Yesterday evening, I was offered a backie by my friend, who has a lovely bike with a bell and a basket. Three thoughts sprung immediately to mind. The first was that it’s not 1985, so why in Christ’s name was I being offered a backie? The second was how extremely disappointing it is that at 32, I’m still being offered lifts by girls with bicycles rather than men with E-type Jags upholstered in Italian calf’s leather. And my third thought was, ‘That’s awfully dangerous. Someone could get hurt. Walking is much safer, and I do hope she’s wearing a helmet.’
So I politely refused (‘Are you fucking joking?’), even though I was wearing the kind of kick-ass (stupid) shoes which meant the ten-minute stroll to The Fitzroy Tavern took half an hour and enough swearing to make passing women cover their children’s ears. Not because I wanted to maintain my dignity and an air of exotic mystery – chance would be a fine thing – but because I was far too scared of hurting myself.
Among my friends, I’m renowned for being massively square (do people still say ‘square’? Probably not. Never mind.) But it’s my dearest wish to be a bit more daring. I’m not even talking bungee-jump daring. Just being able to sit next to someone who’s eating a steak without mentally rehearsing the Heimlich manoeuvre would be lovely.
To the chagrin of both me and Health and Safety inspectors everywhere, a healthy respect for peril is anathema to all things sexy. No one ever got laid by following the Green Cross Code. When I was 17, my best friend rode on the back of a motorbike while chewing cherry-flavoured Hubba Bubba, which she still claims was one of the best moments of her life (even though the owner of the bike was called Wayne, which added an edge of tragedy to the whole experience). When I tried to do the same, I refused the gum on the grounds that it was a choking hazard, and nearly made a death-leap off the back when we hit 40mph.
Unfairly, having an encyclopaedic knowledge of hazards around the home (“In 1998, 37,048 people were hospitalised by slippers!”) isn’t considered especially sexy either. Being told to chew every mouthful and wrap up warm and give three rings when you get there is quite the passion-killer. I used to warn my ex to hold the banister whenever he walked downstairs, which really pissed him off. ‘Careful, it’s steep,’ just isn’t in the same league as, ‘Take me now,’ or ‘How on earth do you walk straight?’ in the pantheons of sexytalk.
But the person who suffers the most is, of course, me. When I found out that laughing while eating is a main cause of choking, I stopped watching Friends with dinner. I absolutely love theme parks, but if I so much as go on a swing too high, I scream my little socks off, so I’m always the one left holding the coats. And if I ever want to go on a boat, I have to spend half an hour beforehand going, ‘But how fast is it? No, but really? I don’t care if you think it’s slow. Are we talking canoe fast? Or catamaran fast? Show me with your hands…’
I’d love to be more daring. But I think it’s time to accept I’m the kind of girl who always waits for the green man.