Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Urban Diary

Black helmet on? Check. Yellow fluorescent high-vis jacket on? Check. Yellow fluorescent ankle straps on? Check. Black gloves on? Check. Tires fully pumped and padlock in its holder? Check. My daily bicycle journey is about to begin. And along the way I will be entertained by the sound of this unique, urban orchestra called London.

Some people think that only in the countryside can one hear the unmistakable at-dawn song of the cuckoo. The sign that announces the arrival of spring (sadly about to exit in nine days). These people, country mice to me, city rodent, will brag about the effects of the cuck-oo... cuck-oo call: the feeling of nature as a collective force invading one’s senses with an early morning choir of bird songs, including the Cuculus canorus. Some people believe that only the beautiful and verdant British countryside can provide this soundtrack where the cuckoo becomes the soloist.

These people are almost right.

Almost, for there is however a sound similar to the cuckoo’s call in my regular cycling experience. It comes from the soft purr of cars pulling out of their driveways, ready to join the matutinal rush-hour. It escapes through the high-pitched voices of children walking to school near my house and calling out the names of their classmates. It becomes noise when I reach the intersection of two wide, famous, busy roads and drivers go mad on their horns, tooting them with an enthusiasm that is hard to match as they fight for their right to go first at the traffic lights. But even this din is welcomed. Sometimes, mind. It is usually followed by a semi-silence as I cycle on, the rustle of the few trees lined up along the avenue sounding like the deep sigh of a sleeping baby.

A guy coming out of a van and slamming the door in the process catches me unguarded. The banging sound tells me that not all drivers check their blind spot before venturing out on to the road. He is unloading bread, milk and other products at an off-licence. I turn left at the next corner, carry on and within five or six minutes I am at work. Despite my love for the British countryside, I don’t envy rural mice. I am a proud city rodent on his bike, soaking up the sounds of our own urban version of the cuckoo’s call.

© 2013

Photo taken from telegraph.co.uk

Next Post: “Sunday Mornings: Coffee, Reflections and Music”, to be published on Sunday 16th June at 10am (GMT)

23 comments:

  1. You sure take it all in on the way to your work bin, still hate bikes though, rather walk at my show

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  2. What a beautiful write! You caught the sights, the sounds, the energy of this early morning ride.

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  3. You are a good writer. :) I can both see and hear what you talk about. And yet I am only a rare visitor to big cities. I lived in Stockholm for a short period a long time ago. I was planning to visit London two years ago but the time available was too short. So I canceled. But in august I will go to Honolulu. That will be great.

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  4. Given my druthers I lean towards the rural life. However, I love this post and the way you have captured the rhythm of the city. Thank you.

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  5. nice...its the life that goes on around you and in you as you ride...i get that...its why i walk when i can...and you are right not everyone is looking so watch out for them as well...

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  6. Me parece que los ruidos de la ciudad y de como uno se encuentre en ella depende de periodos de nuestra vida, yo ahora me gusta más la tranquilad urbana, un buen escrito sin embargo.
    Un abrazo

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  7. Whew, you are brave, I think, to ride your bicycle to work in London!! I can definitely understand your enjoyment of the ride though....but you're right, so many auto drivers do NOT check their blind spot.

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  8. I dont know CIL sometimes we cant choose but we learn to live.
    About 6 years ago we arrive to live here in the countryside and wr come from town.Isnt easy sometimes but love to live here sometimes. Id like other world. Is more quiet and of course we heard cucoos and birds annd tbe amaxibg ate the sunset anyway any place if you love it is good to live:))

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  9. Wow...your descriptions are amazing... so vivid, I feel like I was the one taking that early morning ride!
    I'm inspired...am taking to the road on two wheels myself now!
    Many thanks:)

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  10. i too like biking in the city but always a bit afraid of the parking cars that push the door open without looking back...ugh...

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  11. LOL! I'd rather take the cuckoo call, I'm afraid, but your writing is so lovely!

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  12. Excellent post. I was saying a quiet AMEN to every point you made.

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  13. me too will always be a city rat - lovely piece of writing...

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  14. Cubano, I love biking but I'd never be brave enough to cycle through big old London. I quite enjoy taking the tube!

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  15. You describe your adventure in an exciting way. I just read that the cyclists in London are angry with each other.

    NYTimes - Lionel Shirver[aka Margret] interview in the Sunday
    Magazine.

    I get a copy early bc I sub.



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  16. Estupendo post!
    No he visitado London pero en algún momento parece que estoy ahí.

    ¡Buen fin de semana!

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  17. I applaud the high-vis jacket. I have more than once at night been startled by blackness that suddenly moved as my eyes registered panic. All black clothes on all black bike with no lights. Ackck.

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  18. Something very nice about a regular bike ride. I rather miss it as I work at home. Reading your piece I realised I don't pay enough attention to sounds.

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  19. Many thanks for your kind comments. I love my bike rides to work. I really do.

    Greetings from London.

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  20. The calls of the city. I can see why you'd enjoy your commute this way. It has a music all its own. As does your writing.

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  21. That's so cool that you bike to work. What a way to absorb the city in all it's glory.

    Jai

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  22. I'm not a biker but I love the sounds of the city. I used to live in New York City and LOVED the sounds as I walked from the train to my office.

    Enjoy your rides and safe travels.

    And, congrats on your POTW from Hilary. You're a terrific writer.

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  23. Enjoyed this visit via Hilary, and congratulations on POTW! A great post!!

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