I have never been one for bravery or heroics. Never mad, bad and dangerous to know, although in some ways each one of those.
I have been mad. And as my husband says, I have the certificates to prove it. This morning in the car waiting for my boys’ bus a strange conversation ensued. Sometimes I blabber on and this was one of those times. I told them how when I commuted from London on the train home that sometimes I had to fight the urge to get off the train one stop early. Another train wouldn’t come along for an hour and it would have taken me until midnight to walk home. Too quiet for taxi ranks. That would have really pissed me off.
I mentioned this to my traveling companions once. “Don’t you ever feel like that?” Mouths were screwed up into sneers, bodies shuffled away from me. “No. Of course not!”
When I told this story this morning, Son No.1 looked at me slyly. I gathered myself to receive scorn. “Yes! Yes! I’m always thinking of getting off the bus one stop early in the afternoons!”
I smiled proudly but as they left the car when the bus arrived I shouted after them. “Don’t do it though, will you? Too dangerous!”
Bad. Well my first boyfriends had motorbikes and I sat behind them in all weathers (England). Dressed in denim and leather, a fluttering fringe escaping behind me as I was tossed from the bends on country roads. The whistling noise of speeding down the motorway. Oh yeah baby. The rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle. I’ll let you into a secret. I had to have lessons in cool from my first man in black. “Will you lean with the bike you great Jessie. Every time I hit a bend you straighten up and I nearly drop the bike.” “Not cool then?” “Not cool”.
I went to festivals on the back of bikes. There were no bathrooms in those days, only trough toilets and flies on the breeze. I never went anywhere without a full face of make-up and a miniature nail kit in my pocket. I lost my eyeliner pencil once. It was intense.
After an absence of twenty years I got to ride pillion again. The husband bought a retro Triumph a few years back. I had my new racy red jacket and my Union Jack DMs. I was ready to rock! I hadn’t banked on being absolutely terrified and the husband has to be the least dangerous road rider ever. I shook with nerves. Still not rock ‘n’ roll- even after all those years. Headlines swooped in front of my eyes. STEINER PARENTS KILLED IN BIKE ACCIDENT. Mother’s last words to sons “I’ll Always Love You” to the strains of Whitney Houston. I had to stop. The headlines and the songs got cornier and more frightening.
Now the husband has a trail bike without a pillion. I mean I would. But it’s not… Can’t bring myself to part with that red bike jacket.
Dangerous? Let’s face it I’m the sort who would wear a crash hat while driving a car if I could get away with it. I drive the dodgems as if I’m taking my test, complete with hand signals. And I never, I repeat never, stood on the cracks in the pavement to see what would happen. Or lay down with a boiled sweet in my mouth. Ran with a lolly stick in my gob. I heard every wives tail and believed them all.
Of course I’m fast tracking to fifty and that’s a dangerous age. Still. I can be eccentric now. Eccentric is cool for the fifty something. I may adopt a succession of hat wear. Ironic of course. Or wear bright colours to detract from the lines on my face. I could drink gin in the mornings and buy a pair of high heeled fluffy mules. I could team my red bike jacket with a black tutu. I see myself as a cross between Marianne Faithful and Edina Monsoon.
I feel a train trip coming on.