LEIGH FORBES: Books of all Sorts

Messengers: City Tales from a Bicycle Courier

by Julian Sayarer.

Julian Sayarer, Emre, is an angry young man, with a rant at the Establishment of truly Floydian proportions. And he writes it beautifully, with some of the most evocative prose I have ever read. It made me want to go and sit in central London and just watch.

Writing from the soul, he spills out tales of life amongst the diesel fumes, a life so cold at times he sought out the exhaust of a RouteMaster just to keep warm. He shows us a London most never see, the world of the alley-cat cycle couriers who dice with death for £2.50 a go – and he shares his anger as he goes: anger at rich people, taxi drivers, policemen, bankers, security guards and everyone else who puts him in danger, piles on the injustice, or otherwise keeps him poor. He also shares the struggles of his fellow couriers, and their varied attempts to scrabble a way out of the pit, away from a life where jumping the red lights is one of the few ways to kick over the traces.

Even if you don’t agree with Sayarer’s politics, this book is beautifully written. I recommend it for anyone who rides a bike (particularly if – like me – you once considered working as a courier), anyone who knows central London, and anyone who appreciates passionate prose at its best. Messengers has gone straight onto my list of top ten favourite books.

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