There seems to be a certain camaraderie among the drivers of mobility scooters. They hail each other when they pass and call out greetings such as: "How're ya doing, mate?" and "Good day for it, squire!"
It's an excellent thing they look out for each other, I reckon, as to everybody else they appear to be completely invisible. I judge this to be the case based on the number of parents who watch their small children skate, scoot,
run, jump and slither across Mr B's path without so much as a word of warning. Mr B says this makes outings on the scooter almost as perilous as driving in the Le Mans Grand Prix.
Our friend Maree has given
me the number for a company which will provide us with an insurance policy. She has written her advice down on a piece of paper - it reads: "Breakdown and Hitting Someone Else Insurance." You can tell Maree drives a mobility scooter. And I do like it when
a shop, an organisation or a company does what it says on the tin....
I am getting quite proficient at loading and unloading the scooter onto our specially adapted car. You may be thinking that surely this
is no Big Deal but you should just see the number of keys, controls and red buttons I have to juggle with - and all, importantly, in the correct order.
First and foremost, before attempting anything clever,
I have to turn the ignition on. I have lost count of the number of times I have found myself panicking because the ramp won't operate, only to remember that I haven't turned the ignition on. This doesn't matter so much when I am alone in my panic but is a
hundred times worse if Mr B is around because he will immediately predict Dire Doom and Ghastly Gloom. Better by far to leave him sitting serenely in the front passenger seat while I grapple with the mechanics.
the ignition is on, and the tailgate has been lifted, I must remember to switch on a red button hidden inside before engaging the ramp remote control. Oh, the sheer delight of having a remote control which is mine, all mine. As regular readers know, Mr B believes
that, as far as remote controls are concerned, Possession is Nine-Tenths of the Law. We have one for the TV, one for Sky, one for the gas fire, one for the awning over the patio doors - there are few gadgets Mr B likes better than a remote control. I am not
allowed to lay claim to any of them.
The remote control for the ramp is quite complicated in that it has four buttons. Button A is for lifting the ramp; Button B is for lowering it. There is also a Button
C and a Button D which allow the remote control operator (that'll be me, then) to exercise greater control on just how far the ramp is lowered and then lifted. I haven't quite worked out when I will need to use Button C or Button D but then I only ever use
one setting on the washing machine, the dishwasher, the oven and the tumble dryer so I dare say I'll manage perfectly well without Button C or D - or any other letters in the alphabet for that matter.
the ramp is lowered, I slowly, ever so slowly, drive the mobility scooter up and into the back of the car. This is scary but not nearly so frightening as reversing down the ramp and out of the car. Especially for one who avoids reversing while driving as a
Matter of Principle. The scooter is easier to drive than a car, to be fair, and I progress in a kind of stop-start fashion till I am safely inside when I must remember to remove the scooter key, leaving it in gear, before hopping (more or less) nimbly out
of one of the sliding side doors.
Next it's all about fixtures and fittings. There are two great clunking belts to be fitted to the floor of the car then hooked onto the bar at the bottom of the scooter to
secure it in place. These have to be removed each time you drive the scooter on or off, because you can't drive over them. No, I haven't tried, even I am not that silly. Next there is a complicated seat belt to be fitted to prevent the scooter crashing forward
into the front seats should I happen to brake too sharply.
Finally, finally, I can switch on the red button, press Button A, wait while the ramp raises itself, then switch off the red button, before closing
the tailgate. At which point, I climb into the driver's seat - only to realise that I have forgotten to lower the flap on the ramp which means that I can't see out of the rear window while driving....
good day, I can manage all this in just five minutes which I reckon is Excellent. I am thinking of suggesting it as a Time Trial on Top Gear. That programme needs shaking up a bit, don't you think? I would be happy to offer myself as Programme Adviser, Test
Driver and Expert on Ramp Remote Control Operations.
So, today was a good day. We took car and scooter down to the promenade at Littlehampton, scooted all along the prom, prom, prom, all along the Riverside
Walk - then all the way back again, with a brief but tasty stop for the hot doughnuts much beloved of various grandchildren. We didn't have any Small Fry with us, of course, but we felt honour bound to sample the doughnuts in the interests of research in advance
of future Family Beach Days.
Besides, it was Father's Day - a day for indulging fathers everywhere. And there's nothing more indulgent than a hot doughnut on a beautiful beach while on a Jolly Jaunt.
It was, indeed, as every Mobility Scooter Driver would agree: "A good day for it, squire!"