So it’s home time (funny that I think of it as “home time” – like I’m still at school – rather than “clocking off time” from work). A glad escape from another miserable day at Fractious Towers. And I’m pounding the oven hot streets at the bottom end of town with of all things ELO’s “Mr Blue Sky” tickling the upper register of my hearing on the good old trusty MP3 player. My spirits are slowly rising after a tough day but suddenly I can hear other unwholesome, unwelcome, extraneous noise.
Running down the avenue...
Oi! Go on then!
See how the sun shines brightly...
Na ha ha ha!
I turn my head slightly and notice a gang of lolloping, long armed, long legged (long goolied, given the gutter height crotches on their trousers) hoodies flapping their Nike’s over the pavement on the other side of the road. One of them, the one wearing a pale blue vest about 5 sizes too big for his cadaverous frame, is riding a chopper.
Now I haven’t seen one of those in years and I can almost forgive this stain of brash hoodiedom on my home patch for the brief glimpse of this most classic and characterful of all bikes. It catches the sunlight so evocatively as Mr Blue Vest (Oh Mr Blue Sky / Please tell us why / You had to hide away / For so long, so long...) peddles his merry little way the wrong way up the bike lane.
He meanders up and down the curbstones. He wheelies in and out of the shop fronts. He cuts up pedestrians with pushchairs. And all the time he’s giving it some jaw. I can’t hear what he’s saying because the choral bit at the end has kicked in and ELO are chugging their guitars with gusto but I can tell that it is inane, arrogant and annoying by the fact his mates think it’s hilarious and every other passerby is stifling a barely concealed sneer.
And then it happens. The inevitable veer into the middle of the road.
Someone in a black Peugeot has to pull wide and slow down. They roll past him slowly and must say something. Something not complimentary but something that I warrant is true.
Mr Blue Vest gives him the finger. Long and hard. His mates cheer. Emboldened he chances his other arm. Literally. The double fingered salute is proffered to the driver of the black Peugeot. The last symphonic notes of Mr Blue Sky die away...
...and Mr Blue Vest upends the bike onto his own arse and the non applause of the tar macadam.
Cue even louder cheers from his mates. Or are they indeed jeers? ‘Cos they’re showing their true colours now. Despite the rush hour traffic they sound almost disappointed that the car immediately behind their fallen comrade has slowed down with plenty of room to spare.
He gets up. Arms raised and chin held high in that what-the-hell-I-meant-to-do-that fashion that all social retards adopt when they want to brazen out their palpable and unmistakable public humiliation.
He gets back onto his chopper, back into the saddle and rides off more sedately – dare I suggest even chastened – in the midst of his mates. Hidden away and shielded by a thin wall of baseball caps and spotty chins. Away down the oven hot street they mooch, ignoring the smirks and knowing smiles that light up the faces of every single person that they pass. The drivers, the shopkeepers, the people going home, all these witnesses to one of life’s more poetic moments.
I nudge my MP3 player gently. You know, I just might listen to Mr Blue Sky again...