Cycle couriers - a bird's eye view
11.12.05 by Mike Bessenger
As told to Mike Bessenger by B & B
Muscular, tanned, dread-locked and oh so fit, but are cycle couriers everything a bird could ask for? From a distance, perhaps, but on closer inspection do you want a man who shaves his legs more than you and looks better in lycra? We went out on the street and interviewed a flock of birds from receptionists to girlfriends and found out what they think of the fittest delivery boys. “They are real men compared to the suits that work here”, according to Sally, a receptionist who works on the front desk of a Clerkenwell publishers, they are the real-life equivalent of the 11 o’clock coke man break’.
Not bad for a start, but what about those live in close proximity to this epitome of masculinity? ‘He farts, belches and is passionate about bikes’, said Beth, the long-term partner of A-Z courier, ‘he comes home smelly and sweaty and then expects me to kiss him’.
So, brief interaction is inspiring while long-term exposure is despairing. A bizarre breed indeed. ‘They provide a nice variation to all the suits in the city’, said Emmanuelle, a City lawyer, ‘except when you get stuck in a lift late in the afternoon with their manly aroma seeping out of the lycra gimp suit’.
So smell is an issue. The early bird might get a delightful, sweat-free courier, but come the afternoon, there’s not a lot more than a smelly, sweaty worm.
Then of course, there’s the pub hierarchy. Julia, a friend of a courier, says, ‘they never remember my name, even though I’ve been drinking in the Duke of York for about two years. Why is this? Madness, stupidity or is there a secret code that we women have not yet been initiated to?’
On a mission to discover the truth straight from the cycle courier’s mouth, we stopped Sid in the street. I could see his eyes lurking behind dark, aerodynamic glasses. ‘Well, it’s simple, a courier is known by his call-sign and a bird by her bra size.’
Sid was enlightening us with his progressive opinions and I swear I heard a passing police woman mumble, ‘smelly, uncouth and drunken but they do have nice legs.’
‘A bird needs a courier like a fish needs a bicycle’
This article first appeared in Moving Target in April 99.
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