Here is Mrs Mabbsonsea’s shiny new bike.
It was fair enough. Her old one, which had carried each of our 3 children and all sorts of baggage as well as Mrs M herself over its 18 years, had stopped co-operating.
Here, by way of contrast, is my bike:
It’s just over a year old and it’s proving to be a trusty, reasonably fast workhorse and I like it very much. But it’s no longer very shiny and the problem with spending time in bike shops is that they are full of shiny new bikes. I liked the look of a smart single-speed city bike with drop handlebars. I like the idea of the simplicity of not having gears, and a fixie would take that simplicity even further. On the other hand, it might be fun to have an off-road bike and get out into the countryside. The temptation was all too much and I had to retreat to a cafe to read my book about the non-growth economics of ‘Enough’ over a coffee and chocolate croissant while Mrs M took a couple of bikes for test rides.
How many bikes is enough? (There’s a similar question to be asked about guitars, in my opinion). The reality is that I don’t need more than one bike. It won’t thank me for being taken off-road, but it’s fine – it’s enough – for what I want to do, really. But I am a sucker for shiny new. It alarms me how strong is my urge to acquire stuff – and I’m someone who doesn’t spend much time in shops and doesn’t look at much advertising and doesn’t worry much about my image. If I find it so tempting, it’s no wonder that, as a society, we are consuming our way into oblivion.
The concept of ‘Enough’ is a good one, but I suspect it needs quantifying at a much lower level than most of us would like if we are to achieve a world in which all people and nature can thrive together.
An hour with some soapy water and a rag might restore shiny-ness to my bike, after all.