Friday, 30 May 2014
So I finished a turn of heavy digging at the Plot one Wednesday morning earlier this month. Tired, aching and frankly filthy, I staggered out of the gate. And there, where my trusty bike usually waits for me so that I can get home quickly and have a wash before lunch, was just an empty space!
I had to admit, on reporting the sorry tale to Rozzer Central, that I had never bothered to lock my bike. Nobody else does at the Plots, and my machine is plenty the worse for wear, unfashionable, and old enough to vote. It also happened to be covered in mud after a recent minor prang. Plus, it's so unusual that random people have recognised me just by seeing it in town.
An impromptu gathering of fellow Plotters decided that whoever took it was just having a laugh and would soon get bored and abandon it somewhere. Someone had the idea of putting up a notice simply saying that I missed it and it would be nice to see it back. I even found a picture of it, and put it up with my plea.
I happen to believe in the Theory of Continuity of Bicycles, which posits that the said machines don't, as a rule, simply vanish into thin air or change into, for example, lampshades or iguanas. And a bike like mine would not have been "stolen to order" and whisked off to Leeds, Manchester or the Continent. So for the next few days I went walkabout. Just, anywhere I could think of where a bike might be abandonned. The river path, the park, round the edges of playing fields, the local car-boot sale.
It was only after this last that the thought occurred to me: a bike has a "probability cloud" of all the places it's likely to be found. Without realising it, I'd been gravitating to the places where my bike's cloud had been at its densest before it went missing. I'd missed out a whole semicircle of town, including the University, the nature reserve and the winemakers' kit shop. It was a long walk, but I was on to something. People I met on the hidden footpaths said things like "you often find bikes just left here, sometimes quite nice ones..."
Then it rained so much that I didn't go back to the Plot for over a week. And even that was only because I happened to notice the words "cycling music" on a flyer in the health food shop, and that it was happening just down the road, that very evening! So off I went. On the house's spare bike. And as I passed the Plot what should I spy embedded in the fence but...a bicycle? Which, to complicate matters further, wasn't mine?...