Tuesday, 17 September 2013


Every now and then I try to break up the pattern of my posts by entering something a little different and when I read this poem by Henry Beeching, I felt I had to  include it in my blog. 

Going Down Hill on a Bicycle

by Henry Charles Beeching

A Boy's Song

With lifted feet, hands still,
I am poised, and down the hill
Dart, with heedful mind;
The air goes by in a wind.

Swifter and yet more swift,
Till the heart with a mighty lift
Makes the lungs laugh, the throat cry:—
"O bird, see; see, bird, I fly.

"Is this, is this your joy?
O bird, then I, though a boy,
For a golden moment share
Your feathery life in air!"

Say, heart, is there aught like this
In a world that is full of bliss?
'Tis more than skating, bound
Steel-shod to the level ground.

Speed slackens now, I float
Awhile in my airy boat;
Till, when the wheels scarce crawl,
My feet to the treadles fall.

Alas, that the longest hill
Must end in a vale; but still,
Who climbs with toil, wheresoe'er,
Shall find wings waiting there.

Henry Charles Beeching was born in 1859 and died in 1919. He was educated at The City of London School and later at Balliol College, Oxford. Beeching was a clergyman who became the Dean of Norwich. He was also an author and poet.

I can vividly remember flying down a hill at the ripe old age of fifteen on my Speedwell Fleetwing with no gears and only a back pedal brake to slow the pace. To make matters worse, it was winter,  the road was icy and at the bottom I had to make an acute right hand turn. Suffice to say I didn't make it. As I attempted to turn, the bike slipped out from under me and I skidded right across the intersection, up over a gutter and came to rest at the door of the hotel's public bar. The event emptied the bar as everybody came out to investigate the noise and although I was helped to my feet, I copped a fair whack of abuse for being stupid, that is after they determined I was O.K. The embarrassment was more acute than the actual gravel rash and bruising.
As a boy, I was always seeking adventure or fantasising about it. It was the era when kids roamed free, read comics about their fictional heroes and re-enacted the scenes from the Saturday afternoon cinema matinee. My bike was my most precious possession and I used it daily.

I remember one particular summer's day when a small group of friends rode to the top of the largest mountain in our area, some 5000 ft. above sea level. When I say rode, I say it lightly because we actually had some help in the form of semi-trailers. In those days, semi-trailers weren't as powerful as they are now and they actually struggled to make it to the top of the mountain with a full load. Boys being boys, we took advantage of this and held onto the side of the semi on the steepest climbs. It all sounds extremely dangerous, but in fact, we didn't perceive it as being dangerous as the semi would have been travelling around 5 to 10 mph, there was light traffic and it was quite easy to hang onto the side. Needless to say, we didn't inform our parents of our actions. To this day, I still love the exhileration of descending quickly down hills.

Cheers and safe riding,

Jimmy Bee

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