No torment so sweet
As a brand-new bicycle
Confined to the house
As the rain falls.

The spotless silver chain,
Those glossy black tyres
That smooth, gleaming paint:
I cannot do it –

Something within me rebels
At the very thought
Of knowingly exposing her
To what’s out there:

Bleak roads all awash
Seeded with needle-tipped flints
Slathered with churned filth
Potholes like bomb craters.

Fear not, my lovely.
The moment will come
When, under blue skies,
We finally get acquainted.


The calendar says it’s spring. The daffodils, primroses, snowdrops, celandines, windflowers and assorted amorous birdlife all concur. The weather, however, is refusing to get with the programme. Profoundly bored of the endless wind and rain now; longing for dry roads and warm, sunny days. N.

A sense of wonder

Some rhapsodise about the ‘New Car Smell’
(I’m told that you can buy it in a spray
To endlessly relive the golden day
The car came off the forecourt) but I’ll tell
You something, there’s no greater thrill than this:
That bike-shop scent of packing grease, clean tyres
And polished paint; a perfume that inspires
The ecstasy, the unselfconscious bliss
Of childhood Christmas mornings. Just a toy
Perhaps, but is there any other thing,
At any price, so wondrous, that can bring
Such joy, turn weary man to giddy boy?
This is no mere machine I’ve bought today.
It’s freedom. And we’re going out to play.


After the relentless doom and gloom of recent days, I wanted to write something a bit more uplifting – and what better subject than a new bicycle, with all its attendant innocence, joy and promise of freedom and redemption? If you haven’t bought a brand-new bicycle (for yourself, not your children) for a while, go do it. I find I need one every couple of years…it can be an expensive habit, but there are far worse ones. N.