“Sorry, mate, didn’t see you there…”

… is, I suspect, never a sentence I will ever hear uttered in my general direction. I was tootling along to work this morning, stopped at a set of lights, when a taxi driver leaned out of the side window to attract my attention.

“Oh dear, what did I do wrong?” I thought.

“’Scuse me, miss?”

“Yes?”

“I just wanted to say how easy it was to see you with those lights and that thing* across your back. Thanks. Nice bike.”

The lights are two Knog Beetle white lights on the front forks, plus the dynamo she came fitted with, and on the back I’ve got the red light she came fitted with plus a Knog Skink on the outside pannier, and “that thing” is a Bobbin Bicycles Miss World Sash.

Those of you who are friends on Facebook or follow me on Twitter may have picked up on the fact that I’m going to make a cape out of Lumatwill, as well.

Getting hit because I dazzled a driver might be a problem, but cycling a black bike, in the dark, with no lights, dark clothing, and, if a helmet is present, it’s dangling casually off one of the handlebars, strikes me as a way to remove yourself from the gene pool swiftly and messily.

Every day’s a learning experience, part, um, I’ve lost count…

Or, in which I owe my poor bicycle a massive apology.

Zephirine, poor creature, has been to the bicycle hospital twice since I’ve had her, with problems with her gears. Pashleys have hub gears (the gears are enclosed inside the hub of the back wheel), rather than the dérailleurs (cogs on the outside of the back and front wheels) that I’m used to.

To change gear with dérailleur gears, you need to keep pedalling.

To change gear with hub gears, you stop pedalling.

I did not know this.

I do now.

Sorry, Zephirine…

Prayers for The General Chapter of the Order of Preachers

General Chapter 2010

Every three years, the Order of Preachers holds a General Chapter, and a new Master of the Order is elected by the Friars every nine years. The General Chapter is being held in Rome from August 31-September 21st, with the election for the new Master on September 5th.

Traditionally, the Nuns of the Order pray the following for a month preceding the General Chapter.

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.
My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.
He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.
Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.
The LORD is thy keeper: the LORD is thy shade upon thy right hand.
The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.
The LORD shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.
The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be world without end. Amen.

Leader: Come Holy Spirit
All: Fill the hearts of your faithful, and enkindle in them the fire of your love; you who through the diversity of many languages, gathered the nations together in the unity of faith.

Leader: Lord, have mercy
All: Christ have mercy. Lord have mercy.
All: Our Father…

Leader: Send forth your Spirit, and they will be created.
All: And you will restore the face of the earth.
Leader: Save your servants.
All: Who trust in you, my God.

Leader: Let us pray:
O God, who has instructed the hearts of the faithful by the light of the Holy Spirit, grant that, in the same Spirit, we may relish what is right and ever rejoice in his consolation.

Listen, Lord, to our prayers and guide the steps of your servants along the path of your salvation; that in the journey through this fickle life they may always be protected by your help. Through Christ our Lord.
All: Amen

Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin

The Rosabrother and his fiancée are getting wed (huzzah and yay!) and have asked me to do a reading at the service, which will be a civil one next year. There are Rules about what can be read at civil weddings, so I can’t just break out 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 and be done*.

I threw myself on the mercy of the internet, and a couple of friends suggested this site.

So far that site has suggested the following:

The life that I have
Is all that I have
And the life that I have
Is yours

The love that I have
Of the life that I have
Is yours and yours and yours.

A sleep I shall have
A rest I shall have
Yet death will be but a pause
For the peace of my years
In the long green grass
Will be yours and yours and yours.

Yes, very nice. Except I am not standing up at my brother’s wedding and reading out the code poem for a French Resistance worker who was shot in Ravensbrück.

The next suggestion was

Dance me to the wedding now, dance me on and on
Dance me very tenderly and dance me very long
We’re both of us beneath our love, we’re both of us above
Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the children who are asking to be born
Dance me through the curtains that our kisses have outworn
Raise a tent of shelter now, though every thread is torn
Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin
Dance me through the panic till I’m gathered safely in
Touch me with your naked hand or touch me with your glove
Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the end of love

Shall I not reference the orchestras at the concentration camps at my brother’s wedding? Just a thought? Might be a bit of a downer?

Does anybody at Wedding Magazine have a brain between their ears?

It’ll be “Eskimo Nell**” at this rate, mark my words.

*And I’m not reading anything from Song of Songs in front of my mother, so just hush, thank you.

**Google At Your Peril, it’s a rugby song, and therefore, as one website has it, “contains plenty of four-letter words as well as violence & male sexual vanity.”

I’m a bad blogger

Both Dominic Mary at Libera Me and Clare at Battlements of Rubies tagged me for Mullier Fortis’ prayer meme. And they tagged me ages ago, and I haven’t done it.

So, with the first of [redacted in case my mother reads this] loads of laundry splashing in the washing machine, and thanking Heaven that I don’t have to load it all up on Zephirine to take it down to the canal and hit it with a rock, here we go:

The rules are:
“Name your three most favourite prayers, and explain why they’re your favourites. Then tag five bloggers – give them a link, and then go and tell them they have been tagged. Finally, tell the person[ahem – people] who tagged you that you’ve completed the meme… The Liturgy and the Sacraments are off limits here. I’m more interested in people’s favourite devotional prayers.”

So, in no particular order:

1) The Sub Tuum Praesidium. This is a new(ish) one to me. A few Religious of my acquaintance say it whenever they set off on a journey, and I’ve picked up the habit (hello, Mile End Road, I need all the help I can get). It’s the oldest extant hymn to the Virgin Mary, and dates to around 250AD.

We fly to thy patronage, O holy Mother of God; despise not our petitions in our necessities, but deliver us always from all dangers, O glorious and blessed Virgin. Amen.

(In Latin: Sub tuum praesidium confugimus, Sancta Dei Genetrix. Nostras deprecationes ne despicias in necessitatibus, sed a periculis cunctis libera nos semper, Virgo gloriosa et benedicta. Amen).

2) The next one is dead easy. I try and say it whenever I hear sirens, because if you can hear sirens, there’s some poor soul needs praying for.

“Jesus, mercy. Mary, pray.”

Short and sweet, and all we can hope for – the mercy of God, and the prayers of the Body of Christ.

3) The third one was really difficult, choosing between the Salve Regina, the O Lumen and the Gloria Patri. In the end, I plumped for the Gloria Patri. (Yes, I know, linking to the two that didn’t quite make it is cheating. Tee hee).

“Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.”

(Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto. Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.)

I don’t like tagging people (oh, the pressure) but if you fancy it, please have a go and put a link in the comments – and you don’t have to be Catholic, either, it’s always good to learn about other ways of praying.

Here she is

Meet Zephirine. There was no way I was trusting my beloved camera to the combination of that front basket and Newham Council’s somewhat slapdash and hazy approach to massive great potholes and the fixing thereof, so I had to wait for the panniers to arrive.

IMG_1526

We’d just cycled to Victoria Park along the canal – that seemed like far enough after, what did we do yesterday? Oh yes, cycle the eight miles to work (and back again). I think Steve’s suggested route in this comment will be eminently do-able.

I also think I’ve cracked why going to the gym, or swimming, just don’t work for me as a form of exercise. I need to actually get somewhere when exercising. So I can quite happily walk from point A to point Z, given a sufficient quantity of Penguins* as a bribe, but tell me that I have to walk five miles on a treadmill, or thrash up and down a swimming pool, and I’ll get bored and fall off/drown/try and eat my own leg.

*note for Americans and other aliens: a type of chocolate biscuit.

Just in case you thought I’d gone under the wheels of a 25 bus…

I haven’t. Zephirine and I are getting on famously, swishing around the mean streets of east London, adding tone to the neighbourhood.

However, I have just realised that I will be cycling to work slightly earlier than planned. The plan (more cunning than a fox which had just been appointed Professor of Cunning at Oxford University, etc) was to surrender my season ticket on 31st August and cycle into work from that date. I’ll be £100 a month better off, and not paying to be transported in conditions which would get an animal transporter heavily fined, shut down, and possibly jailed.

That’s the thing that really bites – I am paying the not-insignificant sum of £1,208 a year to be jammed nose to armpit with people who only have the most tenuous grasp of the concept of personal hygiene, blokes with hairy arms, women with enormous handbags, people who think that my life will be enriched by listening to their bangin’ choons through tinny mobile phone speakers, people who use their buggy as a battering ram, people who think their shopping is entitled to a seat, and all on a line that regularly hits 32C in some of the stations, and is even hotter on the trains. The sheer amount of pent up rage on the Central Line of a Monday morning is terrifying, and it’s not always so pent up – I have noticed an increasing number of “incidents,” from the raised voice to the full-on, fist-swinging brawl*, over the last couple of years, and I fail to see why I should subject myself to it on a daily basis.

I’m hoping, depending on the weather, to go to the Rosaparents for a long weekend, catching the train out of Waterloo on a Friday evening, and back on the Tuesday. I’m planning to take Zephirine, and we’ll go on some jaunts through the New Forest, maybe down to the seaside, that sort of thing. This is why it’s dependent on the weather – I can, after all, stay in London and get rained on, thank you.

This means that I have to cycle in to work on the morning of 20th August, with all my stuff in panniers. The 20th August is nine days away. This might not be happening, but we’ll see.

Unfortunately, there is no sensible** way out of where I live, heading West, without encountering road works, Olympic building works, Crossrail building works, general “let’s put these building works here to annoy Rosamundi,” building works, and the Mile End Road (of Death, as one cycling blog so reassuringly described it). However, given everything in paragraph two, I’d rather take the road works than the Central Line.

In other news, I’ve added some new blogs to the side bar, under “Other Blogs”: Fragments, Georgian London, News from Colourman and The Quack Doctor. All fascinating, and definitely worth a read.

* Admittedly, this is extremely rare, but I can recall it happening more than once in the last twelve months.

** The definition of “sensible,” in this case: a route that doesn’t involve a detour of four miles to come out a mile down the original road, smack in the middle of the road works…

She’s arrived!

My new bicycle, very definitely a “she,” arrived yesterday.

Yesterday was a day of much loveliness all round. The electrician from Home Jane came and said “not surprised your shower wasn’t working, this wiring is what we refer to in the trade as ‘a death trap,'” and set to and put the shower on the right sort of cabling, so it now works. No more washing my hair in the bath, oh, what bliss.

Whilst she was doing that, I fixed the skirt I made and mum helped with (as opposed to me getting in the way helping and mum doing most of the work), that I’d somehow managed to make an inch too big in the waist, oops.

Whilst wrestling with needle and thread, I got a phone call from Evans Cycles at Canary Wharf saying that my bicycle was in and could I please go and pick her up as she looks about as out of place as, well, a Pashley Princess Sovereign among a showroom full of stripped-down racers and hulking mountain bikes.

So, having purchased a rather expensive helmet (only buy a cheap helmet if you’ve got a cheap head), and a fairly hefty D-lock as well, I set off, clutching the map and directions from Transport for London.

There’s a reason “it’s like riding a bike, you never forget,” has entered into the lexicon. You don’t. Well, I hadn’t, in the three years since I last got on a bike. There was, I must confess, a fair amount of “getting off and walking whilst cursing TfL’s cycling directions and wondering why I decided to leave my A to Z at home,” and one harum-scarum moment that made me whimper and head for the safety of the pavement at speed, but I think high-speed police chases whipping past you at, um, speed are part and parcel of cycling in east London.

And so we made it home, and I fitted her new lock, and I set up her Twitter account (yes, you may mock), and then we went for a trundle round the tiniest park I’ve ever seen. I then decided that being able to walk on Friday was probably a good idea, and so we came home again.

She is a very lovely bicycle. Incredibly comfortable to ride, she feels very sturdy and reassuring, and I noticed that car and van drivers gave me a lot more room that they used to when I was riding a mountain bike. I suspect there’s something about a sit-up-and-beg swishing round the streets of east London that triggers some hind-brain “keep clear of this lunatic,” instinct. We’re never going to break any speed records, but she will get me where I want to go at faster than walking pace and a lot more comfortably than the Tube at rush hour on a Friday evening.

There will be photos when the weather’s not quite so yucky. She’s named after the climbing rose Zephirine Drouhin.

I daresay there will be blogging of bicycle-assisted adventuring…

I have run quite mad.

Possibly working on the principle of “of you can’t beat them, join them,” I have gone and bought (well, put a deposit down on, anyway), a bicycle.

But not just any bicycle, oh no. Having tried, and utterly failed, to imagine myself perched atop some hulking great mountain bike or stripped-down racer, I bought one of these. A Pashley Princess Sovereign, in green, which I shall swish about on, in stately fashion. Or fall off a lot, possibly. Isn’t she lovely?

I used to love cycling, but when I moved to London, I was (an still am), horrified by the behaviour of the majority a certain subset* of London cyclists. Running red lights, cycling on the pavement, going the one way down one way streets and generally behaving like complete lunatics.

I will not be one of those cyclists, and I would like to thank three people in particular, namely Anna, Clare and Patrick, for reminding me that it is possible to cycle in London without turning into a homicidal maniac.

Thanks to the sterling efforts of Timbo at Evans Cycles, my new bike will be arriving in the Canary Wharf branch within the week. I am spending the intervening days sorting out refresher lessons (I really hope that the phrase “it’s like riding a bike, you never forget,” is true), reading the Highway Code, and working out cycling routes that will not take me anywhere near the Mile End Road, as well as deciding on a name for her so she can have her own Twitter account. Obviously.

If anyone’s got any hints, tips, helpful links and so on, please leave them in the comments. The purchase of a helmet, a heavy-duty lock and more lights than the average civic Christmas display can be taken as read.

*On consideration, damning the majority of London cyclists as psychotic nutcases seems a little unfair. My apologies.