vroom gloom 2

A biting cold early Sunday morning saw Ben pacing through a deserted new-build West London suburb, tightening and untightening his fists in his pockets.

This was nowheresville, red brick, not rundown, beaten up or dangerous feeling.  Just dowdy and sagging, bereft of character.  Row upon row of gardens and buildings which seemed to shrug at the passer by: “yeah, and?  You know where you are, don’t you?  What did you expect?”

Part following a printed map, part following the one on his phone, he weaved up and down the empty residential roads with laughably grandiose names, bobbing in the direction of the primary school.

One sporty motorbike just outside the playground gates stood alongside a leather-clad rolley smoking man.  He looked approachable and smiley, so Ben asked him if he was who he thought he was.  And he was.  They stood there in the car park chatting while some other men in the playground assembled motorcycles and a handful of cars sat chugging around them, keeping their occupants warm.

As he took a look at Ben’s paperwork, a puny looking self-rolled cigarette still between his fingers, Ben twitched.  He momentarily envisaged the bloke setting light his crinkled old green document.  But he didn’t, just handed it back, smiling again.  All was in order.  There’s something of the amiable doofus about this man, Ben thought.  They chatted about business until it turned nine o clock, car engines were turned off and spilled their occupants forth.  Ben chatted to another young lad as they stood waiting.  There was a lot of standing and waiting for the next hour or so: briefings to be given by fast-talking no-nonsense geezers, kit to be doled out: helmets, gloves, flourescent bibs.

They eventually sat on their machines for the first time.  Why washe doing this?  It sounded like a cool idea, he might enjoy it, the mobility of it would be good.  But he had never driven a motorcycle before, it was a bit more dangerous, and uncomfortable, you needed to buy a lot of supplementary shit too.

It didn’t take long for him to realise he wasn’t a naturally gifted motorcyclist, and he and another young guy were detained by the smiley doofus, separated from the rest of the group.  There was something oddly camp about him too, and unintentionally patronising in his patient sympathy with Ben’s failure to master the clutch control.

Growing angry at his inability to perform the simplest starting and stopping manoeuvre, Ben’s simmering ire rose.  He swore viciously at himself when it happened the seventh time in half an hour, bitter and hateful at this idiotic machine and that doofus’s banal grin and his stupid little weeny fucking cigarettes.  His defeatist self was emerging.  He hated being crap at something, at everything actually, everything in his poxy little shitting life; but especially at learning slowly, being shit, and being subjected to this level of maddeningly kind patience and sympathy that had entirely the reverse effect to the one intended. 

You could say that Ben was aggravated by the experience.

As he steered his motorcycle between cones in wide, sloppy figures of eight at the walking pace commanded, he wondered again why he was doing this.  Bikes are more dangerous, especially if you drive like a jerky Parkinson’s patient prick; you need to dress up in all that kit all the time.  Longish journeys of a couple of hours would be a right bind, as well as uncomfortable.  Especially if it pisses down.  He was no longer convinced about the “thrill” of it, which everyone raves about.  He was comfortable enough pootling round in a primary school car park, but doing 80 or 90 on a motorway?  “Thrilling”?  Or just “fucking terrifying”?  Sneeze and you’re dead.   You can’t listen to music or anything either, he thought, arcing many yards wide of one cone.  I don’t want to spend even more cash on more tests, equipment and a bike just to feel the same as this; plus I can actually drive cars reasonably ok.  This is just annoying.   And I’m clearly crap.  What am I doing this for?

Ben and his fellow remedial group friend were packed off after two and a half hours of immense frustration.  The tutors didn’t think they were up to being taken out on the road just yet, but next week it would all be different, because then you won’t be starting from scratch. 
“So, Saturday or Sunday?  What dyou think?” the doofus grinned at him.
“I think I’ll just get a car,” Ben said.  “Thanks anyway.”
With that he trudged back up the playground, between the bikes of little teenage scrotums hairing round like they were Evil fucking Knievel, and up into the nowhere suburbia once again, smouldering at his brand new failure.


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