I’m a sometime cyclist. Not one of those lycra-clad, helmeted, pimped-out, super-wheeled commuters, but more of a free spirit. More of a bags balanced on my handlebars, wind in my hair, heels stuck in my pedals type of cyclist.
I’m also a singer. Not one of those talented types that people pay to hear, but more of a constantly singing along to the songs in my head and driving my friends and colleagues completely bonkers type of singer. And most of the time I don’t even know I’m doing it. I’ll be singing my heart out in the office and it won’t be until I get an email from someone ten desk pods away going “Sound travels” that I’ll realise and shut up.
This story involves both singing and cycling.
My local area has changed a lot since I first moved in. Like most London boroughs it’s been called “up and coming” for the past 10 years but I think it’s finally up and come. For example, what was once a grotty strip club is now an adorable tea room with cakes in glass domes and an old piano and poetry readings and a knitting club and other delightful middle class events.
Gladdens my very heart
While the building was still a strip club – the windows all boarded over – I once peered through the tiny grated slots on the door to see what the dealio was inside.
Flipping Nora, my poor eyes. The women inside were about 40 years past the stripping average and I couldn’t imagine anyone paying them to do anything other than put more layers on. Bless their hearts.
One balmy evening as I was cycling across the little park next to the strip-club-turned-tea-room I was singing my absolute heart out. I was alone and I was Bonnie Tyler. I was really going to town on every note and every heartfelt, single girl word:
“I need a herooooooooooooooooooooo” I belted out, sincerely.
“I’m holding on for a hero til the end of the niiiiiiiight” I continued with gusto as I careered along the dusky path.
There was no one else around. I pitched my song louder:
“HE’S GOTTA BE STRONG
AND HE’S GOTTA BE FAST
AND HE’S GOTTA BE FRESH FROM THE FIIIIIIIIIGHT”
It was at that moment that I suddenly realised I was competing with another sound that I had totally missed. And not just competing….but very much dominating.
Hark at all these people enjoying the film they’ve probably got on DVD from the comfort of a damp spot on the grass
This little park that was usually just home to police tape was now staging a big outdoor cinema screening and about 300 film fans – straining to hear Meryl Streep singing ABBA over me singing Tyler – had turned in unison to stare at me.
On the huge screen – now quite clearly bang in front of me – Meryl Streep was really going for it in Mamma Mia. But all eyes were on Bonnie Tyler sheepishly pedalling off on her bike.