away from one set of lights, where I’d just out-maneuvred said bus, only to be confronted by amber lights a few yards down the road. The pedestrian waiting to cross looked anxiously apologetic; she obviously didn’t expect I’d stop. I was to disappoint her (I specialize you know). Suspecting I’d been concentrating too hard on getting in front of that No.26 and had missed the change from green to amber I grabbed handfuls of brake. The road was wet and greasy yet I negotiated a fishtailing halt, albeit nearly sideways on to the stop line. But before I had time to congratulate myself I felt rather an odd sensation; my bike nudging forward as if it had a little more stored momentum to surrender. Mm, something was amiss. My brain was turning over slower than a big gear up a steep hill but it dawned on me; perhaps some outside influence was involved.
I turned to face an expanse of red glossy bus filling the sky and getting much too intimate with my back tyre! Gawping at the driver, my mouth hung open like a suffocating fish. He glared back from behind glass with an all too familiar kind of stare. A look that said “**** off you stupid ****ing 2-wheeled freak! What did you stop for? I wasn’t going to. You ****ing dick!” – Yeah he had expressive eyes! I had a quick check to make sure my back wheel wasn’t compromised but feeling the blood rising, I stared down those cold little piggy eyes and telepathically transmitted a message of “Yeah? Well you’ll get yours… mate!” I shook my head and slowly turned to face the road ahead.
Time was when such calmness and control would’ve been unimaginable, that bus driver would’ve certainly got a fistful of expletives and maybe a bang on the cab window for good measure given the opportunity. The heightened adrenalin and accelerated heart rate would’ve probably been good for five miles of extra go-go juice too.
Sadly there always seemed to be an innocent, unwitting bystander who’d catch the fallout from such heated exchanges. Victims were typically slightly shocked and frightened bus passengers or unfortunate pedestrians wincing at my colourful language. Though directed at a half-wit behind the wheel (trying to turn me into a description-defying lump of kerbside detritus the pigeons love to pick at) my outbursts were more like buckshot than bullets. F C S & W words spat out with such venomous ferocity pelted down on the pavement and scorched the blameless. I’d feel ashamed when I caught the look in their eyes and slightly disappointed too that my outburst could’ve turned a neutral witness into a hostile one. The swearing and arm-waving extravaganza sure was good therapy, for all of about 10 seconds, but in the end I was never very proud of myself.
Becalmed today I may be but cycling on the road still feels like a political act most of the time. However, subtler