In the beginning there was stabilisers…
When I was first asked to be involved in The Clapham Film Units and the friends of Herme Hill velodromes Film, The life of the bicycle I asked my mum to dig out a picture of me on my bike as a tot.
After much rummaging mum said that there weren’t any, apparently “you never showed much interest” great, thanks mum, that will really go down well on a film about enthusiastic cyclists. She went to tell me she had some pictures of my younger sister learning to ride her bike (yes plural) so much for being the prodigal first child, looks like I was just the warm up act
Anyway the hunt continued after it was confirmed that yes, my sister would rather stab herself repeatedly in the face with a Biro than so much as acknowledge the existence of the bicycle*
Then after we had all give up hope, quite expectantly mum came up with this, in a friends photo album, which I have been instructed to take good care of, lord knows why its suddenly important now!
This picture was taken when I was about 6 or 7ish, outside my grandads house, which was over the road from my own childhood home, I am on my first bike, it was already quite the antique having shown most of the family’s post war children the ropes.
the picture is out of focus, well its not, if you look to the right, the plant claiming frame is nice and sharp…
I am wearing my classic look of 1940s inspired 1980s floral Laura Ashley type smocked dress over a t-shirt, with very 1980s pinky white tights and sandals, I had quite a few of those dresses, its not too dissimilar to what I wear now really
I look happy, in a poesy sort of way but then I still have my stabilisers, I don’t remember having this picture taken but I do remember the day my grandad removed my stabilisers and I discover that riding a bike was in fact impossible
I just didn’t get balance, much to the bewilderment of my sporty parents, even much, much later aged 10+ I was regularly cycling into lampposts, as soon as I noticed them I could not stop myself from cycling into them, I fell off a lot, I dont remember having a cycle helmet, which quite explains quite a lot. My younger sister had one, which she worn on her bike handlebars, which explains even more…
When I look at my happy little face now all I think of is the shock that will soon follow and the next tenish years of trying to get the hang of the whole two wheel thing
Anyhow much, much, much later, here I am covered in bruises and scabs, still learning, still getting back on. Quake with fear lampposts
* I’m hoping its a stage, do people still go through “stages” in their mid 20’s?