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The Day Before Yesterday: 38 – Tandem Adventures

Gladys Schofield recalls adventures – and a near disaster – on a tandem.

To read more of Gladys’s life story please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/the_day_before_yesterday/

It wasn't all plain sailing, we had differences of opinion many times. One of these times we were on the tandem. I can't remember the reason but as we came to a hill, Cliff said "Right, I will make you work for that," and started pedalling furiously. He hadn't gone far when he realised this was harder than it was meant to be.

Looking over his shoulder he was surprised to see me relaxing there, my feet off the pedals, letting him do all the work. He said he learned a good lesson that day.

One weekend we had travelled quite a distance and were on our way home on our trusty steed. We still had many miles before we got back to civilisation when we came to a halt. The tandem refused to go further. We walked into the town, pushing our means of transport between us. It was eight-thirty in the evening, and everyone had crept off home. The shops looked dark and unwelcoming. We looked at each other in despair and wondered what my dad would say.

It was already dark and a lone policeman was walking down
the street, trying each shop door in turn to see if everything was secure. This is how it was done before Panda Cars. He looked nearly as tired as we did.

When he came abreast of us, he eyed us closely saying, "Have you got a problem?" Cliff explained our circumstances and said we must get home tonight. "Come with me," said Mr Plod and set off through the back streets of the town.

We followed as best we could with the reluctant tandem. After about five minutes, he came to a halt at a very small shop. This also was closed but he knocked anyway. After he shouted the man’s name, a head appeared through an open window above us and seeing the arms of the law on his doorstep, he soon opened the door.

This kind man mended our three-speed. A spring had broken. He wasn't obliged to do this for a couple of strange teenagers, and the policeman could have just let us struggle on, but they helped us and only charged for the part replaced and we were very grateful.

It was after eleven pm when we got to the outskirts of our town. We were hungry and the smell of fish and chips filled the air. We saw the chip shop across the road, next to the cinema. People were already beginning to leave. The last half must have finished, so we nipped across quickly to buy our supper, as we knew the cinema patrons would be hungry too.

A low wall was opposite the fish and chip shop, and there we sat enjoying our feast, when a voice said, "What are you two doing here at this time of night?" My brother Charles, mounted on his bike, was staring at us. I knew he worked in his spare time as a projectionist but didn't know it was here.

We told him what had happened and made to follow him home, but he said, "Finish your supper, I will let Dad know you are safe." And he did just that.

The few cars that were on the roads didn't reach the speeds of today, but the highways were not as good either. Tramlines still ran in the middle of some roads, although the tramcars had long since been replaced by the trolley bus.

Coming home one day on such a road as this, now and again a car would overtake us, and Cliff being a bit of a dare devil said, "I bet we could go as fast as them.’’ Speeding up as he said this, trying to get nearer to the tail of the car, his front wheel got into the tramline and I knew we were in trouble.

"Keep perfectly still, Glad," he called over his shoulder, "just leave it to me." I held my breath as I spied a river over the wall. We were going over a bridge. Then one quick jerk and out the wheel jumped free and we steadied our pace.

Dad never knew about that little episode.

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