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SATURDAY 12 JULY 2003
8.15 IN CLISSOLD PARK ON A FRIDAY MORNING: A GHETTO-TECH ADVENTURE

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I put the UK Bass cd in the ears and turned it to song 10: Debasser's Fat Girls. The words ask, in a heavily vocodered male voice, 'why are fat girls always so frisky? But you can't go touch them cause they're far too risky.' I put it in the ears and balanced. I slung my bag across my body diagonally, and shoved it round behind, where it rested in the small of my back. I put my weight onto my right foot and pressed down on the right pedal and, with a tiny arc, a wobble, a bird taking flight, I wheeled off.

8.15am in Clissold Park on a Friday morning, riding round the park in slow, lazy circles, with deafening ghetto-tech pounding into my head. Past the closed-up Ranger's House with its working fountain set into the wall and a stone slab dedicating the fountain to the memory of three sisters. A female blackbird bounces around in the puddle of water on the paving slabs by the fountain. I pass two huge ponds covered with green algae, with fountains creating perfect circles of black water in the middle.

I take the high path through the tiny 'wood', and worry about the bike turning over on a tree branch. My stomach lurches as the bike carries me up and down the tiny hills. When we were little my sister and I believed that that feeling was 'Jesus tickling our tummies.' Jesus was everywhere when we were young, he'd said so in the Bible: when two or more are gathered in my name, etc. We'd leave a space for him between us when we sat in the car.

Cycling slightly too fast over branches and mud and rocks; a split second decision about taking the path through the nettles. What if I get stung? What if I tumble off and land in a bank of nettles? The bass buzzed and Disco D's deep and enticing voice announced his presence with the UK Bass 'posse', and I thought, hah, adventure without risk is Disneyland, and slid my bike through the banks of nettles.

My eyes drank in the sight of the woods and I remembered our mushroom adventure a few weeks previously, on a magical Sunday afternoon, when I lay on my back on the ground, untied my Converse and threw them - clump clump - onto the ground, then peeled off my socks. I had bent my legs at the knee and wiggled the toes of the left foot in the dry, warm, tickly earth, then planted my right foot on the white and black bark of a skinny silver birch tree. I had spread my arms and dug my fingers in the earth and gazed up at the geometric shapes of the horse-chestnut trees against the white-glazed sky.

I wheeled past the tennis courts and bumped across the grass. A tiny golf cart was making up-and-down journeys, and I realised I was whizzing across carefully prescribed orange and white lines for sports day: circuits, 100 metre dash, egg and spoon. I pushed on the pedals faster and flew towards the path, away from the memory of school sports days, last at every race, humiliated at each juncture, my partner in the wheelbarrow race ending up with bloodied hands and knees due to my childish incompetence. Who cares for school sports day: I have a bike and booty bass and I've learned to ride with no hands.

I saw a pair of shoes by the bushes: spontaneous human combustion? Another mushroom sufferer? A foot fetishist's homosexual encounter? A boy was watering the bushes, so my bike inscribed a lascivious arc towards him, weight leaning to the left, balancing like a skater, the wheels making tiny splatters through the water round another fountain. Blond hair. Brr. Maybe he'd do for Andrea, my gardener friend. The back of his neck was tanned from the sun which slanted into my eyes as I wheeled around and set off past the fallen logs.


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