Colin Montgomery: ‘Ninja cyclists’ should play Verdi’s Requiem on their headphones

Charlie Higson and Arabella Weir as The Nice Painters from the Fast Show. (BBC)
Charlie Higson and Arabella Weir as The Nice Painters from the Fast Show. (BBC)
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“Black, black, black!!! I’m a fly trapped in a bottle of shadows!” For any fan of TV’s The Fast Show, this cry of despair will be familiar.

The existential angst of Johnny Nice Painter, triggered by the colour black, was a classic sketch. I was glued to the show as a student. Some years later, things got a little more serious as I found myself, like Johnny, in bits, come the dark winter nights thanks to an underlying depression (undiagnosed) exacerbated by the chilly gloom that envelops Edinburgh of an afternoon, come November right through until February. Scunnered doesn’t begin to cover it.

These days, I manage the descent into the dark nights much more successfully. What’s now a source of angst when the nights start drawing in is the appearance – or non-appearance – of the city’s “ninja cyclists”.

Well that’s what I call the randoms who think it OK to take to their bikes fully clad in dark clothing, with little or no reflective gear, insipid front and rear lights and, incredibly, in some cases, headphones on, lost in a world of their own. I hope they’re playing a remix of Verdi’s Requiem on their expensive cans, because a premature demise is what they’re cycling into.

Last week, I nearly crunched through some urchin on a BMX who jumped a light on Junction Street in the dark. And by the way, I was doing the regulation 20 at the time. It’s not just tearaways though – I’ve seen adult cyclists, who should know better, playing Russian Roulette in the crepuscular murk of early morning/early evening. So please, if I promise to be a good driver, could you lot on two wheels start doing something to make sure you’re seen this winter? All bright ideas welcome.