bums and onions
Bums? Onions? What is the old fart talking about? She's talking about this, wombats, the arrival of the one, the disappearance of the other. First the bums, the arrivals; the dayglo lycra bums on bikes that is, many of them, all of them, in front of her, especially when she's going somewhere in a hurry. Do the dayglo lycra bums deign to get into single file? Rarely – they jostle in front of her, their owners' beetle-heads pressed down over the handlebars, muscles pulsing, legs pumping, bums not doing what normal people’s bums do, wobbling, there isn’t a wobble among this lot; it ain’t natural.
There’s always some bikes here; the island is like a large scale mini landscape, the kind people run toy cars on, but in this case large enough to run real people, real bikes. Up hill down dale, bends, straights; all very satisfactory if you are a cyclist, and in TRAINING. Very much IN TRAINING. Not so satisfactory if all you want to do is get from A to B. And are not interested in running cyclists down (oh God, the horror that would be; not least as a chance of getting to know the local police at much too close quarters; from inside a prison cell most likely. If for no other reason running cyclists down on a Spanish island is NOT a good idea.)
Many of the pro – or would-be pro - cyclists, many of the iron men (3 kilometer swim, 80 kilometre cycle, full marathon, they must be MAD) come here to train in winter, and this is the time of the year they arrive. Pro cyclists are unmistakable even off their bikes; shaved steel legs, tight steel bums. Granny used to like men with neat bums in that long ago time when she had a choice. But she doesn’t think she’d fancy these, even back view, let alone from the front. (Is there anything less erotic on a man than lycra cycling shorts? she doubts it.) Touching them must be like touching metal, touching flesh only pretending to be organic; robot flesh. Some women like them, evidently, but not her, especially when the bums are multiple, active – but only as machinery is active – dazzlingly multicoloured and right in front of her. FILLING UP THE ROAD. Oh what a nice tolerant person she is. (Yes, she knows she has complained about them before, but here she is at it again; why ever not? And, let's be clear, she's not talking about you, healthy exercise, bike amateurs, she's been one herself in other times. She is talking about the pros; the logo lycra-ed ones, that come in flocks, like starlings.)
And the second thing - the disappearing onions? Another feature of the island, onions are one of its main crops, along with potatoes. They have been since god knows when. There is a description by a visiting ornithologist in the 1920’s of what looked like the entire population of the island down at the old port packing them up and loading them into boats. Very squalid he found it. (This was not a man who took to this island.) At most other times of the year you see them all over, in fields, piled up on the edges of fields, being jammed into lorries, being carried round to every food shop on the island. Each and every vegetable section is full of them. Granny buys them gladly. Apart from her liking onions, these haven't travelled too many food miles; not so much as one mile, more like 20 metres, when they come from the garden of her neighbours. (She doesn't even have to buy those.)
But at this time of the year, as the cyclists arrive, they're off. The only onions on sale are those large Spanish onions, some of them rather past it; a bit like Granny. She doesn’t like to be reminded of decay - hers or any other kind - in quite this way. She almost prefers the cycling bums. (Well almost.) If she could do without onions, she would, but she can’t. Garlic and onions are as much HER as cycling lyra gear isn’t.
(Except, oh dear, except: Granny has had a sudden guilty thought. Some time she will tell you about her wet suit. Which is quite another matter, of course it is. Even though it's just as tight – almost tighter – than the day-glo lycra. She will have to feel very strong to tell you about her wet suit, wombats, almost as strong as she has to be to put it on; let alone to to get it off. Her flesh is not like steel. Nor ever was. Maybe you would prefer the cyclists. Even thinking about her wet suit, she is inclined to think she does. She definitely prefers the onions.)
Oh - a hasty change of subject…..She has been scooped up by a system called Stumbleupon. Which, on being told she liked animation (the film kind) has sent a lot of it her way; if she is not very careful she will never post another word, wasting her time with such as this. She gives it to you in turn - especially she gives it to those who've ever lived, as she did once, in a flat, in a house with inadequately sound-proofed floors. ENJOY. (Did you?)