So, I’m out walking Rubin. I’m NOT wearing a dress, you’ll be pleased to know, and neither is he. He is, however, wearing his leash, and because it’s one of those extendable ones, and Rubin likes to be as far away from me as he possibly can on his walks (perhaps he’s embarrassed by what I’m wearing, who knows?), this leash is stretched taught between my hand and his body, and remains like this for the duration of time he pulls me around the footpaths of The Ghetto. (Actually, I don’t know why I even call the outings Rubin and I take together “a walk”. It would be better described as “a pull”.)

Now, note the word FOOTpath, here, folks. This is a path for FEET. Not for WHEELS, say, but people on wheels do love to use it: mostly cyclists, but we also get the occasional MOTOR CYCLIST roaring along it, and all I can say about that is that I hope there’s a particularly hot space in hell for those people, I really do. The regular cyclists, on the other hand, don’t really bother me. Most of them are really good about ringing their bell when they get close to a pedestrian, and this gives me ample opportunity to reel Rubin in and prevent him from trying to throw himself under their wheels, which is totally what he would do, and why he is kept on his leash on this particular footpath.

Yesterday, though, this did not happen. Instead of ringing his bell to let me know of his approach (INCOMING! INCOMING!) one particular cyclist decided to sneak up on me in complete silence: a Stealth Cyclist, if you will. It was only when I felt one of those rare pricklings of danger at the back of my neck that I turned around and saw him… just as he prepared to cycle at speed into Rubin’s leash – an act that would surely have sent his bike spinning out of control, with Rubin and I spinning right after it.

I am not ashamed to admit that I shrieked like a girl at this point. OK, I am a bit ashamed to admit it, to be honest, because it was a particularly dramatic shriek. He was SO close to us, though, and he cycled right up to Rubin’s rear (note: there was plenty of space around Rubin and I, so there was no need for him to do this. I did wonder if he just hadn’t noticed the leash, but even giving him the benefit of the doubt there, it would still have meant he was planning to pass really close to me, and he was cycling fast) before swerving at the last possible second, giving me plenty of time to imagine him flying over his handlebars, and me and Rubin ending up in court on charges of Interfering With a Cyclist or somesuch. (And I just KNOW Rubin would sing like a bird to get the law off his back, and would blame it all on me…)

The cyclist, meanwhile, didn’t even give us a second glance. He just sped away nonchalantly, and I got the distinct impression, although I’m possibly just making this up, that he felt the shrieky scare he’d given me served me right for daring to be in his path. It was this, rather than the scare I’d just had, that prompted me to shout feebly after him, “You’re not supposed to cycle on footpaths, you know!” Which would’ve TOTALLY told him, except at this point I noticed that he had headphones on and wouldn’t have heard me anyway.

And THIS is why Terry normally doesn’t let me walk the dog on my own…

  1. That story is oh so familiar – in every detail… except that Harry doesn’t try to throw himself under the wheels of bicycles as much as he tries to attack them, presumably in an attempt to save me from their evil machinations…

    I get really angry when people cycle on the pavement. Working in Oxford we have the joy of cyclists who happily swap between the road and the pavement depending on which is likely to offer a clearer path to their destination. I mostly want to yell “make your mind up!!” at them, but am aware that it would probably have no effect other than to increase my frustrations as I was blissfully ignored.
    .-= Caroline´s last blog ..Summer cravings: Maxi dresses =-.

    1. I don't really mind when they're just kind of puttering along, and they let you know they're behind you, but this guy was belting along the path and seemed to think he owned it, which got my back up! Didn't think they were supposed to wear headphones, either – seems pretty dangerous, but then I'm not a cyclist, so who knows! It's annoying, though, because I'm always really careful to make sure that Rubin's under control and not getting in anyone's way when I'm out with him, so it's frustrating when people don't give you the same courtesy…

  2. This is one of the good points of owning a big dog – cyclists normally dismount when they see him or cross the road, or in one memorable case – stop completely, about face and go the other way.

    I think it's the way he crouches, wolf like and ready to spring that unnerves them 🙂

    Feel free to borrow him anytime you fancy getting your own back on the bandits (although he seems to go down really well with big gangs of youths so, err, perhaps not)

    1. Oh, I would love to borrow him – send him over, the more the merrier!

      Actually, it's funny you should mention big dogs: I've been begging Terry to let me rehome this guy:

      (Gorgeous standard poodle, if you can't be bothered clicking the link). I tried to get my parents to take him, but they've said no, so now I just have to persuade Terry that our house can fit three dogs (the poodle has to ve rehomed with his friend). So far it's not looking good…

        1. Aw, Shadow is gorgeous! I have followed him on Twitter 🙂

          I definitely think 3 dogs in a tiny house would be just asking for trouble (and a divorce, probably), but if I had more space I would probably be on my way to Leeds right now to pick them both up!

  3. You should train Rubin to "teach 'em a lesson". And maybe Terry, too. This way they can both be more useful in protecting you.

  4. Whenever I'm walking on our footpaths (we don't actually call them that out loud, but now I am going to make everyone start using the term! So fancy!) I usually have my headphones in and I can never hear the bikers or the runners behind me. I always try to keep to the side so they can always pass, but sometimes there is a bit of a traffic jam and it is always my fault because I'm listening to music. And not even that loudly! I just hate walking to work out, so I need to be in a zone!
    .-= Kristabella´s last blog ..A Little Bit Of This, A Little Bit Of That =-.

    1. Me too – I can't exercise without music, it's just too boring, although unfortunately for me, I can't see to listen to music witout mouthing along to it, which makes me look even more ridiculous than I'd look anyway!

      What would call a footpath, out of interest?

  5. Look: you just have to accept that cyclists are superior beings – two wheels better than four, two wheels better than two feet. This is why you should also not expect them to stop for you at zebra crossings or any kind of traffic light…

  6. The problem with most cyclists is that they inhabit such a world of danger and sudden unexpected death that they start to believe the rules of the road no longer apply to them. Let us consider the evidence: a cyclist approaches a busy intersection with the traffic lights set to red. He is also talking on a mobile phone and wearing no head protection. He ploughs through the red light narrowly missing an approaching taxi. I've seen plenty of devil may care abandon and occasionally I've been the devil behind the handlebars, but most of the time I obey the laws of the road with the grim determination of someone who has had bones broken by inattentive drivers. However, attention to detail and a cool head (as this is Scotland where the nights can be cold and unforgiving) can make the road your friend. The drawbacks of cycling are numerous but then again I'd rather be a tired cyclist than a tired truck driver. At least when you're on a cycle the chances of you running someone over are pretty low.

    Onto different matters. Matters of the heart as it were. There is a gulf of understanding between men and women in this world that needs to be bridged whatever the cost. Both Shakespeare and Kazuo Ishiguro understand this fact. For example why does Hamlet reject Ophelia in her moment of greatest need. Is it the ghosts of his past or merely the male disease of putting pride ahead of feelings and dealing with emotions. In the Remains of the Day why does the butler Stevens reject and ignore Miss Kenton when they both clearly have feelings for each other? Is it pride, duty, or just the usual story of boy meets girl but neither individual has the emotional courage to change their lives for the better. Morbid introspection and silence are the usual male response to emotional hurt whereas women have each other to pour out their feelings of hurt, disappointment and regret.

    Anyway onto lighter fare, because even in our darkest moments when it feels like the sky is about to crash on our heads a little humour can save us from the abyss. I should know as I have been to the edge more than once but unlike many I have returned if not stronger then wiser. To quote Spike Milligan, "I'd like a return ticket!" "Where to?" "Right here you fool!"

    With deepest respect

    1. Ha! You are SO right on about cyclists. I hate them – with the admitted prejudice that I myself only learned to ride a bike at 21. But they are a menace to themselves and everybody else, which wouldn't be a problem but most are INCREDIBLY arrogant about it as well.

      I was driving through New York City the other day and nearly collected a dozen of them on the bumper of my car. One neatly jumped a red light and whizzed in front of me on 41st Street – somehow surviving (and reinforcing my suspicion that there's a patron saint of dipshits on bicycles.

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