I always used to marvel at people like Peter Kaye for their ability to create comic characters and events that seem like people you can’t believe exist because they do such stupid things.
Then I spent some time in Basingstoke Town Centre. I soon realised that these people are in fact bloody everywhere and that perhaps comic genius simply involves sitting in your local shopping centre for hours on end with a pad and pen.
The general public, it seems, can be really fucking weird, with no encouragement needed.
What doesn’t help me right now is that I’ve arrived at the age where I don’t know whether to laugh, take the piss, be scared or genuinely ponder how many generations mankind has got left before it ‘stupids’ itself into oblivion.
Maybe, I should just write a sitcom.
The strange thing is, most of my Basingstoke highlights of oddity usually involve Mobility Scooters. Like this one from 2018…
— Jeremy Vine (@theJeremyVine) December 17, 2020
Or the time, one December about five years ago, when I walked towards the market square at the Top Of Town, just as Santa was arriving for a group of children counting down. Picture it, all the excited young faces. It’s Santa! The Santa! In Basingstoke!
5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1… Big Cheer…
‘Santa’ appears, whizzing ’round the bank on the corner on a mobility scooter like a cross between Barry Sheen and Brian Potter.
If I was even five, I’d be asking some serious fucking questions about how Santa could ever get down a chimney if he can’t even walk 30-yards from behind the Council’s make-shift Gazebo.
Back in the day, when I think of greasy spoon cafes, I imagine a row of motorbikes out the front as bikers parking up for their Full Englishes. Now, Mr Munch, the Basingstoke bastion of fried cuisine, tends to have a row of mobility scooters out the front on a Friday morning. Vroom vroom.
Another of the more bizarre occurrences (also involving a mobility scooter) occurred around 2015 when I owned a shop in the old town in Basingstoke.
Sometimes, across the pedestrianised road, a regular group of people who loved nothing more than an alfresco can or five of strong cider and a robust discussion would assemble.
One day, two of them decided to have a drunken fight. You’ve guessed it, one of them was on a mobility scooter. It is still one of the most ridiculously funny things I’ve ever seen. The guy even managed to crash into our shop wall while driving into a punch. As a room full of people peered from inside, we all tried to keep a straight face as he shouted… “and what do you think you’re all looking at!”.
It probably doesn’t help that as far as smooth wheeling is concerned, Basingstoke has a Silverstone of a smooth indoor track in the shape of Festival Place. It’s a Mobility Scooter Mecca.
But, if you can’t beat them, join them I suppose. This year, I was going to invest in Tesla as the car that will dominate the future, but I decided to buy some stock in Pride instead, the company that makes the Go-Go Ultra X.