Astride the world

As schoolboys we would ride our bicycles along the narrow paths that ran parallel to the sea.  The track leading to North Cotes, not far from Humberstone Foundation School, was a popular one, with rough grass on one side and sand dunes and then the sea on the other.  I would ride side by side with the two Davids, since there were no cars to bother about.

There was a ritual we observed when we reached the metal arrow laid into the narrow road and stretching at an angle across it.  It was marked in the centre as 0 degrees, with East on one side and West on the other.  It denoted the Greenwich meridian, which passed through East Lincolnshire.  Apparently in 1884, when Britain was at the height of its power, the world agreed to settle on Greenwich for the line denoting 0 degrees of longitude.  This arrow marked a continuation of that line.  We would stop our bicycles every time we reached it, and pause briefly with one wheel in the world's Eastern hemisphere and the other one in the West.

No-one ever told us or taught us to do this and straddle both sides of the world for a few moments, but we always did it, and the thrill of being able to do it never faded.