Column April 7, 2010: Chain of fools

GAZING through my bus window, I saw him. Clad in close-fitting green and yellow, he balanced upon his cycle at the red light.

His face set granite in concentration, he edged forward a centimetre at a time, deftly yet jerkily twisting his front wheel to keep upright and moving at all times.

I marvelled at his skill. And then I thought, “You massive divvy.”

When I was learning how to ride a bike, the first thing I was taught was how to put one foot on the ground to avoid falling over.

Yet this man had apparently bought all the expensive kit without knowing how to stop.

I have no idea how he was going to end his journey. Perhaps he was hoping to find a mattress shop which displayed its wares upon the pavement.

Maybe I was wrong. Maybe he knew perfectly well how to stop, but was compelled not to. 

Had Dennis Hopper attached some sort of explosive device which would detonate if he came to a rest?

Perhaps he was helping sick kiddies by doing a sponsored “being a eejit.”

Or maybe he was one of those cyclists who, upon seeing a red traffic light, thinks: “This is not for the likes of me, for I, I am a cyclist. Stop? I shall never stop, for I am protected by my magical shield of environmental smug.”

Of course, had he had the courage of his convictions, he wouldn’t have been such a terrible weed, and would have raced forward, across the Allerton Road traffic, confident that his brightly-coloured high-visibility outfit would make him impervious to accidents, cars skidding in his wake.

The light turned to green and he made off, nipping through the traffic, flipping from lane to lane.

I have absolutely no idea why some cyclists should behave like idiots on the road. If I were balancing on two wheels, exposed to the world, I would be warier of the Goliath machines punching through the air beside me.

I certainly wouldn’t take risks like dashing in front of cars, weaving in and out of the traffic, and jumping red lights.

Nippy might well beat big and lumbering most of the time, but when big and lumbering wins, it tends to be a decisive victory.


I CAN’T begin to count the number of times I’ve been in a restaurant and had to send back a mixed grill because the tomato wasn’t a perfect hemisphere.

As my old gran used to say, a tomato that isn’t round is like a dog with five legs – an abomination and an insult to Mother Nature. Mind you, she used to go absolutely spare if she saw we’d bought plum tomatoes. We’d have to point them at her so they looked round from her perspective. In the end, we decided buying tomatoes just wasn’t worth the trouble.

So I’m delighted to see Marks & Spencer has come to my rescue. Currently the store is selling tomatoes. But these aren’t just ordinary tomatoes. These are M&S Classic Round Tomatoes. 

Now I can buy tomatoes with confidence, safe in the knowledge that I’m not going to find an elongated one.

And they’re not just Classic Round Tomatoes. They’re “the perfectly versatile tomato.” Again, this is a plus point for me. I’m sick and tired of boring one-dimensional tomatoes, only suited to eating.

I want an all-purpose tomato – one I can use as a torch, an MP3 player and a wallpaper pasting table – and M&S has clearly come up with the goods.

Ah, hang on. It doesn’t say on the packet whether they’re red tomatoes or not. I mean, I can see that they’re red through the cellophane, but you can’t be too careful.

Oh, well, if they’re not absolutely perfect, I can always throw them at the nearest cyclist and see if I can tip him over.


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