Friday, 19 February 2010

Raleigh Shopper spotter

Alright you got me, I spot, I collect and I'm always on the look out for something to obsess about.

We were a mere 50 meters away from the Games Workshop and my 10 year old son was itching to get in there, its something that he will remember for the rest of his life, the miniature plastic models, Orks with grotesque faces, fantasy figures with medieval clubs, massive canons and guns grafted onto muscle bound torsos, the intoxicating smell of craft glue, spray paint, sweaty teenage boys and take away food.

And yet I held him back short of his goal so that I could take a photo of a rusty old Shopper bike. Poor little chap, he just stared at me in disbelief as I stalked my prey, his dismay turning quickly to irritation as I took photos from every possible angle. And finally an exasperated "Daaaad, that's just plain weird!" Mmmmm, weeell...

The Raleigh Shopper, an icon of the British urban landscape, wraith of many a brutalist 1960s shopping precinct and for many years considered deeply naff, worthy of a hearty giggle as it pootled through the gawping shadows of teetering tower blocks, through the angled conflagrations of grey housing estates whose street names dreamt of warmer climes.

Raleigh's answer to the popular Moulton bicycle reached the height of its popularity in the mid 1970s, and came in many different guises. Recently it has enjoyed a cult revival along with other vintage bikes. So as the 'Fixie' wave brakes with a wash of cheap models window dressing the high street, small fleets of Shopper bikes can now be seen beetling around the campuses of University towns across the land.

They seem to be very popular here in Cambridge, UK, as you can see here I have spotted a few. On our regular trip to the Games Workshop we still encounter the rusty brown Shopper that first caught my attention. My son points it out, saying "Look dad its still there, it hasn't moved."

And he's right, there it sits, unloved, with empty beer bottle chucked in its front wire basket, seeing out its twilight hours behind Pizza Hut as the Saturday shoppers bustle back and forth.

Who owned you, why did they desert you? The stories you could tell if only you could. Soundtrack anyone?, Blondie's 'Atomic' plays to fade, or an alternative top 70s tune of your choice.

Ding - a - ling, Shopper bling!

Lovely bronze BSA Clipper.

Vintage badge of honor.

Perky blue Solitaire with white wall tyres.

... and I heart my retro bell.

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