Why, I ask myself, am I fiddling and fettling my winter bike?
It’s July, nearly August. That menial hack should be leant, untouched, be-cobwebbed, in the very spot I left it back in April. Surplus to requirements until October, minimum.
And why, I go on to ponder, do I live here? At this latitude of 54 degrees North? Sea one side, Pennines the other, perfect lab conditions for the creation of warm moist air and its subsequent deposit as rain.
When the weather’s nice there’s nowhere better, people say.
I refer them to the nearest window. The grey light. The doom of impending rainfall. The thirteen degrees and double rain of late July. The dreaded winter bike called back into service. The fading tan across my legs. The scowl across my lips.
Well, we’re not made of sugar, the same people chuckle. What’s the demon white powder got to do with anything? I retort, in the form of some tense I-need-a-bike-ride body language.
There’s no doubt about it.
It’s almost time to smash the glass on the emergency box marked: Operation Tuscany.
As you might imagine, Operation Tuscany involves a terra-cotta tiled dwelling in northern Italy; a steady, passive income; a smattering of conversational Italian; a nice Italian school for the kids; a 3pm glass of crisp white wine; those rolling, calf-chiselling roads you see on the telly; and plenty of strong, predictable, sunshine.
Right now, unfortunately, there is a sticking point.
The execution of Operation Tuscany has, thus far, progressed no further than the name ‘Operation Tuscany.’ It’s a product of my own marketing department. The laissez-faire approach to wholesale family emigration has failed to bear fruit.
But necessity is the father of invention, as they say, and right now the necessity of my winter bike in July is busy spreading its seed liberally in the direction of the invention of a new, sun-kissed, southern European lifestyle.
And, crucially, there is no plan B.
Because if you give yourself a fall back, you’ll fall back.
To be continued…