New scooters are pictured at a stock yard. Picture: Amit Dave/Reuters
New scooters are pictured at a stock yard. Picture: Amit Dave/Reuters

A scooter is symbolic of a pared-down life

By David Biggs Time of article published Mar 25, 2020

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I was stopped by somebody in the local shopping mall, who recognised me from the photograph at the head of this column (must have very good eyesight!) and asked: “Are you still riding your scooter?”

I confessed I had recently sold my scooter and was now travelling by car. I added that the scooter was more than a form of transport for me: it’s always been a symbol of a pared-down lifestyle for me. It represents the shedding of unnecessary baggage on the road through life.

When I travelled by car I was always aware of the unnecessary stuff I carried wherever I went.

There were usually three empty chairs, a sound system, heater and air conditioner tagging along in the big metal box I surrounded myself with.

I required a car-sized parking space wherever I went and the boot was big enough to hold my entire wardrobe (or a large dog). Usually it held no more than a small shopping bag.

Wherever I went by car I needed to plan plenty of time to look for a parking space, often quite far from where I wanted to be.

The scooter, on the other hand, took me quickly and cheaply where I wanted to go and could usually be parked right next to where I wanted to be.

It offered enough luggage space for a shopping bag and a spare jacket. People occasionally said scooters were all very well for short journeys, but no good for long trips. Wrong.

I travelled several times from Cape Town to Colesberg, 800km away, and once right across Europe with my late friend Ben Vanderberg. There was no hardship involved. It just required each journey to be divided into one-day sized chunks.

On my scooter travels I saw far more of the areas I travelled through than I would have done if I’d been in a car.

So I shall keep the scooter symbol in spite of having sold it. For me it represents simple life lived at a leisurely pace, uncluttered by unnecessary baggage.

It represents freedom to come and go as I please without having to pay huge amounts of money. And to those who remind me of the discomfort of riding in bad weather, I say bad weather is part of life.

We are part of the real world where some days are hot and dry and others are cold and wet.

We can accept the world as it is or we can shut ourselves in voluntary isolation, moving about in a metal box, taking four chairs and a wardrobe, a sound system and an air conditioner. I know which style I’d choose.

Last laugh

A student was being interviewed for admission to the Royal Navy.

The interviewing officer asked him: “Can you name the three greatest sailors who served in the Royal Navy?”

The candidate replied: “I didn’t catch your name sir, but the other two were Drake and Nelson.”

* "Tavern of the Seas" is a daily column written in the Cape Argus by David Biggs. Biggs can be contacted at [email protected]

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

Cape Argus

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