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Gill loves London and big city life.

With her new job in Bristol, she is going through a type of withdrawal. No more exciting night life (drunk at the pub with her friends), no more ethnic restaurants with every kind of food imaginable (of course, since she basically eats only rice, a moot point), no more large stores in which to shop (never thought you’d miss The TopShop, did you Gill?), no more Catlady and her needy feline roommate. The pace of life has slowed and she finds herself in a small city not unlike the one where she grew up…and from which she escaped!

From my perspective, her life in Bristol sounds delightful — quiet, near the countryside and sea, hippie-like laid back culture, artistic people, health food stores galore…But she is finding it, how shall I put this diplomatically? Dull.

Too white middle-aged, Waspish, conservative. Did I mention dull? As I write this, she is plotting her triumphant return to London. She is determined to live again in the thriving metropolis.

But recently I sensed a slight chink in her armor. She told me, in a delighted tone, that she met two colleagues who both ride bicycles built for two. I believe they each ride with their significant others to work. This is the one thing that Gill has mentioned since her move to Bristol that really appeals to her. She asked if she could perhaps try them sometime. One colleague said they could get a ‘sidecar’ attachment and would be happy to take her along. Pippi Longstocking rides again. Although the sidecar might  bring to mind more the Target ad with Bullseye the dog riding ‘sidesaddle’. Substitute Gill for Bullseye and you see where I’m going with that.

When Gill lived here one summer, she took a course in the evenings at our local university. Rather than drive the car such a short (by car) distance, she hopped on her old school bike with its straw basket and toddled off. Knowing that she had been in several close encounters of the dangerous kind in Toronto, I feared for her safety. But, realizing her limitations, she rode on the sidewalk. Illegal perhaps, but safer for everyone within a one-mile radius. Even though she’d be hard to miss in her gingham shirt, holey green pants and flip flops, she might suddenly lurch into traffic or cause a gawker to veer into a lamppost in disbelief at the sight of her. Either way, things wouldn’t end well.

But the mere fact that Gill seems to be embracing the tranquil country life is a positive sign as I see it. Why, soon she might tone down her rants about ‘how slow these people move’. Instead of her current ‘Don’t they know I have things to do, places to go? They’re holding me back’ attitude, she might learn to appreciate long walks in the country and a less harried way of life. Fewer nightly battles with the rebels under her bed, fewer scratches on her face from her night terrors, less churning of her Crohnsy stomach. One can hope. Although, judging by the scratches on her face that were evident during our last Skype chat, it will take a while. Then again, someone like myself who has been chastised by the dentist for grinding  my teeth at night is in no position to criticize.

Perhaps Gill will get her own bicycle built for two and I can visit her.We can ride together! More likely, she’ll hightail it back to London before I can grow my hair long enough for the requisite Pippi Longstocking ponytails.Pity.

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