The Obald – Episode 13

After a productive weekend with the band, Ronnie keeps his head down when the office starts to buzz. At lunch, Melody discusses an exit strategy. The thought so distracts Ronnie that his bike journey home ends in disaster.


Bike handling. The older I get, the more nervous I am about doing things like descending even small mountains on my bike. I’ve never liked the lean when it comes to cornering, and I grip the brake levers desperately, afraid of what might happen if I pick up too much speed. In reality, I’ve been a cyclist for a long old time, and my bike handling is pretty good. In well over 50 years of riding a bike, I can remember only one or two incidents. There was the time I went over the handlebars and landed on my face. And the time I was caught unawares by the weight and unwieldiness of my ebike and did my ankle.

And yet on other occasions, I’ve managed really quite scary and sudden manoeuvres and kept myself upright. I was doing about 20mph one time, on the way to work on my ebike when a fucking deer suddenly jumped out from the side of the lane and I somehow managed to avoid it, stay upright, and brake safely for the upcoming junction. I’ve always felt that the French road sign warning about this kind of thing was far more accurate than the static British version.

The landing-on-my-face incident was not really so much about bike handling as it was about the stupidity of a man in his 20s. When I lived and worked in MK, I was in the habit of cycling home from work (six miles, back in the day) without touching the brakes. That’s right: I was deliberately trying to cycle in such a way that I never needed to use my brakes, except right at the end, when I freewheeled down to my house and came to a halt.

So I’m cycling home, and part of my route takes me along the cycle path next to the Milton Keynes Bowl. The cycle paths in MK are called Redways. So I’m not even on a road, I’m on a cycle path. But! There were nevertheless some surface repairs or other works happening, and part of the path was dug up. The surface changed from smooth red tarmac to a rough stony path with a couple of big bumps up and down from the regular surface. And I’m (still) trying to ride without touching my brakes. Over the handlebars I went, landing on my face. Three stitches. It’s still easier to grow a beard than to try to shave that bit of my chin.

My small tribute to the green eyed doctor who gave me the three stitches is to put her in this chapter, tending to Ronnie, who wonders how it is that he keeps encountering such beautiful women. How indeed.

Melody takes Ronnie to get a passport photo taken, which reminds me of another stupid thing I did in my 20s. I was applying for my first passport, so I went to Woolies to use the photo booth. And I decided, on the spur of the moment, to do the picture in moody black and white. I was also wearing dark glasses when I got in the booth, remembering to whip them off at the last moment. So that was my passport photo for 10 years: a black and white head and shoulders shot of me looking somewhat startled, and wearing a black shirt and a leather tie with a piano key design. LOL. I told you I was in my 20s.

For 10 years, every time someone saw my passport they would ask why the picture was taken in black and white. “I didn’t realise you were that old.”


A revised ebook of The Obald is available:



Other territories are available.

The paperback edition has also been updated and revised.

UK store:

US store:

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