Category Archives: Flan O’Brien

Exchanging atoms

While I like my new bike I am not so sure it likes me – or at least what I am doing to it. I have had two flats this week. Is this the new bike’s way of telling me something? Both flats were pinch punctures; both resulted from landing hard on big pieces of concrete. The first happened when I tried to jump a culvert and came down on an edge with my back wheel; the second when I was coming off a dirt track and tried to jump a high concrete curb onto a road surface. The front wheel made it – the back wheel not quite. In both cases the tire stayed inflated for the rest of the ride. I didn’t discover the flats until the next morning. It was as if the new bike had had time to think about what I had done and decided, somewhat perversely and belatedly, to get back at me.  I noticed the first flat at 5:30 one morning. I was due to join some others for a ride at 6:00. So I changed the tire and started to pump it up. Either I wasn’t paying enough attention or the tire was defective. At any rate it exploded! Very loudly! Everybody else in the house had still been asleep. I sheepishly replaced the tube and left for my ride. But I did hear about it later. My new bike had found a clever way to enlist some allies. Apologies are due. I promise to be more gentle.

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When a man lets things go so far

I was recently reminded of this quote from Flan O’Brien’s The Third Policeman.

“The gross and net result of it is that people who spent most of their natural lives riding iron bicycles over the rocky roadsteads of this parish get their personalities mixed up with the personalities of their bicycle as a result of the interchanging of the atoms of each of them and you would be surprised at the number of people in these parts who are nearly half people and half bicycles…when a man lets things go so far that he is more than half a bicycle, you will not see him so much because he spends a lot of his time leaning with one elbow on walls or standing propped by one foot at kerbstones.”

Duchamp clearly went well beyond half way.

Don’t forget to donate to the Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania.

ChipIn: Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania