Scoot off
Road rage is spilling over on to the pavements as everyone in my neighbourhood seems to have gone scooting mad. Sitting in traffic whilst spelling out f*** off in Morse code in your car horn fades into petrol fumed insignificance when compared to coping with the dreaded micro scotter. They're everywhere. Careering into you round blind corners, shooting out of driveways, whizzing down what previously seemed to be a gentle incline and, as I speak, circling like angry flies round my kitchen table. What was I thinking off when I bought the damn thing? Did I realise my laminated Ikea flooring would make an ideal scooting surface when I handed over ninety odd quid in the Conran shop? Did I know they would breed, infect the whole street and replicate themselves until my house had turned into some sort of unofficial skate park full of scooting children?
I was a fool. I remembered the sweet red scooter from my own childhood that I pushed along with the stateliness of an OAP on her weekly drive to church. I travelled so slowly that people in Zimmer frames overtook me and could practice a royal wave without losing my balance.
Dream on - these modern polished alloy devils do everything but leave vapour trails. No one in their right mind wants their teenager to own a motor bike, but a micro scooter - hey, what fun. And while you hand out protective head gear with bicycles and shin, knee and elbow pads with a skateboard, or a pair of roller blades - with a micro scooter - well you just give the kid a push.
The designer, Wim Ouboter, a forty year old father of two from Switzerland, who you'd think would have known better, developed the micro scooter so he wouldn't have to walk to his local take-away. I wish he hadn't bothered. My shins would be bruise free, and my ankles unbattered. I wouldn't be reduced to panting along the road behind an eight-year old bat out of hell yelling 'watch out' every time she passed someone's front gate. What used to be a pleasant walk to school is like going for a jog an energetic, boisterous and very disobedient dog. However, these scooters do make a wonderful job of clearing the pavement when ridden at speed. Pensioners throw themselves into hedges and jump in front of passing cars to avoid us.
Once the child has been safely delivered to school, miraculously in one piece, then there's the ignominy of carrying the folded up machine all the way back home. Ride it myself? You must be joking. Do I look like the kind of person who thinks its cool to propel myself, Quasimodo-style, along the pavement using one leg? There are enough middle-aged men perambulating around London looking like superannuated schoolboys without me trying to be biker mum in a twin set. Velocity plus mass is something that should not be unleashed on the unsuspecting public. Especially when it's size 16 and not strapped down. Furthermore, since I'm already suffering from scooter rage - it would be a mistake to let me loose behind the handlebars. A micro-scooter is a loaded weapon and currently I'm living in the leafy equivalent of the Bronx.
It's a class war. The local park has been transformed into a glittering, silver Hades on wheels as ultra chic, uber scooters swoop and swerve amidst the knock offs selling for £30 quid at the market. Scooter envy is rife as kids size each other up while circumnavigating the playground. I can go faster than you. I can do tricks. I've got the twin suspension model with single level-folding action. They act like wide boys in souped-up Golf GTis revving at the traffic lights getting ready to burn polyurethane. It's alluvium with attitude and the back brake, a mere fiction in the mind of any parent daft enough to think their child has any intention of using it.
Scooting becomes a sisyphian endeavour as, once begun, you can't dismount and leave the machine out of your sight without fear of having the thing stolen. The son of one friend was mugged for his coming home from school - the perpetrator making his getaway using the stolen vehicle.. And then there are the accidents. God help you if your child gets mowed down by Wayne, whose tattooed mother watches over him fondly, her fingers curled around a Bic lighters and a packets of Marlborough as though they were a pair of knuckle-dusters.
Is this the time or the place to point out that Wayne wasn't looking where he was going? No siree ma'am. Just yesterday on a number 7 bus, my teenage daughter saw a woman drop kick a Swedish tourist who inadvertently trod on her toes when the bus jolted to a halt. Safer to scoot off wordlessly to casualty and have an X-ray.
Micro scooters - they're not big, they're not clever. DO your self and your kids a favour. Buy them a jigsaw instead.