Monday 22 May 2006

The absurdity of the valve

In sixes and sevens

I completed my sixth year in the Netherlands without too much of an event; however, I can count my blessings and be grateful for that decision at the turn of the millennium to leave the UK for other pastures probably greener was a good one with foresight and hindsight.

Greener pastures as they may seem to the eye can also have taller grass hiding wolves and denser growth hiding snakes and I have seen my share of wolves and snakes, and I have been able to overlook those as the greener pastures provide enough nourishment to present a formidable force against prevailing threats.

I am happy, not as fulfilled, as I would like to be, I am probably one of my greatest critics, but I am charting a course that might just be that I am a late bloomer.

So, the first day of my seventh year did leave me in a state of incredible bewilderment, as I was unusually lost for words in a determined state of not wanting to be given to vituperation.

The absurdity of a valve

Bicycles constitute the most prominent form of transport in Amsterdam and I have always been of the view that my bicycle is safe if the cost of the locks exceeds the value of the bicycle – well, rarely do people purchase new bicycles – there is thriving second-hand market of refurbished bicycles obtainable from any bike repairers shop.

Mine was safely attached to an immovable bike-stand overnight.

In the morning, I retrieved my bicycle and after a pedal push, I felt I was getting a bit of a bumpy ride, so I stopped to check.

Ah! The back tyre is flat – so all I just need to do is get a bicycle pump and pump in some air, the tyres are made of Kevlar so are rarely susceptible to punctures.

On closer inspection, I found out why the tyre was flat, some happy-go-lucky crackpot had removed the valve.

Someone in the dark of the night had approached my bicycle, looked for the bike valve stopper and removed completely the valve that keeps the air in the tube of the tyre.

I just cannot begin to imagine how and why anyone would do that, but this being close to the area where someone had picked up a bicycle and thrown at me come 18 months before – I can only surmise the person would have been drugged, drunk and non compos mentis.

Appreciating service

So, I wheeled my bicycle 1.5 kilometres to the Central Station to get it fixed at the bike storage/hire place. The affable man retrieved a few valves from his cache and found one that fitted the valve stop.

He directed me to the free air pump where I got to fill up both tyres with sufficient air for a comfortable sturdy ride. Unlike cars, we do not use pressure gauges rather we feel the hardness of the tyre and ascertain the readiness by some false deduction.

The man would not take payment, so I offered a generous tip to make his day to which he remonstrated - this is excessive - and I retorted, I'll make that decision.

Yes, service and the appreciation of service is still the bane of this society, the lack of it on the one hand and the thriftiness of the Dutch preventing them from paying anything near the odds talk less of above those odds.

The valve of expression

Another valve which as not been lost but has had interesting persons twiddling the bits that let air out occasionally in a bid to adjust pressure, is that of expression.

I could be a hermit and recluse, I do not talk about myself too much and when I do volunteer information, and I do wonder if too much as not been given away in the same way that the tips get dished out.

I am no ideal, probably closer to an aberration, but what I am and the projection of myself can lead to unintended consequences if the valve twiddler lets out too much air.

Inquisition, acquisition and shock

Curiosity can nurse questions and bring forth a healthy sense of betrayal to some, disdain to others and may be for the good or the bad. You might already have some unpalatable answers to your curious questions, would you want to confirm them?

Getting to know me is nowhere near a Cinderella masterpiece, if it were a story well written, you would learn much about how not to live your life and much as you about how I have lived mine.

I lose my valve at times, but if I have any regrets, it would be because I have been bit too complacent about some things and a bit too circumspect about other things, quite cantankerous about these things and utterly discrete about those things - I have no way with words but I speak my mind.

If your curiosity about me must be satisfied, just remember to think about all the possible answers to your questions and never discount the possibility of an answer in the least likely area.

I am no enigma, neither am I complex, but there some things you will rather know nothing about – let’s replace the valve.

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