Idle Eye 131 : The Herald Angel Sings

I’ve had the same car now for eleven years. It was a replacement for an identical one which had the tits ripped off of it, on a roundabout in West Dulwich by a woman who didn’t look right when she should have done, putting me in plaster for five months. Over which time I was compensated, lost my job, split up with my fiancée and oversaw the untimely death of seven out of thirteen gerbils who had made their way into my inner circle, euphemism fans. But the new car was astonishing. I could never have afforded her initially, it was only the accident money that made it possible, so I made a small promise to myself on the day I took her down from Fife, Scotland to her new home in South London:

‘Come what may, I will look after you, keep you going and perhaps if I do, there may be a ghost of a chance that we’ll be together until one of us snuffs it.’

It was a marriage of sorts. And yet, curiously, I am not a car person. I couldn’t give a monkeys about what goes on underneath the bonnet, and even less about performance, reliability and safety. All I care about is that she is a lovely thing that gives me pleasure each and every time I sit in the driver’s seat and if, for whatever reason, she gives me gyp, I just learn to put up with it or try to fix it. As many of my close friends will testify as they have towed me home in the small hours or watched, incredulously, as one of her wheels overtook me on the M40.

Over the years, I’ve had all the dull jobs addressed: New gearbox, new clutch unit, something or another to do with diffs (whatever they are), the pointless points (enjoyed that one), carbs and sparks and trunnions and God knows what else. Which you have to do or the bloody thing doesn’t work. But none of this stuff is visible: Kind of like paying an arm and a leg to get the drains sorted outside your house, when actually all you want is a cooker that says more about you than money ever can. The cosmetics play second fiddle to those hardcore kids in the playground built like pit bulls that always seem to get first dibs.

But not this time. I’ve been watching an arc of rust creeping across the bonnet for the last two years, and the hood frame above me decomposing and freezing me to bits on every journey. And those classic Old English White wheels that now look like they’re just home from the Somme. So I’m getting them all done. In one hit. And when they are, I shall renew my vow of 2003 and look forward to our next swathe of time together on the open road. Because in my humble opinion, a car is for life. Not just for Christmas.

Idle Eye 102 : The All Fun Dulwich Mum Run

Adrenalin junkies. Forget Sochi, forget bungee and forget all that Cornwall freak wave surfin’ stuff. You want thrills? Well, look no further. Idle Eye has the sickest tip onna block right now, na’ameen? C’mon kids, it’s the All Fun Dulwich Mum Run and here’s how it works:

Your mission is to get from Gipsy Hill roundabout to the Majestic Wine Warehouse on Park Hill Road (a mere 0.7 miles from start to finish) between the hours of 7.00 and 9.00am. On a bicycle. Armed only with the wits you were born with and an unmitigated faith in humanity, you must arrive at your destination unscathed, alive and in full control of your vehicle. You have no special powers, no protective clothing and no armoured shield. You do, however, have an invisibility cloak known only to your adversaries. Using your skill and judgement, you must traverse your route avoiding all enemy apparatus, from Volvo Estate (6 points) to Range Rover Evoque (25 points) and anything in between.

Beware! Your foe will not lie down lightly, oh no. Its diabolical spawn will attempt to dislodge you, head on, as they leave their designated ship with the entitled opening of passenger door into your given path. Fear not. Hold your nerve. They are unspeakably ugly and will almost certainly end up as education secretary or somesuch. Sadly, they do not yet know this so steer clear if at all possible. Also they are wearing short trousers which you stopped doing in 1977. Clock it and move on.

You look like a bag of spanners, that’s a given. But your Dulwich Mum spends more time than you’ve had hot dinners on her ‘dropping the kids off’ weekday casual look. Remember this when you’re smarting from that ‘turd in my teacake’ withering glance you will almost certainly receive as you slalom yourself out of danger.

It is, of course, possible to run this particular gauntlet by car, milk float or mobility scooter. But it is the bicycle that attracts maximum scorn and is therefore considered by our panel to be most suitable for the challenge. “To be truly hated is to be truly understood”, as someone once said. And no-one is more hated than a cyclist on the All Fun Dulwich Mum Run. Which makes you the perfect candidate. Feels good, right?

You like Hunters wellies? You like Barbour jackets? Of course you don’t. So why not unleash your pent-up fury with that arsenal of oomska you’ve been accumulating for weeks like all good cyclists do and hurl it into the next static vehicle you pass? Don’t worry, they will be expecting this and it looks good on your CV.

The Idle Eye in no way endorses the Majestic Wine Warehouse as an incentive for you to achieve your objective. It just happens to be there at the end of Alleyn Park. And look at the time. Enjoy responsibly drinkaware.co.uk

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