var _gaq = _gaq || []; _gaq.push(['_setAccount', 'UA-41362908-1']); _gaq.push(['_trackPageview']); (function() { var ga = document.createElement('script'); ga.type = 'text/javascript'; ga.async = true; ga.src = ('https:' == document.location.protocol ? 'https://' : 'http://') + 'stats.g.doubleclick.net/dc.js'; var s = document.getElementsByTagName('script')[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(ga, s); })();
Home / Latest News / ‘It seems the bicycling lobby want to grab all the green spaces’: Peter Collins is inspired to take up his fountain pen

‘It seems the bicycling lobby want to grab all the green spaces’: Peter Collins is inspired to take up his fountain pen

A letter dropped onto my doormat that was neither a bill nor junk mail. This was most unusual and entirely welcome.

Most of the communications I receive come by impersonal e-mail, which offer none of the joy and little of the excitement of receiving a “proper” letter.

The  “proper” letter came in an expensive envelope and the author had addressed it to me using a fountain pen.

This transported me back to the days of Holton Road Junior School and the lost art of penmanship as taught by headmaster, Lewis Todd.

Mr Todd maintained that penmanship (and letter-writing) was a crucial part of education, forming in youngsters the attributes of patience, pride and much else besides that would serve them well in later life.

It seems to me that instead of gawping endlessly at computer screens at home and school, today’s youngsters would be better employed devoting a couple of hours a week to penmanship and writing “proper” letters.

Anyway, Yvonne Thomas, the author of my special letter, wondered if I had seen the latest edition of The Spectator journal.

Alas, The Spectator is not among my regular reading, although I do occasionally glance at a copy at Barry Library where my chief pleasure in the reading room is to study and to try to understand the Times Literary Supplement.

Ms Thomas helpfully enclosed a photocopy of The Spectator article she wished to discuss. It was entitled “Two-wheel tyranny” and was an impassioned plea to “stop turning beautiful country paths into grim cycle routes”.

The article referred to a grassy track in Warwickshire which had been re-surfaced and turned into just such a “grim cycle route.”

Ms Thomas reminded me that a similar nature walk at Sully Terrace, Penarth, would become an equally grim cycle route if residents failed in their bid to have the area designated a “village green”.

Ms Thomas wrote: “It seems the bicycling lobby want to grab all the green spaces.”

She suggested the Penarth route was not needed and was only being developed because “the council wants the dosh”.

The cycle route row in Penarth may seem minor, but it speaks to a sense of community which, like penmanship, is fast becoming a thing of the past.

Cyclists are among several pressure groups which have grown insidiously over the years. Many of them have become selfish nuisances with little concern for others in the community who wish to drive safely or protect grassy tracks.

Radical cyclists will preach about the environmentally friendly nature of their activity, but will think nothing of paving over green community areas like those in Warwickshire and Penarth so they can cycle along them.

To misquote Joni Mitchell: They paved paradise and laid down a cycle route.

Funnily enough, I was battling mentally with the Times Literary Supplement at  Barry Library (The Spectator being unavailable) when a chap approached with a “polite suggestion” for developing this column.

He suggested that I should study Our Village, by 19th Century author Mary Russell Mitford, which consists of more than 100 sketches of rural life in Three Mile Cross, near Reading.

My man said that I should model my efforts on Ms Mitford’s classic, painting portraits of places and characters.

Unfortunately, I don’t possess Ms Mitford’s literary gifts and don’t have the time or space to emulate her.

Quite what Ms Mitford would have made of grim cycle routes in rural areas is a fascinating question that must remain unanswered.

But we are no longer blessed by the kind of community life of which she wrote, nor do our towns and villages boast the sort of rounded characters who brightened the pages of her beautiful collection.

That said (and there is always somebody to give one hope), I received an e-mail (alas, not a letter) from a wonderful character called Kay Ball about the fund-raising Welsh Schools Track Championship at the Llandow circuit, and the forthcoming Welsh School Track Championships, in Cardiff

Despite not being in the best of health, Ms Ball helps organise the events and took time out to write to me with obvious pride in the youngsters who are involved.

She wrote: “So often we hear negative stories about the youth of today. We all know that there are ugly things happening in world but this was not one of them.

“I am so proud of them all and pleased I was able to organise a quality event for them again this year.”

Mary Russell Mitford would, I’m sure, have been proud of Ms Ball and her youngsters and have written eloquently about them.

I may well write back to Ms Thomas and Ms Ball, agreeing with the first and supporting the second – and I might use my old fountain pen to do it.

Check Also

Pedestrian hit by vehicle on Castle Street in Cardiff

A pedestrian has been hit by a vehicle on a busy Cardiff street. South Wales …