On a day like today…

…don’t you feel like you could just go on forever?

We’re having the most glorious Indian Summer, the air’s clear and fresh, and the sunlight’s bright and sparkling, making the whole city gleam and glitter and glisten. It’s still just warm enough for short sleeves. There’s a slight breeze, and it feels as though everything’s in motion – the leaves, the clouds, the seasons, and of course me, having a typically wonderful Friday, flying and swinging and dancing along, whipping in and out of the traffic, singing loudly to myself, waving at everyone I know, and some people I don’t.

One of my pick-ups this afternoon was actually a van job – a box the size of a small fridge – but I was feeling energetic, and in the mood for a challenge, so I managed to stuff one end of it into my bag, somehow lashed the rest of it down, and didn’t bother telling my controller. And I found out that everyone will smile at you when you’re riding along with a box the size of a fridge strapped to your back. Even black cab drivers. Even lorry drivers whose wing mirror you crash into as you hurtle along between two lanes of stationary traffic on the Strand, remembering that you’re slightly wider than usual, but forgetting that you’re also slightly taller.

And all along, I was thinking these are probably the best days of our lives.

Sometime in the afternoon I was sunning myself outside Fullcity, dipping custard creams in one of Liam’s lattes, and chatting to the man from the handbag stall, when I caught sight of someone who looked amusingly like Roger Ramjet in a suit. As he got closer, I realized that it was Roger Ramjet in a suit.

He’d just been for an interview for a Real Job, because – well, he’s been doing this for seven years now, and it’s time to move on.

“Yeah, this is the best job in the world man! You can spend all day smoking draw, check out the girls in the street, ride your bike around, hang out here – but then it’s winter, and it rains all day, and it gets really hard…”

He has a problem with his right forearm that gets worse in the cold, and his hamstrings haven’t been right for a couple of years. Remember how I told you that most couriers are riding around with some form of long-term chronic pain, and that as you get older it only gets harder? He’s not the first old-timer I know to give up for winter. Last year Aga was off the circuit for a few months and, as far as I know, it was just because she’d done enough winters that she knew how horrible they are, and didn’t feel she had anything to prove by doing another one. I guess that at some point the grim satisfaction you get from surviving each day in the rain and the snow and the sleet and the ice stops outweighing the pain, misery and exhaustion, and there’s no longer any point putting yourself through it all.

Perhaps it was for this reason that I found myself positively beaming when Ramjet told me he was getting out. He’s been hating the job for a while, and he’s actually doing something to get himself out of it, rather than letting it grind him down any further. Somehow, even though I was having one of the best days I’ve had for weeks, this was good news.

And, of course, yet another reminder that winter’s on its way, and that yes, it’ll be much harder than I remember. Today was possibly my last day of wearing short sleeves, and sunrise is getting later and later. But maybe this is partly why I was feeling so euphoric – because the knowledge of what’s to come makes me appreciate what I have now all the more keenly.

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3 Responses to “On a day like today…”

  1. Exenger of Doom Says:

    not the cuffs, man

  2. Redbike Says:

    If there’s less people in winter, does that mean there’s more work for you?

    I don’t know how you do it. After 3-4hrs riding my hands are normally so cold I can’t unlock my front door or get my gloves off. Then getting into the bath with cold feet always involves a few ‘Oooow’ noices.- I just couldn’t do this type of thing daily.

    This weekend it sleeted on me, a sign that the weathers turning!

  3. Alastair Humphreys Says:

    “One day like this a year’d see me right”…

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