COLUMN: August 11, 2016

 

A pull-along suitcase
The enemy

IT is not likely that in the next 10 years I will become Prime Minister as I am neither A) an MP; nor B) a member of the Conservative Party.

But if it did happen, owing to some sort of administrative mix-up, or my standing in the wrong queue, the second thing I would do, after moving Boris Johnson to the Ministry of Agriculture, would be to set up a public inquiry into who is responsible for pull-along suitcases with wheels.

I work in a part of town where it is impossible to walk more than a couple of metres without falling over one. It is not just the fact that there are a couple of swanky hotels nearby, but that the various legal functionaries at the local law courts use them to haul their books and papers about the place.

They are basically pensioners’ tartan shopping trolleys for the sort of young people who can afford to buy houses, and I, for one, am tired of them.

For firstly, when you do see them, for example, from across the road, they look ridiculous. The moment it occurs to you that the person using a pull-along suitcase looks exactly like an owner taking a very reluctant dog out for a walk you become incapable of seeing them any other way.

I know of which I speak. I am a man who owned a dog so lazy he preferred to dream of chasing rabbits than actually chase rabbits, and I sort of understand from where he was coming.

Secondly, it is impossible to see that somebody walking towards you is dragging a suitcase behind them. Oh, sure you can hear the suitcase (of which more later), but you cannot see them because they are not wider than the human body.

And so if you are in a hurry, racing down the pavement to catch a bus, say, and have to cross the road, and if there is somebody walking towards you, and it is rude to cut in front of them, and you wait for them to pass before dashing behind them, well…

I am not saying that I have fallen over two pull-along suitcases in such circumstances, separated by only a couple of months. That would make me look like a clumsy idiot incapable of learning from his mistakes.

All I am saying is that if somebody, say, a man in his increasingly less early 40s with glasses, fell over a suitcase like that, he would scratch his palms on the Tarmac of the road between two parked cars, and helplessly watch – blurred – as his glasses flew off and into the middle of the road, as passing cars somehow managed to miss them with their wheels. Nobody wants that to happen. Again.

And thirdly, pull-along suitcases make that noise, a sort of rumbly, rattly, scrapey noise, an empty thud-thud-thud-thud-thud as the wheels hit every flipping paving stone, because the designers of pull-along suitcases did not anticipate that anybody would ever take them out of the house.

It will come as no surprise to long-time readers that I own such a suitcase, bequeathed to me by my late mother, presumably as some sort of post mortem practical joke.

I have had a few trips in the past year which have necessitated its use.

One trip was to London. It was in London I discovered the alley oop wrist twist. This is a trick one has to learn quickly, and named after the similar skateboard move.

It is pulled off when one of the wheels of your suitcase hits a slightly raised paving stone and catapults the suitcase into the air. In order to stop it flipping over, you have to twist your hand while the case is airborne, and somehow right its position. The trick is customarily accompanied by lavish swearing and a degree of wrist pain.

Another was to Edinburgh at the end of last August, for the Edinburgh Pull-along Suitcase Festival, in which tens of thousands of pull-along suitcase enthusiasts gather to bash into each others’ shins while ignoring jugglers and Australian mimes. You might think it would be difficult to tell if a mime is Australian, but you just can.

And if you are wondering what the third thing I would do as Prime Minister is, that would be to resign. There’s nothing else I could do to make the country better.
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