The man who sings opera on his bike


Last week, while cycling through London to my improv class, I stopped at some traffic lights. A bearded man who looked like Father Christmas — only dressed in a tweed suit with hi-vis vest on top — was to my left. He was really tall, probably over 6’6” (although it’s hard to tell when someone’s sitting on a bike) and was sat perfectly erect, immaculately composed, hands gripping those handlebars that curve around to the sides of the bike for a more dignified riding position; more perched than seated.

And he was singing opera.

At first, I looked around me to see whether anyone else had noticed (how could they not?) but was met with unflinchingly focussed commuter gazes, the cyclists all staring at the traffic lights, willing them to go green so they could race on and get to the office sooner. Then I wondered if I’d imagined it. I mean, I was having some trouble sleeping last week so maybe it had caught up with me and I was hallucinating and seeing operatic Father Christmases dressed in tweed and hi-vis at traffic lights.

But no. Cutting through the noise of traffic and car horns and morning bustle was the unmistakeable sound of a man singing opera. I turned around to steal another glance…and then we were off. Initially, I sped in front on my bike, chuckling to myself. Then I decided to slow down. Let the downhill slope carry me forward. And faintly, behind me, I started to hear the sweet sounds of opera carried on the breeze. As he crept ever closer, the volume of the man’s singing grew to match the speed of his cycling as he flew down the hill — until he passed me, singing at full throttle, to the delight of everyone on the pavement.

And I thought to myself: I want to be like the man who sings opera on his bike. Upright, unswerving, oblivious to everything around me. Just singing.