In The Red: 'I've found that the desire to look like Agyness Deyn does not a cyclist make'
Saturday 11 October 2008
Well. Last week's column clearly struck a chord – the emails positively flooded in (OK, "flooded" may be an exaggeration, although there was a definite bump in in-box). It seems that many of you have had the exact same problem with John Lewis, being forced to endure faulty fridges, warm freezers and exploding washing-machines sitting unrepaired for months on end.
Anyway, my threat of bad press did the trick; a brand-new fridge arrived, as promised, on Saturday morning. Well, almost as promised: in fact, the doorbell rang two hours earlier than agreed, much to the annoyance of my sleepy flatmate. Still, I was thrilled: a fridge!
It's amazing how luxurious things can seem after being deprived of them for a few months. I've already noticed a difference in my grocery bills: no more daily milk purchases! No more shop-bought lunches! No more luke-warm wine! It's as if I've been propelled back into the 21st century after a spell in the Dark Ages.
Which leaves me to return to that long-ago-raised issue of transport. I had, if you remember, promised to take up cycling instead of forking out £120 on my monthly Oyster card. Unfortunately, I think perhaps – just possibly – I may have been a little premature in declaring myself a cyclist. Contrary to earlier reasoning, the desire to look like Agyness Deyn does not a cyclist make. It's not that I haven't made progress, it's just that I haven't made much. In fact, I have encountered a surprising number of obstacles on my mission for thrifty transport.
It all started OK. I bought a second-hand bicycle from a stall in an east London market. (Yes, I realise it may have been stolen property; after a good, ohhhh... three minutes spent weighing up the moral implications against the bargain price of £70, I decided that, well, I didn't really care that much. It's not like I'm sure it was stolen, is it?) So, with perhaps a fraction too little deliberation, I handed over the cash and took my new toy home, wheeling it next to me as I walked.
But that's where the good news ends. My boyfriend took one look at the thing before declaring it a death trap and a rip-off. The front brake wasn't working, he said – although apparently this is a much better scenario than if the back one wasn't. He also pointed out that it was a boy's bike. I had no idea that a girl's bike was different, though once mentioned I suppose it did look a bit odd.
Still, not to be deterred, I took it out for a spin. Brake problems or no, it seemed fine to me. Before I knew it I was riding up to the local park, zooming around in circles like a 14-year-old hoodie. And then, disaster: my second brake began to fail and I was propelled down a hill like a tobogganist on a ski slope. Then I lost control of the steering, and my seat shot downwards with a bump. I felt like I'd crashed, except that I hadn't stopped moving. Eventually I reached some grass and came to a halt, before slowly toppling over in a heap.
It wasn't that bad – just rather embarrassing. The local teenagers found it hilarious, catcalling and shouting, practically falling off their park bench with merriment. Nevertheless, it was enough to put me off cycling – at least for a little while. And I suspect that my bike's days are numbered. I haven't been able to force the seat back to its original height, and have yet to get round to having the brakes fixed. I suppose it serves me right for buying on impulse.
I've seen another, brand new, model in a shop near my flat. Gallingly, it's almost as cheap as the first one – but after that waste of money, I'm struggling to bring myself to splash out again.
So far, then, my cycling ambitions have had limited success. Money saved: £0. Money spent: £70. Hmm. Must do better.
Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown
- 1 This 'woman calls police to order pizza' story isn't going where you're expecting
- 2 Axe wielding man shot dead after attacking four New York policemen on busy street
- 3 Watch what happened when food critics were unknowingly served McDonald's
- 4 Jimmy Carr's Oscar Pistorius joke goes a bit too far at the Q Awards
- 5 Ottawa shootings: Bruce MacKinnon's cartoon is the perfect tribute to soldier Nathan Cirillo
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Thousands with degenerative conditions classified as 'fit to work in future' – despite no possibility of improvement
Attacks on 'Ukip Calypso' show how skewed people’s priorities are
Poppy Appeal 2014: This is why I won't be wearing a red poppy this year
iJobs Money & Business
£60000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Compensation and Benefits Manager - Compensat...
£30000 - £35000 Per Annum plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...
£24000 - £28000 per annum + bonus & benefits: Ashdown Group: IT Business Syste...
£50000 - £90000 per annum + benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Markit EDM (CA...
Day In a Page
This 17th century beauty is full of rustic cosiness, while the detached home office means you can also run a business
This five-bedroom red-brick beauty overlooks the village green and sits in just under two acres of land
Four exclusive apartments in a Grade II-listed former medical school with 2,275 sq ft of living space and 18ft ceilings
A five-bedroom terraced house on the popular Peterborough Estate, ideally located for both Eel Brook Common and South Park
A state-of-the-art farm-building conversion on the former Cliveden Estate, with 11,420sq ft of internal space, cinema and wine cellar
A three-bedroom, 15th-century cottage with original features in the picturesque village of Sissinghurst
A six-bedroom terraced house with large south-facing roof terrace, cinema room and wine cellar
A new seven-bedroom home built in Queen Anne-style with swimming pool and parkland views in Mortimer
A listed, four-bedroom farmhouse in the rural hamlet of Rushall with detached barn, four acres of gardens and paddocks
A first-floor flat with two bedrooms, a spacious reception room and communal grounds in a leafy part of London
A three-bedroom flat with a spacious rootop terrace and balcony, accessed from a private gated courtyard
A Grade II-listed pile with six bedrooms, stables and 39 acres of grounds in Standlake
A two-bedroom flat with boutique hotel-style interiors, close to the foodie haunt of West End Lane
A two-bedroom flat in a beautiful old vicarage, with many original features, close to the city centre
A three-bedroom 16th-century home with an aga kitchen, private gardens and heated outdoor pool, in Hadleigh
A three-bedrom home in sought-after Queen's Gate Mews, with Italian marble-finished bathrooms
Surrounded by glorious countryside in the village of Udimore, sits this impressive four-kiln oast and barn conversion
A five-bedroom house in the picturesque village of Kettlewell, north Yorkshire
An 18th-century former coaching inn with original staircase, open fireplaces and beams throughout
A Grade II-listed Georgian town house with three bedrooms and a south-facing courtyard, near Arundel Castle
Feel on top of the world at this über chic penthouse on the 37th floor of one of Europe’s tallest blocks.
A Grade II-listed Victorian villa with six bedrooms and two further cottages, all with spectacular sea views
A grade II-listed, Georgian cottage with mature 50ft garden, perfect for summer entertaining
A magnificent Georgian pile with turrets, seven bedrooms, a heated pool and four acres of gardens
Fairoak Farm has five bedroom suites, gym, outdoor swimming pool and golf course
Chic two-bedroom river-fronted flat with a private lift that delivers you directly to your home
A spectacular seven-bedroom Tudor pile, once owned by Henry VIII, with 18 acres of land
A seven-bedroom Georgian property previously used as a picturesque wedding venue
A split-level flat in a church conversion with two en suite bedrooms and 1,200sq ft of living space
A three-bedroom bungalow situated behind an impressive stone wall, £645,000
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads
Chapel House is a former vicarage with nine bedrooms in the beautiful Upper Wye Valley
A five-bedroom B&B and separate owner's accomodation with potential for conversion
Enjoy summer by the Thames in this two double-bedroom converted warehouse in Rotherhithe village
A one-bedroom, luxury apartment with private gym and concierge service in Moorgate
A four-bedroom house in Hermitage Gardens with three reception rooms and landscaped gardens
A seven-bedroom Grade II-listed property with a separate self-contained apartment
A five-bedroom Victorian house with three reception rooms and galleried landing, £695,000
A six-bedroom farmhouse with five acres of land in a former cloth-making village