When things go silent. Or when they should.

A couple of week's ago I got a migraine that lasted for four days. Kind of get them, but when this one finally went my hearing wasn't quite the same. A little dull. Thought nothing of it but it gradually got worse until it got to the point where I couldn't hear cars. Oddly enough on the one hand this was great; got fantastic sleep. Hmmm, something up. Wife suggested the doctor. Bugger that. Here in the UK seeing the doctor involves making an appointment.

Me: Can I have an appointment to see the doctor please?

Doctor: No, sorry we're full today.

Me: Can I make an appointment then?

Doctor: Sorry no appointments. Call when we open tomorrow at 08:30.

Me next day at 08:31: Can I have an appointment please.

Doctor: Sorry we're fully booked today.

Honestly I've no idea how you get to see doctors these days. Generally by the time you get to see one you're either well or dead.

Anyway guy at work says it's probably a wax build up. Can't be says I; I shower every day. Nah, happens mate. Ears innit. So off I go to get some drops. Five days later still can't hear cars so decide to try some different drops. Aha! What's this! An ear syringe. Excellent, I'll try that.

Bugger me, have you ever tried one? You get gobs of wax out the size of a finger joint, you really do. Most satisfying. I probed the things for a time, but they were yukky so flushed they were.

So what has this got to do with staying silent? Well a certain riding partner wanted to do the South Downs Way [SDW] but didn't want to do it in one hit, which is fair enough as I don't either. Can't see the point other than being able to say you did and it took ages, saw nothing. Right, the SDW; normally that involves two night's overnight accommodation as the start in Winchester is an early one. Logistics a bit bad there, and I don't like Winchester, so looking at the map I found we could ride from Reigate to Guildford along the North Downs [I kind of knew that anyway] then pick up the Down's Link to the SDW. 60 miles one day, 50 the next, cool. So I tried to source some accommodation. Not easy, not with bikes but I did it and gave him a date. "Can't do that, working" came the reply. Turns out that he is free one weekend in September, just as the night's draw in. I like a challenge.

Fair enough but that weekend is the Goodwood Revival. You try getting accommodation within 25 miles of that. Again managed it but only in a youth hostel as everywhere else full, which seemed fine to me but matey boy blew his top. He wanted, quite literally, five star accommodation and a bit of pampering. A sit down with a pint of Old Todger in a comfy lounge of an evening. Oh. Not a damp field under tarp then?

Er, we're on bikes. Not convinced muddy mountain bikes bikes go with five star hotels. But the deed was done, we're in a youth hostel, I've paid, deal with it. He's as grumpy with me for organising this as I am with him for not. Actually that's wrong. He's the kind of guy who'd be impossibly grumpy for several week's had he been overcharged 5p at the local cafe, where I'd be fairly calm in finding out I was the illegitimate love child of David Cameron and Mel B. But relatively speaking we're on par grump wise.

The point I'm making, other than having a slightly one sided dig, is that if you are organising a longer ride out, then perhaps certain standards need to be set right at the off, or even some thought and discussion given as to what long bike rides actually involve. My idea of overnight accommodation on a long bike ride generally involves nothing more than a place to lie down. Ten or twelve hours in the saddle I couldn't give a toss if the overnight has Sky or heated towels or just a damp floor to lie on. I just want to eat fish and chips, have a few local beers and lie down, perhaps give the bike away to a small child never to be seen again, catch the train back happy. Eating may be nothing more than cold beans that smell of damp primus gas. All the nubile virgins in the world may want my body, but they can sod off; I want to lie down and grumble. Yet my partner was diametrically the opposite, thinking butler service and in-room food served by said same willing virgins*. Duck down and warmed slippers, Jeeves rubs soothing embrocation into his nether regions. I'm not saying either approach is right or wrong [although clearly I tend towards accepting mine as correct, which you Dear Reader being astute will agree with], but if there are a few of you going, then you either need to quash false expectations, or set minimum standards. Either that or accept that whoever organises it has the final say. Hint, hint.

So, if you want to go on a long ride out involving overnight accommodation, chose your partner with care. Standards and expectations will differ, sometimes hugely. You may not be able to meet in the middle, and if the ride ends up a fiasco, then who will get the blame? The tag alongs or the bod that organised it? This being the UK it will be the organiser, moi. Yet oddly enough I'm still keen on the ride out.

*Why is it that when you are actually coming of age and need to dispose of one's own virginity, any old slapper will do, even somebodies nan, yet as you get older you only think in terms of nubile virgins, yet the harsh reality of life is the direct opposite?