I bought Tom a new bike for his birthday. It was orange, because that’s his favourite colour. It took me ages to find one in his size that was also orange. It came and I hid it under my bed for a week until the night before his birthday, when I pulled it out and tried to assemble it and realised that I couldn’t screw on the effin left pedal or even get close to attaching the front wheel. I cried and had what may or may not have been a panic attack on the living room floor, surrounded by bike parts and packaging.

“The pedal the pole the pedal the pole the ppppp pole pedal,” etc, I said to Mum on the phone, who was asking me if I had a paper bag handy.

It meant so much to me that Tom would come down in the morning and see his beribboned, orange bike and I was so pissed off with myself that I hadn’t managed to assemble it.

“Close your eyes,” I said the next morning, wheeling it into the living room on its back wheel with the front wheel in my hand, “I’ve got you a present but I am afraid I couldn’t put it together so I am going to have to get someone else to do that. OK open your eyes now.”

“A new bike, thanks Mum!”

“Yeah but it is not put together.”

“That’s fine, I don’t mind.”

I went upstairs to get dressed, then on the way to school, Tom said “Mum, you know the left pedal on my new bike?”

And I said “Yeah I know it won’t screw on. I tried for ages last night and I think they have sent me a pedal with a hole too small to fit on the pole because no matter how hard I tried it just wouldn’t bite and it kept falling off on to the floor and it got really late and in the end I just gave up and I’m sorry but I think it is the wrong part.”

“But Mum, I did it while you were getting dressed. I just screwed it on.”

And he had.

The orange bike was destined for the returns van. Not only had I managed to tangle the brake cables up in the handlebars (“You f*cking idiot,” said my charming and tactful friend when he realised this) but the brakes were crap anyway and after a meeting with some brambles on a bleak day, it was time for it to go back in the box (with great difficulty.)

So, we went to a “proper bike shop” and I headed straight to the orange bikes and the orange bikes only because I was still in orange bike hunting mode, like a bower bird on a mission (if you don’t know what a bower bird is, watch this. Ace eh? Anyway…)

“But Mum, have you seen this one?” Tom said, pointing to a neon green number, “This is the coolest bike in the shop.”

“I thought you’d want orange, because it’s your favourite colour.”

“Yeah but the neon green bike is way cooler.”

Fast forward a couple of weeks and the neon green bike has been delivered. We’ve also got a new sofa bed, from our very kind neighbours. It’s beautiful and comfortable but  I decide it could do with brightening it up and purchase several boxes of ‘Bahama Blue’ dye, which, as the name suggests, looks like the colour of tropical sea. I might not be going anywhere hot anywhere soon but at least I’ll be able to dive on to my Bahama Blue couch and dream, I think.

Except it didn’t go Bahama Blue, did it? It went Incredible Hulk green. And because I was impatient and shoved the whole lot in one wash, it is sort of tie-dyed / marbled with a mustard yellow. I haven’t got a working camera or phone these days to post a picture here and that’s probably a good thing.

I actually felt really, genuinely disappointed in myself for wrecking the couch. Why couldn’t I have just left it alone? I went to Gladstone’s Library again a couple of weeks ago (more on that soon) and enjoyed the luxury of solitude and few worries and time to read and write. Since I got back, things keep going wrong and I’ve been a bit fed up.

“I’ve ruined the sofa,” I said to Tom at home time.

“Oh, Mum.”

But then:


“Speaking of your neon green bike, let’s take it for a spin.”

I really didn’t feel like going out, such was my fed upness. But I did. And as I was wheeling the bike to the park, I got an urge to sit on it. So I did. I did and I pedalled really fast and raced Tom to the park and it felt ace, even though my knees were in my armpits. About three people saw me and cheered me on.

“Mum, I loved it when you rode my bike to the park. You’re a great girl,” he said later.

He always says ‘girl’ in scouse.

The sofa still looks like a tree frog.