21 August 2010

Something About Worldwide Cycling



Halfdan Rasmussen was a Danish poet - and resistance fighter during WW2 - who was well-known both for his nonsense verse for children and his societal critique. In one of his books - Tosserier i udvalg from 1960 he included a satirical song/poem that rings incredibly true in 2010. The illustration, above, is from the poem, picturing a devil on a bicycle.

It is a satirical piece taking the piss out of motorists and their disdain for cyclists. It dates from 1960 when urban planning in Denmark was already starting to revolve around the car and people were buying them in large numbers. Cycling levels were falling and - like we see even today here in Denmark - cycling was getting a heap of bad press.

It is incredibly difficult to translate it quickly, not least because it's designed to rhyme in Danish, but here's the meat in the sandwich:

Something About Worldwide Cycling
Speech given at KDAK's AGM by the President of The SADMBIIPD Party
"Sammenslutning af Dannebrogsmænd med benzindrevne indretninger købt på dollarbasis" or "Union of Danish Patriots with Petrol Driven Vehicles Bought with Dollars"

Dear party members! Those who are gathered here today to speak about the motorists' cause
know all too well that it isn't Hamlet or Van Gogh that are society's motor today.

He who wants to feel must learn to hear the motor-driven song in his blood
if he wishes to follow the times and drive the past farther behind us.

As we all know our chosen party is elected legally by the voters
with percentages from the agricultural and heavy-machinery industries.

But if our party will be known as one that honourably pays its debts
it is, however, here we must danse and leap if we are to profit from society.

There is, however, one thing that makes our fight difficult, in every respect;
People with a knife up their sleeves
who knock the lamp out of our hands in order to build foundations on sand

These methods and this fanaticism, pretending to be something they're not
label themselves as savage cyclists that is financed by foreign powers!

Those of us who drive our cars to our daily chores, to watch over our proud old nation
meet each day, both here and in Herning, the pedalling provocation of the masses

Nothing is sacred for these subjects who create chaos and remote-controlled defiance
in order to profit from future generations who have a completely different currency than us!

Therefore, and without wavering one bit, but because of reasons that demand an answer
we should stand firm and fight these tormentors - in order to preserve the tormentors we have.

Those who wish to cycle must cycle on the path, in a democratic and noble way
Because like it says in the encyclopaedia, pigs in fine clothes are still just pigs!

So we must and will fight like lions and strike these mad dogs of cycling
before they maul us all, large and small.

It is cycling that threatens the nation, the king and the long arm of the law
It is cycling that squeezes the lemon, like a baby hyena at it's mothers breast

Countrymen and farmers, from Jutland and Denmark alike, at home and abroad, at sea and on land!
Like Holger Danske we throw down our gloves and shout at every cyclist, 'STOP'!

Stop, because you're driving our country into the ditch!
Stop before the hour to light your bike lights arrives
The abyss before us is enormous. The canyon is wider still.
The greatest day will be that when the cyclists leave!


Sound familiar? :-)

Thanks to Hans for the poem.

4 comments:

kfg said...

"[i]Those who wish to cycle must cycle on the path, in a democratic and noble way
Because like it says in the encyclopaedia, pigs in fine clothes are still just pigs![/i]"

"Sound familiar?"

Indeed; it sounds exactly like John Forrester's version of the true motivation for separated cycling facilities as a MOTORISTS movement to kick cyclists to the gutter where they belong.

Green Idea Factory said...

Thanks, Mikael... sadly not enough people listened at the time, which begs the question of what year since 1960 was the absolute nadir for cycling, at least in Copenhagen? (Making up a year could serve as further inspiration for more prose or poems... or raps).

Also, IS cycling getting a "heap of bad (Danish) press" these days?

Anonymous said...

Cyclists are selfish pigs!

"Bicyclists who ride on {these roads} are extremely reckless in my opinion" says elected leader Brazil, "they don't care about the motorists they just care about themselves and its selfish."

http://www.fox2now.com/news/ktvi-st-charles-bike-ban-081810,0,6493731.story

This BS is real and growing in the Show Me state. Much of this anti-cyclists rants and reductions in rights are being led by the political class (cycling = socialism).
Jack

kfg said...

"(cycling = socialism)."

Well, let us see; the first dedicated motorway was built in the 30s by . . . why yes, it's Mister Hitler. This was soon followed by a motorway in Italy built by . . . well what do you know, it's Mr. Mussolini.

Now tell me again which mode of transport is the darling of the socialists?