Have you ever cycled along and, instead of looking where you were going you look down just to watch the pedals go round?
I have. And I can tell you it’s hypnotic, it sent me into a real trance. The whirr of the wheels, the crunch of the chain and the coolness of an early summer morning. It was perfect. I only snapped out if it when I hit the car and sailed peacefully through the air to land on its roof.
Mind you it was a parked car. A shiny red mini, all chromed up and proudly parked outside the abode of one pretty and particular Penny Pinkerton.
Ms Pinkerton was renting John Murphy’s house for a while as she finished her final year in college and worked part time in Murphy, Melia & Meddles Solicitors. She planned on becoming a solicitor in good time too; which suited her particular nature.
My embarrassment however,was not caused by crashing most spectacularly into perfect Ms Penny’s car, but by the fact that next door to Ms Penny lived Richard; and I had the mightiest crush on this lanky, shy boy.
Richard. Ah Richard! He was tall and had a mop of warm brown hair, blue eyes and always said hello. Sometimes we even chatted. I knew a lot about Richard, in the way that 14 year old girls do. I’d gathered all the information – his birthday, his favourite band, his favourite colour. Then I saved for a t- shirt in said favourite colour with the band logo on it. That’s how to get attention, not cycling into parked cars.
Sprawled on the red roof of the mini I saw a curtain twitch and my heart plummeted. I’d been seen!
There was a jangling of safety door chains and the click of a lock and the next thing I knew, I was being helped down from my inelegant repose by Ms Penny herself, and she still in her nightgown (which would’ve raised the pulse of any man if they’d been lucky enough to twitch a curtain that morning). Ms Penny Pinkerton was the curiosity of every soul on our road, and quite a few more.
With only one quick glance at her scraped chrome bumper, Ms Penny efficiently assessed the situation; my flaming face, the tears that threatened and the knowledge that Richard’s ‘too posh to mingle with the neighbours’ mother would open and arrange her made to measure curtains precisely in three minutes. Leaning over she picked up my crumpled bike and wheeled it up her petunia lined path where she shoved it behind the profusely flowering lilac. With a wink and a smile she whisked me inside to her perfectly perfumed parlour, where she had been breakfasting.
She plumped up some cushions and cleaned the scratches on my forehead, then artfully arranged my hair. Then leaning back she tilted her head to appraise me. With a small nod she held up a perfectly manicured finger; hummed a little and then cut my fringe right up.
“There!” She twinkled at me. “Now we can see those baby blues of yours. Cup of tea?”
She passed me tea, in a delicate bone china cup, and shared her toast and honey. And I think I fell in love a little. She was the sister that I never had.
We chatted and she showed me how to style my new hair and made me promise to let her know when I needed the fringe trimmed again.
A warm tingling feeling surrounded me as I left for school, it was nice to be treated seriously; and the glow grew into a blush as I saw Richard loping down his path and stepping over the wall. Ms Penny noticed my rosy cheeks and how my eyes followed him she and called out to me. Everyone looked over and I was elevated to her status instantly. Smiling back at her I waved; and looked up to see that Richard had waited for me.
He walked me to school every morning after that.
And he told me that my hair was nice.