07 March 2009

Things you find while cycling: money, shoes, knickers

You find all sorts of things when you're out cycling. You come across bits of change in the road all the time, especially for some reason at traffic lights. ASLs can be an unexpected cash cow. BP once found a five pound note at the Elephant and Castle roundabout, and occasionally you find a pound coin, but usually it's dirty old pennies.

I probably see about three or four pennies per week. I'm not superstitious - though I don't cycle under ladders if I can help it - but I'm aware of the old saying 'see a penny, pick it up and all day long you'll have good luck'.

I'm also aware that, if it takes me ten seconds to pick up and clean an encrusted penny, this works out as £3.60 per hour, which isn't even minimum wage. But I don't want to risk missing out on good luck, so I make a point of collecting these stray coppers, which means I'm £0.01 up on the day, and then buying a lottery ticket.

Only small change, I know, but these days, every little helps. A billion here, a billion there - it can soon add up.

But, more curiously, some cycle journeys are one long procession of mysteriously discarded small items of clothing. Some are on the road, others posted up on a railing in case the owner comes back to search for it.

In the space of two miles in Peckham last Thursday evening for example I encountered a red woolly glove, a hairband, a man's white sock and a pair of knickers. What narrative lay behind this trail of sundries-drawer debris I can only guess.

Well, today must have been Footwear Day. I was en route to the Oval Farmer's Market this morning. Within a hundred yards alongside Kennington Park I went past a high-heeled shoe in a front garden (top right), a shoe perched on the park railing (middle right), and a child's blue welly displayed on a wall (right).

The aftermath of a hopping event in the park? Spent missiles, recently hurled Bush-style at a passing politician? Kate Hoey is MP for Vauxhall, so I guess that's plausible.


  1. Fun to make lists of all the stuff you see on the side of the road (even roadkill!)

  2. Hi, Kimberly!

    We once had a cycling friend who collected overhead power line insulators while he was out on rides in the south of Scotland. These are ceramic things that look like doorknobs and which decorate power lines, and apparently fall off them now and then. He had a collection of several hundred.

    He may have been unique in this regard. I haven't seen collections of overhead power line insulators coming up on eBay, with rare examples especially prized.

    Still, at least he wasn't into collecting roadkill.

  3. Well, I've known people with one or two insulators. How you'd get a collection of hundreds I have no idea.

  4. He lived in Coldstream, and his house was full of the darned things. I suppose there's not too much else to do round there except go for bike rides and collect industrial ceramics.