Caged birds and locked bicycles

It’s been a funny sort of day.

It starts with a sun-filled cycle ride, during which I breathe the tepid (if slightly petrol-tainted) air, and marvel at the trees, which are currently filled with such glorious blossom that it makes your heart sing.

As usual, I drop into the coffee shop for my morning fix, and it’s only as the sexy barista hands me my espresso that I realise I’ve forgotten my purse. Blushing, I explain my predicament, and he gallantly waves a dismissive hand as I babble my excuses amid promises to pay tomorrow. But of course, no purse means no lunch.

Since I’m on a tight deadline work-wise, I resolve to toil for as long as my stomach can take it, and it’s nearly three o’clock when I finally decide to cycle home for some sustenance.

Which is when I find that some genius has locked their bike to mine.

And with no money, I can’t even get the bus home.

I leave a note for the mystery bike locker, berating them for their inattention and asking them to notify me when my bike is released. Then, sighing, I join the serpentine queue at the bank. After 20 minutes in line, I manage to answer enough questions to persuade them of my identity and finally emerge victorious, triumphantly clutching a tenner that covers my lunch and my bus fare.

By the time I arrive home, several precious hours have flown by, and my deadline is looming large.
I’m working frantically when my phone pings to announce the arrival of a text from an unknown number.

“Wait a minute, that’s not how karma works,” it says.

Despite the somewhat oblique message, I assume it’s from the mystery bike locker.

“Yeh,” I reply, “karma shouldn’t keep good people from their lunch! Does that mean my bike is no longer captive? Thank you if so…”

If I’m honest, I curse a bit under my breath, because although I’m glad my bike is now free, the message has reminded me that it’s situated a good 40 minute walk from my present location. I’m still considering my options when the phone pings again.

“Yes I have unchained you. Some birds shouldn’t be left caged. I’m sorry, I should apologise to you. I was in a very hungover state when I cycled to work this morning. Finding your note was a very unexpected experience for me. I didn’t realise I was capable of such stupidity. Once again, sorry for locking you up like that. I believe in karma and I shall seek to restore the balance by locking somebody up to give them joy rather than annoyance.”

I look at the message, slightly nonplussed. Although its content is a tad pert, I suppose that an answer is required.

“Well, good luck with that,” I write. “Unfortunately, I had to get the bus home cos I had no more time. Pls give my bike my best wishes and tell it I’ll be back for it soon. And thanks for texting. Much appreciated…”

So, should I walk back into town, take the bus, or what?

Ping! goes my phone.

“Yup. And you too for writing that note and replying. The world doesn’t seem so cold today!”


“You know what?”


“I wanna get to know you”

You’re joking, right? I know I pride myself on my sophisticated style and innate joie de vivre, but I’m not sure I’ve managed to convey all that in 140 characters …


“I got a girlfriend though so I kinda can’t”

At least you’re honest.


“Regardless of your sex or relationship status”

Well, of course. I’m 87 years old and I’ve got no teeth. Still interested?


“I feel like a caged bird”

Naturally, I’m grateful that the mystery bike locker took the time to apologise, and even more grateful that he’s refrained from using “LOL” anywhere in his correspondence, but I can’t help laughing at this turn of events.

I eye my phone suspiciously, but it remains resolutely silent. Confident that the textual avalanche has halted, I compose a response to my unsuitable suitor.

“Hmmm. A caged bird? Or perhaps a locked bicycle?”

After a few moments, my phone pings again. My would-be paramour is succinct in his reply. I smile as I read his text, composed of just two words:

“How ironic.”


Another message arrives, but this time it’s the Darkly Intriguing Man From The Gym.

“Got time for a chat?” he says.

We spend an hour online, messaging each other about everything and nothing, and this time I get a total of nine kisses … which even a romantic ignoramus like me would take as a sign that he’s interested … right?


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