Recently there’s been much in my life around the ball, specifically being it. Mostly while external events fetch ever bigger bats and punt me to ever more ridiculous locations; some physical but mostly mental. A year ago similar things were happening which has me considering if a better life tactic would be to retreat under a blanket at the end of August, and refuse to be roused until – let’s say – the following May.
The sporting analogy is of course exhorting you to become at one with the incoming spheric in order for the impact be it with bat/foot or something more American*. In mountain biking terms, lately I’ve been more the ‘trail‘ which sounds great until we unpick it a little to understand my connection with the trail was indeed a merger between man and land. Because of course it was man stuffed face down in the land.
None of these have been particularly painful unless one considers ‘dignity‘ a body hosted organ. Except for the last one which strongly suggested I was exactly one second from a proper ‘oooh that’s nasty, call an ambulance, I’ll fetch the spatula‘ when attempting a tricky and steep obstacle for the first time on my hardtail. ‘Be the Ball’ I thought, turn off the targetting computer, use the bloody force, whatever just don’t fuck it up”. Just downstram of fucking up is essentially a headlong plunge towards terminal velocity broken only by concrete fireroad.
I wasn’t the ball. I was instead the idiot missing the grooved line completely so travelling rather too briskly into a rocky steep that had the bike behaving in a manner suggesting it’d be far happier if I exited at any time of my choosing. I chose instead to close my eyes, hang on, somehow ride out a crossed wheel highside through the power of sheer terror to arrive at the bottom more than mildly perturbed.
“wooah that was a big one Al, we thought you were off there’ was the sweary-edited summary from my aghast riding pals. ‘Really, did you think so, completely had it under control, you should try that line, it’s gnarlllly…duuuuude’ / ‘Really they asked?’ / ‘No of course not fucking really. I’m never doing that again, not because I’m scared or anything – just don’t want you to have the trauma of you collecting my teeth and maybe a few stray but unidentifiable body parts while we wait for the blood wagon‘
My non ball like status has extended into vocational life with a far more appropriate similie being ‘be the inbox’ or ‘be the volunteered’. Somehow I’ve mostly managed to ‘be the eyeball‘ after Herefordshire county hospital finally dispatched me homeward without insisting on my company for a few weeks. The eyeball in question is mostly healthy and occasionally useful for seeing things, so on balance a better result than a few sleepless nights suggested.
In all of this, I felt being a parent might be a good thing. Jessie has outgrown that very bike we bought exactly a year ago. There’s definitely some beanstalk behaviour going on seeding the inevitable search for something a bit bigger. No sooner had the sad decision been made that the ‘Franken-Turner’ had to go, another one turned up on that vast Internet thing.
2004 Turner Burner. God I so wanted one of these. Just as I was about to buy one they stopped making them. But we have one now, after a ride on the rather splendid Yer Diz trail in Bristol where we met previous owner and all round nice fella Dave. The plan was only to buy if Jessie liked it, and if she really wanted to carry on riding and if it wasn’t an old nag, and, and, and… And since she threw it roughly to the ground about 300 yards in, this because a discussion full of moot.
It was pretty much perfect other than the scars foisted upon its innocent frame by my second-born. Money was exchanged and hands were shaken. The only issue – as defined by someone who is 12 and therefore pretty much unimpeachable in terms of breadth and depth of knowledge – was the rather dull frame colour and obvious lack of pink.
Fixed that today with the help of my friend Matt who did all the hard work while I attempted to find stuff in his garage. To say it’s messy does absolutely no justice to the word where one would walk into – say – a child’s bedroom and declare ‘pick up your clothes, put that stuff away, pass than sandwich to whatever branch of medical science deals with fungus, etc’. No what Matt has created is basically walled landfill. If you move anything, anything at all, there’s a better than evens chance the entire south of Herefordshire would be flattened in the ensuing rubbish tsunami.
Apparently Matt once threw something away. For this there is absolutely no corroborating evidence. You could get bloody Time Team in there. Well no actually you couldn’t unless a) they were all very small and b) didn’t mind hanging like bats off the ceiling.
Anyway regardless of his layered view of the world, this is a man who knows how to wield a powertool in a way I can only dream about – ‘right then we’ll just drill out these cable guides, should be fine‘. And it was. If I’d attempted that, it’d have been akin to aluminium mining. I did get to play with the impact driver tho which makes met think actually I’d quite like to ‘be the drill’.
So bike built. Daughter overjoyed. Considers it ‘just about pink enough’. We’ll go ride it when she wants to do that. But not before. She has many things going on in her life when compared to her rather mountain bike obsessed dad. And that’s absolutely fine. As long as she stops growing soon. Otherwise we’ll have to get the lintels raised.
Be the ball? Maybe not. Be the fall? Really try not to be. I’m good with getting through the day and having a giggle. Be the fool? Yeah, that works 😉
* I am happy with baseball. I really am. It goes on a bit but that isn’t my real problem with it. All would be good if they’d just ‘fess up and call it rounders.