Things Turn Up

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Dear Maud,

Do you, like me, fondly recall the legendary ‘wheel of fortune’, the circle at the centre of an inglorious game show, each turn of which condemned a contestant either to rags or to riches – to domestic oblivion or into the clutches of bad white goods?

No? Me either.

Anyway, I have two such wheels of my own. They turn when I pedal and – lo! – things turn up.

Last week, it was a boy on a BMX bike. Together we cycled for a time, both going the same way, yet in different ways. Tee shirt-clad, he rode the footpath as if it were a writhing snake, dodging and jumping every shadow in sight. I, however, kept to the street, straight and true like a desperate saint.

At troublesome traffic lights, I turned to the boy. ‘Swap you bikes,’ I said. Unplugging an ear, he grinned. ‘Race you up the hill,’ he replied, and went out hard. I overtook him near the top, elated not by my triumph but by the fact we would race at all.

Verily, oil and water are liquids both.

Later, my wheels turned and turned again, casting up soon-to-be slippers on a blighted traffic isle. That’s right, Maud – my favourite shoes, destined for home duties, slipped from my imperfect pannier as I led a semitrailer down a busy city street.

Shoes, we know, are a man’s best friend; how, then, could I leave my sole mates for dead? I couldn’t. Re-pedalling my path, I braved the mad onrush of man and machine to fish them from the eye of the storm.

Thus were they brought to heel.

Evidently, Maud, my run-down lace-ups prefer the dangers of the open road to the prospect of a slow fireside decline. Who can blame them? Like man himself, shoes are made for walking.

And bikes for cycling. One last time, then, my wheels revolved; this time, though, they turned up an insight. Even if, I thought, my direction is forwards, momentum will invariably carry me sideways or back.

So much for self-control.

Fortunately, we have the Iliad under our belt. High-hearted Nestor hits the winning run:

He who has put all his confidence in his horses and chariot and recklessly makes a turn that is loose one way or another finds his horses drifting out of the course and does not control them.

Epistles end; wheels slow to a stop – ’tis a fortune shared.

Yours etc.