Cycle on the Grand Canal

I was cycling into the Phoenix Park. Where the M50 meets the Grand Canal the water is usually dark.
Sometimes you can see pondweed wafting gently there. On the M50 bridge there was a small group of
teenagers in wetsuits. A low fence that I hadn’t noticed before protected them from the steep drop. There was
a large crowd of male teenagers some topless, some in wetsuits who egged on the small group. Finally one
dark haired teenager plucked up the courage and stood on the small fence. He jumped off creating a big
splash. The waves flowed out widening up and down the canal. Another teenager soon joined him. The
crowd cheered and demanded the remaining two teenagers join them. Cars and trucks honked their horns. I
wondered if they were supporting or criticising them. I shook my head thinking how silly these boys were. I
know they were just having fun, but it was stupid. What if a car hit them or they fell awkwardly from the
height and broke themselves?
I moved on, basking in the May sunshine that we rarely get. The Phoenix Park gloried in the weather with
many people being out. Some were playing frisbee, other loafing in shorts and many going topless. We were
all supposed to stay 2 meters apart, but few were. Most of the groups were not mingling. The guards where
there as was an officer from the Office of Public Works. They did not try to intervene as most people just
wanted to be outside, I guess. The Taoiseach himself and his partner and friends were all there as well
enjoying themselves. After an hour of reading and sunbathing I headed back.
Along the canal the scenery is not pretty. Many industrial buildings inhabit the right hand side and rubbish
and horse dung cling onto the towpath. There are many gates blocking the access to motorbikes and
scramblers. On one such gate the back wheel of my bike came off. The clip that keeps by back wheel in
place must have hit one of the gates. I turned by bike over seeking to push the wheel back into place. It was
tricky to get the chain and the wheel to line up properly. I couldn’t. I got frustrated and feared that I could be
left there with my bike useless now. Just then a group of teenagers walked by, different to the earlier group. I
was told to take the chain off and try again. One red headed fellow took my back wheel. He spoke with a
rough accent and I felt a bit intimidated by him. He quickly slotted the wheel into place so fast in fact I didn’t
get time to follow what he did. I thanked him. He then looked at his hands and complained that I caused his
hands to get dirty. He demanded payment. I felt obliged to pay him and gave him a tenner. He took it without
saying a word. I remember his hand out ready to grasp the money. I smiled to myself thinking help comes in
many strange ways.