The cycling is already making a huge difference to my well-being and I’ve even lost a couple of pounds, so that’s all good. But there was no bike ride yesterday as we went to visit my granddaughter. It was great to see her; she’s doing very well and constructing fairly complex sentences. We took her a couple of books and she let me read them to her, which is an advance – not having seen us much in the last year she’s been a bit wary. On the way back we counted the number of abandoned tyres on the motorway – between here and Doncaster, a distance of about 64 miles, there were 54! 54 abandoned tyres! How does this happen? And why are they left there? When all other debris is gathered up from an accident, why are there so many abandoned tyres propped up or lying against the central reservation? I think we should be told. When we got to Junction 23 we found it was closed due to road works so we discovered a delightful diversion via J 22 by way of the B591, a lovely twisty road that takes you through Charnwood and right into Loughborough.
I’m very keen on B roads; they’re a much-neglected feature of our infrastructure and often way more interesting than A roads. They’re definitely nicer than motorways, and the time you ‘save’ going by motorway (although that ‘saving’ is a dubious benefit) is amply compensated by the interest of the journey. B roads have a history which motorways lack; they’re often built on Roman roads (we used to live on the old Fosse Way) and you can observe the houses, the farms and the countryside. This is nothing, of course, to what cycling shows you; going to Quorn the other day, even though I was mostly riding alongside the A6, I could observe the hedgerows as I went past and enjoy the blossom. I have a feeling that someone’s written a book about the joys of B roads, but I could be wrong: unfortunately all Google shows me are the Norfolk Broads.
What does it mean, anyway, to save time? I guess it means spending less time doing the things you don’t enjoy in order to spend more time doing the things you like. But do we? Have you ever added up the time you’ve saved and asked yourself what you’ve done with it? Albert Camus had this idea that the best way to appreciate time was to stand in a queue and leave when you get to the end of it. That doesn’t sound particularly positive to me, but I do try when standing in a queue to appreciate the time and notice what’s around me or observe my thoughts, rather than getting impatient. Of course I could probably have saved time by using a different checkout but what would I do with that golden minute I’d saved?
Maybe every evening we should count up the time we’ve saved and do something definite with it. Play the piano, learn a language, take up a new hobby. Or maybe just do nothing at all…
I’ll leave you with a quote I came across the other day in the Guardian:
‘Being a productive member of society is now a 24-hour project that consumes all the space needed for inner development.’
I may come back to this in another post.