It sounds a little odd, I suppose, to tell someone that you woke up at four o’clock in the morning, crawled out of bed and trundled downstairs to the sounds of wind and rain outside, look out the windows into the cold and dark and feel a sense of wistfulness and regret that both you and your bicycle are still out of commission and therefore can’t go for a ride. But that’s what it was like this morning. It has been a week now since I went for my little sprawl on the pavement and cabin fever has well and truly set in.
When I came downstairs, opened the side door to the kitchen and stood listening to the sizzling sounds of the rain on the concrete I found myself thinking of the pleasures of a long bike ride in the rain; that wonderful self-contained feeling of being cocooned in your waterproofs and spinning along under your own steam, a host in yourself. I would love to have gone out this morning, but since I couldn’t I did the next best thing – I put the kettle on, brewed up a pot of my favourite Ethiopian coffee, turn on the laptop and settle in to do a bit of writing.
I like to write. I like writing nearly as much as I like riding my bike. Both are contemplative exercises, and both are creative – a nice stretch of the imagination. I suppose I should qualify this love of writing by saying that I like writing what I like to write – not to a brief or to try to match someone else’s expectations, although of course I do this to earn my living, but simply to play with words, and thoughts and narrative structure, tell a story.
In this regard my pleasure writing is not a whole lot different than the pleasure rides I take on my bicycle. Both are nice bits of escapism. In my case this morning, it was a jaunt back in time to the 1920s, and to a steamy and wholly fictitious East African backwater, where the opening scenes to a comic novel I am writing unfold. It is a story that has been growing on me over the past few years, and with which I have amused myself on many a long bike ride, and over drinks on many an even longer international flight. I like my characters. I like their antics. I love being them vicariously, although I don’t think I would dare hang around such people if I knew them in real life. All in all I enjoyed my three-hour excursion this morning, and as I do when I wheel my bicycle back into the shed after a really good ride, felt a twinge of loss that it couldn’t have been longer.