Today we have a complete novel for you, called "Saddles For Two"! And not just a complete novel, but a complete interactive novel! That means a novel in which YOU, as the hero, get to play a significant role yourself, because at various points in the story YOU have to choose the correct next option!
Puzzled? You won't be, as soon as we get cracking.
Right - your name is Hugo, and you have recently become engaged to be married to a lovely girl called Linda, who shares several interests in common with you, including collecting old Ordnance Survey maps, bicycling, botany and sex.
As you both feel in need of a break, you decide to leave London and go for a bicycling holiday somewhere in the country, not too hilly. Accordingly, you hire a tandem in London (for added togetherness and intimacy!) and put it on the train to
a) Kent, because you meet a better class of illegal immigrant there
b) Hampshire, because it's like Sussex but not so posh
c) Orkney, because in summer the sun hardly sets and you can cycle till midnight
de) Lincolnshire, because you've heard it's flat.
Yes, you take the train to Lincoln and get off there with your tandem, only to find that Lincoln is set in quite hilly country. Oh, well - you're in love and you're young and it's lovely weather, so no matter and off you go, with you in front and Linda behind you in what tandem riders call the "stoker" position. And after cycling all day you decide to consult the Good Pub Guide for somewhere to stay that night. Unfortunately, one of you forgot to pack it (small heated argument ! ) and you are forced to take pot luck, so you end up in a small village pub which was once
a) Given a rave review by Craig Brown
b) Given a stinking review by Craig Brown
c) Stayed in by Craig Brown, but not written about by him
d) Visited by Craig Brown, where he was recognised by the landlord, who, fearing a bad review, ordered him off the premises.
Yes, you end up at a pub from which Craig Brown was ejected, and actually get quite a decent evening meal, at which Linda says firmly that she refuses to ride in the stoker position the next day because
a) You block the view
b) You wear hideous shirts
c) You sweat and fart a lot
d) As a feminist, she insists on taking turns with the male rider
The news that she has feminist ideals comes as news to you (and in fact she is only making it up so that she doesn't have to tell you that you sweat and fart a lot, which would be embarrassing) but things go from bad to worse after that, and within three days you are hardly on speaking turns, and she is putting forward the theory that the stoker position is so named because it was invented by Bram Stoker. Actually, things get even worse than that, because while you are cycling back through Lincoln prior to another country run, Linda
a) Falls off
b) Falls off and collapses
c) Falls off, collapses and dies
d) Insists that you drop her at the station so she can get the train back to London.
Yes, heartbroken, you put Linda on the train and find yourself pedalling your tandem all alone. But on the way out of Lincoln you pass a hitch-hiker looking for a lift, and jokingly you tell him that if he wants to do half the pedalling he can jump on. To your surprise, he does. He says he is a student called Neville who is going home to Spalding, which sounds like a nice place to go, so you set off together, him behind, you in front. You stop for a breather after an hour, at which, to your surprise, Neville
a) Offers you a spliff
b) Reveals that he is a reporter from the News Of The World, trying to trap tandem riders into indiscretions
c) Claims he is an angel of God, sent to reveal the Second Coming
d) Pulls a gun on you and takes all your possessions.
Yes, I am afraid that this is the first recorded instance of a tandem cycle hi-jack. At gun-point he takes your bike, takes all your kit and, as a way of preventing pursuit, makes you take all your clothes off. So, as he pedals off, you find yourself naked in the Lincolnshire countryside, shivering and penniless. So what will you do? Well ....
I'm sorry. We seem to have run out of space. You're on your own now. All the very best of luck!
The Independent Wed Mar 27 02