Don’t you love these seats? This is an ice cream stall at Silverburn shopping centre near Glasgow. I love the quirkiness of sitting on a scooter to eat my ice cream. Takes me back to being a holiday rep on Greek Islands many (many) years ago, when my mode of transport was a moped/scooter. Of course mine wasn’t pink, I think over my time there I had dark blue, green and possibly rusty brown, oh and a bright yellow one that got me the name Bumble one happy summer, but the smart white scooters were usually reserved for day hires. My rent-it-for-the-summer job tended to be the less popular, not quite so desirable looking moped.
I wasn’t a huge success with mopeds, in fact the first time I rode one I did the classic comedy sketch thing of turning the excelerator and letting go of the damn thing. Thus rendering me scooterless and dusty as I sat in the road and looked at the whirring wheels of my vehicle as it headed for the hedge.
I learned quickly to hang on, and hang on I did, even when the damn thing shot off across a road, mounted the kerb and threw me into a wall. I was still grimly hanging on, and had the rubber hand thingy embedded in my hand as they hauled me out from under the mangled scooter and patched me up in the hospital. Holiday rep with bandage round head and walking on crutches was not a good advertisement for local bike hire companies.
There were also those forgetful moments when you would see a friend at a cafe and slow down to chat, if you were still just moving it was fine to have your feet on the foot rests, but whilst chatting you could forget and stop the bike. It would be about this time that you would realise your mistake and try to put a foot down quickly to save yourself as the scooter toppled gently to one side and left you underneath it at the side of the road looking a complete pratt.
I loved my scooters though, each new destination and job would bring a new scooter as transport. Some were better than others, some you really liked and bonded with, others were just bikes and nothing more.
Corfu brought a selection of mopeds as the hills and roads burned out our trusty steeds at an alarming rate, that and the prangs, bumps and knackered engines. I think I had four mopeds in one summer season.
In Corfu the road snaked around the edges of the island and was a ziggy zaggy nightmare. However this was nothing compared to the Mountain Road, our shortcut that took us from the middle of the island where our head office was (read room above taverna for that) to the resort where we lived. This road went from sea level to cloud height at an alarming rate. To do this it had to hairpin back and forth all the way up the mountain. It was like a tarmacked slalom course. Our little scooters would groan and moan all the way up, barely making it to the top with a roaring engine, gnashing gears and furnace like heat coming from the tiny motor placed precariously close to one’s calf (tell tale sign of scooter rider, the burn on the inside calf).
When you got to the top the view was amazing, you could see the whole island spread before you, the glittering Aegean sea, the mountains, the beaches, the forests and the villages. It was magical.
Then you had to come down the other sde. To say this was scary is something of an understatement. My friend Lotty would whoop and holler, shriek and laugh as she hurtled down those treacherous bends. She revelled in the adrenalin rush and the thrill and the speed. Needless to say I didn’t. I would hang on grimly with a face that looked like rigor had set in already – frozen with fear.
But for all the fear of falling, the actual falling and the almost falling – I loved mopeds and scooters, they were Fun!
When we sat at that cafe in the shopping centre, when I parked my bum on that scooter, the years fell away. I was in my twenties, tanned and fun and living it up in the sunshine. I turned around to catch what Idgy had just said to me. “What are you smiling at Mum?” she asked, “Oh nothing, just wondering if the guys will be at the taverna later” – “Huh, Mum you’ve lost the plot”……..
So true, so true….