Forgive me for launching into this without so much as a how do you do or a by your leave, but I am concerned that Sadiq Khan threatens my emblem of personal freedom, my brickyard racer, my hill-climb special, my Silver Machine; to whit I am in fear of my motorised future. Many of you will be familiar with my venerable sports car, an artifact I am proud to say is such a recognisable part of the greater Ealing street scene. It even features on Google Maps from time to time – when you have finished with this hysterical tirade you might like to take a look at a satellite view of Ealing on that web site. She’s easy to spot, being permanently a few metres in front of her own cloud formation which she contributes to the local atmosphere as she progresses through the pristine streets and lovely tree-line avenues of our fair Borough.
The problems started when my two-seater picked up her own dedicated posse of Greenpeace protesters. Eschewing the traditional rubber dingy for more practical wheeled transport, they started to trail me a few months back on a fleet of restored Sinclair C5s. Whenever I ask my man to back the old car out of the garage, there they are, circling like bullies gathering around the pressed flower collectors in the playground. My protestations that the two-seater is as green as the next vehicle, being fueled entirely by ethanol distilled on cousin Fritz’s beetroot plantation in Bolivia, (arriving by shipping container in fifty-litre drums twice a year) is of naught, as is her pedigree as a historical motor-vehicle, once owned by Sir John Betjeman and more used to evening rides on roads not adopted.
Instead I have to use all of her burgeoning 29 horse power and a shove from my man’s boot to get clear of the pack of pedaling pygmies in the increasingly desperate hope that I can stay ahead of them on the climb up Castlebar hill. Fans of the classic chase film ‘Duel’ will know exactly how I feel as I yell ‘you can’t beat me on the grade!’
This weeks’ workshop was anything but a pack of pedaling pygmies. Owen Gallagher got us off to a fine start with a memory of the smell of lavender floor polish. Daphne Gloag has been thinking about distance and holes in the sky. Samir Hazlehurst also has distance, from one true love, on his mind. James Priestman has been navigating the journeys of Moses and the words of Satan. Nick Barth has been speculating what would need to happen to the world for us not to need poets any longer. Michael Harris brought us his memory of a nun. a psychotherapist and his father. Peter Francis recalled his time with the eccentric poet Madge Herron. John Hurley has been thinking about hoarding and not hoarding. Martin knows someone called Ana who does not use an ‘H’. Finally, Christine Shirley has put herself in the shoes of her noisy upstairs neighbour as she clonks around upstairs. Intrigued? You should be.
In my calmer moments, I do have to admit to myself that it is highly unlikely that I will find myself being chased down the Uxbridge Road in the two-seater by the Mayor of London pedaling a Boris Bike, pollution meter in hand with wheel clamp and a book of penalty notices in the front basket, but that has not stopped me from experiencing just that in a series of highly lucid dreams lately. My man has always insisted that consuming any quantity of Cousin Fritz’s Beetroot Stilton so close to bedtime is incompatible with a restful night’s sleep but the stuff is just so moreish, I cannot resist.
If you have been, thank you for reading.