Brighton has always been a Mecca for the vain owners of flamboyant cars and motorbikes, as proved each summer when the town gets bombarded with souped-up Minis, preening Mods on scooters and tweed-sporting chaps in their vintage motors. And let’s not forget the boy racers who fly up and down Madeira Drive in their customised Ford Escorts at 130 miles per hour on a Friday night, fuelled by testosterone, Eminem and cheap cider. This summer, however, a new phenomenon materialised on Brighton seafront – that of the eccentric cyclist. Out of the blue, our town appears to have acquired a number of dotty cycling nuts, each seemingly intent on outdoing each other with their eccentricity. For those yet to have witnessed this marvellous spectacle, there follows a brief spotter’s guide.
Often found whizzing along the seafront on an old butcher’s bike, Dr Dolittle is – I can only deduce – attempting to beat the world record for how many animals a person can carry on one bicycle. Notable for his bronze tan, tattoos, big silver ear-ring and obligatory parrot, this white-haired old pirate has animals sticking out of his pockets, perched on his shoulder, rats clinging to his shirt, and a good ten dogs squashed into his front basket, all hanging on for dear life.
Probably the easiest of the bunch to spot, owing to the fact that you can hear him a mile off, for this body-building music obsessive has seen fit to attach a large hi-fi to the front of his bicycle, an even larger set of speakers on his handlebars and – obviously inspired by the good doctor – a cute little dog in his front basket. Along with the bike, his taste in music is suitably fruity too, ranging from Hawaiian exotica to thrash Metal.
Obviously not wanting to be outdone by Mr Boombastic, Terry has fitted a hi-fi and twelve-inch television to the front of his bike, not to mention fairy lights and plastic flowers! More of a night bird than his other colleagues, he can be found loitering around the West Pier of an evening, watching the highlights of the Tour de France and attracting a bemused crowd.
If that’s not enough, I even know of one local chap who takes great delight in attaching a tight chain between his nipple piercings and heavily manacled private parts before riding his bike up and down Kemp Town seafront. Sounds painful but he does always seem to have a sloppy grin on his face whenever I see him.
I admit, I’m at a loss to predict what’s coming next – some guy in jodhpurs, sporting a monocle and riding a ten-ton monster truck round the Old Lanes???? Now that would be ridiculous…