Emily Chappell

Just finished dreading Emily Chappell‘s What Goes Around, the memoir of a London bicycle courier. I thought it was an excellent read and would recommend it to anyone. It’s not just about urban cycling and really more about psycho-geography and how multiple universes coexist (the economic, the political, the intellectual and the emotional) in the same geographical space as well as interlocking and overlapping human networks of relationships. The fact that she is a lesbian in the predominantly male world of bike messengers adds an additional invaluable level of insight. In the early 60s I used to commute into the centre of London everyday by bicycle from the leafy suburbs. In the late 60s I was a company rep working in the same areas Emily would mainly work in as a courier. In the early 70s I was a minicab driver in London for a while and, in the mid 70s in Leeds a motorbike courier so I recognised a lot of the culture and life of the free-wheeling wheeled piece workers and the raggle-taggle community they make up. I must admit to getting quite nostalgic reading the book. But then was then and now is now. She will be visiting the Pedallers’ Arms on March 8th to give a talk.

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