I’ve got two new toys parked outside. Yes, I suspect that if you know me you’ll assume that they have two wheels, and … OK, you’re right. I bet they’re not quite what you expect though.
“One upon a time a man had two new toys. One was huge and brand spanking new. It had lots of posh gadgets, was sprayed a smart silver, went very fast and cost £20,000. The other had no gadgets at all, was a bit ‘used’, went very slow and cost £320. Oh, and it was yellow.
But the big, expensive toy didn’t belong to the man. It was loaned to him for the night by a local motorcycle dealer, and the man would only be able to play with it for a few hours, then back it would go.
The other toy, the little gadget-less one, the one that cost so little and went slow? It wasn’t on loan. It belonged. The man had paid his own money for it. He had already had it for a week and used it lots of times. It knew that it would serve an important purpose and had nothing to fear from the big posh expensive toy. Had not the man already lavished time and love on Saturday morning cleaning the grime and old oil of it’s chain? Had he not already made his bottom sore riding it up hill and down dale? Had he not taken his car to Wiltshire to find it, rescue it from the dark and crowded garage of his nephew, fold it up neatly, bring it home, and give it new life? And had he not spent hours on the internet to find the very best saddle? Had the man not already, even today, ridden it down to Waitrose and back to collect a slice of salmon for lunch?
Tonight it sat folded up contentedly in the shed, listening to the rain outside, knowing that already it was treasured – and would be able to reward the man for many years to come. Today it had rewarded the man with aching limbs, and the important knowledge that he wasn’t as fit as he pretended. Perhaps in a few months time the man would look back with deep affection and gratitude, with the knowledge that he was now fit and healthy, and that his bum no longer noticed every bump in the road.
The big posh brand-new 1600 BMW motorcycle listened to the rain too – and felt it bouncing on its bodywork. It was too big for the shed and would never ever fold up and go in the boot of the car. And it had a drink problem the other little Brompton would never suffer from. It liked petrol. Lots of it. And tomorrow it would be stuck once more in the showroom with a “For Sale” sign attached, waiting to belong.
As the man prepared for bed that evening, he remenisced, thinking about the two bikes. It was ironic that the bike he desired most was not the posh big one. It’s size and complicated electronics were no longer his desire, however fast it went with its fly-by-wire throttle, and clever engine management system. He loved the little Brompton with its rusty pedal and worn pannier bag. He knew it had already snuggled into a place in his heart – regardless of its ‘bracing’ demands on his energies, its unpretentious presence on the road, its honest revealing of his lack of fitness, and his tender…, er… yes, that too. But the new saddle will soon wear in, and his fitness improve.
The truth was, and is, that the Brompton was his. It was adaptable, convenient, and demanded nothing but his energy and a little care. It could accompany him all over the world if he so wished. Folded neatly it would fit in a car boot, on a train rack, and on a plane without complaint or protest – even from the check-in staff.
And it would teach him that time can be used in different ways, that beauty can be expressed in simplicity, that there are different ways to travel in life.”
(And that riding a push-bike is fun.)