Yesterday I woke with bike repairs in mind. I’d probably even dreamt about the frankly undesirable gear-cable fitting that was ahead of me. As I lay in bed, though, twinges in my lower spine—I am over 30, after all—prompted me to do a couple of half-hearted lumbar exercises, pulling first one and then the other knee up to my chest. With K. mumbling confusedly in her sleep, and my back calming down, I stepped out of bed and dressed in something that wouldn’t suffer from a few spatterings of mud and engine oil.
It was cold in the garage, and there was as you’d expect only one of me, and so I hit upon the idea of charging the wind-up radio for company and also to warm me up. A great idea, I thought. If I could grip pliers and spanners properly then I’d be less likely to bark my knuckles, as I had done twice tying up the gears with string on Friday afternoon in advance of struggling home. Whirr-whirr-whirr, the radio went, and our neighbour Sprightly Mary looked at me funny as she passed by for her morning walk.
Feeling stretched, and warm, and raring to fix my bike, I walked over to it—something wordy and effete playing on Radio 3—literally rubbing my hands, like some sort of workshop knobhead. I leaned across to look at where the cable ought to go, sneezed a sneeze that was a bit like a small animal escaping from a drainpipe, and in that instant trapped a nerve in my ribs so painfully that I stood up straight with the surprise.
That hurt even more, so I crouched again, but that wasn’t much help, so I sort of bent at my knees to counteract my twisted spine and put my neck vertical. I don’t recommend this posture as the ideal one in which to thread a new gear cable onto your bike’s rear derailleur, unless you’re doing it as some sort of performance art.
I spent the rest of the day walking round at a funny angle. Luckily the stairs curve up to the left into the flat, or I’d still have been in the garage this morning, instead of in bed, back fully healed but head steeped in a cold, desperate not to go to work.