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Yesterday I stepped into ‘dead men’s shoes’ as I was inducted into the Pickwick Club. This was founded in 1870 and is the world’s oldest bicycle club. It’s also the world’s oldest extant Dickensian association.
Members - who wear club ties and straw boaters - are given sobriquets, all taken from characters in the Pickwick Papers. At yesterday’s luncheon I was told my sobriquet. I’m now Mr. Grundy. There are only a finite number of characters in the book so to become a member you go on a seven-year waiting list and when an unfortunate member shuffles off this mortal coil, in you jump.
Charles Dickens wrote that Mr Grundy was no singer, which fits me fine.
‘Mr. Grundy’s going to oblige the company with a song,’ said the chairman.
‘No, he ain’t,’ said Mr. Grundy.
‘Why not?’ said the chairman.
‘Because he can’t,’ said Mr. Grundy.
‘You had better say he won’t,’ replied the chairman.
‘Well, then, he won’t,’ retorted Mr. Grundy.
My guests for the induction - L to R - were: Bill Davies (my father-in-law), Al Reid (my dad), David Goodwin (my Newcastle riding buddy), Phil Liggett, Phillip Darnton (chair of Cycling England), and Tour de France tome author Graeme Fife.
Not present at yesterday’s fine meal at the New Connaught Rooms, near Covent Garden in London, was my sponsor, Bob Chicken. He’s currently in Madeira and won’t be reading this entry….but, thanks, Bob!