Planes, trains and bicycles

The main difference between an aeroplane and a bicycle is, as far as I can ascertain, that aeroplanes are prone to delay. In the last two months, six of my eleven flights have been delayed (for a total of twenty-four hours – a full day of my life has been wasted waiting for planes over the past sixty days). Conversely, none of my last eleven bicycle journeys have been subject to delay. Indeed all were completed in less time than it took any one of my delayed flights to get off the ground. In some respects then my bicycle is faster than a jet aeroplane.

Steve Martin may have had more successful journey (but less successful film) had he hired a bike rather than try to take the plane to Chicago.

The main difference between a Japanese bullet train and a bicycle is, as far as I can ascertain, speed. I once clocked myself travelling at 37.5mph going down a hill on my a Bad Boy bike in Connecticut. The Bullet train is faster than this. Much faster. Even on the flat. The Bullet train is one quick motherfucker. And, unlike an aeroplane, it is never late.

Faster than a bicycle

Faster than a bicycle

The main difference between a Japanese Romance train and a bicycle is, as far as I can ascertain, that the seats can rotate a full 360 degrees on a Romance train. This means that you need never have your back to the engine on a Romance train. A bicycle doesn’t need a rotating seat because you are always facing forwards on a bicycle. A rotating seat on a bicycle might cause some problems, particularly when cycling around the Wandsworth gyratory.

I’m beginning to think that this blog is a misrepresentation. My recent travel arrangements means I should really buy the meanderingsofamiddleagedmanonaplane.com url. That is if it’s not already taken. In July and August I travelled 36,954 miles in the air and only 130 miles in the saddle.

Actually ‘meandering’ is also a misnomer. ‘Meandering’ suggests the luxury of time to contemplate and pontificate. Stopping to pick up a metaphorical daisy here and there while wafting around like a cloud. This does not accurately describe the journey I find myself on this summer. After a punishing work schedule of seven different countries in four continents over a few weeks I was ready for my vacation.

Despite having been married twenty-three years, I still always forget that a vacation with my wife is no holiday. My work schedule was nothing more than the warm-up routine for a full-on fortnight in Japan. They say that a shark will die if it stops moving. My wife is the same – she cannot stop doing things (and, more to the point, she will kill her husband if he doesn’t do the things that she asks him to do). ‘Action-packed’ does not begin to describe our two weeks. (Tomorrow, for example, our day starts at 3.00am in order to give us enough time to be able to tick everything off her ‘things to do in Tokyo’ list). A few years ago they put a tracker on a Great White Shark in South Africa called Nicole, who then proceeded to swim 12,400 miles to Australia and back in a matter of months. Nicole and Ros have a lot in common. As some of you know, Ros recently changed from a global job that involved lots of travel to one that takes her no further than Edinburgh. I imagine that if Nicole had been taken out of the wild and confined in Sea World, she would swim round and round incessantly until she completed her 12,400 miles. Similarly, Ros is programmed to complete a certain amount of miles every year and if she can’t do it through her work she is sure as hell going to cover the same amount of ground anyway. That’s what it feels like as we are route marched around our eighty-second Buddhist temple of the day. I’m not saying my wife is a shark, but it’s interesting that sharks can can also smell blood over a third of a mile away and, like my wife, they have electroreceptors that enable them to detect the slightest movement of other living creatures, particularly husbands.

So ‘meandering’ doesn’t quite cut it. I’m snatching a precious few moments to write this blog while being catapulted through the Japanese countryside in a bullet train to Tokyo.

Speed is not the only difference between a bullet train and a bicycle. The other most noticeable difference, as far as I can ascertain, is that the bullet train is full of Japanese people. Japanese people are like English people only smaller and more accomplished at bowing.

The main difference between a Japanese cyclist and an English cyclist is, as far as I can ascertain, umbrellas. It’s a rare to see someone in Japan on a bicycle, but when one is sighted they will invariably be holding an open umbrella. Perhaps they got the idea from Mary Poppins or ET, but, if so, they didn’t factor in that both were also capable of independent flight and so more easily able to get out of any sticky situation that might result from trying to cycle with an umbrella in hand through a densely populated city. Maybe that’s why they tend to cycle on the pavement rather than the road.

So the moral of this blog is take a plane you want to hang around in airport lounges, a bullet train if you want some high speed bowing action, and if you want to cycle in Japan be sure to pack your umbrella.

But, if you want to cover any distance, hook up with a shark.

    2014-10-11 08:09:41
    "Isn't it the male seahorse that gets pregnant? Simon.......you're fucked! Chris"

    Gerry Miller
    2014-10-04 11:55:14
    "With all these modes of travel, the important thing is you are still going places, and together."

    2014-10-04 11:00:20
    "...and another similarity - sharks have teeth!"

    2014-09-28 17:47:12
    "Does being publicly compared to a shark earn the right of reply? All things in life are relative and it is true I do love to explore when on holiday. If I'm a shark, then Simon is a sea horse. In 2011 we went to Peru. Simon arrived in Lima two days before me so, when I arrived, I asked where he had been and what he would recommend. His suggestions were few as he had spent two days in Starbucks playing Scrabble. A year later we went to Florence to celebrate Simon's 50th birthday. Whilst Natasha and I visited the Palazzo; the Uffizi and saw David, Simon stayed in the hotel room watching football and the Olympics on TV. Despite our incompatibilities we do still seem to have some wonderful holidays, in my book, Japan being one of the best (but perhaps Simon preferred Florence)."

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