Monday, 10 March 2008

Reply from the Pootling Society! The Pootling Society replied!

This morning an email arrived from the administrator of the Pootling Society. She is a fine and upstanding internetian from Oxford with excellent epistolary skills. Here is an extract from her email:

Having been an avid recumbent cyclist for many years, it became clear to me that just as every individual approaches life in their own way, so too are there different philosophies regarding cycling. The most notable cliques within the cycling sorority are:

1. THE GEEKY GIRLS: Those who are more interested in their machines and the gadgets that go with them, than in actually riding anywhere.

2. THE SPEED-FREAKS: Those who are solely interested in competitive time-trials in which they either try to 'beat' others or themselves.

3. THE POOTLERS: Those who enjoy nothing better than meeting up on a Sunday morning for a café breakfast and then mooching through the countryside at a leisurely pace until reaching the local pub.

Within the women's cycling groups that I've ridden in, there tend to be a mixture of people from all 3 cliques, and this creates imbalance within the group...the geeks boring the pants off everyone else by harping on and on about their latest purchase; the lycra-clad speed-freaks zooming off into the distance and losing the rest of the pack; and the pootlers (like me) rolling aimlessly through the English countryside enjoying getting completely lost, much to the frustration of the others.

So I thought I'd start a local group where one's general philosophy (both towards cycling and life) was a pre-requisite, although the site wasn't intended to be just about cycling, as there are, of course, many other pursuits and past-times which can certainly be pootled at."


I will be happy to consider your suggestion of featuring G.K. Chesterton on the site. It would be lovely if there is an image of him riding a bicycle, of course, but if not then I may be able to persuade my illustrator to create something (I'm a graphic designer by trade).

So, you know what to do, comrades. Find images of G. K. Chesterton on a bicycle. The Pootling Society needs you.


TimT said...

I am unaware of the existence of any such photographs, and think GK probably preferred to be taken by train, such was his girth. However, I quote from Wikipedia:

He usually wore a cape and a crumpled hat, with a swordstick in hand, and had a cigar hanging out of his mouth. Chesterton often forgot where he was supposed to be going and would miss the train that was supposed to take him there. It is reported that on several occasions he sent a telegram to his wife from some distant (and incorrect) location, writing such things as "Am at Market Harborough. Where ought I to be?" to which she would reply, "Home."[7]

I also feel that I should point out, at this juncture (if a little predictably on my part), C S Lewis wrote an essay entitled 'Talking about Bicycles' expressing rather pootle-some sentiments.

Your Pootling Correspondent,


eyrie said...

She sounds like a very nice Pootling enthusiast indeed. It is pleasing also to learn that the Pootling Society has its headquarters within such easy reach of the Cotswolds, which would be one of the ideal Pootling environments, I imagine.

Certainly, if Tim can't find a photo of Chesterton on a bicycle it probably doesn't exist, but I did discover during a spot of sedentary, internet-infused pootling the other day that Chesterton has an extensive presence on Facebook, although the enthusiasts there tend to favour the photo with the small child and no bicycles were evident on a cursory inspection.

Wikipedia has raised a most omnious question: is the railway possibly the natural enemy of pootling and the pootler or does it enable more extensive and eccentric pootling?

Hugo the Hippo said...

Railways are indeed the enemy. We need to go back to transporting goods by canal, which probably means only transporting goods in places where there is water to fill canals. Canals have towpaths, perfect for two-wheeled recumbent pootling, and the return of draught horses would surely provide a scenic anditote to either shiny accessories or speed-freakery. Just don't cycle underneath them (the horses, but I suppose also the canals) at the wrong moment.

eyrie said...

Certainly any prospective pootler would want that towpath to be complete.

TimT said...

Don't have any problem with trains myself. Find them to make quite charming and rakish companions... ;) Their habit of going down unexpected lines and ending up in strange places would aid one in one's pootling efforts, I imagine; it would only be annoying to the daily commuters.

eyrie said...

Yes, but there is a (delightful, although possibly misguided) tradition of anti-train curmudgeonry among nineteenth-century literateurs given to wandering, even though they themselves frequently did take advantage of the convenience steam conveyances provided.
Ruskin, for instance, while acknowledging that one might have to use the railway under certain circumstances, would also delight in travelling along the pre-railway carriage routes, with his books in a bathtub fastened to the roof of his equipage.
It is indeed fun to explore unexpected lines, but, alas, the NSW railways are very dear and very amply supplied with stern ticket inspectors.