Pontification has often been the mother of narrative on the hedgehog and, as such, much time has been
wasted invested on a nailed down description of a “proper nutter“. Tonight, ladies and gentlemen, it seems as if I may have inadvertantly researched the definitive answer.
After a couple of ‘relief’ beers (post appraisal, again I have achieved the grudging distinction of “borderline employable“), the prospect of a fast ride home under dry skies and double digit temperatures was something to be savoured as the train edged slowly northwards. There is a sense almost like cheating when you are deep into Autumn but the riding still feels like late summer.
As I was accesorising myself with all things bikey, a bloke – my age and height but about half my weight again – enquired what I was doing. Somewhat nonplussed on the not insubstantial grounds that I was a shorts wearing, courier bag carrying, helmet affixing fellow with a clear two wheeled bent, I gave him a facial burst of stunned hedgehog.
He explained “no, I can see you’re going to ride a bicycle but isn’t a bit cold and dark?”
“No, the bike has lights, I have clothes, it’s all good”
“Well how far do you go then?” he fingerly podged in my direction still examining me as if I were a composite of a crack victim and a screaming mentalist.
“About six miles”
“Does it take long?” he worried
Warming to my task “well it’s 21 minutes flat in calm conditions, add about 220-240 seconds for a westerly assuming it’s running at less than 10 knots. Hard rain can cost me a bit, cold a bit more until my legs are warm, anything over 20 knots and you could be up to half an hour unless it switches east in which case I’m a sail”
I was just about to cross reference rain type with tyre choice and explain the need to do such a calculation with pivot tables, when I noticed he had the look of a man having triggered an avalanche by throwing an innocent snowball.
So instead I asked “What about you, car I guess?” with a smug twang to my question
“Oh Yes, I live on the other side of Haddenham” he explained with a shudder as if his journey scaled unmapped peaks in distant countries
Confused I was all “but it’s a little village, that’s a mile at best, a lovely 20 minute stroll on quiet roads under streetlights, why would you drive? I mean, why?”
He was edging away now as the train slowed to disgorge us onto the platform. His eyes worried this way and that. The stab of the door release spoke volumes of his need to get away from this hippy, who might be about to eat his car keys and invest him with the power of the lentil.
Doors open, he’s waddled off with a worried look over his shoulder. But I was doing nothing more than a gentle amble. You don’t want to get too near to people like that. They’re madder than a sack full of frisky badgers.
Be vigilant – they may pass at first glance as normal. Don’t make that mistake. The nutters are everywhere.