Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Tour de Farce

I hate the phrase ‘it’s just like learning to ride a bike’ it’s a load of old tosh. Nothing is like learning to ride a bike, nothing comes close at all. Between that and swimming, I don’t think there is a harder thing for a kid to learn. I learnt both at the same time, and I don’t mean at the same age. I mean within 10 seconds of each other.


My Dad took me over the local park to teach me, a typical father/son outing. As with most kids, it looked like I was never going to get it, and then all of a sudden everything clicked into place. I was riding on my own, this was easy, and I was so pleased with myself. I remember feeling the wind rushing through my hair and I remember turning round to wave at Dad. I remember the bike veering suddenly and I remember heading down the hill towards the pond. What I forgot, was where the brakes were or how to use them.

But do you know what’s harder than learning to ride a bike? Trying to buy one, that’s what. I spent last Saturday trying to buy my 5 year old her first bike without stabilisers. A fairly simple task you would think, after all, we live right near a branch of a major national bike and car accessory shop. At first I thought the problem would be that they have too many models of bike to choose from, but she picked out the one she wanted and the price suited me, so no issues there.

Unfortunately they didn’t have any in stock, but after the kind man checked his computer, he informed me that the branch 30 minutes down the road did. I wish he had used the same computer that they use in Little Britain, the one that always said no. At least I would have saved myself the journey, because lo and behold they had none in stock there either. Nor did the next one that was another 20 minutes down the road, their computer actually said they had three in stock. Do I really need to tell you how many they actually had in stock? Have a gold star, you guessed right, none.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me three times and I guess I’m just dumb enough to be asking for it. The conversation I had with the spotty teenager in the 4th branch of Halfwits went something like this.

“Hi, I’m hoping you can help me. I have been told you have a Sparkle 16” bike in stock and I really need to buy it off you, will that be possible?”

“Erm let me check my computer. Yes we do have one in stock but it’s the display model.”

“Excellent, as long as it has two wheels and a handlebar then I’ll take it, is there any discount as it’s shop soiled?”

“I’m afraid not, any item we can still order from Head Office cannot be discounted.”

“You’re kidding right? You know what, I’m not bothered, I’ll pay full price.”

“Sorry, I don’t really want to sell it to you, it’s too much hassle when they get returned.”

“Believe me, after all the aggro I’ve been through, I won’t be returning it.”

“I still don’t want to sell it to you.”

“Listen mate, if you don’t sell me that bike, one of two things will happen. The first is that I walk out of here in a simmering rage back to my car. In that car are my Wife and two fighting screaming kids, all of whom have been sitting in a car that is doing a decent impression of an oven right now. An oven we have been driving around in for 2 hours, just trying to find this particular bike. I will open the door to the car and before I can utter a single word, my wife, who is quite intuitive, will notice I don’t have a bike under my arm. She will then start telling me, in a voice that is one notch too loud, that she cannot understand why I can’t even manage to buy a bike without it becoming a song and dance. She will have a point, but that doesn’t make hearing it any easier, so I will probably snap back some kind of nasty retort. We will probably trade insults and throw in some still-festering arguments for good measure. One of the kids will start to kick the back of my seat, whilst the other one shouts and screams and demands food. After about 149 seconds of this, something inside of me will snap. I will exit the car, my wife still reminding me what a failure I am and I will go to the boot. When there I will look for something sharp, but failing that, settle for my golf umbrella. I will then wedge the handle of my umbrella against the kerb, place the tip of it against by heart and with a calm look of acceptance on my face, throw myself upon it. This will be done with such force that the umbrella will pass through me down to the handle, the wind will pick up, and the umbrella will pop open. Upon hearing all the screams, you will rush outside and see my still grinning carcass being blown around the car park, my wife chasing it shouting “you couldn’t even kill yourself properly.” With a speed of mind that belies the dumb arse look on your face, you capture my final moments on your phone. You will post the video clip on YouTube and it will go viral within a week. You also upload the stills to your Twitter account and gain yourself 113 new followers. A year will pass, and you forget all about me. Five years later you will actually find somebody to marry you, but between you and me, she’s only agreed because she’s five months pregnant. Oh and the real father is your best man Derek, but you won’t find that out until the kid turns eight. But when little Del is five, you will take him out one hot Saturday morning to buy his first bike. As you stand there listening to the spotty little oik behind the counter tell you that there are no bikes in stock because of the rising cost of aluminium in China, you will remember me, and you will start to cry and you will never be able to stop.”

“What’s the second thing that could happen?”

“You can explain to my wife why we can’t have the bike.”

“The bike is yours sir, and here’s a complimentary safety helmet.”

35 comments:

Cate P said...

I am going to start lurking outside bicycle shops with camera in hand, handing out golf umbrellas, especially in the lead-up to Christmas.
Hilarious read J, I pity the Halfwit fool.

inshin said...

Excellent !!

@Angpang said...

Yay first comment, have not read the blog yet, just wanted to be first to comment...

Dave Bartlett said...

Nice one James.

A really good read, and great to hear my whole family laughing as I read your post them.

I thought you might have turned permanently serious after your last post!

Very Bored in Catalunya said...

I have tears.... bloody marvellous. Glad you got the bike.

Dave Bartlett said...

Of course, a bike for a little girl will also require the 'extras' like a shopping basket on the front, seat for a dolly on the back and those long tassel things coming out of both ends of the handlebars.

If yours didn't come with all that gear and if you've not been shopping for them yet, please be sure to relay your experiences when you do.

Let me share something that I discovered about kiddies bikes:

They're bound to get dirty and muddy sooner or later, (sooner, let's face it!) but be sure to NEVER clean them with a pressure washer.

It brings the paintwork up a treat, but also instantly clears the bike frame of all the decorative transfers and decals, leaving the bicycle's owner with glazed eyes and a quivering lower lip.

shane said...

I'm going to commit this to memory for the time in the next few years when it will undoubtedly be needed. Thanks for the warning!

goonerjamie said...

cate - good business sense that.
inshin - cheers mate
angpang - close but no cigar
David - we don't do extras, or cleaning, or tears (other than mine of course)
Very bored - cheers hon
shane - you're welcome, hope it works for you

@Angpang said...

OK I read it, very funny, don't know who's more scary, you or your wife.

Does the bike have white wheels? They do that for little girls bikes, all the better to show the dog shite.

Devastated about the first comment situation...

Heather said...

you, good sir, are a fricking genius! Seriously. This is the best post I have read in AGES. I am laughing out loud, not in a fake LOL kind a way but in a 'big tears rolling down my face' kind of way.

goonerjamie said...

angpang - yep they are indeed soon to be dog shit white, at least you can spot it before it hits the carpet that way.
heather - high praise indeed, am taking my blushes elsewhere now. Cheers hon.

London City Mum said...

Brilliant brilliant brilliant.

Fancy a guest post on my ES column? T&Cs apply but if you're game....

LCM x

goonerjamie said...

LCM - I would love to. Will DM you

Bill Fathers@shoutydad said...

Now comes the back-breaking bit as you run around, bent double, holding onto the saddle. Smashing read.

make do mum said...

So funny but so true. My other half had a nightmare with Halfwits - passed from store to store until he found one that sold him the display model (no discount AND no free helmet!). Thankfully he didn't have his umbrella on him.

goonerjamie said...

Bill - I'm taking my Glucosamine tablets with a vengance.
make do mum - thank heavens for small mercies

Laura - Are We Nearly There Yet Mummy? said...

Hilarious, Think we got the same bike for my daughter's birthday. My husband went there yesterday to ask if they had any kid's bike racks for the car. They told him there was no such thing. Low and behold when I get home, I find hundreds.

christinemosler said...

Hilarious! As the purchaser of more bikes than I care to mention I can honestly say this is scarily accurate! My OH now refuses point blank to set foot through the doors of this particular large chain!

Russ said...

Just in time. The Wife and I were considering getting a bike for my four year old. But then, good ol' American big box stores, while lacking soul, have big selections.

mummyfiles said...

Amazing post, nearly woke the boy up from laughing out loud!

Millennium Housewife said...

You see, this is why I told my kids that bikes (and ponies) bite.

PhotoPuddle said...

And breathe...... I hope sharing the story was very theraputic for you. Sounded like a nightmare!

goonerjamie said...

Laura - they really are beyond belief
Christine-A stance I myself will be taking in future
Russ - That hit my jealousy button good and proper
Mummyfiles - I shall type quieter for you next time
Millennium - A biting bike is all I need
Photopuddle - It was and it was.

New Mummy said...

Brilliant just brilliant

Debra Snider said...

Bravo! Suppose you taught the spotty kid to think before he speaks or merely traumatized him into intelligent behavior? Either way, nice work getting the bike. Love the image of your carcass being blown around the car park - and glad it didn't come to that.

vegemitevix said...

Spitting coffee out funny! God I hope the bike came built. I bought a bike once for my kid and it had to be put together at home. I did so forgetting the RTFM rule. Result? Traumatised child witnessing mangled bike in wheelie bin. He's 16 now and we're still paying for the therapy.

Humdrum Mum said...

Brilliant! We've just bought a boy's bike from Halfwits and sorry to disappoint, but they were actually very good! It was geeky corner though... - HMx

Deer Baby said...

Hilarious! Love the title. What is with these places? Do they not realise we want to buy stuff?

goonerjamie said...

New Mummy - Cheers hon
Debra - Not as glad as I was
Vegemitevix - I shall always buy ready made then
Humdrum - You lucky, lucky woman
Deer Baby - That would just interupt their chatting

Emily O said...

Very funny. Slightly disappointed not to be seeing that video on YouTube though.

Sparkly Tiara said...

PMSL! Seriously scary visual at the umbrella-skewered grinning corpse!

Peta Pool said...

Excellent storytelling that captures so many of those maddening 'moments' created by pimply faced sales assistants!

Being Me said...

Excellent (sorry to say). That look of acceptance.... oh dear, am ashamed to say I recognise it, having seen it on the husband's face more than once. Ooops.

themommydaddy said...

When I first learned how to ride I too looked back at my Dad. That was the last thing I remember.

susie @newdaynewlesson said...

OMG lmao! Thanx.