Alice Dryden (huskyteer) wrote,
Alice Dryden

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Help in Odd Places

Last night I went to Laughter in Odd Places in the Charing Cross Road Borders with slemslempike - an event made excellent both by the company and by its being free.

I was expecting Andrew O'Neill to be a big fat journalist, so I was surprised to find he was a tall skinny man in a skirt. It turns out I was thinking of Andrew Neil.

I finally saw Josie Long, so I can nod knowingly when folk on my Friendslist mention her. Hello Ms Long, if you're Googling yourself! I liked the bit about Billy Bragg being your imaginary dad!

Proceedings were wound up at ten so Borders could close roughly on time, and Slem headed for a youth hostel near St. Pancras while I returned to my Vespa to whizz home.

I got back to the bike bay, geared up, nodded and smiled to the other biker unlocking his steed, and set off down the road.

Ten metres later, the bike sputters and dies.

I start up, set off, it sputters and dies again. Repeat twice; sit staring at dashboard in despair. The fuel light went on fairly recently and I usually get a good 15 miles out of the reserve, so I don't know how this has happened, but it has.

Meanwhile the other guy from the bike bay has got going - but instead of roaring off into Bloomsbury he stops beside me. This is why you should always nod and smile!

"Out of petrol?" he asks. He's Australian, about my age, riding a Gilera.

"Looks like it," I reply, then add "I'd better ring the AA," so he won't think I'm angling for him to go and fetch me some fuel (which I am).

"Want to hop on the back and I'll take you to the garage?"

I assent with gratitude and ascend with a clumsy legover. Yes Ma, I got on the back of a complete stranger's bike at half-past ten at night in Camden, trusting in the international biking fraternity to keep me safe. (If it looked like we were leaving W1 for some seedy crack den, I planned to tip myself off the back.)

At the first set of traffic lights he introduces himself as Neil and asks my name. We reach the petrol station, where I buy a can and a fiver's worth of unleaded, and return with the container jammed between us. We part with a handshake and many injunctions to take care and ride safe.

(Funnily enough it's a year this weekend since Howard and I fetched a can of petrol for a motorist stranded in the Dorset countryside. How's that for karma?)

Thank you, Neil, wherever you are, for turning a disaster into an adventure!

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