Boy on a bike – and the film of One Day

Published by Emma Lee-Potter in on Wednesday 31st August 2011

I wrote my very first blog in March 2006, sitting on a bench at the local park while my intrepid son performed scary stunts on his skateboard. Five years on, I’ve spent today doing pretty much the same thing. Well, my son’s a strapping 6ft 4 now and rides bikes instead of skateboards – but he still loves wheels, heights and the inexplicable thrill of jumping off a ramp into thin air.

In those days I used to stay and watch, ignoring his pleas that I was completely damaging his street-cred. He reckoned the older teenagers on skateboards, roller-blades and BMX bikes would laugh if they knew his mum was there so after a while I resorted to sitting 50 metres away and pretending I was nothing whatsoever to do with him.

In fact the teenagers I thought looked scary turned out to be the complete opposite. They were endlessly patient, offering my son advice on how to improve his skateboarding technique and teaching him tricks like how to twirl 360 degrees in mid-air before landing. They were such a close-knit bunch that when the brother of one of them died the whole gang rode their bikes behind the funeral cortege as a mark of respect. All dressed in black and riding in a slow, solemn procession to the church, it was one of the most moving tributes I’ve ever seen.

Today, with the holidays drawing to a close, my son was desperate to ride his new bike at Bugsboarding, a mountain boarding centre in the wilds of Gloucestershire. He’s spent half the summer building the bike from scratch – spoke by spoke in fact – and he wanted to put his gleaming new machine through its paces. This time round, he actually asked me to take pictures of him in action, a huge honour. And as I watched him whizz down the hills, leap high into the air and land elegantly on two wheels, I felt incredibly proud. Anxious, alarmed, terrified – but yes, proud too.

PS: You know the feeling when you really want to like something – and you just don’t? I’ve been longing to see One Day for months, ever since I heard David Nicholls talk about the film adaptation of his brilliant novel at the Oxford Literary Festival. It’s had mixed reviews – especially about Anne Hathaway’s casting and her very patchy Yorkshire accent – but lots of people on Twitter adored it. I didn’t. Anne Hathaway wasn’t half as bad as the critics said but sadly she wasn’t the complex, insecure Emma Morley we all loved in the book either.

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