Sunday afternoon and the ironing is finished for another week. It’s chilly despite the clear blue sky and both my cats seem content to sleep inside. Tiny is hiding upstairs underneath the duvet; Furry is curled up on the sofa.
The street is quiet as I pull my bike past the security gate and lock it behind me and I’m glad of my thin waterproof jacket as I head off into the wind. Today I’m on a bit of a mission to complete the cycle route I failed at a few weeks ago (see Two Cycle Rides For The Price Of One) – so I take a road route to the other end and look for a suitable field that might lead to the abrupt ending. Sadly I see no signs of the Poetry Runners from last time but there is significantly more mud, so I am forced to take it slowly until I reach the other end.
I get home just in time to shower, change and open the back door for the still disinterested cats before settling down to watch Smallville (a recently discovered weekend treat)
About half-way through I notice that a wasp has invited itself into my front room and is attempting to mate, rather angrily, with my front-window curtains…or perhaps it is trying to commit suicide by repeatedly hurling itself at the glass: I’m not sure which. I decide to usher it gently towards the back door with the help of a small glass.
And that’s when I see the bike.
It’s a fairly solid teenagers’ mountain bike with thick stunt wheels and a black frame and it’s lying strewn across my front garden. I go to my front door and open it, but there’s no sign of anyone much in the street. A Police car comes around the corner and I attempt to wave them down for advice, but they either don’t see me or chose to ignore me: leaving me alone on my doorstep with the problem of the bike remaining.
I close my front door and open the security gate by the side of the house, wheeling the bike around. The front wheel is out of alignment with the handlebars, making me wonder if the reason it’s been abandoned is because it has been stolen and the thief saw the Police car or because the owner has been given a a newer, better bike free by the council and can’t be bothered to sell this one or take it to the tip.
As I move the bike I mentally add it to the ever-increasing list of Odd Things Abandoned At My House – which so far includes several assorted burnt-out mattresses (back garden), several large concrete fence posts (same location), half a car and a jar of pickles (attic), a plastic cat-kennel (thrown over the fence) and two chickens.
I consider my options: clearly I can’t keep the bike because I have no legal right to it – plus how will I know if someone comes to claim it that they are the owner? There’s no way I’m going knocking on doors to see who the owner is – the last time I did that (when I found the two chickens in my garden) I got a mouthful of abuse for my efforts at offering assistance.
Ever since I moved to the area I have had problems with the Scumlords Of The Apocalypse (or Them Two Doors Down, or just THEM). I had to buy a security fence to stop them urinating on the side of my house and climbing through my garden when they were drunk, I regularly have to drag my washing in when they have their Annual Burning Of The Evidence in the back garden and have had to have all my windows shut tight in the middle of summer because at 4am they have decided it was funny to sing at the top of their voices.
They were responsible for the Chicken Incident as well as much drunken throwing of rubbish into my front garden (remember, they live two doors down so are within easy reach of a bin).
Then, about two or three weeks ago, they had one last bonfire, threw a cat kennel over the fence into my garden and were gone. The house has been empty ever since, but I refuse to get my hopes up too high as the last time it was empty another branch of the same family moved back in and things carried on much as they had been before.
So a thought occurs: whoever was abandoning the bike thought mine was the empty house. It’s possible. Pretty much every front garden has abandoned bikes lying out late at night, seemingly with no fear of theft. This is mostly because, as suggested earlier, they get everything given to them by people like myself who are stupid enough to go out and work and pay taxes.
Eventually I phone the Police and advise them that there is an abandoned bike in my garden and would they mind coming to pick it up: reasoning that if the owner does come back to claim it and are legitimate then they will be willing to make the trip to pick it up. The Police are not keen to make the journey on a warm day like today and ask me where my nearest Police station is. I explain that the nearest station (barely 1 mile away) is closed to the public and the next nearest is the other side of town.
The same patrol car that passed a few minutes back returns and parks a few doors down. I go out to speak to them and immediately there’s a ready supply of nosey people standing in their doorways wanting to see what’s happening. The bike is too big for their car, they explain. A van has been sent.
The Police car sits there not doing much: the two women inside ignoring my attempts at conversation or enquiry: so I go back inside and wait for the van. Finally it arrives and takes the bike away.
All of this happens at around 3pm on an otherwise quiet Sunday afternoon. By 8pm when I close my curtains and go upstairs to do some reading no one has come to knock on the door and ask about their property.
From which ending you can read whatever conclusions you want.