Friendly wave!

road rage 620It’s been a while since I’ve had a good rant about the shower of bastards I encounter on the roads.  I’m not commuting through Cambridge itself any more, so I don’t encounter so many of them.  Also, although my route is over twice as long now, it uses quite a few cycle paths of varying lethality, ranging from “sort of OK” to “wheel-fucking argh! clang oh shit I think I’ll stay on the road”. Of course, most of the people I encounter on the roads are boring sods who aren’t even bothered with me being there and show respect by passing safely.  Yawn.  How can I wake up in the mornings without the surge of adrenaline from a near miss?  Some even pass on helpful advice, like the young man who veered towards me on his moped and shouted above the noise of his “bee farting in a tin can”-type exhaust that gwargle obbly wobbly.  I asked a qualified aromatherapist about this later and discovered that he was correct.  I’ll not bore you with the details.

But there are still a few hilarious encounters with people who want to liven up my day by giving me a nice scare, shouting out of the window or expressing their complex thoughts about road safety, the role of the cyclist in the ever-more frenetic highway ecosystem and the merits of the primary and secondary road positions, by going “beep”.  So I’ve tried a few different responses.

1.  Middle finger salute.  Instant gratification on my part, but the driver usually responds in kind, causing gratification for him/her too.  I don’t want them to feel better as well.  The last time I tried this, the scrote who had just carved me up waved his arms a bit and then slowed down further up the road, presumably to have another go at running me over when I caught up.  Funnily enough he had to give it up when a white van roared up behind him and, with military precision, tailgated him at 1 millimetre’s distance until he sped up.  The irony of his sudden change of place in the vehicular pecking order was probably lost on him.

2.  Stopping for a chat.  Fun, but it’s quite rare for anyone to actually stop when I make pointing motions for them to pull over.  It’s important to be friendly and cheerful to put them off their guard, because they’ll want a good shouting match.  The only time I successfully had a chat, she explained that the reason she almost took my right elbow off and beeped was because my riding position meant she couldn’t overtake when there was a car going the other way.  I pointed out that if she couldn’t overtake when there was a car going the other way, then maybe she shouldn’t overtake when there was a car going the other way.  She replied that I was lucky her boyfriend wasn’t there.  She didn’t explain why.  Maybe he’s really ugly and smells like rotting turnips or something?

3.  Smiling and waving.  I’ve only tried this once, but it worked quite well.  I didn’t get the instant relief of a nice rage hit but, on the other hand, the beeper got no gratification either.  The complete failure to get her message across seemed to send her into spasms.  “Beep!”  Big cheery wave from me.  Frantic hand signals from the beeper as she watched me in her mirror and weaved around the road slightly.  Another cheery wave and a nice grin from me, and she disappeared from sight, still weaving around all over the shop.

Or I could do what a friend of mine has done, and fit a car horn to my bike so I can beep back.

And another thing…

Sorry, you’ve got me started on the Vectra now. The Vectra’s central locking has 2 “features” I’ve not seen on other cars – one press of the remote unlocks the driver’s door and you need another press to unlock the rest of the doors and the boot and filler cap. The reason for this is … absolutely no idea. It’s like it was put in just to piss me off. 95% of the time I have to press it twice and there’s no actual benefit that I can think of in only unlocking one door. Maybe they think that I occasionally want to lock out the wife and kids and go scooting off on my own? Actually… nah, let’s not continue that line of thought.

The other feature is that if you don’t open the drivers door within 30 seconds of unlocking, it locks all the doors again. I can’t count the number of times when this has been useful because I’ve accidentally unlocked the driver’s door. I can’t count them because it’s 0. This has never happened with any car I’ve ever owned. I unlock the door because I want to get in, not on a passing whim or because I like pressing buttons. Any usefulness of this feature in the remote possibility that I might lose my mind and accidentally unlock the doors for no reason, is somewhat outweighed by the number of very real occurrences when I’ve unlocked the doors, been momentarily distracted by children and found myself and my family locked out again.

Now, put these two features together and you get me, attempting to fill up the car and finding the petrol flap is jammed shut. After a few minutes of trying to pry it open I remember that I went out on my own, so I single clicked to unlock the car and only the driver’s door is unlocked. The flap was secure, and thank god it was – a petrol thief might have been passing while I was getting in, looking to empty my tank in the few seconds before I drove off down the road. So I lock the car up again and double unlock to get the flap open, I fill up (75 QUID!!!) and – buggery arseholes, the poxy thing has jammed open now. It’s banging against the lock and won’t close. A few more minutes of thumping and swearing and I remember that since I only locked and unlocked the doors to open the sodding petrol flap, the car has noticed that I didn’t open the driver’s door and has vigilantly locked itself up again, with the petrol flap open. Sure enough I have to unlock it (double sodding click) again in order to close it.

Thank you Vauxhall, for making my life so much easier with your little helpful details. Sorry, I’m going on again aren’t I?

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Is it a dustbin?

It’s my new bike.  Behold:

My faithless steed
My faithless steed

She is a mixture of Taliban (wheels, front brakes, gears), Jedward (seat, pedals, mudguard, handlebars) and the skip-rescue bike, which I called Black Death.  In order to commemorate the unholy union of 3 shitty bikes, her name is Jelideath.  Let her name ring down through the ages whenever a shit bicycle is mentioned.

A bike called Jedward

Sorry, I don’t really have anything much to say about curry at the moment.  It’s been ages since I had one and I think I’m beginning to forget what they taste like.  Tragic.

But on to Ebay – I just put this advert on there, for Jedward my faithful steed:

A bike called Jedward

He’s called Jedward because he’s crap.  When I bought him he was crap.  The brakes didn’t really work in the wet – as I hurtled to my doom they made a distant mooing sound, like a cow in the next field.  The tyres were falling to bits and both the back and front wheels were buckled.  But then I found another bike that was going to be chucked in a skip and, using bits from another junker and Jedward, I managed to cobble together something that was rubbish but wouldn’t actually kill me the next time there was a bit of drizzle in the air.  Which leaves Jedward, who was crap at the best of times, and now even crapper than when I bought him because he’s had all the 1/4 decent bits taken off and replaced with the 1/8th decent bits from the skip-rescued one.

So what are you bidding on?  All the bits that make up a bike are there.  All you need to do is tighten everything up and you’ve got yourself a death-trap that no-one in their right mind would ride without the legally-binding promise, signed by at least 4 gods, of 200 virgins waiting for him (or her) on the other side.  Seriously, you don’t want to ride this one home and I purposely left everything loose so he’s un-rideable.  What’s good about him?  Well, the frame and forks aren’t too bad and the dust covers on the tyre valves are in tip top condition.  Other than that, he’s crap.

No panic bidding please.

Things I’ve learned this week (updated)

  1. Taliban, my “new” bike* has got a sticker on it, proudly announcing that it’s made from “Ferrocarbon”. Wow! That’s some super space-age high-tech stuff, surely? Oh, hang on. “Ferro” = iron? Iron and carbon… oh yes, that’s steel. So it’s got a steel frame. Wow. That’s great. So much better than manky old aluminium or carbon fibre.
  2. Riding in the blazing heat makes you hot, sweaty and stinky.  If you are already hot and stinky from a 3 mile cycle ride home in the blazing heat, a large dollop of baby sick, applied down your bare back does not improve your aroma.
  3. If a co-worker cycles to the pub and back, parking his bike next to yours on his return, don’t be totally surprised if you find that he’s accidentally locked your bike up instead of his.
  4. Cheap bike locks that look butch can be removed in 3 minutes with a hammer and a hacksaw. If you know what you are doing you can have the bugger off in 20 seconds.
  5. If you stop your bike to ask a white van driver why he carved you up and he responds by shouting “fuck you” through the closed window, pointing and laughing at him will make him so cross he will actually try to run you over. So this one is best attempted while he’s stuck in traffic that you can get past easily. It is very funny though.
  6. The only remotely interesting things to happen to me always seem to involve bicycles in some way.

* “New” as in “given to me by a friend because he hated riding it so much”. It might be slow, heavy and a bit crap but… er… um… Anyway, Taliban puts the “fun” into “fundamental”. And the “mental”.  And, presumably, the “da” too, but I’ve no idea what that means.


w4nkaOne of the best ever letters to Viz Magazine has to be the one from a Mr. KWZ 625V of Hull, who suggested “rather than buy an expensive personalised number plate, simply change your name to match your existing one”.

It makes sense, especially as the UK numberplate system is that much more inflexible than the Yanks (unless you want to have “OPECFU”, in which case the DMV, their version of our DVLA, will send you a nice letter saying “fuck you“), forcing many people to use numbers as 73tter5. So unless you already have numbers in your name then you are going to end up with something a bit crap, like “K3VIN” or “TRA6Y” (in an weird font to try and make the “6” look a bit more like a “C”).

Not that the incoherence stops people shelling out large sums of money for a crass symbol of someone with bad taste and too much money. Looking at the DVLA’s site, they start off at £600 for ones that are utterly meaningless. You want one that actually resembles a word? That’ll cost you the price of a small hatchback. Furthermore, they usually require weird letter spacing and black screw heads to actually make any sense at all and besides, all the good ones have been bought already.

But surely the most pitiful sight I’ve seen recently was on the back of a BMW X3 penguin killer. It read thus:


It was so crap it required an explanation underneath. I’m not joking; underneath the jumble of alphanumerics was written, in brackets, what it was supposed to say. That’s pretty piss poor by anyone’s standards but why have the explanation at all? Did she (I assume it was a she) think that anyone following her would be seriously wowed? “So the 4 is A and the 1 and 3 run together to make B, which leaves 7 which is a bit like an L… Holy shit! that car is being driven by mabel!” For those who already know her name, the need for an aid to decipher her personalised plate is less than impressive and I could be going out on a limb here, but I’m guessing that the people who don’t already know her couldn’t give a diseased rat’s arse what her name is. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that I felt cheated that I’d used a percentage of my brain’s power to decipher a useless, pathetic piece of information that I never wanted to know anyway.

In case you are thinking to yourself “well, it must be worth it to Mabel because she’s now got her own blog entry”, I’d like to point out that the name has been changed. Not to protect her identity, but because I really can’t remember what it was. Her name has gone and all that remains is the memory that her car’s personalised plate was so appallingly convoluted that it needed an explanation under it.

Well done, whoever you are. That’s money well spent.

Could you be a BMW driver?

So you think you might have what it takes to be a BMW driver, eh? You’ve got the money, you’ve got a hankering for some German metal, but do you have the right attitude? Not everyone is cut out to be in command of the Ultimate (Crap) Driving Machine ™ and the following questions will show if you are special enough to drive it in the manner everyone will expect you to.

Question 1:

How would you describe your job?

  1. I work in a shop
  2. I program computers
  3. I enable high-end enterprise solutions from synergistic paradigms.

Question 2:

How do you like your coffee?

  1. White, frothy and sweet.
  2. Black and strong – like my men.
  3. The temperature of molten lava, sipped out of a paper cup whilst hurtling down the fast lane of the M25 at 95MPH, two inches away from the bumper of the car in front, flashing my headlights and screaming with futile rage.

Question 3:

The thought of a BMW in the shape of an SUV makes you

  1. come out in a cold sweat at the thought of the sort of person who is going to want to buy something that’s a combination of the two most wankerish vehicles on the road.
  2. come to the conclusion that car manufacturers have given up even the slightest pretence that one of these fuck-ugly behemoths might actually be used off-road.
  3. come.

Question 4:

What is the correct procedure for driving in poor visibility conditions, such as fog or heavy rain?

  1. Always drive so that you can see the tail lights of the car in front. That way you won’t get lost.
  2. Drive as normal, peering myopically out of the windscreen. Grit teeth, cross fingers, pray.
  3. Stay in the fast lane, accelerate hard up to the car in front, slam on your brakes at the last minute, drive 2 inches away from the rear bumper flashing your headlights until they get out of the way. Look – fog isn’t a problem for people like me. I’m in a hurry and I’m in a fucking BMW – get out of the way.

Question 5:

What does that yellow hatching in a box on the ground at a junction signify?

  1. I don’t know.
  2. I don’t care.
  3. It’s an advanced stop box for BMW drivers to wait in until their exit is clear.

Question 6:

There are roadworks ahead and the outside lane is closing 1/2 a mile down the road. You are in the outside lane, sailing past the huge queue of cars. Why are you the only one doing this?

  1. Oh christ, is the lane closing? I didn’t realise. I wondered why all those cars were queuing.
  2. No-one else has thought of doing this. I’m so clever. Suckers.
  3. Look, I really am more important than you and, unlike you, I can’t afford to be late.

Question 7:

You are in a narrow road with oncoming traffic and have been stuck behind a cyclist for 15 seconds. It looks like it’ll be another 15 agonising seconds before you can get past without knocking him into the gutter. What are you thinking?

  1. I think I’ve stayed here long enough to show that I’m not the sort of person who just barges past, so I’ll squeeze past and hope I don’t knock them off. Easy does it…
  2. Bloody bikes. Don’t they know how much they hold me up? I’ve stayed here long enough, I’m going to overtake anyway. Sod him. Why doesn’t he drive a car like normal people? Out of the way peasant.
  3. What cyclist? You mean the one back there, in the pool of blood? I wondered what the noise was. I hope he didn’t fucking scratch the paintwork.

Question 8:

Why did that bloke just shout “WANKER!” at you?

  1. I accidently carved him up. Oops. Sorry.
  2. I deliberately carved him up. Fuck him.
  3. He is so jealous of my superior driving skills it comes out as pure hatred. I love it when someone shouts at me – it shows how awesome I am.


Mostly a’s: Oh dear. You really aren’t cut out for a BMW and you probably never will be. You would be better off with something like a Prius, a Smart car or, god help you, a bicycle. You might even be a vegetarian. You make me sick.

Mostly b’s: This is slightly better. While you aren’t there yet, there is hope for you. With a bit more aggression and a 1000 PSI ego inflation you might get there one day. Keep acting like you own the road and one day you’ll genuinely believe you do.

Mostly c’s: You’ve made it. You top dog. Everyone else might think you are a wanker but you’ve got enough love for yourself to more than make up for their revulsion. You can barge people out of the way or push in with impunity because you really ARE more important than anyone else. Everyone knows this, they hate you for it and that makes you feel good. You are a natural BMW driver.


I almost got run over by a bus as I was cycling home the other day. People jumping red traffic lights is a common enough occurance round here but – and I don’t know why – it’s somehow a bit more shocking when it’s a fucking great green double decker bastard fucking bus. Sorry for all the swearing but it was a double decker bus, it was green, fucking great in size and driven by a fucking bastard.

Now this wasn’t merely the sort of going-for-the-amber-light- and-mis-timing-it-type jumping of a red light that merely pisses me off but doesn’t warrant it’s own entry on a blog that nobody reads, this was the sort of it’s-red-fuck-it-and-fuck-everyone-else- I’m-coming-through-type of driving favoured by wankers.

Let’s go back in time a bit to get the full context – and there I am, waiting patiently to turn right from a side road into the main road. The light I was waiting for had just gone green and I was just starting to wobble Dying Fleath across the intersection when


in from the right, a green blur disappearing down the road to the left. Holy shit! That was about 2 inches away from my front wheel. I slammed on the brakes, the red mist descended. He’s not getting away with that.

Hurredly turning left instead, I sped up and got into his slipstream. He was doing about 30 MPH but I could keep up with him. Swinging out slightly,I saw his face in the mirror – narrow eyes, sweaty brow – he was looking worried, and with good reason. It was pretty obvious that I was fit, pissed off and coming after him. But he had to stop some time; and he did, at the next bus stop. I pulled along side and banged on his window. He gave me the finger.

Now that’s just rude.

I decided to teach him some manners. Hopping off the bike, I laid it down in front of the bus, preventing him from escaping. I decided to start on the panels under the windows at the side of the bus. The metal was surprisingly thin and my kicks made quite a mess of them. While I couldn’t actually puncture the metal, kicking the same spot produced dents about an inch deep. I could hear the driver shouting but he didn’t dare come out of his cab. He was shouting through a shut window – threats or pleas for mercy? I didn’t know and didn’t care. Two things were for sure though – buses bend when attacked by a vengeful cyclist and he was starting to regret running that red light.

After a minute there was a line of glorious dents down the side of the bus so I started on the lights – popping them with short but powerful jabs of my feet. It felt good. A crowd had started to gather by now. People stared in awe at my performance. A few of them at the back started clapping – at last someone was fighting back against the forces of green double-deckered hugeness and the bullying of bikes. Was I a hero? No, I was just a regular guy dishing out the metal-crunching just desserts with toppings of broken headlight. The buckled metal and broken glass on the floor was a reminder that a red light means stop, you bastard.

Yeah, this is obviously complete bollocks. The next thing that happens is that the women start taking their clothes off because I’m so hunky and they can’t resist me. See what I mean? Utter drivel. Sorry about that. The lies started after I wrote “I slammed on the brakes”, way up there. All that garbage is what I wished I had done, once the near-death adrenaline had subsided enough for such irrational thoughts. And it goes without saying that it’s far more exciting than what happened in real life – namely that I cycled home, shaking with futile anger and fear. Then I whinged about it to Jen for about 15 minutes. Then we put Wibbles to bed, had tea and watched telly for a while.

And then, of course, I wrote a load of old cack about it in my blog a couple of days later. See? Dull dull dull. Next time (as long as I’m still alive, haven’t actually crapped myself and as long as I can stop shaking enough to keep up with a bus), I’m going to go for the naked women option.

The art of communication

I had an interesting conversation with a BMW driver this morning. Well, the conversation itself wasn’t all that great (as you’ll see later); what made it interesting was the fact that it happened at all, that it contained more than 2 words, wasn’t shouted and didn’t have accompanying hand gestures.

Let’s be plain here – I’m not a morning person. Come to think of it, daytime isn’t that great either and evenings are best left out of it. Nights? Yeah I’m probably at my most charming when I’m unconscious. So in effect that means I’m not actually a person at all. So what exactly am I? If you really want to describe me and what I’m like, I’m probably best visualised as a loose bag of skin stuffed with impatience, futility and caffeine, holding a Bosch cordless drill with a flat battery, wailing at a hole in the wall I’ve just drilled in the wrong place. So you can imagine what I’m like when I’m cycling my rust bucket to work at 8.00 in the morning. I’m all that, I’m out of breath and I haven’t woken up properly yet.

And the BMW driver? Let’s not beat around the bush. All BMW drivers are crap. Oh, hang on, do you drive one? Well, you’re not crap, obviously; just every other BMW driver. Yes. All of them. It’s sometimes difficult to see this. For example when driving – you won’t be able to tell that there is a BMW behind you because the front badge will be out of your line of sight, 2 inches away from your rear number plate. Always. Man, woman, young or old; there they’ll be – filling your mirrors with the extreme close-up of a toss pot. They are fairly easy to spot when on a bike though. They are the ones that have to get past you. They must must must must get past. Got to get past. Can’t stay behind a bike. Not for a second. Must get past. Go go go. Everyone else get out of my way.

Which brings me neatly back to the story, where I’m currently screeching gently to a halt behind a car waiting at the red light. A black shape comes along side me, matching my deceleration to the miles per hour per second. It’s a Renault 5. Ha! Gotcha! Of course it isn’t – it’s a twat in a BMW. If he can’t overtake me, he has to be along side me. Not behind. Never behind.

So we stop, side by side, and I take a look at him. It’s a narrow road and he’s sticking about 3 feet over the centre line, into other side of the road and the oncoming traffic. I also notice that the passenger window is slightly open. Hmm. I paddle backwards and peer in to see him and a passenger sitting there, both trying very hard to not notice me. Middle aged blokes, expensive suits – unlikely to resort to violence. I’ll have a chat.

“Hello!” I say through the gap. I might as well be friendly, after all he didn’t actually do anything dangerous to me. “What did you do that for?”

They both stare straight ahead. Ah, I’m not being very clear what I’m talking about. “I mean why did you feel the need to come along side me as we stopped?” Stare stare stare… The ignoring continues. “If you had stayed behind me, you wouldn’t be stuck out into the other side of the road like that”. By now the ignoring has reached fever pitch. These guys are good – I could start singing “Staying Alive” while waving my genitals at them and I don’t think they would bat an eyelid. I press on regardless. “I mean I’m just going to go in front of that car, into that cycle box anyway…” It’s true. The junction has one of those red boxes drawn on the road for cycles at the front. However, if this news has any impact on the two BMWers, they make a good job of hiding it. They aren’t blinking and I’m pretty sure they aren’t breathing either. “Is it that hard to stay behind a bike?” Time passes like a drugged slug. They are probably regretting choosing the “ignore him and he’ll go away” strategy over an alternative one such as “talk to him”, “wind the window up fast” or “abandon the car and run away”. I give up. “OK, well. Thanks for listening”.

It starts to dawn on me that I might possibly be coming across as a bit of a nutter.

As stories go, this one sort of fizzles out here. I go to the front, sit in the red box for a few seconds and then go on my creaking way when the lights turn green. It is heartening to note though, that when I’m overtaken by the BMW a few hundred metres up the road, he gives me a VERY wide berth. Nice. Maybe it was worthwhile after all?