Katie Archibald column: Memes from my father

'What I can say with confidence is that my plan is to have as long a career in cycling as physically possible'

Katie Archibald

“I’ve forgotten more than you’ve ever learnt,” is a catchphrase of my father’s. The ‘Ian Archibald Official Issue Phrase Book’ also includes “Let’s not reinvent the wheel here”; “Never mind a bed shop, they couldn’t run a bath”; and “I think you’ll find it’s legal tender”.

But since I neither work for him nor serve him pints in English pubs, it’s the phrase explaining that I’m so poorly educated I can’t even keep pace with his mental decrepitude that I hear about most often. He’s forgotten more than I’ve ever learnt (including knowing when to say “learnt” and when to say “learned”).

Maybe you read the phrase with a tone of self-deprecation, my father scorning his own forgetfulness and expressing its great capacity by comparison to my own great knowledge and learnedness? If you did, what a lovely reflection of your own positivity. But you read it wrong.

One big tool I have at my disposal, in my quest to prove my intellectual superiority and overhaul the power dynamic between us in an “I am the Captain now” type encounter (as is the norm in all father-daughter relationships), is the internet age.

By age 20 my father had a degree and by age 23 a PhD, sure. I’m 24 years old and have spent the past five years riding a bike professionally, OK. But! I’ve been on Twitter for six years, been messing around on Wikipedia for about 10, and for well over a decade now I’ve held sacred the fact that I can Google pretty much anything. My skull rattles with worldly knowledge. And pictures of cats.

Sometimes, however, I worry that future employers won’t respect “has read 0.04 per cent of the internet” as valid educational credentials. Which leaves me with two options. Number one: start studying part-time for a qualification in something the world needs more of. Or number two: start studying wilderness survival techniques and upon retirement from cycling, move into the jungle.

What I can say with confidence is that, in either case, my plan is to have as long a career in cycling as physically possible.

I’ll get a PhD in my next life — I’m too busy learning how to go fast in this one.

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