Dead Cyclist Watch: Tommy Simpson

Today’s the fortieth anniversary of the death of Tommy Simpson, the first (and only?) really great British cyclist, who collapsed and died near the summit of Mont Ventoux in the 1967 Tour de France.

Richard Williams has a good piece in today’s Graun; and do read William Fotheringham’s Put Me Back On My Bike if you get the chance: it’s a cracking book, certainly the best book on cycling that I’ve read, but one that’s not just for the cycling nerds out there. In fact, anyone interested in the social history of postwar Britain in general and the popular culture of the 1960s in particular should enjoy it. And, look, there’s a new edition, too, so it’s bound to be in the shops.

(There’s even been speculation that Bradley Wiggins has gone on the attack in today’s stage from Semur-en-Auxois to Bourg-en-Bresse by way of symbolic tribute to the man; we’ll find out, no doubt, at the end of the day’s racing.)

Thursday Kazakh Buttock Blogging

I’m quite glad I didn’t see the TV pictures of the last hour or so of today’s stage in the Tour de France. The BBC reported that

1602: It’s race favourite Alexandre Vinokourov’s turn to hit the tarmac, apparently after colliding with a following vehicle. He shakes his fists in frustration and replays show a nasty graze to the right buttock, which looks like it will be exposed for the rest of the stage.

And the Guardian Over-By-Over commentator (or whatever it’s called when it’s cycling rather than cricket) had this:

4.23pm: With 10km to go, Vinokourov is pushing really, really hard to try and re-attach himself to the peloton, which is a minute ahead of him. He had six riders with him, but now he’s on his own and making a huge effort that’s bound to take it out of him as far as future stages are concerned. To make matters worse he has a patch of skin missing from his right buttock that looks about six inches square. He’ll be sitting gingerly at the dinner-table tonight.

Yuck. And Vino never made it back to the peloton, falling from twelfth to eighty-first in the CG. He must be very annoyed.

Two Wheels Good

I mocked Stephen Pollard below for his silly opinions about petitions on the 10 Downing St website, and now I find that perhaps, just perhaps, they can make a difference. I signed the petition against the proposed changes to the Highway Code that would make it an offence not to cycle in the cycle lane, if there was a cycle lane to cycle in, and now I read that the offending sentences have been removed from the new draft code that will come into force into September, all being well.

(In fact, while we’re on the subject of Stephen Pollard and bicycles, perhaps it’s a good time to catch up on his classic column from 2004 about why the Tour de France is boring, “because the team element is missing”.)

Stoics (and Epicureans) in the Brick Testament

Acts 17:18: “Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoicks, encountered him [St Paul]. And some said, What will this babbler say? other some, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection.”

I’m going to guess that the Stoic philosopher is the one with the beard. (The Stoics liked their beards.)

Full story over here.

Tim Collins Watch

As some readers will have spotted already, Stoa-favourite Tim Collins x-MP has recently failed to be adopted as the prospective parliamentary candidate for Gillingham and Rainham.

Indeed, it was a selection exercise of keen interest to this blog, as Stoa pantomime-villain Liz Truss failed to be selected from the shortlist, too.

But instead they plumped for some turncoat called Rehman Chishti.

Ironies of History

Back when I was a student some time in the early 1990s, I remember discussing with a friend our impatience with the transformations then underway in the economic policies of the Labour Party, then led by John Smith and with Gordon Brown as the Shadow Chancellor. And we joked that we wouldn’t mind the shift to the right so much if the substance of the new policies could be presented to the electorate in properly Marxist language, labour theory of value, declining rate of profit, calculations of relative surplus value and all the rest.

And, as so very often, be careful for what you wish for, just in case it comes to pass. The very same Gordon Brown, freshly arrived at the top of the greasy pole, has just been calling for “vigilance“. So, see over the fold for the entry on “Revolutionary Vigilance” from R. N. Carew Hunt’s indispensable Guide to Communist Jargon (1957), pp.143-5…

Continue reading “Ironies of History”