Saturday, May 10, 2008

Madness, Strawberries and Bikes

I saw a thought-provoking sight today, a woman trying to kill her own child. She came out of the nursery school with her son, went to her car, opened the door, tipped the front seat forward, ushered her son onto the back seat, got in the car and drove of rather hurriedly - and that’s putting it mildly.

As she passed I saw that not only hadn’t she put her son in a child seat but there was not even a child seat in the car, neither did she have a seat belt on herself.

I ask myself, really, how intelligent is the human race? Sure I know we’ve labeled ourselves sapiens and all that but would another epithet describe us better? To be honest I haven’t seen much sapient behaviour of late. I mean, don’t people see the risks or don’t they care?

I could understand it if it was one of my semi-neighbours, a guy well known for having about as much intelligence and foresight as a dead badger. I’ve seen him overtaking in the high street, coming up to a set of traffic lights, swerving in front of a car, obliging the car coming in the other direction to brake hard, and all this with his son standing up on the front seat. But he is pathological. This woman seemed normal - poor kid.

So on a positive note today I ate my first wild strawberry of the year. Yum. These are genuine wild strawberries not cultivated; small and deadly sweet though my first one was comparatively large and not as tasty as the smaller ones which I ate later on.

I spent the afternoon trying to get the child seat sorted out on the bike. I tell you, the imbecilities to be found on a Pininfarina bike combined with those on a decathlon modular system child seat frame are not to be underestimated. It took me hours, with a drill, and spanners and screwdrivers and hex wrenches. It amazes me that design engineers get paid at all. In fact I wonder if design engineers really exist or do they get small children to design these things? I’m sure if you just left the component parts in a box and kicked it every now and again randomness could come up with a better effort. Anyway I eventually got things sorted out and drove off with a semi-flat tyre, again because either the pump is not working, the valve on the tyre is not working or the connecting hose between pump and valve is not working. I had three attempts and in the end gave up and rode off with a semi-flat.

This time I managed to get the Howler’s helmet on reasonably tight. Again, box, kicks, randomness etc.

I must say I am surprised at how much less unfit I am than I originally thought. Most mountain bikers would scoff loudly I’m sure but from the house I rode down hill to the Bertenga, across the bridge over the river Pellice and up the long, gradual incline up towards Borgata JallĂ  on the other side and then left up towards the Pra and up the dirt track to the first bend where the gradient got a bit too much. As I say, wimpish by most standards but I didn’t expect it of myself. It’s about half an hour climbing all the way.

Coming down again was fun, though the howler kept banging her head against my bum and I had to keep stopping to check she wasn’t trying to leap out off the bike.

Laura came down with the car to pick us up which avoided me having to push the bike back up to the house. Cheating I suppose but this way I get to live longer. I saw a strange bird I had not seen before with a yellow saddle. Could have been a warbler I suppose but it was more sparrow-like in colour and size and the saddle was very noticeably yellow. Can’t find anything in the bird book even remotely similar. Mind you we have spoon bills and a large population of sacred ibis in Pinerolo, escapees from the bird park so it could have been something extra-european in origin. More investigation is called for I feel.

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