Tag Archives: london

The cycling pants of shame

London was not built for cars.  It’s a well know fact that driving your clunker through the city is the slowest and most expensive way to get around.

The fastest – and incidentally cheapest – way to travel is on two wheels.  It was with this in mind that I decided to brave the rough roads of London and embark on that momentous expedition:  my first cycle to work.

Previously I had only been able to gawp in envy at the fit elite – all honed arms, and sculpted thighs – as I trudged from the tube station, chocolate bar in hand.  Now I would be one of the noble few.  I could see myself wizzing past the commoners as they watched my bum disappear into a distant land of endless cool.

Being a cheapskate, I had acquired my little sister’s bike in exchange for paying our dad 40 quid to cover a window she broke (I’m not the only one in my family with the ‘oops!’ gene.)  However, my sister had originally bought the bike when she was 14 years old and into pink.  Florescent pink.

In spite of this rather embarrassing inconvenience, I was undeterred.  Armed with my little-girls bike and an oversized helmet my local bike dealer had duped me into buying, I set off into the unknown.  I was certainly prepared.  I had packed some spare underwear to ride home in, just in case I sweated more than usual.  Knowing that this was a distinct possibility (due to the fact I hadn’t exercised in about a year) I had packed the oldest, grimiest, most granny-like pants and bra I owned.  What a pro.

Things were going well.  The sun shone as I headed towards Paddington, a vision of enviable cool.  As I turned the corner into Spring Street, a rather attractive bearded gentleman shot me a grin.  ‘Amazing.’ I thought to myself ‘Even dressed up like a demented 12 year old, I’ve still got it.’

It took me about six seconds and a hundred yards to realise what was really going on:  My backpack had come unzipped.  My tights were wrapped around my back wheel.

My underwear was strewn back down the middle of the road.

Let me level with you.  Spring Street is littered with cafes and restaurants – basically involving quite a lot of people sitting outside, people watching.  Right now they were watching me.  Me, and my skanky underwear.

In a mad panic I threw my bike to the ground and ran back down the street, my oversized helmet bobbing from side to side as I picked up my abandoned items.  With every ounce of dignity I had left (er… not much, for those of you who were wondering) I jumped back on my bike and rode away.

It’s been three long and difficult years since ‘the incident’.  After therapy, prayer and a lot of strong liquor, I finally feel that I’m ready to move on.  So, at the end of this month I’m going to face my fear: buy a bike and re-try the cycle to work.

I’ll be packing good underwear.

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Alien invasion

In the unlikely event that I am one day pulverised by invading aliens, I hope to end my time on earth like this:


Insomnia: Top 5 things to do to pass the time

It’s 5 am and I’m awake. In fact, I’ve been awake for about two hours already. On a Saturday.

Most people may be slightly vexed by this reality, but I’ve come to accept that this is just what my body does every now and again. I’ve found that it’s better to just roll with it and do my best to not drop breakables/ walk into stationary objects as the day progresses. I’m clumsy at the best of times, although when sleep deprived, the Rachel Disaster Comedy Show rises to a whole new level of humiliation.

Being awake in the dead of night gives you lots of time to think. While other sleep deprived people are probably considering the meaning of life right now, I’m thinking about this: There are many things that I’m tempted to do in life which I don’t have the guts or inclination to carry out in the full light of day. However, being awake while others are asleep presents the perfect opportunity to fulfil all those unrealised dreams.

I call it the ‘night-bucket’ list.

Here are my top five. I’ve actually already done a couple of these with friends… but I’m not telling you which ones. What would be on your list?

  1. Go for a run dressed in neon bright 80’s clothing, complete with visor and vile shell suit
  2. Plant flowers in obscure and run-down places
  3. Play a game of Frisbee with a glow-in-the dark disc.
  4. Jump the park gate (without, er, getting stuck at the top and having to be ‘helped’ down by a friend), climb the park hill and wait for the sun to rise over London

But most of all, I’m really tempted to stick this poster up all around town. It’ll either make people laugh or just confuse them entirely. Either way, it’s a win-win.

Lionel: What a legend.


Speechless

Silence.  Nothing.  Nada.

I’m speechless.  And unfortunately not in a cute ‘Wow, I’m so surprised’ kind of way.  Nope.  I open my mouth and out croaks a sound which has the ability to terrify animals and make small children cry.  I’m losing my voice.  Again.

It’s amazing what happens when something you’ve so heavily relied upon, yet never really appreciated, is gone.  You begin to realise how essential this previously underrated implement is to your daily living.

Or is it?

I am amazed at how the experience of loss often leads to unexpected creativity.  I was 19 when I first lost my voice.  Over a period of 12 months I would regularly be unable to speak for up to a week and was unable to sing for the entire duration of that time.  Over that year the way I expressed myself musically dramatically altered. I evolved from an awkward sheet-reading pianist to someone who would sit at a piano for hours, just making stuff up.

As human beings we have an incredible ability to adapt in order to cope with the unexpected.  I recently read that the visual cortex takes on the role of language in the brains of people who are blind from birth.  Incredible.

The last time I lost my voice was Christmas 2009.  Upset by the possibility of being unable to communicate over the festive period, I decided to employ the means of interpretive dance.   My family got into the spirit of things (we’re crazy, remember?) and everything was going well until we managed to set fire to the table wreath during our candle-lit Christmas dinner.  Go team.

So here’s my predicament.  There are thirty people coming round for lunch in less than an hour.  Interpretive dance is out of the question as I’ve already had one house burn to the ground (again, um… not my fault) and I don’t really fancy losing all of my material possessions today.

Maybe I should just punch them in the face before breaking out my zombie moves.  At least that would get me out of having to dance like a demented hamster.


The illusion of calm

Westminster can be a pretty serious place to pass a lunch hour.  For four years I’ve worked amidst the determined throng:  serious jogging, serious news reporting, serious fast-paced walking westwing-style.  GoodRachel blends into the crowd and marches on, looking like I’m heading to an urgent meeting (with a cheese sandwich, but no one needs to know that.)  However, buried within me is EvilRachel who, despite the outward appearance of sombre calm, secretly just wants to yab people in the face before breaking into a synchronised zombie dance.