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I remember when I was 8 years old I received what I had always wanted: I got a brand new Raleigh single speed bike, and it was blue with a white trim where the pipes were welded into the brackets, a black seat and chrome handles and painted blue mudguards that had a silver stripe down the middle, and the rear one had a bit painted white where a red reflector was mounted and at the front just below the handle bars was an angle bracket where I could one day put a light. A special Raleigh symbol was riveted just above this, a blue chain guard, the actual handles and pedals were white, the tyres had the smell of new rubber, and that combined with the smell of clean oil on the new chain made my bedroom smell of bike. My bike it was a beaut, my very own bike.

With it came an independence that I had not had before and speed the feel of wind in my face as I swooped down the hill on Nayland Road, just incredible.

Don’t you just love stuff like that? Receiving gifts is great. We are told it is better to give than receive--yeah right! We are also told that it’s the thought that counts--I thought about getting you all a gift.

There is a sad finish to the story of my old bike, after many happy days together, many scratches, flat tyres, a set of bent forks from jumping the stairs at intermediate school and the arrival of a brand new shiny three speed Raleigh twenty, the old bike was passed down to my little brother and then stuck behind my dads workshop and then dumped many years later.

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