Kolly Wobble – a toy octopus who has come to life and is a friend of both Jay Diamond and Rex Proctor, another pair of toys – is out for a fifty-mile Sunday cycle ride. It is an impressive/unbelievable/What-The-Hell-Am-I-Doing-Up-This-Early? 6.45am. She is surprised that not many of the other people awake and abroad seem to notice her, particularly with the lurid fluorescent quality to her lycra, which must be hurting their eyes; she is riding a converted tandem; and she can swap around to use any tentacle to push the pedals. (Such is the on-the-tube-to-work mentality of society these days, even the fact she is a toy octopus come to life does not provoke any interest.)
This lack of observational skills might explain why a zombie (the name she's given anyone brain-dead enough not to concentrate or care what is happening on the road) hurtles onto a roundabout and only swerves and brakes when Kolly bellows a few choice obscenities regarding the woman's similarity to a defecating anus.
When Kolly calms down and gets out into the countryside, she finds other perils are also flirting with her, but they of a different quality. 4x4s leave little space and monster-sized tractors zoom along as fast as they can with little regard for anyone, let alone cyclists. A bramble-filled ditch, cunningly disguised as solid ground, causes her to scratch herself when she pops behind a bush for a call of nature. But there are compensations – even for the unexpected cold.
The sky is clear and the dawn sun casts long shadows over dew-laden meadows, grazed by cattle seemingly welded out of white and black sections. With such quality to the light, the damp grass takes on an endless variety of emerald-and-gold hues, the stubble of the corn fields have a bronze sheen and the woods a complex mix of dark-Prussian greens and blues. Early-rising farmers are ploughing and the air has an earthy scent that is intoxicating and invigorating.
As the miles pass, it occurs to Kolly that modern life is so designed around the artificial mandate that everyone must live in the towns and cities, that the volume of traffic out on the rural roads is far less than it would be if people were not in such a hurry. There is a more direct link to the past out here, where the never-ending work of producing food and managing the land is a cyclical rhythm that gets into the blood with every breath and attunes the mind to the natural world. After half-an-hour, Kolly believes that she is just on the edge of catching the light in a way that will enable her to see the ancestral ghosts who made their mark on this land with their enterprise and endeavours. It is a spiritual feeling.
She knows that most of those caught up in the rush of the town would dismiss such contemplations as sentimental tosh, because that is what they have been educated to think, but exerting oneself in the country – even if it is by proxy, by cycling – and taking in its totality as the heart races, does engender a sense of What Has Gone Before, Plans For The Future, and This Is Life.
Suffolk is the county of the heavy horse, the hidden dell and of folk tales. Foxes will take time to gaze upon wary pheasant and wood pigeon and even passing cyclists, while voles will scurry across narrow lanes in a desperate race from tangled hedgerow to tangled hedgerow beneath which can be seen the first ink cap mushrooms heralding the approach of autumn. There is a lusty music here in this county's fabric that generations have tapped into and expressed with fiddle, hurdy-gurdy and voice.
In moments like this, Kolly may prefer the folk song as a form of expression, but she has learnt the words to Cliff Richard's 'In The Country' and finds herself endlessly singing it to herself as she cycles. It makes her feel oddly happy.
When she gets home and goes on-line, she discovers Jay Diamond has left his Smartphone webcam on from the previous evening and can quite clearly be seen to still be in bed. She feels as though she will get twice as much value from the day than him and cannot wait to tease him about it.
Until she spends an hour napping after lunch.
Try not to do the stupid things stupid people do.