A to B

A wise man would tell you that the journey is more important than the destination.

I’m sorry, but the wise man knows jack shit.

He clearly hasn’t cycled the Wandsworth Road in February. Anyone who takes pleasure from labouring through South London on a bicycle in the cold, the dark, the wet and the windy is not wise.

Fair enough if the journey is taken to be a metaphor for life. When the destination is a wooden box six feet under, it doesn’t require too much wisdom to ascertain that the journey has certain advantages. If the end of life was like the end of my ride home and involved a beer, a hot meal, footie on TV, stimulating conversation and a soothing bath, the wise man might be more conflicted. Similarly, those who believe their destination involves 72 virgins tend to be in a hurry to complete their journey. (Incidentally, am I alone in feeling a little intimidated by the idea of 72 virgins? I wouldn’t know what to do.)

I cycle to get to B.

I don’t cycle to enjoy whatever lies between A and B.

There is, though, the issue of relativity. However unpleasant, however wet, however cold the bit between A and B is on a bicycle, it is nothing compared to doing A to B on SouthWest Rail during rush hour. I remember being appalled, when trying to board a train in India many years ago, at the ratio of passengers to seats. At the time I assumed this must be the difference between the world I lived in and the third world. But at least in India you have the option of sitting on top of the train or hanging off its side. At Clapham Junction there is no such luxury.

Trains evoke strong childhood memories for many people. I’m no different. Those densely compacted trains at Clapham Junction remind of when we lived close to an abattoir and of the lorries I used to see transporting distressed and squealing pigs to slaughter. Happy days.

Not only do I cycle to get to B, I also do it to avoid public transport.

(Incidentally and sorry to come back to this, but it has stayed with me. 72 virgins. What happens next? What does one do in eternity with 72 virgins? The obvious answer is, in itself, a little troubling. If virginity is the attraction, then eternity either promises to be a tantalising exercise in self-restraint or, as with a packet of Sainsbury’s Taste The Difference Stem Ginger biscuits, take one and suddenly the whole lot have gone. Then the Muslim nirvana turns into a Mormon horror show.)

The wise man is clearly neither a cyclist nor a commuter. No way would he eulogise about the journey if he was. So what is he? Does he work, and, if so, how does he get to work? If he doesn’t work, then what does he do with his time? Philosophise? If he sits around on his arse all day philosophising, who the hell is he to tell us that the journey is more important than the destination. How would he know? How many air miles has he got? How many times has he been knocked off his bike?

I think the wise man could be a charlatan.

    Andrew Chalk
    2014-03-12 13:09:25
    "Good to see you back in the saddle as it were."

    Candice Dowding
    2014-03-11 11:28:20
    "Both January and February's blogs are brilliant. You really made me chuckle - which is quite an achievement at the moment! I'm glad it's helping you to write, very therapeutic. Thanks for sharing these with all of us."

    Paul Ridyard
    2014-03-10 10:47:28
    "Enjoying the bike blogs. Interested to see where they go .... A to B to C ..."

    Mark Brandis
    2014-03-10 07:48:24
    "Simon, you've achieved your goal. The stem ginger line made me laugh out loud. No mean achievement as I am currently squashed on a packed rush hour commuter train."

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