The thing about having a bicycle in London is that it gives freedom; freedom from traffic jams, freedom from frustration, freedom of route, freedom and control over destiny, freedom to cut through the roadblock. On a bike I can calculate precisely the time I arrive anywhere in London. It’s the ultimate green machine and a technological masterpiece.
I have a meeting to go to this evening. I grab my freedom machine to find that the air in
the tire has taken freedom to the limits. The Bikes got a puncture which, and I’m keeping a positive mind here, takes me fifteen minutes to fix. After a rushed and sweaty bike ride through east London I arrive at the meeting, out of breath and in a flap of apology while simultaeneusly removing my scarf which gets wrapped up in my headphones which begins to choke me, giving my apology the effect of sounding like a cross between stephen hawkings and donald duck. It’s a nice first impression. Oh, joy, I love my bike. Just love my bike.
We are judging The Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression awards.The Judges Seated are Maureen Freely, Rabinder Singh, Peter Wright, Mark Kermode and myself. “Mark” I point at Mark. “Lemn”, Mark points at me. A lot of love transmits across the table between us. It’s been twenty years, they were important left wing, youthful times in inner city Manchester. After those days of late night left wing discussions in inner city Manchester it’s poetic to meet each other on this panel.
We are gathered here today to judge five prizes which are The Guardian Journalism Award , The Economist New Media Award, Bindmans Law and Campaigning Award The Index Freedom of Expression Awards for Film and Books. We have studied the various shortlists over the past two months, watched the films and read the books and within four hours tonight the job is done.
It’s about 10.15pm. It’s dark outside, and everyone speeds off. I am the last to go. Evidently the previous puncture wasn’t fixed. The tyre is flat again. Noone has a pump. I have the freedom to express myself, right now. I actually despise the whole idea of cycling. My bike is spawn of the devil. My tyres have waged a deliberate concerted campaign of hatred against me. I get a cab home.