I would love to be a cyclist. I want to join in, be one of the pedal pushers.
Because it’s all about bikes now. Ever since the Tour de France three years ago showed off our lush, rolling pastures to the world we’ve been a bit... bikey
And I’ll carry the image with me always – me and the family camped out on a dual carriageway, recklessly sharing a bottle opener with strangers; gamely offering our sunscreen to people turning pink during the unexpectedly hot build-up; then the cars and the helicopters and the razzmatazz, and then finally a bit of a blur.
And then a person kindly explaining that that was the peloton, so it was all over and time to go back to my sister’s house and put the kettle on. What times!
At the weekend the smaller sequel – the Tour de Yorkshire – is taking place and once more I will be making the trek to my sister’s home to get a piece of the action.
This time I’m expecting better, in some ways. I am confident the travelling crowd will be smaller so there will not be 25 of us squashed into the bit between two train carriages, excluding the three in the toilet, as happened on that fateful day in 2014.
And this time I am not too fussed about the bit of a blur – I’ll watch, but I’ll be more looking forward to going back to my sister’s, because you can always trust her to put on a nice spread, but still, the visit will be built loosely around cycling.
So I would love to give everyday cycling a go. It’s just my nerves that don’t want to.
I don’t mind telling you that I find life quite scary enough, without hurtling along major roads, just me and my vulnerable flesh, next to metal boxes being driven at what could be a killer speed, should we chance to collide.
But, you know, given a wide – really, really wide – cycle lane in my area and a lovely, bright, fresh day – not too hot, not too cold – I can picture the scene.
I would be wearing a sensible skirt and probably some woollen tights; there would be a jacket, possibly tweed, and a hat; and a basket on the front of my solid bone rattler of a bike.
In my basket there would be a loaf of bread, wrapped in that crispy white tissue paper that bread shops used to use, and maybe something for tea from the butchers, wrapped in brown paper. Oh, and a newspaper.
Because, you are perfectly right, on my bike I intend to cycle right back to an earlier, gentler age, one where people shop on a lovely high street.
Also one where Lycra doesn’t exist and a pair of bicycle clips is as racy and streamlined as it gets.
I don’t like the Lycra thing. I don’t think many women do. I don’t like cycling as an aggressive, competitive sport – unless, you know, it actually is an aggressive, competitive sport and not just the commute to work.
Cycling on British roads is mostly a male activity right now.
They wriggle into their gladiatorial suits, strap on their helmets and cameras and swarm onto the roads like angry wasps.
I don’t blame them for being angry, of course I don’t. Cycling on UK roads is for the brave. Mostly a hysteria-inducing rush of bullying lorries, cars that pass too close, drivers who are cycle-blind, and toxic fumes.No wonder they have a warrior mentality.
But wouldn’t it be lovely if cycling were not like that? If it had more of, you know, a continental air.
If we could sit astride our normal bikes in our everyday, normal clothes and stay within a range of normal emotions.
I know it’s possible, I’ve seen it with my very own eyes. Once, in Amsterdam, I watched a woman in her fifties leave a shop, climb aboard an old bike complete with basket and cycle off in her mid-heel court shoes.
There was no helmet, the breeze gently lifted some expensively highlighted long layers, the whole scene was a thing of beauty.
She looked like a creature of another age – I want her to be the future.
KNOW THIS: YOU ARE NOT OKAY
I expect you think you’re doing fine.
You are out of bed, upright, acceptably hygienic, and out of the door in ... ooh, let’s say twenty minutes if you are young and a tad longer if you are old enough to have to make the kids’ lunches and also gild the lily a little.
Ha! You’re wrong, so wrong. You’re not doing fine at all.
The latest life coach advice is that getting to work fully dressed and on time is not good enough.
That is not setting yourself up for the day, that’s setting yourself up for a fall.
What you should be doing is this: Rising early enough to achieve seven things by 7am.
Admittedly one of those seven tasks is drinking some water – but that’s the first baby step, the easy lead-in, the next six challenges are in a different league:
First, you should visualise how you want your day to go; then do some exercise, with yoga being the preferred option; and then read something – mainly because Bill Gates does and he’s pretty successful.
You should also set yourself some realistic goals; then think of three people who make you smile to make feel-good oxytocin; then sing in the shower.
Now all that is challenging. You are going to need to set the alarm early, that’s obvious.
But worst of all is the instruction to think of three people who make you smile – at that too-early stage of the day no-one makes a person smile.
GIVE HARRY AND WILLS A CHANCE
I’m feeling sorry for the young royals.
I know, you’re thinking possibly that’s a bit irrational given that they are wealthy beyond the dreams of avarice and not bad looking either but, you know, Harry and William and Kate are trying to do a good thing.
They are trying to make it more acceptable to talk about mental health problems in the only way they can – by talking about their own experience.
William and Harry lost their mum. As hard for them as for anyone, despite their exalted status.
Kate looks as mentally resilient as can be but she gave it a go and talked about the bewildering, isolating days of being a new mum, and all credit to her. Those days are hard whoever you are and they can tip over into mental illness.
Yet now they are being attacked for being bleeding hearts, instead of staying quiet and getting on with it.
Give them a break: Overcoming the nonsensical tradition of the stiff upper lip is exactly what they are trying to do.