This Bicycle Is Not Constructed To Carry Passengers – Why I Am Extremely Grateful That Policemen Were Very Understanding Back In The 1980s

Despite the fact that nature has given me a somewhat thuggish physiognomy , I have never been arrested. (see Have You Got SatNav In That Tardis Mate?) In fact the last time I saw the inside of a police station was to report the theft of my chopper bike. And I don’t mean back in 1995 when Supergrass did that video that made the Raleigh Chopper briefly popular with twenty-something men. I mean way back in 1979, when the only kids rode them.

I loved that bike. I’d wanted one ever since I’d seen it as the star prize on Mike Read’s Runaround. That was a weird programme. Here’s a clip from an episode. I’m assuming it’s a Halloween special. Don’t think Mike Read got his head cut off at the start of every show.

The star prize on this show was usually something weird like a film projector or something mundane like a portable telly. But every once in a while, some lucky kid would win the Chopper. I really wanted that bike.  My dad, being a good dad, saw me drooling over what was essentially a Harley Davidson for ten year old boys and bought me one for my next birthday.

This is the exact model I got:


See that white plastic strap running across the seat? It had a message written on it which stated boldly “This bicycle is not constructed to carry passengers”. That made us kids laugh. Have you seen the length of the seat? If any bike was built with “giving backers” in mind, it was the Raleigh Chopper. The sign should have read “This bicycle is not constructed to carry passengers (nudge nudge, wink wink)”

But, as I say, it got nicked. I reported it. And that was the last time I talked to a policeman with regard to a crime. Well, almost.

I’ve never been arrested, but when I was 19, I came really close.

I was a University student at the time. I went to University in my home town and just before I started the course I got myself a girlfriend. We were not a good pairing. You ever met one of those couples who, as individuals, are absolutely delightful but together they are a fucking nightmare? Yeah well, that was us.

We were always either fighting like cat and dog or fucking each other senseless. We should have split up after a few weeks, but we didn’t. In our tiny little minds, the sex was well worth the fighting.  It never is by the way-not in the long run- but you lives and learns.

So, one night, me and this girlfriend went out for an evening at the pub with some of my course mates and a couple of my hometown friends. It all went remarkably smoothly until the walk home.

The inevitable fight started about half a mile away from my mum and dad’s house, where we were staying the night. It was a blazing row. At one point we ended up rolling around in the main road. Not in a “life or death, West Side Story” style. More like a “Monty Python Batley Townswomens’ Guild Recreation Of the Battle Of Pearl Harbour” sort of way. We did nearly get run over by a taxi though.

After we’d survived that, my girlfriend ran off screaming: “I’m not staying with you tonight. I’m going to Andy’s!” Andy was one of my course mates who happened to live a couple of hundred yards away.

Being extremely drunk, I wittily retorted “Go on, fuck off then”, didn’t follow her and then immediately forgot where she said she was going.

It was about two in the morning and once I’d realized she wasn’t just going to come running back around the corner I started to look for her.

Paranoia also started to kick in and I became convinced I might be attacked at any moment. There was a roadworks nearby and it had that stripy red and white warning tape around it, held in place by those steel stake thingies. So, in the name of self-preservation, I grabbed one of those steel poles.

And so it came to pass, at two in the morning and with three foot steel pole in hand, I began the quest for my misplaced girlfriend. This quest, with typical drunken logic, led me to the grounds of a residential school for disabled kids. I hadn’t been looking very long when I heard a car. It was a police car. And, as usually happens in these circumstances, it stopped and two huge coppers got out of it.

Now, I haven’t mentioned how I had chosen to dress for this night out yet, have I? I was a bit of a rabid Heavy Metal Fan. So, as well as a black leather biker’s jacket I was adorned with various spiky belts and wristbands. Not to mention the steel pole I was holding. I looked like I was about to march onto a mediaeval battlefield.

This was the summer of 1988. The Richard Ramirez “Nightstalker” trial had just started. What would you have thought? I know what I would have thought. Richard Ramirez copycat, that’s what I would have thought.

One of the coppers approached me – though not too close- and said “What are you doing with that steel pole son?”

My reply has to rank as one of the most ill-judged replies in the history of answering policemen’s questions. I said:

“I’m looking for my girlfriend.” Oh dear.

Fortunately, these coppers were very experienced coppers. They didn’t see a crazy Richard-Ramirez-o-like. They saw a teenage boy who’d dived into his cups and got a bit out of his depth. They got an explanation out of me, by which time my girlfriend had come back to look for me.

She vouched for me, we kissed and made up and the coppers told us to bugger off home and sleep it off. They didn’t give us a lift, mind. They weren’t that understanding.

On the plus side, back in 1979, the police did get me my Chopper bike back in case you were wondering. Well done them. They don’t always get it right though.

Evenin’ all. And mind how you go.

© Copyright Michael Grimes 2015


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About thedailygrime

At that awkward age - too young to be a grumpy old man, but just acerbic and downtrodden enough to have an opinion. Read it here.

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