Races In The Park

A park with walkers and cyclists Pic: Thinkstock


Burning up the footpath was so much fun – and even better with two…

My daughter really didn’t take to Herbert.

“Ta-da!” I introduced him with a flourish in my garage and Lucy, who I’d summoned from Oxford, turned a lovely shade of puce.

“You really don’t need that thing yet, Mum.” She peered down at my legs as if checking I still had a pair.

“Lucy,” I said. “Your dad used to drive me everywhere. I’ve never learned myself and walking everywhere’s taking forever these days. The pain in my arthritic knees doesn’t help.”

“Mum, things like that improve with exercise.” That was my Lucy, at forty-eight, as practical and sombre as her cardigans. “Sitting about is only going to make you old before your time.”

I sighed at Herbert, my mobility scooter. I snorted and thought of yesterday in the park, racing past the tulips on a beautiful spring day…

“Vroom. Vroom.” I leaned back on Herbert’s seat, imagining I was Lewis Hamilton in the cockpit of his car.

Going at these sorts of speeds, you had to be careful of pedestrians. You could startle people at a whooping four miles an hour.

Where did this driver come from? She’s taking the Formula One world by storm, I commentated in my head. There isn’t a car or a driver on the circuit who can touch her.

Up ahead stood a litter bin. It was my usual finishing line.

She’s on her own. She’s out in front.

“Zooooooom!” I muttered as a red scooter trundled by. An elderly gentleman turned his head and gave me a smug look.

“You really should have gone for the Dolomite Sprite 1000. She’s far more aerodynamic.”

“Oh no, she’s not. Come on, Herbert. Come on!”

I felt as if I was ten years old again. In my home town, a gang of kids would gather with our bicycles at the weekends. We’d race around the streets and right out into the country lanes. As I pedalled away, my heart would race while my broad grin would be catching flies.

In the park, I smiled just like that girl I’d once been

“You’re carrying too much weight!”

I could see the man’s shopping basket set between his handlebars heaving with library books. “I’m coming past you!”

It’s hard to beat another scooter with the same top speed as your own, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.

We were neck and neck as the bin edged closer…

“Come on, Herbert!”

“Come on, Rita!” The man jiggled in his seat as if that would make his big red machine go faster.

The bin flashed by.

We slowed. We stopped.

“I won!” I said.

The man hummed an unhappy note.

“Only by the width of a fly.”

I laughed. So did he, then we both peered about ourselves, wondering if anybody had seen us being so silly. Then we laughed again and he leaned over and kissed me.

“Oh my,” I said. “Now there’s a lovely trophy.” I pointed to the park entrance. “I’ll beat you to the gates!”

Off we went again, engines purring.

Now, in my garage, Lucy scowled down at Herbert as if sure I really had given in to old age.

I’d yet to tell her everything about Herbert. Six months ago, a silver-haired gentleman’s flashy Dolomite Sprite 1000 had set his heart all aflutter. They’ve decided to sell up their homes and buy a garage together on the coast, so they could sit wheel-to-wheel every night by the shore.

Poor Lucy, she’d need a sit down and some hot sweet tea before I told her who’d be leaving right along with Herbert and Rita.

“Hello, Alice!” a voice called from across the road.

Rita and her master rolled by

“Hello, Robert.” I climbed aboard my own scooter. “I just need to go out for half an hour,” I told Lucy. “We’ll have a proper chat then. I can beat Robert to the library if there aren’t any pedestrians about.”

With that, I waved and Herbert surged down the drive.

I so hoped Lucy would welcome my news. After the shock of meeting Herbert I was sure she would. After all, I heard her exclaim with a relieved sob as I zoomed down the pavement, “Oh, Mum! You’re still such a child!”

Look out for more springtime stories throughout April, published every Monday and Thursday.

Karen Byrom

My coffee mug says "professional bookworm" which sums me up really! As commissioning fiction editor on the magazine, I love sharing my reading experience of the latest books, debut authors and more with you all, and would like to hear from you about your favourite books and authors! Email me kbyrom@dctmedia.co.uk