I’ve been gradually getting over a profound sense of shock and grief, mingled with considerable self-disgust for my part in the problem, since yesterday evening. Sometime between 6.30 and 6.50 my bicycle was stolen, from the cycle racks outside Chiswick Sainsburys.
The shop staff were very nice about it, but utterly unable to do anything to help. The police have also been very nice, and very sympathetic, but are also unable to do anything more than take my details and add me to the statistics.
The misery of losing my preferred method of transport, my beloved Big Baby, is compounded by the fact that my bike insurance had run out at the beginning of the month, while I was lying in bed with a temperature of 101, and I had not yet got round to renewing it. So I was uninsured. My contents insurance doesn’t cover larger valuable items outside the home as the bike was the only larger valuable item I had (indeed was probably my only really valuable possession) and it already had its own insurance. At least, it did have, until August the first.
I feel a complete idiot, but there is nothing I can do that undoes the fact that I took a risk because I wasn’t thinking what I was doing, and I lost out. The bike was locked, but as bicycle theft becomes more and more common bike thieves become more and more skilful at cutting a chain while looking totally innocent. I parked and locked it, and someone cut it loose and waltzed off with it. Over. Done. Gone.
I am bikeless, and gutted.
It was my late father’s bike, which he left to me, and was the only thing of his that I have apart from a couple of cds of Handel oratorios (which I don’t listen to much as neither of them is “Messiah” and I’m not a huge Handel fan otherwise, truth to tell), and this adds a bitter extra twist. He would have been stunned, and then disgusted, that I could do something so stupid, though he could not have said anything worse than the things I said to myself yesterday evening as I trailed home, crying hysterically, across Bedford Park.
I loved that bike. Not just because it was Dad’s; indeed, in a way almost in spite of that. My father was a big bloke, and his bicycle was a large-frame model, basically far too big for me (and at five foot nine I am no mouseling) and of course it was a gents’ bike, with a high and hefty cross bar. It took a bit of getting used-to. It was too tall, the seat was too high and the wrong shape, the handle bars were always at the wrong angle despite every attempt at precision adjustment. It gave me saddle sores and a crick in the neck if I rode any great distance. I was always teetering on the verge of losing my balance if I needed to put a foot down at traffic lights; and if I were tired, or wearing a skirt, getting off could be an effort and required an extension of which Sylvie Guillem would not have been ashamed. Yet I felt like one of King Arthur’s Knights, mounted up there, riding high above the rest of the cycling world.
My mother has promised to lend me the money to replace it, though any replacement will be of a more humble and workaday ilk than Big Baby. Dad always threw money at any new project, and his decision the year before he died to take up cycling was no exception. I’d never have spent over a grand on a bike and its accoutrements. But it’s gone, gone, gone…