Monday, 24 September 2007
In Tandem With Bryson
Last week I attended at a charity cycle ride around Durham, accompanied on my tandem by the simply adorable Bill Bryson.
Bill agreed to step in at the last minute when Judy fell foul of her troublesome knee which, you all know, has never been right since she ran the London marathon back in 1987. You might say it was a bit of a blessing. Judy can be too competitive at times, whereas Bill was happy to coast merrily along. He’s also a laugh a minute, though this did lead to a few dicey moments when he took his eye off the road. But even when the brakes failed and we were heading for a ditch, Bill still managed to retain his whimsy. ‘There’s nothing like an English hedgerow,’ he said as we weaved between traffic and sped uncontrollable down the hill. ‘It prevents serious accidents as though God himself had planted cushion bushes down every English by-lane’.
A minute later, Bill was picking leaves from his beard while I took a look at the brakes. It’s then that I discovered that somebody had tampered with the locking nut. Bill thought it was just bad luck but I’d earlier eyeballed Des Lynam hanging around the bike racks with a spanner. I told Bill that I wouldn’t stand for it.
‘Nobody tampers with my nuts,’ I said.
But Bill, being Bill, soon managed to calm me down.
‘What would England be if it weren’t for slightly eccentric TV presenters with a compulsion to do evil?’ he asked and I had to admit that he had a point. ‘Come on, Dick,’ he said, patting my on my back. ‘We’ll go and have a pint of cider in a lovely old-fashioned pub and I’ll tell you some stories about my hilarious adventures with Cornish tin miners.’
Which is precisely what I did and why I’ve been hung over for the last week.
So, now I’m back, and how about some bumper Bill Bryson facts? Did you know that Bill is the country’s most popular author, having sold three books to every man, woman, and child? Such is Bill’s success, he’s being held responsible for a forest the size of Glasgow disappearing every day but, to counter this, he personally plants nearly a thousand new trees each week at his own private oak forest outside Birmingham. It there, on weekends, that he dresses in nothing but Loxley green and likes to be called Robin. Less well know is that fact that Bill has the biggest collection of beard-related literature in the world. He also collects vintage wirelesses on which he listens to broadcasts of old 1950s radio. And did you also know that Bill never flies to homeland of America. He works his voyage on merchant ships being a fully trained coxswain and able to hold his breath under water for several minutes.