23 September 2017



'Cheap to run and easy to maintain,' the salesman told the gathering crowd. 'And so safe you could let your granny ride it. She couldn't come to any harm on a three-wheeler.' He was demonstrating the Ariel 3, a new kind of motorised three-wheel machine, bright orange, with a basket at the front. The man said the contraption was designed with women in mind and, by the interest shown on the onlookers' faces, the ploy was working. Maddy Fox was wide awake by this time, having travelled in by train in a half-conscious state due to the late night she'd had. She didn't remember alighting at New Street or being transported up the escalator, in fact she might have stumbled over the rope barrier had the salesman not shouted a warning. He was a real loudmouth, and he'd made her feel such a fool dragging her across the display area and inviting her to sit on the orange machine until she'd fully recovered.
She had to admit the seat was comfortable and her feet easily touched the ground, and she was quite taken with the idea of travelling to work on the cheap, but could she afford it?
'Money back in no time,' the man said. 'A gallon of petrol is nothing compared to the cost of travelling by train five days a week, and you'd get the extra benefit at weekends. And think of how nippy it is. No parking problems or waiting in traffic queues. Take my word for it, a whole new world would open up.'
A week later Maddy bought one. She had asked several friends what they thought of the new invention and they viewed it as a worthwhile buy. So, since the consensus of opinion was that these machines would become fashionable, she bought one. She had never ridden anything like it before, and before long she knew she would never ride anything like it again.

The Ariel 3 had a mind of its own. It had no problem travelling without a rider, and often did just that, but, when Maddy mounted, the thing refused to budge. She would turn the ignition key and pedal like crazy, but it wouldn't start, then when she climbed off to see what was wrong, the stupid little brake lever would disconnect and the contrivance would take off. As an added exasperation, on the rare occasions she got it going, the spark plugs furred up, yet remained in perfect condition on its solo performance. Nevertheless she persevered, and discovered that if she cleaned the plugs the night before all would be well.
Bernice and Margaret, the two girls Maddy worked with, were impressed, and both were brave enough to have a go. Accordingly, at lunchtime, they gathered in Church Street for a trial run, Maddy starting the machine and quickly alighting so that Bernice could hop on. Without fail it took off before she could hoist a leg, careered mutinously down Church Street, and eventually glided to a halt in a vacant parking space. Bernice slapped her thigh and declared it to be the funniest thing she'd ever seen, but Maddy was overcome by embarrassment, feeling she was doomed to be forever making excuses for the machine's devastating conduct.

One wet and windy evening, a month after taking possession of her flashy tormentor, Maddy, with a good deal of trepidation, kick-started the bike and heaved a loud sigh when for once the thing jerked into life. She quickly set off for home, cutting down the side road which led to New Street. She took the corner carefully, giving pedestrians the right of way lest the machine chose that moment to romp, then prepared to take off. Sadly, her trouser-leg caught on the pedal and the bike tipped her onto the road, then shook itself upright and advanced up the congested street amidst buses, cars and taxis, launching itself directly at the traffic lights, where it crashed, unharmed and in complete control of its own destiny, while Maddy viewed the new invention with all the hatred she could muster.

For two days, as if sensing her disapproval, the bike functioned precisely as it should and Maddy was endowed with a confidence hitherto lacking in their relationship, finally consoled that her money had not been wasted. Almost in celebration, she removed the basket from the handlebars and affixed a square case to the back, more in keeping with her role as city traveller and less likely to strew the contents on the ground. Securing the case with colourful spiders, an added precaution since her handbag, knitting, and lunch box were inside, she donned her helmet and journeyed home, exhilarated for the first time to be handling her newfangled, dutiful machine.
    It was Friday and the traffic was bumper to bumper on the steep hill where Maddy lived, but she didn't care. Gleefully she wove slowly in and out, overtaking big cars and small ones, occasionally encouraging the Ariel's progress with a toot on her horn. But half way up the hill, as she was debating the purchase of fish and chips, she heard someone yell, 'Hey, blondie, your bag just fell off.'
Over her shoulder, Maddy saw the blue case bounding on its corners down the hill. Hurriedly she parked the bike and ran to retrieve it.
The demon machine took off.
Maddy's hands flew to her face, watching with horror as it crossed the road and mounted the pavement, then rode the railway station's brick exterior like the wall-of-death, before turning an expert somersault and landing upright on the footpath. But it wasn't over. The impetus drove it back up the wall and sent it spiraling through another somersault before crashing down and narrowly missing a band of teenagers who watched with captivated expressions.

It had to go, and next day it was returned it to the garage from whence it came. Maddy demanded her money back, but was persuaded by the manager to try another machine. She did, and bought a Honda 90. Silver coloured and peaceful-looking.

Her friends, Bernice and Margaret, liked the look of the Ariel so much they each acquired one. Only Bernice had trouble, when her machine drove backwards through the Queensway tunnel - on its own.
Maddy wondered ... but it wasn't possible. Her bike was locked in a garage.
Wasn't it?


  1. Funny. I rode a motor bike once and once was enough.

  2. Janet, I had problems with the Honda motorbike, but on such the same scale as the other contraption. Nobody was surprised when manufacture ceased.

  3. Sharon, the contraption was useless but it did create material for a blog.

  4. One of the first motorcycles that I had was a Honda CL 70, but never had any problems like that... Wow.

  5. I remember my mum getting a moped. She was an accident waiting to happen on it. I break into a cold sweat thinking about the havoc she caused.

  6. Hilarious Valerie! The only time I have ever been on one of those things was when we were kids and my sister and I rode in the side car of my uncle’s bike. I still remember the terrified look on my mother’s face as she rode behind him, when he picked us up to drive to my grandmother’s house. We took the bus after that ; )

  7. Hilarious, Valerie! What a GREAT story! It read like an episode of "I Love Lucy" and one of her mishaps.

    I've always been tempted to buy a Vespa motor bike, the kind they drive around in Italy. Love those little things. However living in a city, I don't trust the car drivers on the road to be conscientious of sharing the roads with a motor bike driver. City drivers are INSANE.

    Hope you're having a FAB weekend, my friend!

    X to you and Charlie!

  8. Treey, I hope your mother didn't have too many catastrophes

  9. Denise, if you think that was bad you should have gone on an Ariel 3 - it was horrendous!

  10. Hi Jimmy, I think (going from a faulty memory now) the next bike I had was a Honda. It was a darned sight better than the Areial 3.

  11. Hey, Ron, I remember I Love lucy and the mishaps SO well. Loved that series. One day I will relate the time I rode my pedal-cycle in rush hour traffic!

    Having a great weekend, Rosanne is here from Australia. Have a good one yourself. X from Charlie and me.

  12. Need to go back and give that loud salesman a piece of her mind and a good slap. I hope she has less adventures and more success.

  13. Susan, it was me....and I did!

  14. I used to ride a moped and I loved it, mind you it didn't have a mind of it's own. Funny story!

  15. Joe, I loved ... when it worked!

  16. What a fun story this was, Valerie. Like many others who commented, I have never rode on a scooter or motorcycle, the only two-wheelers for me have been bicycles.


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