Wheel

Published on Friday 13th March 2015 by Julie Embleton

While poking around the internet the other day I came across a link to a site called Sunday Scribblings 2 (sundayscribblings2.blogspot.ie) The clever mind behind this site posts a word or a phrase on a Wednesday and invites anyone who is interested to write about the prompt and then link the piece they’ve written back to their page. As someone who suffers from inspiration-constipation when it comes to blogging, I think it’s a brilliant idea, so I’ve decided to accept the challenge and give it a shot. What follows is inspired by this week’s word: Wheel.

It’s obvious, I know, but I soon as I thought of wheel, I thought of a bicycle wheel, and immediately remembered the bike I had when I was younger – much younger. My memory is not great. When I get into the office on Tuesday mornings and my colleagues ask ‘How was your weekend?’ I usually have to stop and think really hard about what it was I actually did for the two or three days previous. (Unless it’s something momentous of course, like having had tea and biscuits with Ian Sommerhalder or Jared Leto calling to my door – again. He’s such a stalker . . .) So, my point is that I can’t remember much about the childhood bike – as in, its colour or model, but that doesn’t matter, what I do remember are the two most important bicycle accessories that any kid with street smarts had at that age; a piece of cardboard and a clothes peg.

The cardboard – about the size of a playing card, I think – was attached to the frame with a wooden clothes peg (plastic pegs were too fancy back then) and when you cycled, the spokes in the wheel would tip off the edge of the cardboard and make this very satisfying sound. Immediately, our bikes were transformed. Suddenly we were tearing up and down our street on motorbikes. We were astride a Harley Davidson, a big, loud, aggressive, I’m too cool for school, shock your parents’ pants off Harley Davidson motorbike.

We experimented and learned that the thicker the cardboard, the deeper the sound – especially cardboard with cushioned layers. Plastic was useless however, it made a noise that lent itself to believing that you were riding a glass jar with an angry bumblebee trapped inside. If you were posh your snapper was made up of layers of Kellogg’s cereal boxes – not the thrift, or yellow pack cereal boxes spawned by the recession at the time – but genuine, full colour, ‘we can still afford corn flakes that taste of corn flakes’ cardboard. I won’t comment on what mine was made of as I’m still not too old to get a clip in the ear from my mother, but I do recall painting a lightning bolt on it.

We got many summers’ worth of entertainment from our cardboard-enhanced bikes, and I will admit that, when my bike was upgraded to a model more befitting of a young lady commencing attendance in a convent school, I was sorry to have to let my snapper go. All these years later the thrill of that imaginary motorbike rumble still lingers, which is probably why getting to ride on the back of a Harley Davidson is on my bucket list. Maybe Jared or Ian has one. I must give them a call . . .

I’m going to finish on a sadder note. It was only yesterday that I was prompted to remember my old bike, and while driving home, my mind delighted to be prancing around in memories of the 80’s, I heard the very sad news of the death of a much loved Irish radio DJ, Tony Fenton, who passed away after a long battle with cancer. Tony had a voice that was like warm liquid velvet and he is so deeply ingrained in the soundtrack of my teenage years that whenever I hear him I’m immediately whisked back to my old bedroom and the chunky, sticker-covered radio that his unique voice used to radiate from. My thoughts go out to his family, friends and colleagues, and to the people who, just like me, know that a light without compare has gone out in the land of radio. Rest in peace, Tony.

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