As I have arthritis in both hips (proof that I am an old witch), I am currently unable to walk.
As I walk eight miles every day taking the children to school and back, this is not good news.
And so I have invested in a bike.
It is a while since I rode a bike. About 25 years, to be precise.
How glad I am to have rediscovered this! I think as I sail down the hill across the racecourse in the sunshine.
It is quite a steep hill and involves hefty braking at the end. I heftily brake, skid, and almost fall off.
That was close, I think, settling myself back onto my seat.
Or, rather, trying to. Why can’t I move?
Then I realise. My oh-so-practical coat (calf-length, waterproof, zip-up) is trapped between the rear brake pad and the tyre.
Hmm, I think, giving it a futile tug.
But I was once a Girl Guide, so I have a plan. I will take my coat off, roll it up, trap it on the rear parcel rack, and wheel the bike home.
Undressing while attached to a bike is not easy. Nor is wheeling a bike that has a coat attached to the wheel. In fact, it’s impossible. The coat is so severely trapped that the wheel refuses to turn.
And then it starts to rain.
At this point, I do what all self-respecting women do. I ring my husband.
“I think I need your help,” I say oh-so-casually.
“Humph,” he replies. It is not a good idea to detach a man from his hammer at 9am.
“Yes,” I say. “I seem to be trapped in my bike wheel.”
Then laughter. Lots of it.
“And you presumably want me to rescue you – despite what you wrote about me and my jumpers?”
“Ah. That. I do like your old jumpers really. And you I think you might need to bring a tool kit.”
“I’ll be there in ten minutes.”
And so I spend ten minutes affecting nonchalance on the racecourse, smiling at the passing dog-walkers. Yes, I make a habit of standing here enjoying the view. Particularly when it’s raining and my coat is huddled up on the ground beside me.
One elderly man realises what has happened, and chortles at me. As he is walking his ferret, I really don’t think he ought to be chortling at anyone. Fortunately the swarming teenagers are so absorbed in themselves and their cans of Red Bull that they don’t even notice a bedraggled middle-aged mother attached to a bike wheel.
Eventually my knight in shining armour (husband in DIY garb) arrives on his white charger (old bike).
“Ho, ho,” he says. “I think I might leave you there all day.”
But, of course, he doesn’t. He dismantles the bike, detaches me, and puts the bike back together again. And as I cycle home with my long coat knotted around my middle, I remember why I keep him after all.