The good, the bad & the cyclists
There's nothing quite like being chased by an emu.
Singaporean pharmacists have nothing on their shelves that provide a faster laxative effect than being chased by an emu.
A few years ago, I was wandering through an Australian forest when the most adorable emu chicks crossed my path.
And then a large shadow loomed overhead. Somehow, I had stumbled between a mother and her newborns. I looked at the giant bird. She looked at me. We both thought the same thing.
She could take me.
For the first five seconds, Usain Bolt would not have caught me.
My dash was slightly awkward as my daughter was sitting on my shoulders at the time. She flew backwards, her eyes sliding towards the back of her head as she screamed something like "Daddy, what the **** are you doing?"
But we made it to the forest clearing safely and changed our soiled underwear.
That harrowing scene was reconstructed this week on a Marine Parade footpath with a cyclist playing me - and my wife taking on the role of the emu.
Without warning, he pedaled between my wife and daughter and his fishing gear clipped my little girl as he passed.
She wasn't hurt, but it was enough. My furious wife gave chase in her flip-flops.
Now it's impossible to sprint in flip-flops without looking like a waddling penguin in desperate need of a pee.
Like that girl in Forrest Gump, I was tempted to shout: "Run, flip-flop, run!"
Thankfully, for the cyclist at least, he pulled away like Lance Armstrong after a night with the needles and escaped.
But still, aren't some cyclists getting a bit carried away?
Before anyone beats me with a bicycle pump, I am a regular cyclist. I'm content to sit in a saddle for so long I end up requiring a soothing balm for my nether regions.
But I'm old school. Paths are for pedestrians. Roads are for riders. I learned that cruel lesson when a sadistic policeman caught me riding through an East London shopping mall when I was 10 years old.
"Oi! Evel Knievel," he shouted sarcastically, (allow me to use a pop culture reference for our older readers). "You can't ride your BMX here, get on the road."
And he pointed me towards a frantic, congested dual-carriageway seemingly carrying the circus to the next town.
"But there's all them juggernauts and big red buses," I sputtered.
"Wow, you don't miss anything, do you? Have you considered a career in the police force?"
I left the comedian and tiptoed onto the road with my BMX. My terrified, jittery steering was so erratic, no vehicle dared to overtake.
I firmly believe that I engineered one of the longest traffic jams London has ever seen.
But I haven't cycled on a pavement since, which puts me in a bit of a minority here.
Some of these guys who plough through footpaths aren't just cyclists. They're loonies with bells. (Or sometimes without, which is worse).
We've all heard their bells. That faint "tring, tring" gets louder and louder until the bell ringing reaches such a crescendo that you aren't sure whether to move aside to let the bike pass or kiss your relatives goodbye.
These guys don't see a front wheel. They see a parang. They'll slice through families, aunties with shopping, schoolchildren and small sausage dogs. They don't discriminate.
But my daughter getting clipped by a handlebar was the straw that broke my wife's back. She thinks she's Clint Eastwood in The Good, The Bad And The Cyclist.
She now refuses to step aside.
Just this week, I told her not to be childish on a Bedok footpath.
"Move out of the way of the bike," I said. "If nothing else, it'll stop that damn bell. I feel like Quasimodo."
"No, this is a footpath. I'm not moving," she insisted, facing down the approaching cyclist. "He's invading my space."
"Yes, all right Braveheart. He might never take away your freedom, but he might take away your spleen."
At the final second, I pulled her aside, the cyclist wobbled and swore at us in Mandarin and my wife swore at me in English.
But there are vital life lessons to be learned here. Whatever the mode of transport, we've got to share the limited space around us sensibly and selflessly.
Hold back on the bell. Try to avoid pets and small children. And steer clear of my wife.