Tuesday, April 15, 2008


For my 21st birthday, I got a push-bike. Not a top-of-the-range type bike with countless gears and extra bells and whistle, but it was very comfy, rather pretty, went when I wanted it to, stopped when I wanted it to, and did have a bell.
This was in the days before I a) had a car, and b) had no back injuries, and I took my bike out for many a long ride at weekends, and it also proved useful for getting me to work and other places I wanted to go to.
I decided to call it Marchant*, and when another friend of mine also got a bike, we went for even more rides out and about, and as I had company, these ventures would often include a visit to a pub.
One fine sunny day, my friend and I got our bikes and cycled off to the wilds of Strand on the Green, which for those readers from foreign parts, or those who simply don't get out much, is a lovely part of London, right next to the river Thames, with some very beautiful houses along the river path and also some very, very nice pubs.
Three pubs in fact.
And my friend and I couldn't decide which one to go to.
After a while we decided to have a drink in each on, so's not to be impolite to any of them, but alas, as sometimes is the case on lovely hot, sunny weekend days, the one drink in each, turned to a couple or so in each.
We were sensible enough to eat something more substantial than a packet of crisps, but after the delicious meal, we thought it prudent to have 'just one more to wash it down with' as to jump straight back onto a bike and ride after a heavy meal seemed a bit silly.
But after all those drinkies, we were being rather silly anyway.
We were having a lovely time as only good friends under the influence of alcohol can do, but after a rather long time we realized that time and tide would wait for no-one, and we decided to start our journey home.
Being considerate, nice people, we walked our bikes back along the path so that we could have one last look at the river and then when we got back to the road tried getting on our bikes.
For some reason we both found that our bikes were rather wobbly, and it was probably alcohol that was to blame.
As we both knew it was illegal (not to mention stupid) to ride a bike whilst under the influence, we decided the best way to get home was to ride the bikes on the pavement, but get off them in we saw pedestrians or the old bill.
So, off we went.
We hadn't got very far at all before we spotted a police car by the bridge.
Now, this bridge has to be crossed to get back to the main road toward home, but has a little slip bit that heads down to the river right next to it.
My friend was ahead of me, and to this day I have no idea what was going through his head when upon spotting the rozzers getting out of their car, he decided instead of just getting off the bike, he would nonchalantly veer to the left.
The police officers, myself, and a passing dog with owner stared in amazement as my friend ever so slowly cycled along the slip, wobbling as he did so, right into and on into the river.
He went under for a moment and I was about to panic when he came back out from the water, still riding the bike, and headed back up the slip, past me, past the coppers, and past the dog with owner, and carried on along the pavement as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened.
I suddenly felt a lot more sober, but still walked my bike along to catch up with him.
I think it was just luck or that the police couldn't be arsed to try and write out a report without laughing that he got away with it.
I still have Marchant, but I haven't drunk cycled in a very long time.

*For a reason which I won't tell but leave it to you lot to guess the answer.