I surprised myself by liking this one; it’s subtle. Bear
This is from The Guardian
What does that tell us about its target
The headline is somewhat misleading; the vocabulary used is
interruption”, and at first it seems as though
the writer, Richard Williams, is on the side of Londoners against
the intrusive cyclists. Further reading, however, makes it clear
that the unwelcoming Londoners are, in fact, the object of his
hostility, and that the tone of this headline is one of sarcasm.
The subhead uses elevated language – “unmoved”
to convey the importance of this event and the emotional heat
it generated in some quarters.
The way the inhabitants of Primrose Hill, quite a swanky part
of London, are described in paragraph 1 suggests that Williams
perceives them as pretentious: “Leaving
their cups of espresso macchiato to cool on the pavement tables…”
Most of us, perhaps he is suggesting, would be happy with a
mug of Nescafe. There is, perhaps, irony in the fact that the
Londoners are aping the European culture of espresso macchiato
and pavement cafes whilst being so inflexible with regard to
the much loved European sport of cycling.
I like the contrast in paragraph 2 between the “gnarled
figures” and their “gaudy
racing bikes”. It suggests that their priority
is with their sporting equipment rather than personal glamour,
unlike (we assume) the sophisticated inhabitants of Primrose
In paragraph 3 the countdown begins. Now, this is what I mean
by it being subtle; the article is aiming at the idea that we
are in the countdown to the Olympics and that we will mess it
up if we don’t sort out London’s attitude to the
cycling element of that. This larger idea is posed against the
actual timings to which stage 6 of the Tour of Britain was working.
The fact that we are constantly reminded of time ticking by
gives an edge of tension and suspense to the whole piece.
Work through the piece and make a timeline of events. You can
even make it pretty, if you like!
Paragraph 4 returns us to the “elegantly
raffish” streets of Primrose Hill, ironically comparing
it to a “small town in Provence, waiting for the Grande
Boucle” to pass by.”
Why is this comparison ironic?
Paragraph 6 clarifies the difference in attitudes to cycling
between Europe and London.
Explain this difference.
What line in this paragraph gives the impression
that the writer has personally been on the wrong end of driver
selfishness? What word, particularly, from that line, does the
Paragraph 7 uses personification to describe the VW Golf.
What is the effect of the word “pottered”?
Two metaphors are used in paragraph 8 to describe the behaviour
of the police controlling the traffic.
What are these and what is their effect?
Apart from the attitude of the Londoners, what other problems
are faced by the cyclists?
Identify and list these from paragraph
(Dreadnought is a class of battleship; using it here suggests
the size of some of the speed bumps with which the cyclists
have to contend. It’s a metaphor.)
In paragraph 10 I like the contrast between “the
macchiato drinkers” and “the
survivors”. “survivors” also links
into the battle imagery suggested by “dreadnought”.
Obviously the cream of the cycling crop ( Tom
Boonen) are involved in this race, and maybe merit a little
more than “polite applause”,
which sounds a little half hearted and limp.
Paragraph introduces the entertaining metaphor of “the
broom wagon”, the vehicle which brings up the rear
to “sweep up” the
stragglers and drop outs.
Which word in paragraph indicates that the
police were struggling to maintain control over the shoppers?
In paragraph 13 the positive vocabulary, “vast
and good humoured crowd” is contrasted with two negative
phrases. What are they?
I found the conclusion to this piece quite unexpected. The
contrast between the gentle, comic narrative and the sharp warning
the piece finally delivers is almost as “brutally unexpected”
as the accident with which the race ended.