Arseblog, the arsenal blog

Big black helmet

There’s a guy who lives across the road from me. I don’t know his name. I think he’s Eastern European because I’ve overheard him talking to a different neighbour. Not that it makes any difference where he comes from really, Ireland is now full of people from everywhere and it’s great, but still.

Every morning after I make coffee and before I head upstairs to my office, I stand and look out the window to make sure everything’s normal. It’s just a thing that I like to do. I fully expect that one morning the world as I know it will have changed dramatically, and for the worse, overnight, but I take some small comfort in seeing things the way they’re supposed to be.

The houses are the same. The cars the same. There’s no cataclysmic damage to anything. No sinkholes or vortexes to other dimensions. There are no soldiers or lizard troops with machine guns looking to slay people for no good reason. The sky is the same as it ever is. It’s not filled with fire or brimstone or spaceships. I don’t rule anything out, nothing would surprise me, but every morning it’s normal and I take some small comfort from that.

My neighbour tends to leave his house around the same time I get up. I have no idea where he’s going or what it is he’s going to do. I don’t really care, as long as it’s not something terrible or evil, but then I don’t know what he does so I guess there’s no point thinking the worst. Chances are he’s off to some pretty boring job in an office or a factory or on a building site or driving a bus or being a doctor. It doesn’t matter.

He cycles. Cycling is good. It’s environmentally friendly and once it’s not raining or too windy, it’s generally quite pleasant. Good exercise. I remember years ago I got a summer job working in a biscuit factory. We had to power wash the dried up bits of marshmallow off the conveyor belts. 7am to 7pm for 14 straight days. It paid well. I cycled the many miles every day. Thighs like Roberto Carlos afterwards, let me tell you.

You do worry about cars because motorists tend to view cyclists as inferior beings. It’s always annoying when they drive in such a way that means you have to brake and slow down because you use leg power to get going again, and for some car drivers it’s clearly a huge inconvenience to slow down for a couple of seconds and then put their foot on a pedal which accelerates their warm, dry, comfortable, radio-on vehicle past you in no time.

Sure, some cyclists don’t think red lights apply to them, but the world is full of self-entitlement and selfishness. People who think the world revolves around them. People who think they can do others harm for a cause or a belief or for no good reason at all. We’re not as evolved as we like to think we are. Primates with the Internet, basically.

Anyway, the point is that cycling is good. And my neighbour, of indeterminate location and whose name I don’t know, cycles. I think he worries more than most though. He gets his bike out and he puts his bag on his back and then he puts on his helmet.

Oh, the range of helmets you can get these days. When I started cycling the idea of wearing a helmet was ridiculous. Nobody did that. Heads were tougher back then I reckon. I suspect it was all the full fat milk we drank that hardened up those skulls. Now it’s all semi-skimmed and light cheese and half-fat yoghurt. Speaking of which do you say ‘Yow-gurt’ or ‘Yoggurt’? I was brought up with the latter but seem to have changed to the former as life has gone on.

I don’t know when or how that switch took place. I mean I’ve always said ‘Buck’ for ‘book’ and not ‘Boooke’ and I never will say ‘Boooke’ but some people do and that’s fine. I’m not judging in any way, I’m just having a conversation here. Well, not a conversation. A blog. I’m doing a blog. I’m writing a thing. And you’re reading it. Possibly. I suspect some of you are not by now.

Anyway, helmets. He puts his on because he’s concerned by dangers the roads present. He knows that a head injury can be dangerous. You see these stories all the time about how some drunken idiot punches a bloke and he falls and hits his head and dies and you think ‘Stop punching people’, it rarely ends well in any event.

So my neighbour with his coat on and his bag on his back and the lights on his bike – again considered a frippery used only by those who might have been on the loose, or tied to a tree back, in my younger days – gets his helmet on.

A massive, shiny, jet-black motorcycle helmet. Visor up, in fairness. But he goes off down the road like a sort of pedalling Darth Vader-Evel Knievel (he would have had no hassles changing his name if he’d gone to the dark side eh? Evel, you are now Evil. In name and deed *breath sounds*].

Now, he’s not out to destroy the rebel alliance, or blow up a planet with a weapon that fails every time; nor is he interested in leaping over a line or buses or gorges. Which is lucky, because where I live there are no gorges to speak of, so he would find life a constant, crushing disappointment if that were his raison d’etre, but he goes cycling off down the road with his big, black helmet on. It must make looking around him or behind him more difficult but he seems to think this is the best way to go, and who am I to argue? To each their own, I say.

At some point later in the day he returns, having driven that bus or entered that data or done that factoring in the factory, his spindly legs going round and round and round and he gets to his door, takes his helmet off and goes inside.

And I see him and I wonder does he give a single shit if a player earns too much money for his overall contribution to a team; or that a football club hasn’t managed to improve slightly over the course of a season in order to win a tin cup; or gets stressed out and aggravated over something over which he has absolutely no control; and I suspect he doesn’t because he’s more concerned with keeping his head protected inside a massive helmet.

There’s something to be said for that, I think.

Just want to say a big thank you to everyone who listens to the Arsecast. We made it to Number 1 on iTunes in the UK yesterday, and when you see who we beat off (fnarr) to do that, it’s quite the thing. Your listening, commenting, recommending the podcast to other people (you do that right?!) and everything else is so much appreciated.

You’re good people.

Arsecast Number 1 on iTunes

Arsecast Number 1 on iTunes

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arseblog

Fan of Arsenal, Robert Pires and most everything to do with rum and whiskey. Writer, podcaster, ace flintknapper, sluggish centre-half. Smiter of those that ought to be smote.