Thursday 2 December 2021

Diary of a Cycling Instructor (Week 14th June — 18th June)

 Can a T-junction be a metaphor for life?

Week Monday 14th June — Friday 18th June 2021

In the primary schools I’ve worked with, the ones I’ve been based at and the ones where I’ve been delivering cycling training so far, I’ve seen the same notice, or variations of it: “Please, do not leave any dirty dishes/glasses/ cups/ mugs/cutlery in the sink. Wash, dry and put them away.” Usually accompanied by a wild array (worthy of a Damian Hirst’s Turner Prize entry) of grease-stained plates left in the aforementioned sink.

othing like the countdown to the summer holidays echoing in a semi-empty staff room. It’s such a pleasure to hear teachers and teaching assistants working out the number of weeks left until the summer break after a Covid-struck sixteen months. It’s the same sense of normality I get as soon as I pedal off after a few days without cycling.

hilst waiting for the children to come out to the playground today I saw a magpie perched on a branch. I was suddenly reminded of the nursery rhyme. What’s not clear in the text is the time lapse between birds. For instance, I happened to see just the one magpie today, does that mean that I’ll have sorrow, even if another one joins it after a couple of seconds, thus, turning my sorrow into joy?

I can’t wait to see seven magpies, though, if only to reveal the secret that was never to be told.

egotiating a T-junction on two wheels is as just showing sharp observation and position skills as it is a good lesson for life. You don’t pull out of a junction (assuming you’re travelling on the side or minor road) without checking. Similarly, in life you shouldn’t jump into situations without thinking. Of course, occasionally we come up against unexpected events and our centuries-old fight-or flight instinct takes over. But when possible, consider doing what good riders do: wait until the road is clear and only then, proceed.


  1. I chant that song about magpies whenever I see them. Our magpies are different to yours - and I adore them and their warble.
    And of course the navigation of a T-junction can be an life analogy.

  2. I agree... negotiating a T-junction is a great analogy for dealing with unexpected events in life. Think before acting!

  3. Hi, long time no see. Welcome back to the blogworld.

  4. Yes, this. Negotiating a T junction could be a metaphor for many things in life.

  5. Lovely to see and read this blog post from you.
    Take care, my good wishes.

    All the best Jan

  6. Hi ACIL - I used to drive up the north coast of Cornwall (1960s) to glide and always counted the magpies in the fields on the way up ... the poem was fine then - now there are far too many of them - they are vultures to other native birds and their eggs - horrible thugs I call them. Of course you couldn't use that in your teaching about T junctions etc - when people sweep out in front of you ... but a fun read. Take care and cheers Hilary

  7. The "T-junction" is a good metaphor for life! Don't rush into things.

  8. Ahah!T junction s a vei kryss!!hih hih no wonder I was puzzled!

    Good question!

  9. A varied and interesting post, CiL. I was not familiar with the nursery rhyme about magpies and had to do a bit of research. I saw the number of lines is subject to change, and think, maybe, it would be advisable for most of us to keep the number at seven. Take care ....



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