Country lanes and old films - Margaret Rutherford pedalling intensely, Face screwed up, hat rammed on her head; The Wicked Witch of the West, in her Kansas persona, With Toto, kidnapped! Then there's Jeanne Moreau, sweeping downhill in a spiral (With Jules and Jim of course) And all those stiff-upper-lipped ladies, Managing, while the men are away at the War. It's historic, this bike, so black, so sit-up-and-beg That it fills my head with other people's images.

Not mine.
Mine would be a battered boy's bike
Passed down from a brother
(I inherited his shorts as well)
And a mother who, somehow, was always indoors
Struggling to master an old Triplex cooker
Or salting runner-beans in a big crock
Or bottling plums.

I could never have managed the way she did
But I wish sometimes
(Looking back)
That she had had a bike like this
And gone with us to speed around the lanes,
Whizzing down the hills with her feet off the pedals,
Laughing, and carefree, and young again.

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