On Your Bike! by Phil 'Boz' Evans
There is a strange order of hatred on the motorways, highways and by-ways of England & Wales these days.
HGV Lorry drivers hate white van drivers, white van drivers hate slow moving buses, buses hate tail- gating BMW and Audi drivers, BMW and Audi Drivers hate Citroen Picasso Mobility car drivers that hog the middle lane.
But they only have one thing in common that unites them all.
All road users hate cyclists.
And today on a Sunny Autumn day of 2020, in the sleepy former Mining Town of Merthyr Tydfil there was to be no exception.
Cyclist, Hal Ford, had all the cycling gear on that made him look like he was busy competing in the Tour De France.
Yellow jersey, green lycra suit, last seen in a fitness video worn by TV Green Goddess, Diana Moran, and of course the obligatory state- of- the art cycling helmet.
As he came to a stop at the Taf Fechan Pontsticill reservoir, he dismounted his trusty Raleigh steed that had served him well for 150 miles.
He needed to stop not just to take in the beauty of his natural surroundings, but to give his meat and two veg a rest after the intensity of the journey too.
He looked down and did a quick tally- unlike American cyclist Lance Armstrong, they were all present and correct.
He then lit his roll-up cigarette with his 2014- Leeds Tour de France Souvenir Lighter.
He looked around at the trees still in leaf- red, yellow, brown and green of all different hues – he asked himself ‘why did people bother to fly to the West Coast of the USA -New England especially- to become ‘leaf peepers’, when they had this artist’s pallet of colour on their very doorstep in Old Wales.
Hal was now in his late Seventies and was always being stopped for photographs by people who thought he was former Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn.
In the beginning, he had pointed out the error of their ways, but now had endorsed his new celebrity status by smiling for ‘selfies’ with his new- found fan base.
He sighed, as he lifted the lid of his cycle seat and produced his packed lunch.
In lockdown Wales, everything was closed – pubs, restaurants and even shops alike.
A bit like it had reverted to its’ natural state in the 1970’s.
Before Sunday Opening Hours came into effect and Chapels were the only place left open on a Sunday.
Legally speaking, as he had cycled down from a Tier Five Covid-19 area- he was not supposed to even be in the Principality at all, but he didn’t’ see the harm in it, as most of the youths in his native Liverpool Dock area were massed up closer to each other than a Ryan Air Economy Flight to Majorca.
The arrogance of youth.
Hal himself had suffered from it once but that was long ago- way before his testicle sack had dropped and he was forced to tuck them in the tops of his Liver-bird emblazoned football socks for safe keeping.
Unlike the Conservative Government, who had adopted a Laurel & Hardy approach- he had his own UK- wide Coronavirus strategy to survive the pandemic.
He would take a leaf out of Thomas Hardy’s book and head ‘far from the madding crowd’ and take sanctuary in the sparsely populated rural upper highland communities of the Welsh Valleys.
Exercise, good eating, and plenty of vitamin D sunshine would stand him in good stead, while the rest of the Country, spread the disease like a pre-potty-trained toddler left without a nappy.
The noise and vibration of bass music pounding broke his idyllic bucolic existence, as an overloaded Tory blue Vauxhall Corsa pulled up alongside him onto the reservoir road bridge.
For a minute, he thought he was back on Merseyside.
No sooner than the car had stopped, then four baseball -hatted youths tumbled out of the back seat of the car.
“What’s ‘appening Gramps?” nodded the first youth approaching the geriatric septuagenarian.
“ Two metres please!” countered Hal.
The youth had an unusual swagger about him like he was carry a rolled- up carpet under each arm.
“Steady on ‘Puff Daddy’!” sneered a second youth, whose bumfluff moustache and blackhead pimples made him look like a hyena pup.
As he approached the stone reservoir wall that had been raised up by the Private Utility Company (somewhat bizarrely advertised as being ‘not for profit’) to the height of four feet in case of the risk of a thousand- year flood.
The Hyena youth then openly produced a small clear bag of white powder and laid it out on the wall in a line before snorting it up through a McDonalds milk shake straw into his broken nose.
“That Devil’s Dandruff will kill you!” warned Hal.
“No! HE will kill you!” said Hyena.
“Do you know what a tear tattoo means?” said the first youth-as the driver of the car- Swastika, also sporting a blue Nazi emblem on his far right of his cheek close to his ear.
“He is an Everton fan?” asked Hal sarcastically.
Hyena ignored the remark as his head was buzzing with more Charlie than the Vietnamese Jungle in the late 60’s.
“It means he has killed a man!” Hyena boasted proudly.
“Good for him!” said Hal at the first sign of danger mounting his Raleigh bike.
“Now if you don’t mind, I must be on my way!”
“Oi Corbyn, ain’t you gonna have a selfie with the Crew then or what?” demanded Swastika.
“No!” said Hal pushing off from the kerb and pedalling away from the Corsa, as fast as his plastic hip replacement would allow.
“Oi Corbyn…I thought you were a man of the people?” protested Hyena.
As ‘Corbyn’ disappeared around the bend of the road heading towards Taf Fechan Houses, Hyena was not a happy bunny.
“I thought HE was supposed to one of us lazy lot, supporting the people that don’t want to work and cop handouts from the English for free?” said Hyena.
Out of the car appeared four more of the great unwashed.
From a safe distance away hidden by the tall deciduous pine trees, Hal thought it reminded him of a Roy Castle’s Record Breakers attempt to see how many people could fit into a Mini.
Completely pointless but compelling 1970’s children’s TV.
He looked back to see if he was being following by those ‘Woollybacks’.
That was an abusive term for Welsh people but specifically for louts like the ones he had just encountered.
Every City, every Town had its fair share of scum- and clearly Merthyr Tydfil had theirs.
It was such a shame that the great beauty of the Welsh Countryside was being ruined by the likes of this kind of people.
Halford recoiled in horror, as he witnessed the car being cleared of rubbish at the expense of Mother Nature, as out of the Vauxhall Corsa was dumped a brown MuckDonalds bag, week old KFC buckets with chicken bones and of course used Lottery Scratch-cards.
He wondered what sort of upbringing these youngsters had received and what the future held for them.
With almost all manufacturing jobs now all transferred to Child Labour in Asian sweatshops by ‘British’ Entrepreneurs- there was little or no-hope for this generation of rebels in finding work even if they wanted to.
Most of their families were third generation that had not had a working parent.
An endless cycle of ever-decreasing circles of poverty, food banks and alcoholism.
His home- town of Liverpool had suffered under decades of Tory rule- as if still being punished by the Government of the day for the stubbornness of Derek Hatton and Co in the Eighties.
The Welsh Valleys - strong Labour heartlands too- were no longer the last great bastion of the working man and trade unionism- there were precious few still employed and with the inequality of the Council Tax funding system they were rapidly turning into Rotten Boroughs.
Hal Ford still saw a glimmer of hope for the upland Town- it was perched on the edge of the Brecon Beacons National Park and the future -once the Covid-19 Pandemic was over- then the Town had a chance to remarket itself as a Tourist Town.
The reason he had decided to come to South Wales was the lure of the clean air, the open road, the Taff Trail and a chance to visit Bike Park Wales.
Whilst all the jobs had gone to Asia on the plus side, so too had the pollution.
Halford decided he had better get on, as the Scummy Six were all re-entering the car and that meant they would soon be behind him on this B-road in a few minutes time.
He started to pull away on his bicycle and soon realised as he began to slow, that the road would lead to a sharp incline after a series of bad blind bends.
Inside the Corsa, the four that were jammed onto the back seat were busy fighting for whatever space their different body shapes would allow.
Pencil was fine- he was so thin from malnutrition -he could fit anywhere.
The object of most complaint was the room that supersized ‘Jack the Lard’ was taking up and that he was becoming a little too handy with ‘Easy Rider’.
The complaints only subsided after Stinkbomb did what he was famous for and a dropped a silent but deadly chapel fart that not only stopped the car mid-acceleration but also created a mass rush to open the windows.
Both driver Swastika and Hyena in the shotgun position were fine but trapped in the back of the tiny car with child-locks on – the smell malingered in the back- causing each of the trapped occupants to gag and retch- whilst Stinkbomb sat proudly savouring his own faecal aroma.
“Why is it that a fart only smells bad to those that didn’t do it? He pondered the age- old question aloud.
“You are only one fart away from a shit!” complained Pencil.
“You better not stain my seats again Stinky or you will be the second victim killed by me!” warned Swastika.
Stinkbomb went quiet both ends, as he shivered at the prospect of such a threat.
He knew that Swastika had a violent temper, which he had inherited from his abusive Father- a former amateur boxer that had taken one too many punches to the head.
In a Town like Merthyr, one of the few paths out of the gutter was the ancient gentleman’s art of pugilism.
Swastika had killed a man in only his second fight in a bout at Rhydycar Leisure Centre- hence the tattooed teardrop on his face, which was in fact a boxing glove gone wrong.
He didn’t deliberately set out to kill his opponent, but he was caught up in the legalised violence of the moment and with the furore of the crowd egging him on he just went for it.
Stinkbomb had the capability of killing people with his ring too- if only someone had informed the Bio-Weapons research facility at Porton Down in Berkshire, then they wouldn’t have had to engineer the Covid-19 virus in the first place.
Front windows down, the Corsa made its way along the length of the reservoir road with driver Swastika trying desperately to pick-up speed with the weight in the car in a car fitted with a 50 MPH speed limiting device.
Up in the distance, Hyena could just make out the lycra- clad rear end of Halford, as he struggled up the steep incline.
As he got closer, Hyena was puzzled as to what was going on in the outfit that ‘Corbyn’ was wearing.
Standing up off the seat trying to pedal hard, Hal Ford had developed a tear in the material over his long journey.
Clearly his testicles had gone South for the Winter and surrounded by a mound of white pubic hair it was quite a revolting sight.
Hyena asked Swastika – “Is that old geezer smuggling a nest of baby swans?”
Hyena loved birds.
So much so, he was always stealing eggs from nests in the Spring and after watching the plethora of cookery shows on television, made a fine Tree Sparrow Omelette too.
He used to trap ‘Greenies’ -Greenfinches and Siskins in his nets and sell them on to International Traffickers via Swansea Market.
Well -he had to find a way of sourcing his drug habit somehow.
As the car eventually drew alongside the puffing pensioner, he snorted in a deep breath and from the back of his throat compiled a huge ‘Greenie’ of his own and let fly with a loogie that struck the glasses of Hal Ford with some force.
Blinded by the snot, Hal Ford careered off the bend and into some old buddleia bushes which thankfully broke his fall.
“This is OUR turf!” shouted Hyena as the car chugged up the road as if powered by kangaroo petrol.
After checking he was uninjured, Hal Ford wiped the phlegm off his glasses and shaking with rage he set off furiously after his assailant.
“Doesn’t that scumbag know there is a pandemic on!” he fumed as he set his bike to automatic battery power.
As he caught up with the struggling car towards the prow of the second hill, he held out his right hand which contained the corkscrew of his Swiss Army knife (which he had obtained free with a Year-long- Subscription to Reader’s Digest) and proceeded to scrape the full length of the car with the point.
“Have a taste of your own medicine!” shouted Hal Ford, copying pensioner vigilante Harry Brown, as his light-weight bike flew past the overladen Corsa.
Inside the car, the sound of metal on metal was met with horror by the driver.
“Look what you have done!” screamed Swastika at Hyena.
“ You have started another Turf War over a couple of baby swans!”.
“There is no need to have a Cob on!” sulked Hyena at his admonition by the Gang Leader.
Hyena knew he would have to displace the anger onto Corbyn otherwise he would feel the wrath of Swastika.
A bit like what the Mainstream Media had done with foreigners before the Brexit vote.
Hal Ford felt great.
The worm had turned- all his life he had shied away from conflict situations but now in his Seventies, he no longer cared about his own life.
How much time did he have left anyway?
He was only a short bike ride away from the Nursing Home after all.
Those scumbags had started it and he was determined to finish it.
It could have been the onset of early dementia, but he now saw himself as Don Quixote and his trusty steed- his Raleigh Chopper – that of Sancho Panza.
As he chuckled maniacally to himself, Hal Ford reached yet another crossroads in his life.
Did he turn right through the village of Ponsticill or left towards the Dolygaer Outdoor pursuits centre?
“Which way did the old bastard go?” said Hyena as they reached the same crossroads.
“Ask that bloke in the Beanie Hat!” suggested Easy Rider from the backseat.
“Oi Butt...have you seen a pensioner on a weird bike?” asked Hyena of the village simpleton, Paul Henry.
He stared back at them for a minute before coming closer to the car.
The Village Covidiot stuck his face in through the open window and began to count the occupants.
“One...two...four...three!” he said.
“Never mind!” said Hyena.
“It’s Corbyn....he must have gone to the left!” suggested Pizza-Face.
“Left Turn Clyde!” ordered the runt not realising it had a film reference.
Hal Ford now had a five- minute head-start on the Hyena Pack and was determined to make it count.
He knew he could outrun his pursuers going uphill but not on the flat or going downhill.
As he left the village of Ponsticill, heading towards Pontsarn, he lifted his legs up off the peddles and free-wheeled, just like Paul Newman in Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid.
Very soon raindrops were falling on his head too, as the grey Autumn sky decided to add some more profit to Welsh Water plc.
He flew down the hill slowed only by the Meredith Lake near Bragdy Cottages, Vaynor, out of the thin mist appeared a semi-derelict Spanish Villa and decided he would hole up in its grounds until danger passed.
Sure enough it was a wise decision, as the Corsa suddenly passed the front gate at speed, taking the corner on two wheels with only gravity and the weight of Jack the Lard-Face bring the car level again.
Fortunately, there was no car coming the other way on the bend.
Swastika clearly hadn’t passed his driving theory test studying the correct Highway Code Manual, but from hours playing the video game ‘Grand Theft Auto’.
It was an uncomfortable ride for the front seat passenger, but in the back of the car it was terrifying, as they were thrown this way and that.
Stinkbomb was the only unmoveable object and that was because he had followed through and was now stuck to the seat.
He was now subject to a flurry of arm punches from Easy Rider, as the loose woman joined him due to seepage.
“Open that window for F**** Sake!” pleaded Pencil.
“I could chew that one!” he protested giving his fellow gang member an evil look.
The Corsa now reached another Crossroads.
“Did Corbyn go left up the Sanatorium Hill or on and up through Trefechan?” asked Swastika intent on revenge now that his car had been scratched AND his back leather seats ruined.
“Perhaps we passed him?” suggested Easy Rider.
“He can’t have got THIS Far without us catching him!” said Swastika punching the dashboard angrily- almost setting off the passenger side airbag.
“We could stop, wait for him and get out of the car?” pleaded Stinkbomb sitting in a puddle of his own shit.
“Senor Corbyn....so what do I owe this great privilege ?” came a Spanish Voice from behind him.
Hal Ford looked up and noticed a pug-ugly dark- haired woman, high up on the veranda of the building.
“I last saw you at Glastonbury when we all sang O Jeremy Corbyn!” she continued.
“I will be down now!” said the only European still left in Britain.
In the distance, Corbyn could hear the sound of a labouring Corsa engine getting closer.
He hid his trusty steed in the bushes out of sight of the road.
The door was opened and Corbyn stepped inside without invitation.
Unfortunately, he was spotted by Hyena entering the Villa, just as he rounded the bend.
“The canny old bastard just ducked into the old Addams Family House!” Hyena raged.
“What do we do?” asked Stinkbomb, desperately hoping to be allowed home by the gang leader to ‘clean up in aisle one’.
“Just like we always do with the grannies on pension day, we wait for them to come out and then mug him!” suggested Hyena.
“I’ve got a better idea!” said Swastika, der Fuhrer of the self-named Cyfarthfa Corsa Crew, eyes rolling black like an epileptic Great White Shark.
“We dump one or two of the foot soldiers off to stand guard, while we nip to the petrol station to buy a can of petrol and burn the bastard out in true Gurnos-style!”
Each of the ‘foot soldiers’ shit-welded together in the cramped seat, glanced nervously at one another.
It was one thing being involved in deep shit for the gang that controlled their activity, but this kind of arson was a whole different ball game.
“Out Jack the Lard...you’re on first watch!” order Swastika.
“Why me?” protested the obese sixteen- year- old, whose age had now been surpassed in stones on the weighing scale.
“Because the car will move faster without your weight- you great fat lump!” cackled Hyena- who had earned his nickname from the sound of his evil laughter.
Since he had teamed up with Swastika, the two had developed a reputation locally as the evilest duo since Ian Brady and Myra Hindley.
In their Pen-y-dre End of Term School Report, Swastika was described by his frustrated teacher as being the most likely pupil to commit a McDonald’s massacre.
After much struggling out of the Corsa tumbled Jack with a huge sigh of relief from the other three who no longer needed to take turns to buddy breathe.
Swastika before setting off, opened the glove compartment of the Corsa and reached inside.
He then boastfully produced a gun and waved it in the air just like he was part of the overthrow of an African Military Dictator.
“What are you going to do with that?” asked Easy Rider nervously.
“I am going to pop a cap in his wrinkly ass!” he said with all the nonchalance of Woody Harrelson in the film Natural Born Killers.
She gulped with fear.
Stinkbomb was a little less concerned, as he recognised that the gun was in fact a Diana SP50 slug-gun.
It also explained the mystery of who had been responsible for the recent spate of cats on his local estate that had died from constipation.
The car sped off in search of the closest petrol station.
Inside the Spanish House, Hal Ford was sat on the sofa holding a fine bone- china cup of tea.
“Please tell me Mr Corbyn, did you come down here on a rally?” questioned the Spanish Senorita.
“Well- a Raleigh...yes!” said Hal Ford trying not to lie by referring to his bike.
“I am Barca Loner and have been a big fan of the Hard Left for a long time!” she said putting her hand on the knee of his lycra-clad outfit.
Hal looked at his temporary host and realised he was in trouble.
Hal had jumped out of saucepan straight into the fire.
Did he remain in the house at the mercy of a local ‘cougar’ or take his chances outside with the pack of hyenas stalking him.
He felt trapped.
“So, what brings a European to come and live in Wales -especially after Brexit?” asked Hal trying to change the subject.
“My Family originally came to Merthyr from Toledo, Spain to work in the great Steelworks here- along with many other families- we were trying to avoid the clutches of General Franco and the Far Right-and Merthyr with its left-wing leanings seemed the perfect place!” said Barca.
“I have heard you are a lover of your allotment and am interested to discover what size Marrow you have?” asked the desperate Widow.
“Is that Picasso Cubist painting an original up there?” enquired Hal once again trying not to be drawn into a conversation about a bodily function that his body no longer had any relevance for.
“That is a portrait of my family!” said the surprised Senorita.
That figures thought Corbyn.
“Do you think it is well hung?” asked Barca moving her hand up closer to his crotch- but unwittingly further away from Hal’s genitalia.
“So, tell me Barca how long have you been a Labour voter?” asked Hal.
“For decades now- I was drawn in by the dashing good looks of Harold Wilson in the 1970’s and have long had the urge to be a real supporter of a good union....I love a Red Wedge me!” she said pressing her body against Hal seductively.
“Could I use your bathroom?” said the nervous pensioner.
“Dodgy Prostate!” he said dragging himself up off the sofa.
“Third door on the left!” said Barca frustratedly.
Outside the Spanish Villa, Jack the Lard was struggling to read the name of the Property on the dilapidated name plate- ‘Hy Brazil’ he concluded.
“Sounds like a made-up place!” he thought to himself, as he sat down on the wall of Dol- Y- Coed House close-by.
No sooner than he had done so than he heard a frail voice from the side entrance.
“Oi, Humpty Dumpty get off my wall now before I call the police!” said the voice.
Jack turned his head only to see a male pensioner on a walking-frame in a dressing gown and slippers despite the fact it was nearly 2pm.
“F*** Me....if it’s not Captain Tom!” said Jack unperturbed by the threat.
Even so he stood up off the wall.
“What are doing hanging around here?” queried Jerry Attrick, the original founder of Vaynor Neighbourhood watch.
“Would you believe admiring the architecture and history of one of Merthyr’s Historical buildings?” replied Jack.
The pensioner softened his tone.
“Not for one second!” said Jerry.
“Are you casing the joint?” he continued.
“No...said Jack the Lard....I am no burglar....but I AM hungry!”
The pensioner disappeared for a few minutes and then returned with a plate of biscuits which he left on the wall six feet away from the teenager.
“Here you are then but be warned if you try and break into my house, I will set my dog on you!” threatened Jerry pointing into his garden before returning into his house.
Jack could see a huge dog standing upright was attached to a chain.
An attack dog that is silent and doesn’t move?
That’s odd thought the teenager digesting his third digestive.
I wonder what breed of dog it is?
Perhaps it was a ninja?
Or it was stuffed?
After all you had to be very strange to live out in the Country.
Back inside Hy Brazil, Hal Ford was stuck in an uncompromising position.
One leg inside the bathroom and one leg outside reaching for the external window ledge.
His lycra suit was not the best material in the World for climbing.
His ‘Beth N Gallows’ was scraping around the metal catch.
He was determined to get away with his dignity intact.
“Are you okay in there?” shouted Barca through the locked door.
“Fine....just waiting for the engine to start!” he called back trying to sound calm.
For a brief second, he just hung there like the last turkey in the shop, before thankfully the lycra material finally gave way and gravity took effect and aided his great escape sending him tumbling towards the floor into the rear garden of the Villa.
He was soon surrounded by a colony of huge Black Celtic Rabbits- a strange sight even for Hy Brazil.
He blinked his eyes and they all magically disappeared.
He raced towards his Chopper with his own chopper hanging like a limp game bird on a poacher’s belt.
Retrieving his bicycle from the front bushes, he set off past the heavyweight schoolboy who was busy devouring the last of the biscuits and too stunned to react swiftly.
As he sped around the corner, he was pursued on foot by Jack the Lard, who suddenly disappeared from the bike’s rear-view mirror.
As the gabion wall reinforcement for the tarmac road gave way, Jack the Lad tumbled down the Pontsarn Viaduct embankment doing the ultimate roly-poly.
Hal sped on towards the Pontsarn Inn and as he rounded the corner was horrified to see that the Vauxhall Corsa was coming in the other direction.
He swerved away from the oncoming car, who had tried at the last moment to run him over.
Like a modern- day joust, the car did a doughnut turn in the former car park of the Inn before chasing after the pensioner on the bike.
Hal knew had a split-second decision to make.
Did he turn sharp left passed the Aberglais Inn or continue on towards Trefechan.
He decided that the sharp bend would be more difficult for the heavily laden car and opted for the direction towards the Blue Pool and the steep Sanatorium Hill.
The narrowness of bridge might also cause the car difficulties too.
He sped on around the bends at ridiculous speeds skidding on fallen wet leaves as he went.
He knew he would have to get across the ancient bridge first, if he was to have any chance of escape.
The car had to do a nine-point turn at the Aberglais crossroads sign, which slowed up its’ high -speed pursuit significantly.
Hal Ford could hear the Corsa Engine closing in behind him but could sense victory as he reached the narrow bridge.
He was however startled when he heard the loud bang of the car colliding with the bridge wall and wedging itself sidewise in the structure.
So much so that he wobbled on his bike, losing his balance and struck a rusty metal signpost warning of the narrow bridge- sending him flying over the handlebars and buckling his front wheel in the process.
When Hal regained his senses, he suddenly realised that the driver, Swastika had managed to free himself from the car wreck and was standing next to the wedged vehicle pointing a pistol at him.
He also noticed that there was a liquid leaking from the car spreading out onto the bridge road surface from an open cannister.
Hal reached into his belt before putting his hands up in the air in an act of surrender.
“Give me a sporting chance!” pleaded Hal of the cold- blooded murderer, as he stood there defencelessly with his bollocks hanging out of the enlarged hole in his undercarriage.
“Okay!” said Swastika, enjoying the power trip and finally having his nemesis at his mercy.
Looking down at his human cat’s cradle, Hal still had one trick up his sleeve.
He struck the lighter flint and flung it at the car.
Almost as if in slow motion, the metal slug projectile passed the lighter in mid-air as it lodged in the left gonad of the pensioner.
Hal hadn’t had any feeling in his numb nuts for years.
The lighter too found it’s target.
It ignited the fuel pool and the subsequent explosion blew the car and its occupants apart, sending Swastika high into the air and off the bridge towards his death in the Blue Pool below.
Hal was once again knocked to the ground.
When he came around some 20 minutes later, he suddenly realised he was being shaken by a masked policeman.
“What the Hell happened here?” PC Wise questioned.
Hal just shrugged his shoulders and pleaded ignorance.
“Sir, Name & Address?” asked the Copper.
“Jeremy Corbyn- Islington North!” replied Hal in a posh London accent.
“Okay....on your bike!”