It was only the quietest popping sound, hardly audible above the clanks and swearing at every bump, but by the time I got to work it was clear I had a puncture. By the time I left work there was no way the tube was going to hold any air at all; but though I had a spare tube and tyre levers, I didn't have a spanner. Fortunately, I could take the bike all the way home on a boat, and I cheerfully thought I could deal with it there.
Oh dear. My ancient adjustables couldn't shift the nut at all; all they did was start to round off the angles on it.
So it was back to the old routine till I could get to a shop, and 'twas on a Tuesday evening that I beheld a proper old-fashioned bike spanner, the miniature dumbell kind, and I tested it on a companion model of bike in the shop. But would it fit when I got it home? Would it bogroll.
Another day of mumbling announcements and enforced inspection of strangers' armpits (dear Santa, for the Jubilee Line, please, some signals that work all the time), and 'twas on a Wednesday evening that I went to another shop and checked the precise specifications of a fearsome tool that looked like the kind of thing you see labelled up on Crimewatch.
And it fitted! Only a few more swearwords and I had the wheel off.
Oh. It must be the best part of forty years since I mended a puncture. Getting the tyre off - no problem; but wasn't there something about making sure you didn't get the new tube caught underneath the edge of the tyre, and oh dear, how is it that it seems to be rather too loose and large? But no, all the printed labelling matches up, so somehow this wriggling snake has to be squeezed in; and at last it seems to be filling up, and lo and behold, it's fixed, it's pumped up and solid. I have done it.
Twas on a Thursday morning that I faced the day with a new skill mastered. I am man: hear me roar (oh, all right then, I am bloke: hear me drone on about spanners).
Then I opened the curtains: bucketing down.
So 'twas not until today that I actually rode the damn thing again.
I'll tell you what though. It goes so much better with its driving train scrubbed. And don't we all?