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Le Tour de France comes almost to my Front Door


Terpsichore
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I am not a cycling fan, I don't own a bike,  I have not even been astride one since the age of 13, But it is not every day that the Tour de France passes within a few hundred yards of one's front door. So I went to take a look at a place called Thongsbridge which is the nearest point to my front door.

 

Those who live outside Yorkshire may be unaware of the enormous hype that has been building up about this event for the best part of a year. The whole county seems to have down with jaundice or perhaps measles with red, green, and polka dot flags everywhere. Even Sid's cafe from Last of the Summer Wine has come out in spots, Not to be outdone by my neighbours I put on a lemon coloured dress to blend in with la foule.

 

I arrived shortly before the caravan - a fast moving procession of sponsors floats - were due to arrive. There were several hundred people - possibly more - at the crossroads that I had chosen. All were in a very good humour. Whenever police outriders or official vehicles passed by - and there were French coppers as well as English ones (la Gendarmerie and La Police Nationale) - they raised cheers from the crowd. Some of the British flics hung their hands through their vehicle windows to exchange high fives with the crowd.

 

Lots of people were dressed in yellow or red polka dots. I had learned of the maillot jaune in my "O" level class but had spent the previous 65 years in blissful ignorance of the green, white and red spotted ones. I know now. There was one splendid chap dressed as a Roman centurion whose pic I have posted to my twitter stream. "We're the Yorkshire Roman Legion and there's only one of us" he chanted alternating with the name of our county "Y-o-o-o-o-ork-shi-i--i-ire" as if we didn't already know. At one point he held a naked broadsword to a constable's throat and surprisingly was not charged with umpteen public order offences. "That's my wife" he shouted gesturing to a lady who smiled nervously. I'm not sure I'd have wanted to be identified had I been she.

 

While all this was going on I was texting my copains in Alsace who were watching the event on French telly. "Heptonstall" they messaged me. "That's miles away" I replied. "Ca va" came from Colmar, "I'll do the washing up and I have just put a delicious lemon cake in the oven." Now cakes and I are well acquainted but we have had to part company since I took up adult ballet. So I told my friends that I had danced in Northern Ballet Academy's end of year show. I could almost sense the Vosges shaking guffaws on the banks of the Rhine before I received a "sans blague" back for my pains together with the word "LOCKWOOD".  

 

Now Lockwood is one of the suburbs of Huddersfield so I thought I had bags of time but no sooner had I received the text than a roar erupted from the crowd and the leading cyclists rushed through. They were too quick for me to snap them but my ballet teacher Fiona has posted some video of the race to her Facebook page. A few seconds later came the pack also peddling furiously in a blur.  And then they were gone.

 

This experience has not given me a taste for the sport and I doubt that I will ever go out of my way to see it again but I am glad that I watched it.  It is not as thrilling as ballet but at least I know that now. One good thing about the event is that the main roads were closed to vehicular transport so a delightful silence fell upon our town. For me that was the best part of the day.

Edited by terpsichore
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Fantastic,Terpsichore. For the last few years our little village [Camlough] outside of Newry has had cyclists from the the Giro D`Italia cycling tournament passing through. Nowhere near as important as the Tour De France ,of course, but it is always lovely to see all these cyclists relaxing outside our local cafe,as they were just last week. Livens up the place a bit.!

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Fantastic,Terpsichore. For the last few years our little village [Camlough] outside of Newry has had cyclists from the the Giro D`Italia cycling tournament passing through. Nowhere near as important as the Tour De France ,of course, but it is always lovely to see all these cyclists relaxing outside our local cafe,as they were just last week. Livens up the place a bit.!

 

I was educated in the importance of the Giro by a balletomane or at least the husband of a balletomane. Don Dalgetty, whose wife Susan chairs the London Ballet Circle, is a cycling fan and so is their daughter. When I complained that road closures would prevent my nipping down to London to catch London Amateur Ballet's performance on Saturday he reproached me for my negativity. In the course of his lecture Don told me all about the Giro and his delight that two major cycling events had been attracted to this country. Apparently the equivalent of the maillot jaune is a pink t-shirt.

 

While I am on the subject of the London Ballet Circle, Susan has given me a whole stack of application forms and asked me to recruit members outside London. She points out - and I agree with her - that although the Circle has "London" in its title it supports dance throughout the UK and that includes Northern Ireland, thequays, and Irish colonies in Lancashire, JanetMcNulty. I was delighted to notice London Ballet Circle's trade mark on Ballet Cymru's programme when I saw them dance "Beauty and the Beast" in Lincoln two weeks ago. The Circle supports the Yorkshire Ballet Summer School every year and one of the promising young Yorkshiremen they have assisted was Xander Parish who will be talking to the Circle on 4 Aug 2014. I might add that it was at the Summer School gala in York that I last saw Parish and his sister dance in 2007.   I am delighted at the prospect of seeing him dance again as Romeo at Covent Garden on 29 July.

 

So far, the only dance fan from the North that I have been able to interest in London Ballet Circle membership has been Skydancer so please do consider it. You can apply online and the sub is only £12 which entitles you to £3 off the admission charge to the Circle's meetings. The last meeting that I attended was addressed by Chris Marney who is my favourite living British choreographer - I'm not saying he's the best (who am I to judge) but he's my favourite. Ballet Black's Two of a Kind at Nottingham Playhouse two weeks ago was so moving it left me close to tears. Other folk whose talks I have attended have included Sir Peter Wright, Lauren Cuthbertson, Ruth Brill and Elena Glurdjidze. The Circle also does tours to ballet schools and places like Thurrock. Quite a bargain I'd say.

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