Saturday, 4 August 2012

The things they carried

Reading: One Day by David Nicholls
Listening to: Florence + The Machine "No Light, No Light"
Weather: Eh. (At least it's not raining. D'oh, I just said it!)

Having now gone for almost seven  (!) years without driving, I have learned the ins and outs of Pedestrian Existence. It's not just existence, though - it is a different way of being. It is very much living, being at the whim of roads and pavements and traffic lights and the elements. Here are a few things I've learned in my time travelling on foot:

- There's no end to the money you can save (when it's pouring down rain, and you are in a hurry, go on, just keep telling yourself that)

- Buses are for wimps. And people who have to travel further than a 45-minute walk.

- There are only so many things that you can carry. When it's pouring down rain, and you have just come out of the local shop with a 2-litre of milk, and you are trying to put your cheap umbrella back up and it is just wanting to fall apart, your hair is in your eyes (because today, of all days, you thought you'd show your more sexy side and wear your hair down), and you are also trying to put your Ipod nano earbuds in your ear because there is a song on that you just can't wait to finish listening to, because, hell, you only have about a six-minute walk and then you're in your door, when you're doing all this, at some point, something can, and will, fall out of your hands. The umbrella, the ipod, the earbuds, or the 2-litre of milk. Hopefully it will only be the milk. The milk bounces. This has been proven.

- When you have gone to the shop, or all-out grocery shopping, and you are carrying two shopping bags full of food (essentials: wine, milk, bread, and Coco Pops), remember that they get heavier as you go. Distribute things. Put things in your overlarge canvas shoulder bag, which you use as a handbag because it's both trendy and functional. If you have better posture than me, construct a wicker basket and put it on your head, and go like that. Again, proven.

- It's not a matter of walking: it's a matter of the time it takes to get there. You can always change shoes when you get there.

- Fashionable waterproof footwear is very rarely ever really waterproof. Step in a puddle to find out. Or better yet, don't.

- Your calves will hurt. My, oh my, will they hurt. But give it a few months. The pain goes away. Eventually you'll look like a footballer/soccer player, and you will also look better in short skirts. If you are a guy, you will look like you work out, because essentially, walking is a workout.

- If you are of the writerly persuasion, walking gives you built-in time to notice the flowers growing on someone's porch roof. The little dog that always wags its tail when you walk up past its gate, sticking his nose out every morning at the world as it goes by. The woman with a Costa mug, half asleep, as she walks down the street to her car, at exactly 7:31 every morning. The way the sun comes up high over Doncaster College as you cross the footbridge, cars glistening with morning rain, the quilted patchwork of wet and dry pavement. The proud Union Jack that's never still, on the top of the St. George's Minster. The quiet of the world as it's waking up.

- Riding in an offered car for company: important. You can easily get lost in yourself, and your friends and family who offer you rides every now and then are there to keep you in check, so you don't entirely lose your social skills. Accept a lift when you can.

So if you get a chance today, why not go for a walk?

Happy Saturday, all!

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