19 March 2009

Letter from Waterloo to Parris

Matthew Parris's shabby diatribe against cyclists last year was the most-complained-about press item of 2008, we learned yesterday. When I read someone's rant against 'smug cyclists' such as that, I don't feel smug. I just feel pleased with myself because I'm clearly superior to them.

Take last night for instance. At 6.30pm, in south-central London, we suddenly had some urgent mail that had to catch the last post. The internet wasn't much help in finding late-delivery postboxes. Royal Mail's site has no helpful information at all; a personal website usefully suggested Waterloo and Nine Elms but looked out of date.

I cycled to Waterloo, to find I'd just missed the final 6.45pm collection at the postbox on the station concourse (right). The postbox says there's a 7.30pm collection at the sorting office on Nine Elms Lane. So I hurtled there, but en route at about 6.55pm saw a Post Office van and a friendly postie collecting from the box on Embankment, so gave the item directly to him. Job done.

Easy with a bike... but on this tight schedule, impossible by public transport or car, and you can't stop a vehicle on Embankment to nip across the road and give your letter to Postman Pat. Perhaps with two people and a car you could do it - one driving, one running out and finding postboxes - but using resources of such military proportions to transport a single letter seems bonkers. I like the sheer physical pleasure of riding a bike, but I also like its efficiency. I've never been a fan of wasting resources, so I'm not going to waste smugness either.

Mind you, I was one of the people who complained about that Parris brainstorm, so I might invest a little there.


  1. I feel the 'smugness' gets worse.. the more benefits you find with cycling the more smug you get. It's quite easy to get 'smug' if you 'beat ferrari's' stuck in jams and just being a lot healthier and rosy cheeked as opposed to the rather sour and pale looking BMW motorist. This smugness tends to immediately stop when something falls off my bicycle. Yesterday, my mirror came off and the day before my pannier, all in front of plenty of witnesses. The trick is 'not to look smug' or you will fall flat on your face. You have to laugh at yourself, what else can you do! Velochick

  2. I think I'll get myself a T-shirt printed up (via www.vistaprint.co.uk - they're only a few quid) with 'I'm not smug. I'm just pleased because I'm superior to you' in letters large and clear enough to be ready by someone in a car and busy with their mobile.

    And then, maybe on the back for when I fall off, 'oh shit'...