Bike – freedom!

What’s your favourite memory of Christmas? somebody asked and I knew in a flash. It was a Rudge. Barely recognisable as a brand now, almost comical – rhyming as it does with fudge (almost as good but more readily available) and more unfortunately, with sludge…

My Rudge, for baby-boomers who might just recall, was a not just a bike – more a godsend. No more cadging bikes from my older brothers, no more being doubled, sometimes on the handlebars just for a joke. No more hanging on behind on the carrier.

We’d gone to Church that Christmas Eve and I came home wondering what, what would my Chrissy present be.

Next morning Dad took us into the lounge and toyed with my expectations for a  while, letting the other boys go to their presents first. He must have seen my face slipping, falling and he walked to the bay windows.

He pulled the heavy curtains apart – and wheeled out my bike. I nearly jumped for joy. My Christmas and birthday wish wrapped in one, British racing green, brand new – and wow – three speed!  My present must have set him back a bit because he was on a modest salary and I knew from gazing at it in Speedwell Cycles that it cost nearly 20 pounds.

Christmas morning when the neighbourhood was waking to their presents and hams, I raced my Rudge to ‘burbs and places I’d never seen, for this was more than a bike – it was the gift of freedom….

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Paul Smith

Paul is a veteran journalist, non-fiction author and writing mentor. He has also served on boards ranging from TVNZ to UNESCO.