Another cartoon from my notebook, scribbled in a Warrington coffee house the other day. For once, it’s inspired by real life.
Because they’re trendy, enlightened, and possibly part Scandinavian, Warrington Council tries to encourage cycling. Go to their website and download the cycle routes. They have plenty. The council encourage people to travel to the town along other cycle routes that pass through the local nature reserves. Those nature reserves follow the paths of the old canals built by cold eyed industrialists but now in the hands of an even stricter group of people: fishermen, who block the paths with forty foot rods that wouldn’t have looked out of place strapped to Ernest Hemingway. It’s one of these canals I occasionally ride whenever I need new art supplies.
The only problem is that once you’re beyond a very well-tended part of Warrington’s cycle routes, towards the edges of the county, the council don’t really take as much care about the quality of the cycle routes or where their routes pass. And like the geniuses that can only emerge in the public sector, Warrington Council have put their ever-so-family-friendly cycle route right down a lane whose only other occupants are cruising homosexuals, dogging couples, and prostitutes servicing their clients into the shallow woodland. Apparently, the place is well known for genital pleasures and it’s advertised quite widely on the internet. What makes it worse, however, is that the Council, in their wisdom, have stuck a turnstyle at the entrance to this lane and it’s at this turnstyle that all the cruisers, doggers, and prozzers park, chat, and prepare to do business. It’s also where all cyclists have to climb off their bikes and navigate the parked cars and people with strange looks in their eyes. Families ride the route but the council don’t seem to care. They must consider it part of the ‘educational’ element of the route. I know I’ve learned a few things since I started to ride that lane. One is never to look left nor right or stop to tell somebody the time.
I recently tried to avoid the lane, taking the nearby main A-road, but had an accident that ended with my being gently nudged off the road by a low loader carrying two JDB diggers. I think the low loader didn’t come away unscathed and I only suffered severe lacerations to my knees. I now try to travel the cycle route early in the morning but it’s still strange to be cycling along to suddenly see some thin, emancipated woman, prematurely aged from drug use, emerge from the shrubbery followed by some lank haired taxi driver with a moustache straight from 1970s casting checking that his fly is up and giving you a hateful look because you’re there to see his indiscretion. Alternatively, you might see a strange couple, dressed in unsuitable attire for rambling (high heels, short skirt heavy make-up… and his wife’s dressed no better), standing with a camera pretending to be photographing a dandelion until you’ve passed. Or you find yourself propositioned by a man standing with his hands deep in his trenchcoat lurking in the shadow of the copse…
Which brings me to the point of today’s post. Even if I was that way inclinded: a cruising homosexual, a dogger, or a man who uses prostitutes, what on earth would possess me to get intimate with a stranger in such a miserable spot of woodland? I wouldn’t even eat my packed lunch surrounded by insects, rotting vegetation, and the fly tipped rubbish of various housing estates. Why would I want to drop my trousers in that place? What on earth attracts these people to such a miserable stretch of lane, used by cyclists and the occasional rambler? Perhaps it’s another dimension to human sexuality that I don’t understand: like women who want to read ‘50 Shades of Grey’ or the middle-aged mothers who lust after Peter Dinklage.
I do know that it’s a weird world and it’s only getting weirder.