01 June 2011

Devils and Angels

The first day of winter was cold and blue and bright. I rode my bike to work and, along the way, was tooted by a car. I had committed no offence so when the car and I both pulled up at the traffic lights I asked the driver if she had tooted me. ‘Yes’, she said ‘because you’re ANNOYING’.
It transpired that by merely cycling on the road I caused her irritation. I was literally getting a free ride when I should, in her words, 'pay my rego and drive like everyone else'. And whilst bludging on her road, I was also apparently preventing her from getting anywhere.

We had a mildly heated discussion, and parted when the traffic lights changed. I think she was rather more exasperated by me than I was by her.

I always find it intriguing when a well established world view of mine is challenged. In my world, riding a bike is an uncontroversially good thing. I indulge in a little smugness as I cycle past the banked up traffic.  So although I was annoyed to be tooted and felt self righteous about my entitlement to be on the road, I was mostly fascinated by the fact that what, in my world, is an unmitigated good, in someone else’s world is an unmitigated bad.

Devils?  never!

It reminded me of other times when my world view has collided with someone else’s. When Nina was a baby of about 6 months, and Ruby was about 2 and a half, we went to the Art gallery for an exhibition. I’ve written before about taking the kids to the art gallery.  It always seems like such a good thing to do. At this time we were still relatively new parents, getting used to being out and about with two little kids. It was the weekend, and the gallery was bustling, Ruby was excited, Craig had Nina cosy in the sling and I was doing that self conscious talking-to-your-child-when-you-know-other-people-are-listening thing, believing that the four of us were just a picture of how modern families should be. I felt sure the other gallery patrons were looking at us approvingly when a woman of about my age, with architect glasses, looked at the girls, looked at me, walked past and said “Well, that ruins my enjoyment”. My little balloon of smug ‘got the parenting thing right today’ deflated rapidly. My angels were her devils...


  1. What a wonderful post.

    Have you visited Duyvken? I think you'd get along very well.

    Keep cycling! If you hear another tooting it'll be me encouraging you, and let me know next time you go to the gallery and I'll send over my mother who will joyfully join in the family, tell the kids stories and admire their natural ability to enjoy and understand art.

    So there.

  2. Oh yes indeed, I've visited her blog and I love her quilts, especially the lovely cross one with seven red crosses for her family. Is your mother in Melbourne then?