Thursday, August 30, 2007


Look! I know that I have lost weight over the past two years whilst I have been on assignment to the Thames Ditton office, but not enough so as to make me actually invisible! I am beginning to wonder if Hawaiian shirts and ringing of bicycle bells are somehow a form of stealth here in Surrey. I can only suss-out that either this is the case or that there are some truly rude and/or stupid people here in Surrey.

Today's tirade is brought to you by not one, but two groups of idiotic pedestrians who obstructed the cycle paths yesterday during my rides. Had it happened only once, I could have excused it… but I'm getting ahead of myself.

Ding - Ding

The two cyclists about ten yards ahead of me rang their bells as they approached the gaggle of giggling women walking along the tow path. As they broke their four-abreast line and marched in twos on one half of the path, one of them looked straight at me. The two cyclists made their way through the opening and the walkers closed up ranks and returned to imposing their presence across the entire width of the path.

Ding I rang my bell as I approached from behind. No effect!

Ding - Ding
No effect!

Ding! Crunch! The last was my tires braking to stop behind the quartet. I could not have gone around them because I was at a part of the path where there was a tree to one side and a three-inch tall rude curb made out of the turf and dirt off to the side of the path where the path had been graded. I could not go off either side of the path at that point. So I braked and came to a stop behind the four of them.

Had they not been drifting left to right and back again I could have made it between them. But they were apparently doing everything in their power to obstruct the path from anyone else' use.

"My Word!" the one on my right said with a start, apparently noticing me for the first time. "Don't you have a bell?"

By this time, I had rolled through the gap she created for me and was accelerating away. "I do!" I replied. "I rang it repeatedly after you looked at me and then got into my path!" Any response she made was unheard as I accelerated away. Had that been it, there would have been no reason for me to write about it today but later yesterday afternoon, it happened again!

Well, no. Actually, the second time was even worse than the first. I could have excused the first as someone being oblivious or rude; impressing the fact that pedestrians have the right-of-way on the tow path (even though it is a marked cycle route), the second time, I had the right-of-way and the offending gaggle was facing me so they could not even claim ignorance of my presence.

This time, there was a trio of tarts. (I assume they were tarts. They may have been perfectly innocent prostitutes, dressed the way they were.) I encountered the bitches of Eastwick as I was riding down the cycle lane along the Hampton Court Lane.

As I was riding along the path, the trio came walking my way from the direction of the station. They were chatting, and laughing and shooting glances in my direction the entire time. (Which is good, I suppose, as it was the direction in which they were walking.) I slowed as it became apparent that they had no intention of moving over to their side of the path. We met where I could not get around them as there was a signal box to one side of the path and a fence to their side.

I screeched my brakes stopping and came to a stop so that my bicycle obstructed the entire cycle path. They were less than a foot from me and they came to a stop. (Had this been the old west, we'd have been in a Mexican standoff!) They stared at me.

"You're in our way. Move!" one of them demanded.

"You're obstructing the cycle path." I said, pointing at the bicycle icon painted on the path.

"You don't own the path!" another one said

"You're right." I agreed. "I do have the right-of-way, however. This is the Cycle Path. You saw me coming. You should have stepped back across the line to the footpath."

"Fuck off!" another one of them said.

"Nice!" I retorted. "By the way, your costume for the fancy dress party is complete. People would truly believe you're a tart with language like that!"

"Well, I never!" she sputtered.

"Dressed like that? I can't believe it!"

"Fuck off! Asshole!" another retorted.

"Now we see the benefit of an elementary school education!" I offered. "Such a broad command of the language you have! By the way, you've already used the 'Fuck off' repartee."

"Move!" the one in front of me demanded again.

"I have nowhere to be this afternoon…" I rested my bike tire against the traffic signal control box, squeezed the brakes and rested on the saddle of my bike to wait. "We'll see who gets bored first." At this point I put on my earphones and started my mp3 player. Out of the corner of my eye I saw them consult and finally walk around me on the foot path. I heard a number of things (or barely did) that I am certain were meant as insults. (I take that interpretation based on the hand gestures that accompanied them…)

They finally made their way around be (in the foot path) and went on their way. I have no idea how middle school children get so rude (or can afford such trampy clothing) but I suspect is has something to do with their parents.

I wonder why someone would think that an insult unheard and un-reacted to is in any way effective. But there it is. They left - probably to tell their other trollop friends about the rude American who refused to stand in the street and let them pass. Little did they know that I can tell far more people than they about their rudeness.

Wherever you are today, I hope that all the people you meet are pleasant to deal with!

Don Bergquist - 30 August 2007 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK

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