It was, in the mid-Seventies, standing, in the pouring rain, next to my burned-out motorbike on Clapham High Street, as the local Fire Brigade extinguished the sparks emitting from my bike’s electrics, when I realised that I’m a salesman’s dream.
I had bought this “second-hand” bike from a dealership in Tooting some months before Clapham’s answer to Towering Inferno; and the sign saying “one previous owner – vicar’s wife” – had got my attention. I can only assume the vicar’s wife’s husband has since been de-frocked, as the 11th Commandment stipulates: “Thou shalt not lie about the mileage”.
But these salesmen see me coming – I think it may be the fluorescent light, invisible only to me, above my head, which says “MUG” the moment I walk into any vehicle sales room.
The eternal fear of not wanting to get my hands dirty (I’d never take a throw-in at football) would ensure my blissful and complete lack of awareness of any form of car/bike maintenance. If you’d have asked me, aged 16, when first allowed a motorised vehicle, “What is a spark plug?” I’d have suggested he was a puppet who had a magic piano.
In trying to purchase my first moped, the salesman was so crafty, before I knew it, he’d sold me a Cortina – and I’d never even been to the Dolomites!