Stop, thief! Preferably under a juggernaut

'What alien backside is straddling your saddle? Whose legs are pressing on your frail pedals?'

Share

It's only a bicycle, they all said, it isn't a person, you can get another one. No I can't and it wasn't only a bicycle. It was a friend. It was 15 years old, cream - well, creamish under the rust - with "Halford's Ladies' Shopper" printed on the frame, a basket at the front, a child seat at the back and a cunning little lever between the pedals which enabled it to fold up and pack neatly away.

It's only a bicycle, they all said, it isn't a person, you can get another one. No I can't and it wasn't only a bicycle. It was a friend. It was 15 years old, cream - well, creamish under the rust - with "Halford's Ladies' Shopper" printed on the frame, a basket at the front, a child seat at the back and a cunning little lever between the pedals which enabled it to fold up and pack neatly away.

Latterly the lever had lost some of its cunning, and cycling along Cale Street to the fishmonger's for a pound of haddock, it would suddenly fold up with me on it. Cyclists rarely speak kindly of motorists but I have nothing but praise for those drivers who sprang out of their cars to help disentangle me, my infant passenger and the haddock from the folding fetters of my Halford's Ladies' Shopper.

Well-meaning friends would tell me that I shouldn't cycle in London because of my eyesight, but unlike the majority of urban cyclists I can honestly say that I've never had an accident - unless you count running over a Spanish waiter in Piccadilly, which wasn't my fault. Like all continentals, he was looking the wrong way when he stepped off the kerb. Besides, it was me who came off worst from the encounter. "Muchos sorry madame," he kept saying as he picked me up and put me back in the saddle. "I no see you, I very bad man. Come, I make you better." "No way, Jose, just look where you're going next time," I said crisply and wobbled off.

If everyone riding a bicycle in London was as careful as I am (or was before my bike was stolen), drivers wouldn't constantly complain about the reckless disregard cyclists have for the Highway Code. I never swerve or change lanes. I trundle slowly along the yellow line in the inside lane minding my own business, humming snatches from The Merry Widow. Once, preoccupied with my usual unprintable fantasies, I realised that the familiar yellow line I was following had run out and I was pedalling up a ramp into what looked like someone's drawing room. Dismounting by the piano, I leaned my bike against a regency sofa and looked about me bewildered. "Lost your way, lady?" said a man, carrying one end of a dining table, with Pickford's Removals across his T-shirt. "Or just waiting to be unloaded with the rest?"

In the good old days we kept our bikes downstairs in the hall along with the pram. And then they tarted up the block, put in a stair carpet, rented flat three to a Wall Street banker for big bucks and everyone got a letter saying bikes were no longer permitted in the hall. In future they must be kept in the yard at the back.

We dutifully chained our bikes in the rat-infested yard. A week later my son's BMX was stolen. "Yours will be next, mum," he warned. But I laughed, knowing that no one in their right mind would steal my rust bucket. To be on the safe side, I moved it from theyard and chained it to the parkingmeter outside our front door, where I reasoned that anyone attempting to saw through the padlock or the chain would be accosted.

On Tuesday afternoon I cycled to the rose garden in Battersea Park to meet a friend. On Tuesday evening I padlocked it as usual to the parking meter. On Wednesday morning it was gone.

Oh Halford's Ladies' Shopper where are you? What rude, alien backside is straddling your saddle now? Whose thick, mottled legs are pressing down on your frail pedals, goading you to perform the sort of wild lane-switching manoeuvres from which, like a mother, I protected you all these years? I know what's going to happen. Your new owner will tire of the very quirks and foibles that so endeared you to me, and throw you on the nearest skip. Please God, before that happens, fight back. Choose your moment. As your tired old handlebars are wrenched savagely sideways to avoid the juggernaut lurching towards you on the Cromwell Road, fold, jack-knife, constrict and pack your thieving rider neatly away under its wheels. Vengeance is mine.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Process Improvement Analyst (Testing)

£40000 - £45000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Service Delivery Manager - Derivatives, Support,

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Service Delivery Manager - (Derivatives, Support...

Technical Account Manager - Java, FIX Protocol, FIX 5.0, C++

£30000 - £55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Technical Account Manager - Java,...

WPF .NET Developer

£300 - £350 per day: Harrington Starr: WPF Analyst Programmer NET, WPF, C#, M...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

The daily catch-up: heatwave update; duck tape and market socialism

John Rentoul
David Cameron's 'compassionate conservatism' is now lying on its back  

Tory modernisation has failed under David Cameron

Michael Dugher
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform