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The Clarion

Pedalling in Ever-decreasing Circles

Cycling is popular again but what happened to the old Clarion Cycling Club?

The metamorphosis of the precarious Ordinary – “Penny Farthing” – into its essentially present-day “Safety” format in the 1880s and a steady reduction in manufacturing costs, saw the bicycle by the following decade fast-becoming the main means of personal working class transport. Villagers and townies, hitherto isolated, could now venture healthily afield, widening geographical and social horizons, seeking erudition and enlightenment, diversifying and enriching the gene pool.

Devastating as it undoubtedly was for “High Wheeling” aristocrats and toffs to find their pastime suddenly infested with hoi polloi, salvation, at least for the seriously affluent, was nigh: the internal combustion engine was already spluttering into life.

A “Clarion” mare’s nest

The Clarion is a comic paper, but never more so than when it treats of economics. Its latest outbreak is entitled, with unconscious humour, “Mind Your Own Business”, and advocates the adoption on a large scale of the Guernsey plan of raising money for municipal expenditure by issuing notes redeemable at term and acceptable in payment of taxes.

The people of Guernsey are reputed to have raised £4,500 in this way, about 100 years ago, calling in £450 annually to be destroyed until this whole had been redeemed, and they are understood to have never repeated the experiment.. The Clarion writer, however, to rid the municipalities of their debts and to obviate all further borrowings, advises the wholesale adoption of the Guernsey idea, no doubt upon the principle that since a man may take a fraction of a grain of strychnine without serious harm, he may therefore take a few ounces with impunity.

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