vroom gloom

I reached the school early as usual, a bitterly cold Sunday morning, and began to roll myself a cigarette as soon as I’d taken my helmet and gloves off.  We had the playground and a couple of the surrounding buildings from 8am until 1pm, and most of the students arrived at or around 9am.  One of the other boys had got all the bikes lined up and made sure all the kit was ready, and most of the students arrived on time.  First was the one I’d spoken to on the phone a couple of times.  He arrived on foot, approaching me with an outstretched hand, “you Geoff?” he said, like he knew it was me already, although there was no way he could have been sure.  I said yes and he introduced himself.  We chatted for a while about bikes, our business here, the freezing temperature, this and that.

Then a couple of others turned up, he introduced himself to another lad and they got chatting.  We did the paperwork, checking of licences, there was a bit of waiting round for some stragglers to arrive, then a half hour briefing which one of the other boys gave, then we were away.  He didn’t take to it at all.  Took about an hour for him to stop stalling it.  You could see he was getting more frustrated, angry, on a total downer.  So we separated him and another slow learner for me to take, and the rest of them went off with Dan.  We always try to do that nicely, subtle you know?  So they don’t feel too bad.  He was still struggling with odd bits, didn’t look right or natural to tell the truth, and he was swearing quite a lot at himself too.  There was no way him or the other one were ready to be taken on the road quite yet.

We did as much as we could anyway, then explained that was it, as much as we could do.  They could come back next week when they wouldn’t be starting from scratch and we’d give them another go at it.  Of course it’d be much easier then, now they know everything they’d learnt that morning.  He looked defeated and bitter though, not up for trying again.  “Look, I couldn’t learn what you do for a living in a few hours, could I?” I asked him.
“Yeah, you could,” he said.  “It’s a piece of piss.”
“So, Saturday or Sunday?” I pressed, smiling.
“Saturday,” the other one quickly said.
“What about you?  What do you think?”
“I think I’ll just get a car.”
“Oh, come on!  Saturday or Sunday?”
He was having none of it.
“We’ll see,” he said.  “Cars are more comfortable and I’m less shit at driving them.  Dunno.  Cheers anyway.”
He walked carefully back up through the playground, between the other lads who were getting ready to go out on the road, and back through the housing estate.


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