In these dark days as Israel sets out to destroy Gaza and its poor unfortunate Palestinian people some light relief is needed. ( I hope I won’t get arrested for that particularly accurate piece of free speech) Along comes Bruno, a loveable French eccentric cycling around Europe, indeed the world given a chance.
I don’t know Bruno but am about to come face to face with his formidable Gallic presence.
A mysterious morning phonecall from Mike says he has a roving cyclist in his drive whom I might be interested in meeting, come around. Could be one of my passing acquaintances I think and off I go. There in the drive is this man and his touring bike with attached trailer, quite a common site on the lanes of Britain. I have met many an interesting European on the roads and have been amazed at their tenacity, endurance and sociability. I suppose I did it once.
The story so far – he is cycling along Lancashire’s quiet country lanes when, probably from the hawthorn hedge cutters, one of the wheels on his trailer deflates. It is surprising how quickly that slows you down. He pulls into my friend’s drive and asks for a bucket of water to diagnose the source of his puncture. Their combined efforts haven’t sorted out the problem, repair plasters haven’t stopped the leakage.
There is still a leak from the side of the repair. Despite this Bruno is happy to talk at length about his exploits and the many previous and future destinations on his travels. He is keen to show us extracts from radio and TV appearances in Europe and other countries. His broken English and our wrecked French leads to some amusing conversation. When I took out my phone for a photo of the ever increasingly comic situation he demanded a video of his proposed next visit to the USA for YouTube. From what we can gather he had crossed America coast to coast on a couple of occasions. He has been on the road for 14 years – sleeping in barns if possible – hard to believe. He had a map in one of the many pockets on the bike to show us his travels. By now most of his worldly belongings are spread out on the drive but no progress is made on the puncture.
Mike goes off to phone Halford’s to see if they have this small size 22 inch tube in stock. He is met with directions to their website for what’s in stock – no luck there. I would have happily driven Bruno and his tube down there for a replacement.
Having reinstated the tube into the tyre with difficulty it still deflates, as expected. I tried. Meanwhile, Bruno, to reinforce his experience as a global adventurer, shows us all the food he carries as well as his Stetson hat ready for his USA visit. Gregarious to a fault.
Plan B. Another friend and his wife live around the corner, they are keen cyclists and work from home so should be in. I feel I can ask their help – that’s what friends are for. “This is Bruno” holding his inner tube, I explain “he is going around the world but has a puncture.” Jonathon blinks but rises to the challenge and takes us into his garage, aka bike shed. Michelle appears and after a chorus or two of ‘Michelle my Belle’ we get down to business. Jonathon dares rip the old patch from the inner tube. A feat I had resisted In case I accidentally inflicted Bruno onto Mike’s hospitality for the night. Michelle appears with a coffee, “pas de lait, mais six sucre s’il vous plaît“. As a perfect hostess there are three shortbreads and two mini chocolate Swiss rolls on the tray. As Jonathon and I discuss the best way to repair the puncture the shortbreads are dunked and quickly eaten. I didn’t have the French for ‘dunked’ but I think he understood as the Swiss rolls disappeared into one of his many pockets.
Back to Mike’s, who has wisely had a sandwich in our absence. In the drive is the shipwrecked bike trailer. Renewed energy and determination with some brute force saw the inner tube back into the tyre and back onto the trailer. J’espere c’est bon.
It takes some time before Bruno packs up all his possessions in what to me appear flimsy polythene bags.
Much later we see him off on the quieter way and perhaps with some relief onwards to Scotland, but I fear for his health as the temperatures drop. Bon courage.
Let me know if you come across him. You can find him on YouTube.
We have been into poetry recently and Eunice, a fellow blogger, has come up with this lovely effort. Thanks.
BC got a phone call from Mike
Who said “There’s this guy with a bike
In my drive, with a puncture
And just at this juncture
He’s in quite a bit of a stew”
So BC drove himself round to Mike’s
To offer some help with the bike
But the patched up repair
Was still leaking air
And the language was turning quite blue.
A phone call to Halford’s ensued
But they couldn’t supply the right tube
So BC rang a friend
In the hope he could mend
The puncture, which they couldn’t do.
With coffee and cakes from Michelle
And a bit of a sing-song as well
A solution was made
On the best way to aid
Poor Bruno, without more ado.
The tube was put back on the bike
With some brute force from BC and Mike,
Then back on the road
Went Bruno with load
And they waved him off into the blue.
And in honour of Michelle, my friends, Bruno, France and the day in general.