The settling of things we no longer need…

THAT old rucksack and me had done the rounds together. Thirteen years or so ago, it went into a skip outside our old house. We were having work done and the attic detritus had to be cleared away.

The details are hazy now, but I reckon the rucksack had been with me to Greece in the days of beach sleeping, and possibly on a long hitch-hike through France. It only stayed on top of the full skip for a while. Looking through the window, I saw someone remove the rucksack – it was green, or so my memory tells me – and walk off down the road with their new possession slung on their back. Their back instead of mine.

I got a newspaper column out of that rucksack, relaying the adventures we’d shared, and imagining new ones to come with whoever had taken ownership. The two of us were close for a while, in the days when I tramped the world, or limited parts at least. The younger me was adventuresome only up to a point, something that is now a cause of regret.

Anyway, the rucksack went and I was glad. By then I was a father of three with builders in the house. We did up that house and then, seven years on, moved in search of a big garden with a house attached.

The house where we now live has a leaky garage which is being repaired soon. Damp and musty contents had been removed and taken to the tip, but three bicycles were still there. You know what it’s like with some jobs: ah yes, I’ll do that next week. Or the next-next week. Or never because life’s too short and too full of newspapers to be read or naps to be taken or music to be listened to. Anything apart from what you said you’d do.

On Sunday a solution was found. The bikes were wheeled out to the front of the house and propped against the fence. A sign was fashioned from a cereal box – oh, all right, a muesli box – reading: Bikes free to a good home, could do with a service.

That caution was an understatement, flat tyres and all, but they were decent bikes once: a full-size hybrid, a smaller hybrid and a BMX bike a little like those used for mad aerial antics in the Olympics.

Nothing happened for a while and it looked as if the old estate would have to swallow this threesome, and then the two smaller bicycles went. The larger one stayed overnight but disappeared sometime in the morning. So all three have found a new home.

As with that old rucksack, I have no idea who took them. Normally if you leave a bicycle propped up somewhere in York, even one with a lock, they are removed with ill intent. But not this time. It was cheering to see them go.

It’s the sharing economy in a sense. If you don’t need something, someone else might. I only hope my wife doesn’t get carried away with this notion and put me out there bearing a note reading: Second-hand husband and under-employed freelance journalist, free to a good home…


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