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
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.