Hello, it’s still me. Right, that’s the popular introduction out of the way.
At this point, there are various routes that can be taken when trying to explain just what happened, but the simplest – or the one I prefer – is the outside changed; the inside is still the same.
Strictly speaking, that’s not quite true, however I’ve never been a fan of anything remotely squeamish, so if you think you need more detailed information of what may or may not have occurred then may I deflect you towards the search engine of your choice.
It’s my own little version of Brexit.
The beginning of the new era began when I got an enquiry from Ned Boulting, who also writes for these hallowed pages, asking if I’d like to be on ITV4 as a studio guest for their Tour coverage. And I thought, yeah, maybe. Why not?
And so it all developed from there with no real certainty of the outcome or whether there’d be an outcry. But it’s the modern world, one that is slowly re-discovering the delights of vinyl and the classic black-and-white war film at Christmas.
Everyone said it’s going to be fine, just fine.
Fast forward a few weeks and I’m sitting in the commentary booth in Ealing Studios with Matt Smith, who I’ve seen on TV arguing the merits of the Liverpool back four with Robbie Fowler.
This could be awkward and I’m kind of hoping he isn’t going to argue with me, but I needn’t have worried because it turns out that, despite probably having done more research on cycling than I’ve considered possible, he thinks I hold all the answers. They all do. Wow!
Reputations can be helpful when you least expect it and since I’m a prickly (sic) legend, no one dares pose the questions that usually get asked. At this juncture, I’ll say as a reformed character, I’m not in anyway a legend despite the ‘Robert’ mugs.
Talking of those spotty drinking vessels, will they become collectors’ pieces? Even worse, what about all those signatures I did on team postcards? Will punters expect an update?
I unwittingly thought family and friends were the ones to consider, but now I realise the unknowns really are unknown and the powers that be at Chateau Rouleur might be docking my monthly pension for a stack of out-of-date ceramics…
Maybe they could put a bit of lipstick on them, no one will notice.
One thing is for sure. Morten isn’t coming round my house for three days to hang out, like he did with Lance.
The Texan has a cleaner and though my domestic duties are more extensive than you might imagine, I don’t mind a bit of dust. Not when I’ve got ceilings to paint and a cat making constant demands.
Then again, I could take up cycling again to get some ‘me’ time.
Didn’t I say I was two years into a break from pedalling a lot less furiously than you would expect? No?
Sorry if that’s a more shocking revelation, though possibly one I can take full responsibility for. The reason, in keeping with my acquired status, is pure vanity.
Muscle memory, too much riding and Voila jeans don’t fit any longer. I’m not buying the bigger size, I’m just not. Voila is a make of jeans, by the way.
But I’m getting restless and I find, as so many do when the season comes around, I’m being drawn towards the cover in the garage, under which – if the mice haven’t developed a penchant for Michelin’s finest clinchers – hides my neglected machine.
Yeah, clinchers. That’s another shock horror to digest. Though you might have believed old pros would never stoop so low as having tyre levers and inner tubes in their saddle pouch, this one does.
This is the modern world and the environment needs protecting so I assume my responsibilities, and in the event of an inflationary mishap, I wouldn’t dare chuck the deflated rubber over a road sign or onto a branch to hang there pathetically.
No, those are bygone days. Now with the advent of recycling bins languishing out front in most households, I’ll chuck it in someone’s porch or driveway. Recycled for further happy days. Just like me.
So, next edition, all will be back to normal with the usual stories of misery, corruption and things that go bump in the night.
In the meantime, can I say thank you to Ian, Guy, Will, Dan and Neil for their wisdom, all at Vsquared TV for their welcome, and you – the cultured, informed and discerning reader of this fine publication – for your curiosity.
Admit it, you were wondering what I was going to say. I was.
This column is an extract from Rouleur 17.6