Wednesday, January 7, 2015


I am having a wholesale clear-out of items large and small as I prepare for a down-sizing move in the new year. At first it was easy to weed out stuff I didn't need, didn't want, didn't like. Now it's getting harder to decide what else can go. I am looking at this sculpture with a calculating eye.

As a youngster in London AJ was a keen touring cyclist. When we came out to New Zealand and he became a family man with a wife, children, a house and garden, and a job with terrible hours, the only biking he did was the kilometre or so up the road to the bus stop. He forgot all about cycling (which, note, is different from biking to the bus stop).

Fast-forward three decades, a few changes of occupation and a move from the North to the South Island of the country and arrival in Christchurch, the then city of bicycles. AJ joined the Canterbury Recreational Cycling Club (CRCC) and soon became a stalwart of the club, eventually becoming its captain, magazine editor and general go-to guy and elder statesman.

He was especially kind to cycling tourists from all over the world whom he usually found standing by the roadside looking anxiously at maps spread over handlebars. He would arrive home followed by two or three of these lost souls and before they had peeled off their outer gear I would have opened the freezer and worked out what I could defrost.  Cyclists are ravenous creatures and eat whatever can be chipped loose from the bowels of the freezer provided it can be defrosted and buttered, grilled, stewed or ladled over steaming macaroni. I could dispose of anything remotely edible simply by heaping plates with it and standing well back out of the way.

Those were invigorating times when we had streams of such visitors who filled up our small cottage and wolfed down our food, pitched tents on our lawn or unrolled their sleeping bags and curled up in corners, and then went home and sent us postcards from all over the world.  Eventually AJ retired from the CRCC and they gave him the sculpture which was constructed entirely from bicycle bits by some club members. And now I am looking at it.

Pablo Picasso made a bull’s head from two bicycle bits, it is probably worth an eye-watering number of millions of dollars, and you have to go to Paris to see it. You know what?  I like ours better. It stays.


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