I went down to Oxford yesterday to pick up this little beauty. While gazing out of the window at the gentle green beauty of the Oxfordshire countryside, I spied four figures on horseback crossing the fields. Looking more closely I realised that they were David Cameron, Rebekah Brooks, George Osborne and Jeremy Clarkson. Hunting pensioners.
It's a good job I was going to Oxford anyway - being an absolute spanner, I'd left the free book I'm reviewing for the LSE Review of Books on a train. The only copy I could find in the country was at Blackwell's, a divine book shop. I couldn't even buy one online, thanks to my bank card being defrauded and blocked within a week of arriving. I really resent having to spend actual money on it, as it's one of the most dishonest and unpleasant books I've ever read - and I've read Martin Amis.
Obviously I couldn't buy just the one book: I came away with Sowell's Intellectuals and Society (the one I'm reviewing - watch this space), a really beautiful second-hand copy of C. Day Lewis's Selected Poems (in the 1951 Penguin Poets edition):
…a classic 1962 orange Penguin copy of Waugh's The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold, Josipovici's What Ever Happened To Modernism (looks flawed but pungent), Stefan Collini's feisty What Are Universities For? and a cheap used copy of Trollope's gargantuan The Prime Minister, mostly to hold doors open. Despite his misogyny and dubious politics, I'm on a Trollope kick at the moment. But if you think that Foster Wallace and Rowling needed a stern editor, you should try Trollope. Good for self-defence, I guess.
But the actual purpose of my jaunt was to collect my new/old bike. It's a mid-1960s Moulton F-frame (that video is wonderful). Stiff, heavy steel frame, the first bike to have suspension (front and rear) and a bit of an icon in its day. They're still made, but as the entry level one is about £3000 stretching to £15,000, I'll be content with my old one.
It's a beauty. Paul - who restored it then realised that his young family has more bikes than people and space - added a lighter seat post, racing saddle, a light headset with racing bars and decent modern brakes, a 7-speed internal hub gear, and Schwalbe Kojak tyres (i.e. bald, for speed). It's enamelled in stove-grey, and looks absolutely stunning. It sure doesn't look or ride like a 40-50 year old bike.
Ladies and gentlemen: I give you The Midnight Vole.
Look: no logos!