“I was grateful for your invitation but though I do, in fact, cycle and have loved cycling all of my life, I am not a great one for going out in groups and see the bicycle more as a means of getting from A to B.
However, it was very kind of you to invite me on a ride and – who knows? – perhaps one of these days I might be able to join you.”
It’s jarring to think this is the same person who could write: “A festive custom we could do worse than foster would be stringing piano wire across country lanes to decapitate cyclists.”
Parris later apologised for his comments, a measure that mollified the Press Complaints Commission, which took no action against the columnist despite 550 complaints. To put this number of complaints into perspective, the most complained about article of 2007 had 480 complaints.