This week is rapidly going downhill and that's not just the easy bit of the cycling. There's no doubt that I've achieved a few things this week. So far, I have cycled in and out of town 4 times since getting the back. This has become progressively easier. Three days I've been to work and three days I've done it with bike in tow. The pain in my legs and arms is worth it for the satisfaction of feeling like I can do it.
On Tuesday I decided to buy myself the ultimate cycling companion. An MP3 player. I had been looking at my wishlist for such a machine and, on the way home on Tuesday night, bought a machine which I believed had all of my desired features, namely:
- A load of space for songs - in this case 20Gb - about 10000
- A voice recorder - enabling me to record my gigs in a digital and carryable format
- An audio recorder - enabling me to record stereo from my other gear for quick transfer to the computer
- A radio...
On the down side, the method of transferring music to the machine is a bit clunky, though I'm sure it will make sense in the end. I would have preferred to copy all the music I have on my work machine (all of which is from my own original CDs) in the exact structure that it appears on that machine, for the MP3 player simply to mimic. No. The MP3 player has its own ideas about how I'm allowed to sort my music, find it, and play it. I'm also not entirely convinced that it knows how to go back to where I left off should the machine be turned off mid-song, or even turn itself off after 2 minutes on pause. Shame. However, it's a cracking toy and should be pretty handy at gigs.
So, Tuesday was quite a day. I cycled into work. I worked. I went out at lunchtime. I worked some more. I cycled from the work to the MP3 player shop. I spent a lot of money on a toy. I cycled home. I had 10 minutes to grab a yoghurt and change shirt. Then I drove to my rehoisal in Durham. Then I went to see the tail end of a gig in Newcastle and then I drove home for a restless night. I had a few minutes' play with the MP3 player and transferred some music into it.
The biggest success of Tuesday was making it home on the bike quite rapidly and without avoiding certain key hills.
Wednesday was, in comparison to the rigours of Tuesday, a nightmare. This was because I had too many big ideas for what I wanted to achieve on Wednesday. Here is my Wednesday wishlist:
- Cycle to work and back
- Do a day's work
- Get a hair-cut
- Pick up DVDs of The Musical! from the post office (that was my big news - they've finally arrived)
- Rehearse in Durham
- Watch the end of a gig in Sunderland
- Fall in love (well, it's always a possibility)
- Watch the DVD of The Musical! to find the good bits
- Convert the good bits into a format that can be downloaded by the organisers of the Melbourne comedy festival
If you're that busy, you have a massive risk of things going wrong. Things went wrong. The bike is definitely the centre of the wrongness. Firstly, I had a wee skid down a hill out of the office. This, actually, did no harm, though it reminded me of my mortality. I didn't remind me enough, since I played chicken with a car on a chicane near my home - the home stretch is one I like to leather it on. I won the game, but, in the process, got very close to the pavement. I made a snap decision to leave the road in favour of the pavement and this, coupled with a bad angle of attack, toppled me from the bike. I emerged unharmed - except for, perhaps, my pride. Even my new MP3 player, which was playing Robbie Williams in my pocket, wasn't jarred. I landed well, putting out hands and knees to catch the ground as it came to me. I feel that I probably leapt from the bike, rather than lost control completely.
Seemingly, this was an easy escape.
90 seconds later, as I stopped the bike outside my house, I heard a hissing. The back tyre was going flat quickly. Perhaps this was unrelated to the adventure with the pavement, especially since I don't recall the back tyre actually hitting anything. I don't know. So the bike is now out of action. Never mind. I only had 2 minutes to get back in the car and get to my rehearsal. This had been complicated by the fact that I'd forgotten to pick up my rucksack from the office and had to detour in order to get it. The rucksack contained the DVDs I intended to watch and convert. Oh dear. The evening's already going pearshaped.
A bit of rehearsing and rapid driving later and I managed to leave Sunderland having seen the gig I went to see and having rehearsed on time. I also picked up a costume for a photo shoot we're doing on Saturday. I need to adjust some of this with sewing and some of this with safety pins. Both are doable. I don't know when I'll have time to sew buttons between now and 9.45am on Saturday. Aaagh! The time will make itself available.
Anyway, I took a detour on the way home to go to Tesco - I bought some shirts, one of which will do as a replacement for the ridiculously small shirt I was sent with my costume. I also bought some sandwiches. I'd not eaten for about 11 hours at this stage.
The DVD watching was hampered by the fact that the DVDs don't read well in 2 of my three players and nearly didn't read in the last. Sadly, one of these players was the one in the computer, which ultimately hampered the process of converting to downloadable form.
Finally, having set the computer onto the task of converting something it could convert, I thought I'd take a look at my flat tyre. If I could quickly remove the wheel and patch the inner tube, I'd be able to take another crack at my cycling into work thing. There was a problem, though, the nut holding the wheel to the rear fork, was very tight. It was too tight for the wee spanner-like thing that came with my puncture kit. After a bit of searching, I found an old-fashioned cartoon-dog-bone-shaped thing which is used for bicycle nuts. I applied a huge amount of downward force to this spanner and it sheared off in my hand. Not satisfied with breaking the spanner, the force then continued to take my wrist across the sharp end of this recently sharpened spanner fragment and create me a gash in the wrist.
It's now the small hours of Thursday morning and, at the end of a hectic, nightmarish day, I'm standing in my hall with a wound that is in a rather important place and starting to bleed. Bugger!
Keeping one's head in a crisis
I live alone. I don't call on the neighbours to do much for me. I don't really call on anyone. I was looking at what might be a serious wound and wondering whether I'd lose a serious amount of blood. I was slightly shocked by how the day had managed to take such an amazing downturn. I was pissed off at the bike for being just annoyingly inadequate enough to add itself to being instrumental in my injury. This was in addition to the fact that it had clearly not been assembled brilliantly (the overtightened nut being one example, a few creaks being another, and the fact that neither front nor rear gears engaged accurately being a more annoying manifestation).
Things were not looking good.
I didn't so much dither as wander around a little pondering my options. I eventually talked them through. Doing nothing was bad. I might bleed too much, stain my bedclothes, get tetanus, have a poorly healing open wound or any number of nasties. So I felt that I needed immediate medical attention.
I couldn't walk to the hospital, I sure as hell couldn't cycle there, and my left hand was far too busy holding the wound on my right for me to be much use driving myself. It was quite a comedy thing to see. Me trying to operate phone books (for a taxi), telephones, shoes, a coat and the front door, while simultaneously trying to hold my blood in, thus occupying all spare hands. With a taxi called, I waited outside. I waited for the taxi. I waited for the hysteria to kick in. I was probably in a little shock. I made me a joke to laugh at. "I thought the bike would be good for me." It's not a classic, but it made me laugh.
The taxi came in the end and I got to the hospital. The wound across the wrist, did look like self-harm, but my cheery face and demeanour made the staff discount that possibility... in addition, I hadn't done a good job of harming myself. I was placed in the waiting room. I was only there for about 2 and a half hours! I'm not exaggerating.
Since I hadn't purposely slashed my wrists, the experience in the waiting room seemed intended to make me at least contemplate the prospect of having a go. I managed to stay cheerful and occupied. I watched a few people. I chatted to some drunk people, who make the majority of the clientele at that time of night. I mused at my own stupidity. I watched my wound go from a fragile thing that needed the other hand to keep my very life-blood in, to something I could almost ignore, but for the tingling and look of it.
Eventually, I was seen. Had I received stitches, I might have felt like I'd got my wait's worth in attention. As is common, though, they applied external strips to hold the wound together. Let nature take its course. I was professionally cleaned up. I was given a tetanus jab. I was soon back in a taxi headed home.
The day is now over. It can't get any worse. It's too late.
Now to sleep, perchance to wake up and discover this was all a bad dream.