Sunday, 19 February 2012

Me and the cycling proficiency test

The police are coming to primary school to teach us how to safely ride our bicycles; this has been organised by  the headmaster who is obsessed with all manner of legal physical activity - Mens sana in corpore sano being his motto. The course is run by the most enormous, scary policeman.  I am small, my bike is big and every time he barks an instruction I freeze.  Also (to be honest) there are better things to think about - what's for lunch or will the tuck shop have replenished supplies of sherbet fountains (top tip: always discard the liquorice stick and use a slightly grimy finger - it gives a more authentic, fizzy  flavour). 

Back to the long arm of the law.  By the second day he had identified his victim , who he nicknamed 'Dolly Daydream' .  Yes, it was me: Debbie McGee to his Paul Daniels, chosen to demonstrate all manner of complicated manoeuvres - signalling, braking, the bike equivalent of the emergency stop and things like that.  Fortunately after what seemed like weeks (surely only a few days) we take the test. 
Monobrow Boy and I fail.  Mr Policeman says pretend-kindly: 'Well Little Dolly, if you stop that daydreaming, perhaps you might pass next time.'  What next time might that be? I don't think so.

The Monobrow Boy cries all afternoon; I don't because, although humiliated beyond measure, I am relieved it is over.  Monobrow will not be comforted and crossly says that it doesn't matter if I fail because I'm just a girl; at the time I have no answer - The Female Eunuch wasn't in the school library and Enid Blyton (the source of all wisdom) seemed to agree with him.

Actually the deep shame of this failure stayed with me for years.  I've often wonder if this is why I have never learnt to drive.  I did try once, but as the person trying to teach me kept flinching every time I touched the accelerator (why is it so near the brake?) and shouting: 'Don't hit the f*****g car in front',  I thought it better to resign myself to a life of shanks' pony and/or being chauffeur-driven.

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