WRIGHT THINKING: On knitting needles and night cycling in Hartlepool

Riding at night.
Riding at night.

FOR today’s unlikely links, how about knitting needles, white water rafting and adventure cycling in Hartlepool?

I’m sure that younger readers will be amazed to hear that knitting needles had a key role in selecting candidates for jobs before the days of computers.

The basic idea was to fill a shoe box with a set of file cards which each contained details of a potential employee’s skills and experiences.

Holes were punched in the card, but an open slot was left above the skill category which a person did not have.

With me so far?

If you were looking for people with a range of essential skills, you could slide your trusty knitting needle through all of the cards and lift upwards.

The cards with the open slots would be left in the box, and your needle would be left holding the people who it might be worth interviewing.

I’m not making this up you know – it was a pretty nifty way of performing the task in those prehistoric days of a few decades ago.

Today, of course, you can give the knitting apparatus back to your mum, and simply run a computer search of the applications to do the same job.

As you ask, the reason all this is on my mind is that a computer picked me out for a task recently, and it produced a wide range of guffaws among friends when I was selected as a specialist in adventure travel.

Away from here, I do a fair bit of travel writing for assorted magazines, and I know that many Hartlepudlians have had the start of their holiday spoiled when my smiling face jumps out at them from an in-flight magazine.

To be fair to the search engine, I have written about some pretty scary things over the years, including white water rafting in the Caribbean and hot air balloon flights in the Middle East.

The rafting adventure, in particular, is way up there on my list of scary things to do.

Hurtling down rapids on a mountainside is highly exhilarating – until you fall out.

We were told to hang on to the safety rope but I’m a man, so I didn’t.

Our guide pulled me out of the fast-flowing river just before we hit a rock and lobbed me back into the raft.

He slapped me on the safety helmet and screamed “Rope!”

I didn’t let go of it again.

Proper adventure travel junkies are always looking for new things to do in the dangerous category, so I’m going to write a feature about night-time cycling in Hartlepool.

Perhaps it’s a good time to remind you of the basic rules – and, if you drive around the town, you will vouch for the truth of my words.

First, cyclists must only ride after dark and must be dressed totally in black.

Any lights must be removed, and fitted reflectors must be smashed off just in case a driver is given an unfair advantage in seeing you.

It’s also essential to wear headphones so that there is no chance of hearing the approaching car which could send you to the great cycle park in the sky.

And one final piece of essential etiquette.

If a driver gives you a warning blip with his car horn to help you as you turn right in front of him with no signal, you must make a two-fingered gesture and shout an obscenity in cheery greeting.

After shooting the rapids and high-speed ski trips, this could be the next big thing in extreme tourism.