I have some photos on my desktop I’m dying to share. The first is of a lady of indigenous Dutch appearance, stealing a boost from her “immigrant” looking friend on a moped. I took this in Rotterdam last week. If ever you have cycled in Holland and had your bubble burst by some Hungarian lad on a moped, spoiling your cliches, you could be forgiven for generalising about scum from down South coming in and stuffing up bike paths. But then remember, you were the outsider, with foreign perceptions. I doubt these two ladies give much though at all to immigrants ruining things with their motors.
The next is of someone window shopping in Paris. I have been watching the various ways people shop with their bikes. Do they stay in the saddle or push it? Do they chain up, take it in or rest their bike in the doorway? Are they self conscious about holding a bike or are they oblivious? Is their bike utilitarian like the one pictured, or a contrivance the way our clothes are often contrived when we’re shopping for clothes?
Next I photographed two freaking imbeciles looking at the Pompidou Centre on these things, and must confess to thinking they are the ideal bikes for viewing flawed technological buildings. They can’t be good for much else. I suspected the guy on the right was providing a one-on-one tour to some zillionaire without the slightest sense of irony or connection with civilisation.
The way this next guy is dressed reminds us that in Paris, the street is a theatre, especially for cyclists. I should preface this claim by saying I have never been to Milan. Neither have I seen London since the bike craze hit there. But I will claim nonetheless that Parisian cyclists are the most particularly dressed in the world. And yes, that is the Paris Opera he is riding toward.
I did get carried away photographing the Pompidou Centre with parked bikes in the foreground, especially when I noticed the building has giant lugs. I must remind myself though, that of the world’s current crop of big famous architects, Renzo Piano is the least bike friendly of all. He designs buildings that look like bike racks, then seems to leave the owners with instructions not to let bikes within fifty meters.
The last photo is of the most beautiful Brompton I’ve seen—never mind that it doesn’t have the titanium forks and rear triangle. But a copper Brooks saddle, with copper rails, combined with leather grips and that pale olive green… my god the French have an eye for this stuff!
Signing off now. I’m in Nîmes tonight, heading off to Marseille tomorrow for a night in Le Corbusier’s Unité d’habitation, then on to Barcelona. Thanks for reading. Stay interesting darlings.