Ten Poems about Bicycles, wet cycling and Auld Year’s Day

One of the presents I received this year from my wife was Ten Poems about Bicycles. I’ve only dipped into it so far but the first poem is by the famous Australian balladeer Banjo Paterson and is entitled Mulga Bill’s Bicycle. There a very good reading of the poem on Youtube by Daryl Barclay and it’s a wild ride for Mulga Bill. There’s also an excellent poem by the American  poet Michael Donaghy. whose poem Machines has the wonderful first 3 lines: “Dearest, note how these two are alike:/ This harpsichord pavane by Purcell/ And the racer’s twelve-speed bike”. The ten poems in the pamphlet are aesthetically presented by the Candlestick Press.

There are no poems about cycling in the rain in the pamphlet, although Mulga Bill does get wet, but I could have written one myself yesterday. I looked at the weather forecast and it said heavy rain by noon. I set out at 10am and at c10.20 the first spots started to appear and it got steadily heavier and heavier. You have to be stoical to be a cyclist in a Scottish winter, so once you are out, you are out and you have to complete the course. I was only doing a short 20 mile/32K ride but by the time I got home I was drookit (soaked) – my helmet was dripping and I had to wring out my cap, gloves, leggings and socks, as well as stuffing my wet shoes with newspaper. One thing about cycling in the rain, is that the faster you go, the heavier the rain gets, but the faster you go, the quicker you’ll get home, so it’s motivational rain and good for your fitness. Well, that’s what I was telling myself on the way home and also consoling myself that it was a mildish 7 degrees – not bad hereabouts for 30 Dec.

This being the 31 December and what we in Dunbar call Auld Year’s Day and Auld Year’s Night – we eschew the word Hogmanay as being from the West and North of Scotland. However, this is very local and you are unlikely to hear these terms used even in nearby towns or in our capital city Edinburgh, 28 miles/45K away. We are going for a meal at the award winning Creel Restaurant with our son and daughter in law, and will then bring in the New Year at home, and welcome 2014 in the a nice malt whisky from Locketts, my favourite wine shop, which is in North Berwick, 13 miles/21K along the coast from Dunbar. For some of you who read this blog, 2014 will already be here, so to you and everyone else who visits the blog, I wish you an effervescent and exciting 2014.

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