I come to.
I am lying in The Pit (i.e. my bedroom, avec hangover.) My clothes are strewn around the floor like a Tracey Emin installation. Memories of being up til 5am playing music and lifting weights flash through my mind. I recall leaving dodgy comments on other people's websites, and of wanting to nip out to the 24-hour shop for fags.
I curse myself for smoking, then realise that I didn't in fact smoke at all; I've merely inherited Smokers' Throat just by being in a bar last night. I caught up with a lot of friends I haven't seen for a few months, many of whom smoke. I resisted the urge to join them, but ended up full of smoke anyway. Having been a consistent smoker in bars and pubs, I stupidly had no idea how strong that stuff is when you forgo.
Fifteen years a heavy smoker and suddenly I'm Holier Than Thou after six days off the sticks and I'm eager for the impending smoking ban.
I'll be walking back to work in a moment having left my bike there overnight, and I rather fancy the exercise. Yesterday morning, I'm ashamed to say, I ABSOLUTELY LOST THE PLOT when a motorist nearly killed me.
I had woken up ridiculously early and couldn't get back to sleep so I cycled in just as the sun was rising and turning the dark skies navy. Although the streets were mercifully quiet, any vehicles on the road were taking advantage of this by driving like hellbound banshees.
One car, a large people carrier, cut me up in perhaps the most selfish act I've ever been a part of in my half-dozen years as a cyclist. I had been minding my own business, staying left and progressing pleasantly when, out of nowhere, this vehicle drove past me very close, and pulled in directly in front of me, coming to an immediate halt just as I was about to plough right into it.
Confronted with the rear of this now stationary vehicle, I swerved sharply out of the way. Approaching the driver's window, I lashed out as best I could but managed only a feeble tippytap of admonishment. So, as I past the vehicle, I made sure the driver knew my feelings by turning round to raise two fingers.
I had spent only 20 to 30 seconds absolutely dumbstruck at this supreme idiocy when I suddenly became aware of this fucking car bearing down on me in anger, trying to ram me off the road. Fortunately, there was an incline onto the pavement, which I was forced to swerve onto. I turned to look at the vehicle, now stopped, and its driver, flapping his arms and cursing me.
I am used to bad driving. I am casual about not being seen. I am even au fait with being sworn at and hated. But I will not allow myself to be driven over.
The red mist descended. This guy was going to get it.
I pelted off my bike and ran to the car. I banged the driver's window repeatedly.
'YOU UTTER FUCKING CUNT! GET OUT, GET FUCKING OUT YOU WANKER!'
Remarkably he lowered his window to tell me where to go but I was fuming with rage and leaned in with my finger pointed at his nose. 'DON'T YOU EVER CUT ME UP LIKE THAT AGAIN, YOU IDIOT!'
Then he flipped, and tried to get out. Now contradicting my earlier statement of four seconds previously, I began to push his door back.
'DON'T EVEN THINK OF GETTING OUT, YOU PRICK!'
I think I'm in trouble here.
I quickly realised he was determined to get out and I would have to let him and see how this develops. I backed off. He got out.
'And? What you gonna do? Eh? What the fuck you gonna do?'
'Go fuck yourself,' I said, which I thought rather pithy. I also liked the idea of getting on my bike and leaving.
I was full of phlegm and spat on the floor. Except I was now facing his car and my excretion may have landed on his bonnet. This was an honest to goodness accident. I got on my bike and began to peddle away.
'Fuck you!' He then spat on me. 'White Bastard!'
I stopped cycling and turned. He was heading for his car.
'No, a what bastard? What did you call me?'
I suddenly felt very calm. I have never been racially abused before and it was quite strange. Rather amusing at first in its complete irrelevance, then crap because I felt sorry for him bringing this down to skin hue insults. I wanted to pat him on the back and tell him very nicely that racism from any angle is not cool; about as uncool as attacking cyclists using your Honda as a weapon. Then I wondered what he'd put up with in the past for him to blurt that out.
Probably other enraged cyclists yelling abuse at him, I should imagine.
How unpleasant. The moral of the story is: I don't know what the moral of the story is. Perhaps it's please drive safely, and don't be racist.
I'm off to get my bike.