Motors > My Wheels - Richard Graham
The Cherry & White Bike
Q. What car do you drive: make, model, year, engine size, petrol/diesel/hybrid, optional extras?
A. We have a T reg (circa mid 90s) Mitsubishi Space something, known as the Green Van. No idea what engine size except it blew up a long time ago and was replaced in the late 90s. Distinctive feature is a large Harry Potter scar on the passenger door, where my wife had a discussion with a metal bollard. Only optional extra can think of is invariably a bag of my favourite old clothes which Anthea tries to get rid of via a charity shop and I smuggle back into the house when sheís not looking.
Otherwise two cherry & white painted bicycles, a wonderful birthday and Christmas present respectively from Anthea and both painted by her. One is in Parliament (an Edinburgh Bike), thatís the one I rode from Gloucester for charity (never again thanks): and the other is at home in Gloucester (from Halfords in Eastern Avenue, in a sale at the time, very good customer service guy). My previous bike was a beautiful green Raleigh from Barton St, nicked in 2007 and if the person who took it would like to own up and return it Iíll buy him a few pints in the Strangers Bar in Parliament.
Q. What, if any, modifications have you or previous owner made to it?
A. Only change to the bikes is the paint. There is a third bike at home, which was my motherís: no gears, circa 1953, plenty of rust and Paul James said the Folk Museum might be interested.
Anthea made the modifications to the Green Van, although I think she blames the bollard for not getting out of the way..
Q. Do you let anyone else drive it?
A. The police know who the cherry & white belongs to and Iíve said if anyone else is riding it itís been nicked, which probably means one of my sons will be in trouble if they borrow it while Iím in London..
Two children have learnt how to drive on the Green Van, and theyíve left their mark. Younger son still to start. Who knows what will be left of it by then.
Q. How long have you had it?
A. The Green Van was bought second hand in 1997 from memory. Iíve had the bikes for about three years each.
Q. What did it replace?
A. We had an ancient Ford Escort estate before, a wonderful car with a sun roof and wind up windows that just never went wrong. She wasnít a great looker and I think the children got slightly embarrassed when the thing that sticks out under the bottom cracked and bumped along the road making a filthy noise..
Q. What attracted you to it?
A. On the whole, the Green Van gets from A to B. The bikes always do.
Q. What are its best qualities?
A. The Van can seat 7, Twiglet the dog and a lot of rackets, boots, surfboards, banana skins and quite a lot of welsh sand
Q. What are its worst?
A. Too many to list. It squeals for five minutes when you drive it in the morning. The bikes behave impeccably.
Q. Has it ever let you down?
The day the Green Van engine blew up on the M5 when I was picking up an 85 year old Irish great aunt from Bristol Airport is one I wish I could forget
What sort of mileage do you clock up every week/year?
8 a day on the bike in London, about 6 in Gloucester. Not sure what we do in the Green Van, think itís gone round the clock, but whatever it is the fuel is very expensive, so I try not to use it in Gloucester and never in London.
Q. What is the ratio of business to private mileage?
A. Not sure I have a private life any longer..
Q. What is your commute to work?
A. A mile in Gloucester and four in London Ė the bit in between (on the train) is a bit further
Q.Would you buy another of this model/marque?
A. Almost certainly not. And I donít think the children would let me. Besides they donít make the Green Van Space whatsit any longer. But the bikes are both fine.
Q. If cost was not an issue, what would be your dream car and why?
A. A VW camper van from the early 1970s with big flowers on each side, a very comfortable bed, a high fitted space for the dog to lie on behind us, a couple of folding canvas chairs, an indestructible engine, free electricity sourced energy for ever and the Long and Winding Road coming on as you turn the key..Off we go into the sunset (probably having left the maps behind)