Keris Stainton‘s weekly column on married life…
I haven’t ridden a bike since the mid-Eighties. I tell a lie, I haven’t ridden a bike regularly since the mid-Eighties. I did buy a bike about 8 years ago, went out on it once, almost died of fright and gave the bike away. I bought another a couple of years ago and I’ve been out on that, um, once. Well only one brake works and the seat spins round and I can’t find anyone to fix it, okay?
And while David hasn’t ridden for years either, he loves the Tour de France. He started watching this annual cycle race around the time I was last on a bike for more than five minutes and he’s never looked back. When we were first together and he started blethering about the “Tee Dee Eff” I couldn’t have been less interested, but you know what it’s like when you’ve just started seeing someone, I vowed to watch it with him and was surprised to find I enjoyed it.
I became familiar with the cyclists, like Bjarne Riis, Richard Virenque, Robbie McEwan, and, of course, Lance Armstrong, along with Marco Pantani (David phoned me at work to tell me about his death).
And then there’s the British cyclist, David Millar. David Millar whose constant moaning has become a running joke for me and my husb. So much so that once, sitting in a bar in Manchester with some friends, I knew I recognised a guy at another table, but couldn’t think who it was. In the image in my head he was complaining. Eventually I realised it was Millar and rang David in excitement.
One of the things that drives me mad about David is that I’m willing to try anything he likes whereas he won’t do me the same courtesy and the Tour de France is a perfect example of this. I’ll stay in the room reading while he watches Minder or some other gormless ’70s cop show, but the theme tune to Friends sends David scurrying out of the room like the sofa’s on fire.
I’m happy to go and see whatever film he’s interested in (and I almost always end up enjoying them more than he does), but he flat-out refuses to see a chick flick or anything starring George Clooney. He’s introduced me to author Christophers Fowler and Brookmyre, but it’ll be a cold day in hell before he reads Jennifers Weiner or Crusie.
So, you may wonder, what’s my TDF equivalent? It’s the Hay-on-Wye Literary Festival. Yes, the thought of letting me loose in the town of 30 bookshops may make David blanch, but I’m going to stand with a squillion (approximately) people on the Champs Elysee cheering the cyclists past because, yes, this year – this weekend, in fact – we’re going to Paris for the final stage of the world’s greatest cycling race.
Does that mean my beloved will take me to the Hay Festival next year? On the evidence of the past 12 years, I highly doubt it. (And, yes, I know I could go alone, but that’s not the point, is it?)
Keris co-edits Shiny Media’s fabulous women’s fiction blog, Trashionista and contributes to TV Scoop, The Bag Lady and DollyMix. She’s honestly not just interested in the cyclists’ legs – have you seen those bad boys?