Of course I could write about yesterdays warning from the Environment Agency that predicted to increase our spending on climate change defences to roughly £1 billion a year. I could of course point out that this government has pledged £2.6 billion over the next 6 years for this. Additionally, the report also warned that the U.K would have to sacrifice roughly 1.5 million homes that were located in coastal areas at risk of flooding. But that would force me could to point out that whilst the Chancellor in his last Budget stated that 300,000 new homes need be built each year, that in 2017 200,000 new homes were built.
I’d then be left with no choice but to point out the shocking – but unsurprising – fact that of these new homes, the number of low cost social housing new builds was just 1,456 in 2017. In the part of London in which I live yes, there are new builds going up all the time, but are they affordable to any local people? No. Whilst the building hoardings might feature young people doing young people things yet nowhere is there any sign of any older or disabled people to be seen. Its clear who their target market is. I could write about all that in a rather withering way, of course I could, but I’m not going to.
Instead I’m going to write about my journey from my home to Greenwich yesterday. This was attempted by myself, my housemate on my adult tricycle. Whilst it looking a bit worse for wear and somewhat heavy my housemate nonetheless has many redeeming features, the bike less so! Whilst the weather forecast predicted ‘light showers’, it neglected to add that the showers were light for a monsoon season in Singapore, so with a naïve optimism that was to be soon cruelly exposed, we set off.
We’d only been cycling for 10mins when it began to rain. Now I’m not talking drizzle here; I’m talking about rain that is both bearable and highly suggestive of a lot worse to follow. That kind of rain. The kind of rain that most sensible people would take heed of and turn back. The sort of rain that might cause someone to look at their clothing and ask themselves ‘Am I prepared for what might happen?’
But no. And the main drawback of my bike is that whilst there is room for two control freaks to use it, there is only one set of controls and unfortunately I wasn’t in control of them! We ploughed on. Fortunately we were assisted in our endeavors by Transport for London who furnished us with a paper map that in the rain began to lose as much integrity asRichard Nixon. So, the omens were good.
The rain got heavier and more insistent. Without wishing to blow my own trumpet – and when anyone says they don’t wish to do something, it means they are going to do the very thing they don’t wish to do – I’ve always been of the belief that whilst you can’t control external events, you can however choose what comes out of your mouth. By this I mean that you can either inflame or diffuse a situation by what you say – or don’t say – and if you choose to say it with a self deprecating sense of humour so much the better. To achieve maximum success in this laudable endeavour, all concerned are both aware of what you are doing and also able to do it themselves. I’d like to say that my companion was so minded, like being the operative word. I of course joke (or am I?).
Anyway, we navigated our way through bits of South London until quite by chance we happened upon a quiet route – a specifically designed cycle route that is designed to afford busy roads and the like. It’s one of the joys of getting cheerfully lost. Sometimes you just get lost, but at other times you happen upon something unexpectedly wonderful, which this was. The stares of people as we passed them in the torrential rain was something to behold, or would have been had I had been able to see them clearly. I fondly imagined that they were looking on with a mixture of awe and astonishment as we passed them by; however, the realistic part of me imagines they were thinking what sort of day release activity is this?
Anyway, we got to Greenwich, well, I say we got to Greenwich. Almost to Greenwich. So close but not really that we we were both of the opinion that the cycle route was designed by a man. The sort of man who, on a first date, takes you out, shows you a good time, so much so that you invite him back to your flat…and you have not an unreasonable expectation of how things will progress until he takes you so far and then when he’s finished he abruptly withdraws and leaves, leaving you feeling totally unfulfilled and slightly used.
We arrived at Greenwich and repaired to a nearby Starbucks for some much needed refreshments, some warmth and a toilet break. It was only then that we discovered how thoroughly soaked we were. There is nothing more dispiriting when you are cold and soaked through of needing to go the toilet with a sense of urgency that your jeans do not share! They are quite happy to be stuck to the skin making them hard to peel off and as your panic mounts so your fumbling’s become ever more incompetent and the jeans become ever more unyielding. Thankfully I managed to avoid disaster. The relief of a successful evacuation of the bladder was short lived because it struck me that the reverse of the process awaited me and whilst they were unyielding on the way down that is was nothing as to how uncooperative they were on the way back up.
So once we’d got a bit warmer and a bit drier, we set off for the return journey. It began thundering down. There is nothing like mild adversity of the non-life threatening variety to really add to one’s enjoyment of something.