I don’t ask for much when I go for a bike ride. Sunshine, a tailwind, good legs, and coffee and pastries half-way round. I am a man of simple pleasures.
When I’m denied, however, you’re advised to stand well back.
There is a small town near where I live called Kirkby Lonsdale. It is in a geographically convenient location: without too much in the way of route planning it sits at the mid-point of any number of 40-50 mile rides.
It also has cafes that serve coffee and pastries.
Myself and a regular riding buddy rolled into town on a recent Saturday morning, leant our bikes up against the sign that said “please do not lean bikes against the paintwork,” and entered our regular café.
To be met, mid entrance, by a large Irish man.
“Sorry lads,” he announced, “can’t serve you today I’m afraid…we’re catering for the movie.”
He then, essentially, shooed us out the door.
We were dumbstruck.
In our haste for caffeine and millionaire shortbread we had failed to notice that the entire town square was now a fenced off, access only, movie set. My friend accosted a passer-by (with an ostentatiously displayed access pass) to ask: “What’s all this then?”
The indignation in his voice immediately sent him up in my estimation.
“Yeah…” I thought to myself, “explain yourself, movie person…”
“Dr Dolittle,” the movie minion replied, “it’s a Robert Downey Jr thing.”
We Googled it furiously, in a rage.
For a second time, we were dumbstruck. We rolled a little further into town and found an alternative café. It was full, but we squeezed in. The expression on the face of every customer seemed to say:
“Unbelievable…suddenly OUR money isn’t good enough for our first choice of café, and all because of Robert-so-called-Downey-Jr. Instead, we’ve had to obtain refreshments in this different, yet also very pleasant, café. Who does he think he is!?”
And if you think that’s a complex narrative to display in the form of a facial expression then trust me: once you’ve seen it, you recognise it.
I was still tempted to find him, grab him by the lapels, and make my point: “I don’t care if you are Ironman…” I might have begun, before nailing the moment with a sarcastic yet witty point about the sham of Hollywood and it’s preening self-importance.
“You’re in Cumbria now, Bob!” I would’ve concluded.
But the truth is the coffee at this new place was really rather good.
The precious movie types were missing out.
I think we made our point.