Regal. Elegant. Eccentric – my new bike. A gift from EE and a vast improvement on the citronella candles he gave me for Christmas. That’s EE all over. Christmas is all dust busters and citronella candles, Friday ‘just because’ is new bikes, book vouchers and fancy face cream. This time it was my new bike. I’m so happy! It’s Dutch and when I ride it so am I. Eager to try it out, I decide to ride it to Sainsburys with the Six year old on her scooter. The decision to bring the scooter is always a poor one and this time was no different.
The entire twenty minute journey (NB – walking alone it takes me ten minutes) was accompanied by the usual ‘let’s bring the scooter’ decision-related bullshit:
“Mummy! Wait! You keep leaving me behind!” (literally ten feet ahead).
“Mummy! My legs are tired, I don’t want to ride my scooter”.
“Mummy wait! My shoe is itchy!”
“Muuuuuuuuuuuuum can you carry my scooter and I walk?”
“MUMMEEEEAAAAA YOU’RE NOT WAITING FOR ME!!!”
“Mummy look how fast I’m going!”
Straight into a divot, falls off the damn scooter and uncontrollable crying ensues. With the new bike momentarily discarded on the pavement, I try to fob the Six year old off with the usual “give it a rub” and “blow on it”. When that doesn’t work, I pull out the big guns – magic kisses. They seems to do the trick and we’re off again.
The Six year old has no respect for new bike day. I wish I’d come on my own.
“That’s a beautiful looking bike!” I turn to see a chap as eccentric as my Dutch bike, all the gear, fit as a fiddle, mad as a hatter. “I collect bikes” he explains. “I’ve got twenty bikes, I’ve got one that’s two and a half grand and I can get from here to Warrington in an hour and five minutes, I’m gonna buy a THREE and a half grand one next so that when I move to Llandudno I can pose on it up and down the promenade, I’ve got loads of bikes I’m Sixty three this year”. He’s caught me on a good day – new bike day. We share five minutes of our time. As he starts to tell me all about his health scare (an epileptic fit) I can see the Six year old trying to work out if we know him – we don’t. We listen until he has shared what he needs to share, exchange well wishes and as we leave the Six year old observes keenly “He was lonely wasn’t he Mummy?” She takes hold of my hand and I give it a squeeze, “yes, I think you’re right”.
On the way home the Six year old doesn’t want to ride her scooter again because her foot’s itchy, her eye stings, her legs are tired, there’s a fly in the way, the road is too bumpy and all the usual rigmarole. I think about our new friend on his next new bike day. I push my new bike alongside the Six year old to make the moaning stop and we chatter about our days.
“I’m glad you’ve got a bike now Mummy cos we can do this all the time now can’t we?”
“Yes” I smile “and Mummy can’t wait”. It’s not even sarcasm.