The Haggler

Haggling with potential bicycle buyers is a barometer as to how big your balls are. Mine are the size of my Moulton wheels right now. For the uninitiated, and indeed the uneducated when it comes to classic bicycles, a diameter of fourteen inches should give you a clue about the current capacity of my masculinity.

I fought the bike buyer, and I won.

You may remember my little run in with the bulls****ing Banker Boy who worked for RBS. The economic climate means that Porsches are off the radar for the pinstripes set. The Banker Boy was after my Marin.

Always look your prey in the eye before the kill. I clocked that a fast one was about to be pulled on me, gave the Banker Boy my best King Lear, and buggered off back to Sunny Stockwell.


I still had the bicycle, but not the cash. Which made things slightly awkward when it came to haggling at the Nine Elms checkout over my weekly grocery bill.

A similar situation then took place on my home patch. Blinkered by the belief that EVERYONE with an SW8 postcode deserves the Nobel Prize for Peace, I agreed to meet a local sort outside Stockwell tube.

My suspicions were raised when he turned up wearing football shorts over the top of a Parker coat. You should never mix and match your seasons, especially so when you are about to negotiate a business deal that involves deciding on your choice of wheels for the next twelve months.

I agreed to a test spin, although even my philanthropy isn’t as naive as to let an oik looking like a cross between Steven Gerrard and Liam Gallagher let loose on a bike worth a cool £1k without any deposit.

“Um, you’re welcome to go for a test ride,”

I offered.

“What can you offer in terms of a deposit?”

Tight Shorts Man offered me his Oyster card. It was an ingenious plan; one form of transport, exchanged under the fading skies of SW8 for another. He could cycle off towards Islington, but I would beat him up there on the tube (although given the current crappy state of the Victoria Line, maybe he had thought this through more than I had given credit for.)

“How about my bag?”

came the second offering from the inner altar of Tight Shorts Man.

My mind went into overdrive. I did the calculations in my head. Assuming he was semi-serious about buying my bicycle, his wallet must be stuffed full of sufficient grubby fivers that would rule out any future haggling at the checkout.

Failing that then the chances are that his mobile would have some pictures on of some tart dropping his draws for him. Those shorts were worn with a tightness that suggested he wasn’t backwards about coming forward when parking his bike for the evening.

“Yeah, sure”

I said.

“Just watch out for some of the locals around these parts. Unlike our good selves, P’s & Q’s can mean something totally different around here.”

I waited until Tight Shorts Man had cycled off past the Stockwell War Memorial. At the going down of the sun, we will remember to have a rifle through his bag, and consider if it was worth doing a runner.

I found a soiled pair of Y-fronts and a packet of polos. I liked his logic of diverting attention away from his sweat stained crotch with the freshness around his mouth. Still, not much here for me, should Tight Shorts Man decide to return.

Five minutes later and I was back with my bike. Ten minutes later and I was back at base with the bike. Deal or No Deal? What do you think?

And so I was coming to the conclusion that my haggling powers have been reduced the day I decided to cut my ear lobel hair for the first time. Pete the Greek, the Demon Barber of Brixton, has had his eyes on the stray fly legs crawling out of my cabbage patches for some years now.

“Can I cut Sirs’ ears?”

Can you f***.

But I gave in to Pete the Greek sometime last month. It was either the lobel hairs or the eyebrows, according to the Demon. One of them had to go. Or even all four. So no more lobel hairs, no more haggling powers.

Still a b**** bike though.

Until last night. Third time lucky. My Man in Berkley Square sounded incredibly well spoken over the phone. I actually thought I had dialled the wrong number and had got through to a Mayfair Takeaway Truffles service.

“Ah, yah, cycling is like soooo cool right now, OK?”

Um, yeah, OK mate. And if you will continue to talk like that then I’ll add another £100 on to the asking price.

He actually said thank you as I hung up.

My Man in Berkeley Square was on time and I was on budget. My own personal budget, with some serious haggling to do back in Sunny Stockwell with another Moulton lurking on the horizon.

“Um, you’re welcome to go for a test ride,”

I offered.

“What can you offer in terms of a deposit?”

Much to my surprise,

“Will cash do?”

replied my Man in Berkley Square.

“Look, here’s the £xxx amount as agreed.”

Back of the net!

This wasn’t a test ride. This was payment up front, and if I timed it just right, I could do a runner in the back streets of Belgravia before the chinless wonder even noticed that the rear brake needed a bit of extra work on it.

“Ah, yeah, that will do nicely,”

I replied, realising only seconds later that when you’re in a financial district, you tend to walk it like you talk it.

But anyway, the bicycle. Yep, the Marin in no longer assigned to the fleet. Haggling wasn’t an issue. Which is a good job as my fourteen-inch watermelons were somewhat deflated when some dolly bird around Berkeley Square pointed out that I was flying low as I tried to lose myself in the backstreets of Belgravia.

The cage was open, but the beast was asleep. I blame the loss of ear lobel hair.


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