« | Home | »

‘Cripes look out!’

Tags: | | | |

Cyclists, unlike motorists or pedestrians, tend to notice other cyclists. When I was working as a bike messenger, Jon Snow was an almost permanent fixture of Gray’s Inn Road, shuttling to and from the ITN building. I saw David Cameron, for all his eco-trumpeting, only once. He was going down Whitehall with the telltale wobble of the amateur enthusiast. There was a car following, though whether it contained a change of clothes and briefcase I couldn’t say.

And then there was Boris Johnson. A regular pick-up from the Angel going to Burlington House on the Strand would send me down Rosebery Avenue, where I’d often see him emerging from Amwell Street. On a particularly slow and dismal day I chased him down and said: ‘Giz a job.’

‘What do you want to do?’ he muttered as we rode down Farringdon Road, he on the inside, me circling to his right.

‘I want to write,’ I said.

It’s a strange thing to harangue a man on a bicycle. He can’t get away, and conversation has to be conducted with one eye on the road. ‘Cripes look out!’ he said – does the mask never slip? – as a bus (bendy) swerved towards us. I felt I was using the traffic to threaten him, assaulting him in an environment in which he wasn’t overly confident, and it seemed to work. ‘Email Matthew d’Ancona at the Spectator,’ he shouted as I swerved right up Clerkenwell Road and he continued down towards the river.

It seemed apposite that the exchange took place over the entombed River Fleet. I never did email the Spectator. What would I have said? After he became mayor, I saw Johnson less often, but once, on Cleveland Street, he crossed my path again. We spotted the ambush of photographers at the same time. I rode on, the wrong way down a one-way street. The mayor was obliged to get off and walk.

Comments on “‘Cripes look out!’”

  1. jefffromclapham says:

    I can always think ‘Good old Boris’ when I see him gallantly cycling in his suit. Just the other day I saw him position himself well in front of an advanced stop line – a sensible health and safety decision. He gave the bus driver behind him a cheery wave that said more or less “yes, I know it’s against the law but I know you’ll understand” Very eloquent hands our Mayor. I try not to think about his voting record or that speech in Bejing. Just discovered your courier blog – excellent stuff. I’ll enjoy catching up on the archive.

Comment on this post

Log in or register to post a comment.


  • Recent Posts

    RSS – posts

  • Contributors

  • Recent Comments

    • Higgs Boatswain on Cold War Ghosts: Although the paranoid fear of the Russian East is undoubtedly a deep-seated nightmare in the psyche of the liberal West, it is not quite so cliched as...
    • Stu Bry on Trump and the Doomsday Machine: Surely the death knell for MAD was the US withdrawal from the ABM treaty in 2002? Reagan had Alzheimers and was under the influence of Teller. Bush...
    • Jeremy Bernstein on Trump and the Doomsday Machine: Let me endorse "The Atomic Cafe'. The test that is described was one of the ones I saw in 1957 in which soldiers were marched the "ground zero" and so...
    • IPFreely on Trump and the Doomsday Machine: So what about a remake of Dr. Strangelove before reality closes in on us? For a very good summary of the nuclear arms race viewed from the American...
    • streetsj on Trump and the Doomsday Machine: Ironically Trump's irrational unpredictability improves the deterrent effect of nuclear weapons. Putin has successfully anticipated that the West woul...

    RSS – comments

  • Contact

  • Blog Archive

Advertisement Advertisement