Fort the first time in several years, I decided to have a game of cricket the other day. Quietly minding my own business down at long leg, some clown walking his dog decided to hurl a hammer at me, just missing me by a matter of inches. Before I could gather myself and turn to question his motives, he’d already run off into the car park. He probably did it because I was wearing whites, or I was using the space where he wanted to take his dog. He was perfectly within his rights to own and use a hammer, but he probably had no concept of the consequences of said hammer coming into contact with the back of my head. Clearly, cricket was much more dangerous than I remembered. Time for a rethink.
So I thought I’d play a round of golf instead. Now, I play a few rounds every year, and there is an annual family tournament looming, and it seemed wise to remind myself of the handicap from which I suffer, namely that I am consistently inconsistent. I fear the day when I become incontinent. No matter. While standing on the thirteenth green, a spotty, slack-jawed youth, resplendent in nylon sportswear, appeared from the bushes carrying an old golf club. He made a beeline towards me, swinging the club around his head like some demented wannabe samurai. He came closer and closer until I realised that he wasn’t interested in me; he simply wanted to take the shortest route from bush A to bush B on the opposite side of the green, and my ball (and by default, my body) happened to be in the way. As the club head sped round on yet another revolution, I felt the rush of air past my right ear. I suggested that the lad might like to go around the green, rather than across it. His look suggested that I may as well have been speaking Chinese. Never mind the risk of being hit by stray balls, golf had suddenly acquired a danger level matched only by the terrifying range of compulsory hideous clothing found on the fairways or the links. Time for another rethink, methinks.
My craving for entertainment and leisure ultimately took me to a casino in that London. I knew I had an aptitude for poker, so I figured it was time to test my skills and nerve against real people, across a real table, rather than through my laptop. I played it cool and managed to win a few hands. I knew that I was good at this as I stared into the eyes of the other players around the table, checking for the tell-tale, well, tells. By just after midnight I was up by over a grand. Suddenly, the large bearded chap directly opposite decided he’d had enough. He stood up, pulled out a Colt 45 and shot me. Fortunately, he was a poor shot, and my left shoulder took the round rather than my head, heart or lung. Now you’re having a rethink, I think, thinking it’s time for me to stay indoors, out of trouble.
Of course, I’ve imagined all of this. It never happened, apart form the hideous golf clothing, obviously. Regular threats with deadly weapons do not form part of the life of cricketers, golfers, gamblers or any other sportsmen and women or leisure seekers. By now you’ve figured out that this brings me back to my dominant theme. Why should I have to tolerate the very real threats I experience every time I ride my bike? If the things I’ve imagined happened on a daily basis, you can be sure that people would sit up and take notice and take action. What will it take to get this message across to protect the space of road cyclists? Suggestions on a postcard…