cracked first. Of course I did. Making a shoddy excuse, I shot out of the premises and onto terra firma. No sideburns, no kit, but at least some semblance of dignity. For no matter how hard they try, I shall never yield to the tyranny of Lycra. Never. And if I look a bit crap on the road, so be it.

Idle Eye 39 : The Lon*** 2**2 Ol**pi*s™

Alright now, that’s enough. ENOUGH! The sinister orgy of branding masquerading as the Lon*** 2**2 Ol**pi*s™ has slapped me in the face one too many times and I have just hit my Michael Douglas in Falling Down moment. I tried to be good, I really did. Over the past few months I have learned to shore up my chakras when it came to vile mascots We**ock™ and Ma***ville™, to shrug off the utter chaos on the roads, to smile encouragingly at hapless joggers bouncing their way towards an early grave, even casting an inquisitive glance at the bizarre structures rising up around the Mall and St James’ Park which I pass every day. The risible logo no longer reminds me of Lisa Simpson giving head and I drew some not inconsiderable mirth from the G4S fiasco. All in all I have been coping pretty well. Thanks for asking.

However, (and here’s the rub), I draw a line at ‘restricted words’. Actually, screw it, I draw a line at the insane paranoia the big four ****ors™ have created, protecting their already saturated global coverage from small butchers shops in Dorset that presumed to arrange a string of sausages in the shape of the Ol**pi*c™ ri*gs™. And when it comes to the biggest of the lot, M*Dona**s™, you have to ask yourselves what exactly they so badly need protection from. It sure ain’t the public, because around every corner you turn, there invariably lurks a statistically obese brand fan squelching down on yet another B*g™ Ma*™ in flagrant denial of their forthcoming trip to the nearest NHS ticker unit. Perhaps, just perhaps, the brutal truth lies somewhere in the exclusion of competition:

If we just get rid of all the other players, maybe the gullible public will actually think our burgers are halfway decent. Because, God forbid, if they cottoned onto the fact that there are thousands of less corporate ways of enjoying wholesome food, (Mondays at the Idle Hour, for instance) they might, actually, stop buying ours. And we can’t have that.

The Lon*** 2**2 Ol**pi*cs™ will be ring-fenced alright, but not to keep out the suicide bombers, the ‘quiet loners’, the snipers, the deranged clerics or Black September. Not this time. Neither will it give much credence to the athletes who will have waited all their lives for those glorious few seconds of competition. Oh no. These gam*s™ are all about keeping the suits happy at the not inconsiderable expense of the general public. And no amount of monocular furry mascots can detract from that. Yes, it would be wonderful to have a level playing field where we could all choose what we ate and drank as we cheered on our respective nations. But dream on, my friends, dream on. And welcome to Britain, 2**2™…