Recently somebody said he could tell I was a cyclist from my legs. No great omniscience as I was in cycling kit at the time. However, my husband has always maintained that I have the legs of a tight-head prop (rugby). In truth, the best you can say about them is that they’re “sturdy”, a bit like the rest of me.
In fact, in the next life I have asked if I could have longer, slimmer legs and an ability to eat anything I like without putting on weight. Not, I think, an unreasonable request. But if I had to choose, I would go for the latter over the former.
Now, if he’d seen me in a swim suit, the silly suntan lines would have been a dead give away. I have white feet up to my sock-line, much tanned shins up to where my ¾ tights end, then a less tanned strip to mid-thigh as I’ve only recently started wearing my cycling shorts.
I have a similar graduated tan on my arms and the obligatory chin strap lines on my face and neck. I have however managed to avoid the Sammy Sanchez Beijing white line across the forehead.
It soon became apparent that the reference to cycling had nothing to do with the shape of my legs, but rather the state of them. Yes, they are looking a little battered. Two reasons: I bruise easily and I’ve had a lot of accidents, not just as a consequence of cycling. As a child, I was rarely seen without a couple of bandages or plasters. Frankly, my fear knew no bounds and I was a regular at the local cottage hospital where I was known by name. Even though I am accident prone, I have had no (touch wood) serious injuries. I broke my arm falling off a stationary horse and have sprained both ankles and a couple of fingers, falling over things. However, I frequently had skinned knees and elbows. One of the most prominent scars on my knee was incurred when I fell down a hole that some workmen had literally just dug in the pavement outside an office in Frankfurt where I was working. I was distracted waving to some colleagues on the other side of the road and never saw the hole coming. One minute I was there and the next I had disappeared from view.
I was so accident prone that my mother enrolled me in ballet classes thinking that it might me more adroit. Unfortunately, I was probably the only child there who didn’t dream of becoming a ballet dancer and persevered because my father always took me out afterwards. My reward, for doggedness in the face of an obvious lack of talent, was afternoon tea at The Queen’s Hotel (long since demolished to make way for New Street Station) on a Wednesday afternoon and Thrussel’s for lunch on a Saturday, where I always had a cheese omelette and chips, followed by meringue and ice cream.