Monday, November 07, 2005

Based on a true story

As chums might have spotted, I like a good yarn.

That doesn’t just mean stories about space-Guardianistas grappling with weird, scary monsters (though those are good too), but anything simply well-told. Growing up, mealtimes were always a story-telling contest with my siblings. Family get-togethers still are, plus a fight for the roast potatoes.

Thing is, I’m now never sure which titbits of knowledge rattling round my brain have any basis in truth.

Anyway, this odd story (which came via Gaiman, who we’re seeing tomorrow) made me think of a story I used to hear a lot when I was little.

In the early 1980s (I guess) this bloke rode round Winchester on a monocycle.

He was – it makes the story better – quite a crazy-looking devil, and not the most careful of cyclists. Monocycles are zippy things and not always easy to control. Whether or not he actually ran anyone down, he eventually wound up in court.

The court listened to the tales of mayhem done and assessments of possible risk, and came up with an elegant solution. The bloke, they decided, couldn't ride his monocycle on public roads because he didn't have a bicycle bell.

And yet this didn't deter the bloke. He just got himself a pair of handlebars – just the handlebars mind, not attached to anything – and stuck a bell on them.

So you'd sometimes see (though I never did) this crazy-looking bloke, zipping about on his monocycle, orphan handlebars stuck out in front of him, frantically ting-a-linging.

Ha ha!

Sadly, Google couldn’t help me verify details, and it’s been so often retold to me, and likely embellished each time that I may have got key bits of it wrong. Will check with parents and see if they remember.

And it’s only typing this up that all seems a bit too much like David McKee's (brilliant) "Mark and the monocycle".

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