I don't tend to think much on my 9 am-ish way to work. I'm alert enough to mind the traffic and wonder if current wool stocks will last to the end of current knitting projects, but not much else. I rely on traffic lights following their usual routines, roads more or less staying where they always were and a series of reassuring landmarks along the way. It's a gentle 20 minute journey from Hackney to Shoreditch, a gradual progression from sleepihead to today's to-do lists. But on a rather inconsequential grey Monday morning last December, as I approached the Hoxton roundabout, sleepihead had a bit of a rude awakening. Something was so profoundly wrong with the landscape. It wasn't the road closure signs, piles of rubble, diggers, men with drills and industrial headphones, all of which I have sort of woven into my sense of normal at any point on the route. It was the lovely I HEART Hoxton sculpture, sinking from view behind the rubble. If I'm honest I think I HEART the I HEART Hoxton sculpture more than I actually HEART Hoxton. I HEARTed it for years, before I even lived round here. She had big black hair and a wild and woolly look about her that I totally related to. And then as if to teach me a lesson about being dopey in the morning, and to leave me in no doubt about our new reality, she and her lovely kids were completely gone by the time I was back on my saddle for the dreary ride home. I imagined her buried underneath the not-roundabout, and promised her that I wouldn't forget her even if David Cameron's Tory philistine road planners were trying to edit her out.
And so I have to admit to having had quite a dilemma on my hands, when I read that the whole roundabout burying project was fully supported – even campaigned-for – by the London Cycling fundis, who'd apparently been saying for years that this major cycling route junction needed to be roundabout free. It didn't really add up, that my lovely I HEART Hoxton mum and her kids could have anything but the most cycling-friendly inclinations. I reluctantly concluded that she was basically a martyr to improved cycling arteries (although I never really struggled with that roundabout), and reaffirmed my comittment to her memory.
So finally we reach the happy end of this almost circular route, when on a similarly grey dank Monday morning, now February 2011, I discovered that far from being buried and martyred in the Hoxton rubble, my Hoxton mum and her entourage are back! They must have been rescued and put away for the winter (many apologies here to the road planners who are self evidently not tory or philistine). For the builders were carefully (well I don't know if it's carefully but I'm wishing that – very hard) cementing her into one of the newly extended corner pavements. So don't be alarmed if you see a curiously jolly wild and woolly looking cyclist making her merry way across the new junction. She is bonkers but only in her (sleepy) head.