Back around 1970 the worst thing that any teenager could imagine happening to them was probably a case of disfigurement (e.g. an outbreak of spots) the day before an important first date.
Yesterday, way past my sixtieth birthday I suffered an oldie’s equivalent when, having arranged to meet a lady for coffee and chat, I managed – through a lack of concentration – to slice half my chin off whilst shaving a couple of hours before our scheduled date. I then bled like the proverbial pig and, despite applying a succession of torn-off (wound-sized) Kleenex tissues to the area, with less than fifteen minute to go I was still facing the prospect of having to arrive at the coffee shop with blood dribbling down my chin.
This kind of thing has a tendency to happen just when you don’t need it, doesn’t it?
I should perhaps add, by way of explanation, that a couple of weeks ago I had been walking through my local shopping centre when the lady in question, I should estimate probably even older than me and whom I had never met previously, stopped me – it could have been any passer-by – to beg my leave, but she was so incensed by the behaviour of some cyclists she’d just encountered on the pavement that she just had to let off steam to somebody about it.
She had practically been obliged to step into the road by a family group of five coming past her from behind on a fleet of push-bikes. When she took exception to this, they claimed that they were using the pavement ‘because the road was too dangerous’.
[To which the gist of the lady’s reply had been ‘So what? People on bikes should be riding on the road, not the pavement’].
Ordinarily I like to mind my own business when out and about – sometimes when I spot someone I know in my vicinity, or some way ahead in the street, I sneak down a side alley or into a shop in order to avoid having to speak with them – but on this occasion said lady was pushing one of my (rage) buttons – i.e. cyclists in general.
I listened politely to her story, responded that I could not agree more with her and gave an example from my own existence.
Only about three weeks ago I had been waiting at a pedestrian crossing for the lights to go red and then the ‘green man walking’ sign to light up and start pinging. When those occurred, just as I was about to step off the pavement in order to cross the road, a total arse-hole dressed head-to-toe in lycra and a tear-drop helmet sped by on a push-bike at a speed not one notch below 25 mph, thereby requiring me to jump violently backwards in order to avoid a right-angled collision that could have caused me serious injury.
I told my new lady acquaintance that in my view legislation should be laid before Parliament within the next three months that changed the law so that any pedestrian who pushed over a cyclist in the act of going through a red light would benefit from an immediate blanket absolute defence of ‘justifiable homicide’.
Having unearthed such fruitful common ground (cyclist hatred), we then talked some more, discovered we lived not a million miles from each other and agreed to meet for this coffee.
This was not some chance meeting that summoned wistful visions of violins playing in the background and a blissful ‘December-December’ romance to come. It was just a case of two oldies meeting for a chat.
Even so, it was with a huge sigh of relief that I had noticed in my bathroom mirror earlier that the vivid razor wound on my chin had finally stopped seeping about four and a half minutes before we were due to meet.