SIX THINGS THAT WOULD STILL BE IN ONE PIECE IF I WASN’T SUCH A WOBBLEBOTTOM
(2) Bikes. I have broken several bikes over the years and two of them probably predate my twenty year limit. I broke my own bike at university, and in revenge it flung itself (and me) under the wheels of a lorry. I think (hazy memories) that I may have bent the pedals on my friend Sian’s bike. But when I worked in Derbyshire a friend, who may once have broken a toilet seat or a washing machine, lived about 5 miles away from me. We started our jobs at the same time in the summer, but for quite a while I didn’t go and visit. This was because to drive back from his house I would have needed to use headlights and for a good couple of months I thought the headlights on my van didn’t work. This was a van supplied to me by my work. Whenever I told them the headlights weren’t working they were checked over and I was assured that they did work. It took a while before I went with them to check the headlights and discovered I had been turning the wrong switch to turn them on. I am an idiot.
Anyway, for some time this stopped me going over to visit my friend because I couldn’t drive home in the dark without headlights. But after a while another friend who lived a bit further away said that I could borrow her bike. Which was very kind. I cycled over to see my friend and we probably had a drink or two and then, in the dark, I cycled home. About halfway into this journey, and trying to pedal quite hard as I went up a hill (probably standing up on the pedals a bit rather than resting my bum on the saddle) , the back wheel suddenly developed a kink in it, or possibly the frame. There was some kind of frame-wheel misalignment anyway. This meant that the frame rubbed against the wheel and made it very hard to pedal. And eventually, with a bang, the rubber of the wheel wore through and the inner tube burst.
So there I was, in the middle of the night, a few miles from home, in the days before mobile phones (really? or was it just the days before I had a mobile phone) So I had to walk home, carrying the bike. I couldn’t wheel the bike because the bloody wheel and frame were still rubbing against each other. After a while the bike felt quite heavy. I considered abandoning it, but it belonged to somebody else. The only relief was that, at the end of this journey, there was a very steep hill which was about a mile long and in this direction of the journey it was all downhill. And somehow I managed to perch myself on the bike in such a way that I could sort of freewheel all the way down the hill. Not doing the damaged bike any favours, however
. I never got round to giving the bike back. It was properly broken.
The next morning, for some reason, I needed an early start and I wasn’t having breakfast there. I got dressed quickly and sat on the edge of the bed to tie my shoelaces. I have something of a battle with my shoelaces. They always break at inopportune moments and it is usually because I tend to yank them hard in order to make sure that the shoes stay on my feet. On this occasion I yanked good and proper, but the shoelaces did not give. Oh no, my friend, not the shoelaces. For on this lovely December morning it was the bed that decided I was putting too much welly in. One of the legs of the bed collapsed under me. Did I do what any normal, mature adult would do and report the bed malfunction to the hotel staff? (Honestly, I’m not sure if this is what any normal, mature adult would do but I’ve got to make some effort at appearing to be such a person these days) I did not. I carefully balanced the bed on the broken leg and went home, not giving a thought to the fate of the next people to bounce up and down on that bed.
(6) I promised six but I can’t remember what number 6 was going to be. So instead I’m going to have to dredge back to university days. And it’s a reasonable one to end with because it is a more impressive thing to damage than bits of furniture or bikes. And although I mentioned the incident with the lorry earlier, I didn’t really damage the lorry that much when I flung myself under its tyres. At university I occasionally got a lift back to the halls of residence with one of my friends. She later went on to own a house with a 1kg bar of Dairy Milk in a cupboard. As I got out of her car once I failed to close the door properly. You know how sometimes there’s just a 5mm lack of closeage? You can’t just push it closed, you’d have to open the door again to close it properly. I think possibly that in those days or perhaps just in this car, the central locking could engage enough that the car was locked even though the door wasn’t properly closed. Not that that explains the laziness of what happened next – either on my part or on the part of my friend who later in life would have a broken toilet seat or washing machine (I still can’t remember which) She said to me (as I recall – and there may be some dispute over this which led to many recriminations), ‘Just push it with your bum!’ I just pushed it with my bum, my big, fat bum and instead of closing the door properly, I left a big, fat bum-shaped dent in the passenger door of her car. Sorry! Because I claim I was instructed to perform this manoeuvre by her, and she claimed I was a stupid idiot with a big, fat bum (not her words) we eventually agreed that I would pay for half of the repair bill. I have no recollection whether I ever coughed up for this.
Let us assume, for the sake of the lawyers, that I did.