The Darkness

Cue long hair, leather trousers, and unnecessary falsetto. Alternatively, we can talk about a different kind of darkness (Don’t worry – not the awkward kind. The literal kind).

I love cycling home from work. When I travel in in the morning I choose the route which is least hilly. Or, at least, it feels like it has a similar downhill after every uphill so you never get sweatier than is decent for the office. Make no mistake, you definitely walk the line, but you never completely cross it.

But the way home is fun. It’s largely (and steeply) downhill, so there’s very little work to be done, save for one horrible incline right at the end. Most of it winds through country roads, and there’s one bend where the trees suddenly clear and you can see the whole of Falmouth bay in below you, all the way to Pendennis castle right on the other side.

Or you could. Once upon a time.

The clocks went back yesterday. By the time I left work today it was fully dark outside. I pulled out of the car park onto the main road and and into absolute pitch darkness. Because if there’s one thing that Cornwall doesn’t seem to have discovered yet, it’s the street light.

I should have known this, really. I’ve been on many a (ludicrously expensive) bus at night time. The drivers hurtle down pitch black roads as if it isn’t terrifying that the cat eyes down the middle are genuinely necessary, rather than some kind of decoration, which is what I honestly assumed they were when I used to see them on the M25.

On my route home, there’s not even a cat’s eye. There are no street lamps. It’s the weirdest feeling in the world.

I have bike lights galore, but in the total darkness they kind of feel like the visual equivalent of farting into the wind (I desperately tried to think of a better analogy than that. But I’m just not fancy enough). They illuminate a couple of metres of road in front of me, and then I just have to trust my memory of where the potholes and the really squashed seagulls are. I only ever needed lights to help me be seen in London. In Cornwall I genuinely need them to see.

When you get to that bend in the road where the trees disappear and the bay opens up, well, it’s weird. It feels like I’m in one of those scenes in a sci-fi movie where they’re in a totally white space and you can’t tell what’s the floor and what’s the walls. Except it’s the polar opposite in real terms. Plus there’s nobody strapped to a table, and I feel like there’s quite often somebody strapped to a table when they’re in that room in a sci-fi movie. But I digress.

I definitely don’t miss the orange night sky I used to always see in London. We have stars here, which is very novel. I’m just suddenly having to trust that the road is still underneath me when I can’t see it, and that I’m going to end up in the right place.


Or it was. Oops.

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