Did I do the right thing?

Meet Will. He answered my call for help. I totally love the sound his angle-grinder made when it cut the lock of the person who had ― okay, accidentally ― locked their bike to mine. Watch and enjoy.

I came out of Radio 2 HQ at 2.30 in a rush. My show was over and I needed to get to East London quickly (to a Radio 3 studio, actually, to speak about my ten favourite classical tracks: when I only have two!). So the stress of the oncoming interview was one thing. The stress of finding my bike locked to someone else’s was quite another.

Why could I do?

I couldn’t move it. I tried to worked out the right course of action. No point getting angry. Just leave it until the person appears? But how would I know when that was?

So here is what I did. I locked the other bike to mine and left a polite note with my phone number. That way, I figured, the person would find themselves unable to move their bike, call me, and we could have a mutual unlock and maybe even a laugh about it.

It didn’t work like that. When I returned at 6.30, I discovered they had moved their lock to release me, but (accidentally again, I guess) had left my bike still locked to hers. Nightmare! A passer-by said the other cyclist was a cross-looking lady. You don’t say! Instead of calling the number I had left, she deposited a grumpy note on my bike along the lines of “it was all your fault.” The time was now 7.30pm, so that’s five hours trying to sort this out. Colleagues wandered past and laughed. I laughed too. Gritted teeth. That laugh.

Okay. I had to escalate the situation. I did what you do in the 21st century: tweeted the problem. Multiple replies, not all polite. Then along came the brilliant Will from Fitzrovia Bikes with his angle-grinder and extension cable. Off came the lock in about five seconds.

But I left feeling guilty. My (hardline) eldest daughter says I should just have left the unlocked bike against a lamppost. But that felt cruel. So instead I wheeled it down to the lower ground floor of Radio 2 towers, taping a note to the lamppost saying: Call me to get your bike back.

Did I do the right thing? If so, why do I still feel guilty? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment below.

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