The world according to Terry - Jimmy Carter thinks I'm a sinner - CycleBlaze

February 14, 2007

The world according to Terry

'We would roam around eastern England at a speed we found excessive and with a lack of dignity that those who saw us found disturbing.'
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There used to be a bunch of us on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Dignified old gentlemen rendered otherwise by Lycra fixation. And we would collect around 10am outside a café at a garden centre near Norwich before roaming around eastern England at a speed we found excessive and with a lack of dignity that those who saw us found disturbing.

Philosophy was our strong point, and the consumption of sticky buns in industrial quantities. Strong on both points was a tall, dark-haired man called Terry, who had a talent for discovering things the rest of us had merely thought of in passing and turning them into great voyages of expansive thinking.

"You know," he announced one day as the crumbs fell around him and his third mug of tea swirled in a circle of bubbles by his elbow, "the best thing about getting on a bit is that young girls think you're Safe."

"They do?" we asked, struck by this novel assertion which we weren't sure was good or bad.

"Yes," said Terry. "When you get older than young girls' fathers, and when you're nearly as old as their grandfathers, they're quite happy to talk to you. When you're younger, they won't, because they think they'll get leched over. But when you get on a bit, they think that leching is beyond you and so they'll sit and chat. And inwardly you can lech as much as you like."

We thought that was wonderful news. We had to a man been stung years back when Jimmy Carter had announced that merely to look at a woman as sinful thoughts passed across you was adultery. And we had practised mental adultery as a life form.

Terry could talk, of course. He had been a teacher and married one of his pupils - after both had safely left school, I should add - and used to refer to this method of acquiring a younger woman as Growing Your Own.

One night I found myself sitting at an evening class next to a girl with long flowing hair, a disturbing smile, melting eyes and the most intriguing husky accent. Nobody else had spoken to her and we all thought she was Spanish. But that night I saw she had a Romanian dictionary and, in the long-practised manner of boy-meets-girl, I wrote a note and slid it across to her.

"Are you Romanian?"

It came back straight away.

"Da", she had written.

I'd never knowingly met a Romanian. I couldn't have dependably found Romania on a map. But through Cornelia, I met an improbable number of Romanians for a medium-sized city and because of her I read the country's history and grew a fascination for the place.

I looked at Cornelia with Jimmy Carter eyes. She looked back at someone Safe To Talk To.

Cornelia has long since returned to Romania but my intrigue with the place never left me. I was going to ride there last year and I would have done had I not ridden across America instead. Or some of it, as you'll see on "Half way (not intentionally) across America" on this very site.

Well, today is Valentine's Day. It is a good day to think of Cornelia. Will she still be there when I get there? Will she care? Will I?

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