Good stuff and bad stuff today. The good stuff is that I've signed up for a bike under the tax-free Cycle to Work scheme, which means I'll pay half-price for a bike, with the cost spread over 12 months, deducted from my gross salary. If your employer does it, get one. If they don't, make them sign up! My bike arrives on Monday.
So in addition to my rare design-classic 'heritage' bike (the lovely customised but only 4-speed 1967 Moulton F-Frame), I'm going to be riding this little beauty: a Forme Longcliffe 4.0, built in Derbyshire.
Carbon forks, mostly decent components (though I can see myself upgrading the chainset and a few other things in the fullness of time) and a comfortable ride position. I looked at a few bigger names: Giant, Specialized, Trek etc., but I really appreciate the culture of small-scale bike-building you get in the UK, so the Forme really appeals. If my £5 of Premium Bonds ever does the business (38 years later, I've won precisely nothing), I'll buy a Moulton New Series Double Pylon Stainless – a snip at a mere £16,500)
but the Forme will do me very nicely until then.
But that's the fun part of the day over. I'm taking the day off to visit my friend and boss, Paul, who had a massive stroke several weeks ago and is still in a very bad way in hospital. I gather that he probably won't even know we're there, but it's important to visit whether he knows about it or not. The thought of someone so relentlessly intellectual and fizzing with ideas being reduced to a husk is horrifying (not that it would be any better for anyone else) but there's always hope. Since it happened, lots of people have been swapping stories of amazing recoveries and the body is a mysterious thing. I've added swimming and cycling to my fencing over the past few years because mortality is creeping up on me and I have no intention of spending my few remaining years wheezing on the stairs or shopping in specialist Fat Bastard emporia. I'll never be wiry or lean (or tall, or good-looking, or talented) but I reckon pain now will reduce pain later.
So enjoy your weekend. I intend to do precisely nothing. Marking's finished, I did enough ironing yesterday to stave off the guilt, and I have piles of books beckoning. That, and the Tour de France. After yesterday's cheating, I hope Froome and the rest of the Sky team crack spectacularly. It's the least they deserve.
My only other desire for the weekend is to avoid blanket Royal Baby coverage. My MP recently signed up to the 40 Ideas Tory manifesto, which blames society's ills on teenage mothers having babies to get state housing. I can't help thinking that this child is precisely one of these unfortunates. Its father is the latest of a family which has depended on state handouts and accommodation for generations. Its mother – despite benefiting from a state-subsidised university education – has joined the scam by bearing a royal child, and is now on easy street for the rest of her life. Sure, she may develop RSI from cutting too many ribbons, but the next generation's benefit dependency is assured.
I suspect I'll have to impose a news blackout for the next few weeks. It's going to be unbearable. I spotted a BBC story the other day: 'Queen wants baby to arrive' before she goes on holiday (from what?). For Christ's sake. If she didn't want it to be born, that would be news ('One's nose is proper out of joint. Nobody will be talking about one for months. Who's Queen?'). This is the level of commentary we're going to have to endure incessantly for ages.
Anyway, time to go. See you on Monday.