Liquorice Allsorts

Depression is more akin to endurance rides than the slick circuits of track racing; that is why I prefer the rigours of the mountains to the thrills of the velodrome.  I am more at home with the throbbing pain in the balls of my feet, and the feel of lactic acid scraping my shins, than with the shifty-eyed cat and mouse mind-games of track cyclists who explode towards the finish line in a  rush of brute force, leaving their rivals wobbling in their wake.

Over the past three and a half months my life has certainly felt like an endlessly recurring 12 hour time trial, the kind Beryl Burton was so good at.


Beryl Burton (1937-1996) was one of the greatest cyclists to pedal these islands.  She came from Yorkshire (obviously), and in 1967 she set a new 12-hour time trial record of 277.25 miles – a mark that surpassed the men’s record of the time by 0.73 miles and was not superseded by a man until 1969.  While setting the record she caught and passed Mike McNamara who was on his way to setting the men’s record at 276.52 miles. She is reputed to have given him a liquorice allsort as she passed him. Apparently, McNamara ate the sweet.

While I recognise  the uncanny powers liquorice, it’s taking 40mgs of Citalopram, and 50mgs of Trazadone Hydrochloride per day, to keep me pedalling in the foothills, never mind coming anywhere near McNamara’s 1967 time of 276.52 miles.

Her record still stands today.

People often tell me how surprised they are that I am depressed because they say how I come across as so jolly and out-going – here’s why it looks that way:

Not Waving but Drowning

Nobody heard him, the dead man,
But still he lay moaning:
I was much further out than you thought
And not waving but drowning.

Poor chap, he always loved larking
And now he’s dead
It must have been too cold for him his heart gave way,
They said.

Oh, no no no, it was too cold always
(Still the dead one lay moaning)
I was much too far out all my life
And not waving but drowning.

Stevie Smith (1902 – 1971)

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