Sunday, 30 May 2010

Back to Basics at Botley...

My bike leaning against a sign at the Botley roundabout
Once, a long time ago, a friend of mine suggested that Quadrophenia, the album by The Who, could have been trimmed down from a double to a single album. Many people, of course, won't understand the terminology of single and double album because these days, Quadrophenia would come on just one CD or, indeed, be downloaded from itunes. In the old days of vinyl, however, albums were either just that – albums – or they were double albums, meaning two discs, and normally a really decent piece of double album packaging was involved: a fold-out cover which opened like a book was the norm and sometimes (as in the case of Quadrophenia) there was a kind of book thrown in too – black and white pictures of eel and pie shops, a half-eaten fried breakfast and that woman who impersonated the queen, whose name escapes me.

"Looking bleak at the Botley" and yes I sent this pic to Geoff
Althoff, the illustrious illustrator
Anyway, I'm digressing. This friend of mine who, sadly, I don't see anymore, used to say that if you cut out all the sound effects between the tracks, Quadrophenia would have been a very tight single disc album. Well, no... Quadrophenia is what was known as a 'concept album' and it was eventually turned into a film so I say no, it was what it was and cutting it down would have ruined it.

The only reason I remembered the conversation with my old pal (Andy Penfold) was because today I cycled out to Botley Hill Farm alone, something I haven't done for a long time. In fact I haven't really been that way alone for the best part of four years, as it was back in August of 2006 that Andy Smith and I started the cycling that led to this blog and all our adventures (see archive). I left the house just after 0730hrs, reached Botley about an hour later and then cycled home. I was back home at 0910hrs, a good two hours before the time we get back from Merstham on most Saturday mornings and it just got me thinking about how things have grown and expanded. From a small cycle out to Botley and back (very boring on my own, I hasten to add) we now have this blog, a number of different routes, there are tea and cereal bars, visits to Hunger's End for huge breakfasts accompanied by mugs of tea and, of course, there's the conversation. In other words, we've turned what could have been a single album into a double or maybe even a triple album, like Sandinista by the Clash (yes, I had the vinyl version, which was three discs).

Newspapers everywhere – so I nicked one!
I reached home at just gone 0900hrs.

The weather was fine today although there were a few large grey clouds looming. Fortunately, no rain. I went the fast way to Botley up the B269 and it was great. Not many cars about, cloudy but bright skies, the sun peeking through here and there and the only blight on the landscape was a load of newspapers that, I assumed, had literally fallen off the back of a lorry. They were everywhere and I managed to find a huge pile of poly-wrapped copies of the Daily Telegraph so I put one in my rucksack and carried on towards the seven-mile marker that was the Botley Hill Farmhouse pub, a great live music venue, as it happens. I carried on to the roundabout a few yards beyond the pub, took a few pix on my iphone and then headed back. There was a strong wind blowing in my face all the way home but I remained dry, there were no punctures – a big fear as I'd somehow mislaid my 'leeches', which would have meant walking home with the bike.

Back in 'the old days' before Andy and I started cycling, I used to take a photograph on my mobile phone of the fields surrounding the Botley Hill pub and send it to my pal Geoff Althoff, the illustrious illustrator. A short message would either read, 'bleak at the Botley' if the weather was poor or, conversely, 'bright at the Botley' if the weather was fine. This I did again today.

When I reached home it was porridge and tea and a browse through the Daily Telegraph, albeit yesterday's, but who cares, it was free!

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