Saturday, 19 January 2008


I’m already going about 90mph when the road starts to slope. I stop pedalling and lower my head closer to the handlebars. I glance at the road beneath my tyres and a world of tarmac slips past in a fraction of a second. Elbows out on the horizontal, I listen to the glorious ambience of my ears cupping fragments of the wind. I feel safe now, in this instant, but realise that peril lays just a lapse of concentration away, a chink in my focus and I could lose it, wheels spinning into uncertainty and shattering this glorious happening, flipping triumph to tragedy. So I hone on the vanishing point as the terraces flash by. A bin a gate a wall a bin a wall a gate a wall a bin a gate a wall a bin a wall a gate a wall a gate


No room for detail now but I feel safe. Green brown blue brown green black brown blue. Shapes denied the time it takes for them to enter my eyes blur and, relieved of their edges, become a psychedelic light show, an aurora borealis of brick and wood, plastic and plant.


I feel safe. I’m aware that I probably won’t survive this but for now, this instant, I feel safe. The colours are striping. Thin strips of brown and green streak past the sides of my eyes, crowned with a mass of thick blue and white stripes above and at some point meeting with the grey on grey strips of the tarmac below.


I wonder how I reached this speed. I’m on a bicycle. How am I travelling at 120mph on a bicycle? I am not wearing a helmet. My eyes are streaming. I can only just hear the buzz of the hot tyres beneath me, my physical reference points with this world. I know they are there and I feel safe.


The edge of the road begins to curl up. Creamy at first, grey butter curving up a knife, Glorious. But then it becomes harder, grittier, and like a dried and dirty sticker the edges peel away, upwards and inwards from the kerb, and it unsettles me.


I try to focus on something specific in the middle distance and I notice a solitary roofing tile come loose from its housing and fly out into the road. It lands well out of my path but then I see another, and another, and now tiles and bricks from all of the houses are collapsing into the road around and ahead of me.


The concrete and tarmac is rising up in brutal hunks now, forging a treacherous path in front of me. Kerbs like a coastline impose jagged urban cliff replicas on my route. Bricks arc and whirl across my field of vision in deadly red streaks. I hear a thousand windows explode around me and into the horizon. A loaded green bin zips past my head bottom first, trailing its contents in a paper and tin vortex behind it. I head for the eye of the phenomenon, terrified.


All sound stops as my front wheel errs two inches to the left. Impossible to correct, it sweeps further and I watch the whole bike disappear from under me. I remain on course, heading dead straight into the chaotic perspective. I soar through clouds of glass shards, through dust and dirt and brick, through concrete chunks and plastic sides, through a kaleidoscope of the pixels of everyday, torn up and about, made unbearable by my goal.


If I ever told you that I loved you, you wouldn’t believe me. If you knew me then you’d say I don’t believe I can love. If you didn’t know me then you’d ask me what possible reason I could have for loving you. I’d understand. But understanding doesn’t make it easier. I will never really touch you, I will never really talk to you. You are unattainable and that is why I love you. The vortex closes around you, still some way in the distance, and you don’t see me fall to the ground, amongst the slowly settling debris.

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