Thursday, March 30, 2006

2005-09-18 [2] 014How hard can it be?

My flatmate has gone to Greece for a month, leaving me with the key to his bike (and helpfully not quite mentioning which of the many bikes locked up downstairs is actually his). So naturally enough, I'm now wondering if I dare use the thing. I suspect the frame will be too small, and I don't have tools to adjust the saddle, and driving in London is scary enough when one is cocooned in a few tonnes of metal, let alone perched atop what appears to be Blue-Petered pack of Bacofoil (and did I mention I failed my cycling proficiency; I stopped to let a dustcart, who would never have seen me, back out of a road). So with imminent death paramount in my mind, I'm now looking for a cycle helmet, as obviously when one gets crushed by a reversing dustcart (although I think a Bendy Bus is more likely to be lethal), preserving the top third of one's head is of the utmost importance.

So if one needs something cycle related, where does one turn? Well, either that odd cycleshop with a pig of carpark (why do cycleshop owners imagine all their customers will cycle there? People only go there if they need a new bike or something on their bike has broken, which suggests there can't really cycle there) and the worrying owner who looks like the type who hoards WD40 straws; the nice friendly cycleshop in town which has now closed; or Halfords, whose staff always look like they got bored of snorting WD40 and starting eating the cans instead (ok, so sometimes the staff are sane and useful, but usually they only keep their sanity by driving their supervisor mad).

And as I'm in London and not in any of the places where I know where a cycle shop is, I'll go for Halfords then. So off to Google to find where on Oxford Street they are, and er, oh. Is it me, or does that map make it look like TCR was the centre point for an explosion which destroyed all Halfords's in a 4 mile radius? Are there really no Halfords shops in London? Are they related to WHSmiths? Because in London you can only find those in stations (and reputedly in some shopping centre off New Oxford Street, although no-one has ever actually found the shopping centre let alone the shop).

So maybe I'll just use their website to see what they stock before I pack the sherpas and head off to the great unknown (ok, mezzo-unknown, as it looks like Brixton is the easiest to get to, but I've never turned left out of the Underground station).

Eventually, I find cycle helmets buried deep in their website. I click on one which is reduced (one previous owner; death forces sale. Slight impact damage on one side). It looks fine, in the way all cycle helmets look fine because, well, it's £20-worth of foam cage, and that's about all there is to it, so the only thing is to pick a colour, and as they all only come in black (ok, it says black but the picture looks red)...

So do they do an Argosy "in stock in store" checker? No. But they do very helpfully tell me that:
Product cannot be purchased at this time.

Anyone else wondering why?
- Product out of stock.
- Product out of stock although we expect to have more shortly. Please hold.
- Product out of stock as staff are using the helmets to create land-crab hoax. They've promised to bring them back by Monday.
- Product out of stock as Nancy, the group's buyer, ran off with the purchasing fund. If anyone is visiting Pitcairn, please could you ask her to bring it back.
- Product is feeling a bit agraphobic today.
- Product has a stinking hangover, and is stuck waiting for a train back from Looe.
- Product may disappoint; to avoid suicide related lawsuits, this product has been withdrawn from sale.
- Product ran amok and killed people, so Eric from accounts is kneeling on Product until the police get here.
- Product doesn't feel like sullying itself with the likes of you.
- Product has a prior engagement.
- We're sorry, but Product is in a meeting right now. Would you like to leave a message?
- Thank you for calling the Halfords London. As it's Friday afternoon, we've all gone to the pub. If you would like to leave a message, you can be be sure we will give it our fullest attention just as soon as we become aware of it. Please note that Brenda, the office cleaner, unplugs this machine at 5.13 pm, thereby resetting it. To leave a message press one. To record your message at any time press three. To hack into our AVR and change all the messages for all callers until 5.13, press two. To get stoned please press hash. To...Mel sucks cocks oh seven nine seven four three eight... To join our pub quiz team, please type pi. To return to this menu at any time please press zero.
- Our investigators have detected you have insufficient funds to purchase this product.
- Our investigators have detected you have illegal materials on your hard drive. Please log off. And please don't think anyone is fooled by storing it in "My Documents\Money\Tax\".
- The company has gone bust. Normal service will be resumed shortly (for those of you who noticed any change).
- Dunno. Ya want me supervisor. Dunno. Trace, where's Dazza? Dunno. Them grey things. Out back. Dunno. He's on lunch. Dunno...

And it's not just that helmet, as it seems to be most of the stuff on the website isn't actually for sale (although it could just be fluke that everything I click on isn't available).

Halfords: bringing new meaning (and new letters; I'm thinking "h") to the word website.


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