Thursday, 3 August 2017

Bicycle - its a foreign word.

For most of you it will come as no surprise if I say that this week's theme didn't go down well with me. I don't ride a bike. I had a serious bicycle accident when I was young and have never been happy on two wheels since - unless riding pillion, wearing a crash helmet and covered in padded leather.  You never forget waking in hospital with your face covered in scabs, with all your lovely front teeth broken, shocked by other children on the ward who scream when you go near them.

I decided to have a look at the statistics - you know - how much more likely are you to be killed while riding a bicycle than other forms of transport? In 2015 according to the Royal Society for Accident prevention 18,844 cyclists were injured in reported accidents in the UK . Of those 3,334 were either killed or seriously injured requiring hospital treatment. Of the 100 killed, 94 were adults, thankfully only 6 were children. Men have more accidents and male children aged 10-15.

The Department of Transport's figures in 2014 said that even though there were 1,775 deaths on UK roads, Only 5% were pedal cyclists, 10% motorcyclists, 15% pedestrians and 70% motorist/car passengers. So why don't I find these statistics reassuring? Well I think perhaps because although I have been in several car accidents, it was a bicycle accident that smashed my face, ruined my smile and cost me so many precious hours in the dentist's chair.

The bodywork of a car offers protection -  on a bike you are just flesh and blood, waiting to be crushed between metal and tarmac. I have tried to ride bicycle since. I just don't feel safe. But maybe one day...


Bonjour Madame”,
“Bonjour jeunnes fillettes,
Parlons seulement en Francais,
Comme Marie-France et Jean-Claude,
Ecouter et repetez s’il vous plait”.

Adventure in a foreign tongue,
A new linguistic undertaking,
A life-long love of language
A traveller in the making,
Conjugation and declension,
The verb irregular,
The feminine and masculine,
The joy of each new word.

Then I discovered ‘bicyclette’
And wheeled it round my tongue,
I rode it in my dreams at night,
Through countryside and town,
I’d picnic by the riverside,
I dreamt it all the time.
But the thought of sitting on a bike,
Sent shivers down my spine.

Now I gaze into the window,
It smiles a turquoise sheen,
The most delightful bicycle
That I have ever seen.
If I had confidence to ride it,
To overcome my fears,
I could taste the thrill I’ve longed for –
For over forty years.

I could pedal into Paris,
Ride Rue de Champes- Elysees,
From the Arc de Triomphe to the Grand Palais,
I’d rip up to Monmartre,
Scooting past le Sacre Coeur,
Tipping at the Moulin Rouge,
Wind blowing through my hair.

I’d race around Le Tour Eifel,
Speed the rive gauche de la Seine,
I’d hill climb up to Notre Dame,
And freewheel down again.
I’d cycle in the gardens of
The Palace of Versailles,
And park up at the Louvre
To see the Mona Lisa sigh.

My pretty, turquoise, bicyclette,
May always be a dream,
And as for Paris –
It’s one place I’ve never seen
But my French is quite accomplished
Thanks to La Famille Marsaud
Of Longman’s Audio/Visuel,
And a teacher long ago.

Wear a helmet when riding a bike please. Thanks for reading.  Adele


Steve Rowland said...

Very enjoyable, Adele. We had the Thibaut family who lived at 6, Place d'Italie. Funny how this stuff sticks in the memory. It's a nicely inventive poem...though I'm not sure about cycling up to Montmartre - I think you'd be worth a yellow jersey if you could pull that off.

Anonymous said...

What a delightful poem.