June 1989, and me, my father and his second wife-to-be head out to Portugal's Algarve for a 2 week holiday. The weather that year was particularly scorching, and less then a week before we'd both got merrily burnt on the London-to-Brighton bike ride, and so already we were a delicate shade of crimson as we arrived in Luton Airport.
Some 4 hours later and we find ourselves on the forecourt of Faro Airport, and my father heads off to rent a car. Imagine my surprise when he returns without an air-conditioned saloon, or a trendy convertible, but a battered plastic Mini Moke.
We head over to a little known village called Guia some 5 miles outside of the throbbing metropolis Albufeira, and after struggling to find the key we settle in for two weeks of R&R. The following morning we agree the best way for me to be independent is to get a 50cc hairdryer, and head into town to rent a Puch for a whole £7 a day. In Portugal you don't need a licence to ride one of these death traps. You just need to be 14. I was 17, so there were no worries there. The operators sorted the paper work then gave me the most obnoxious open face helmet imaginable, making me look like Charlie Brown, and they honestly (along with my father) expected me to wear it for the whole 12 days we were renting the bike. Other kids were zipping around without their helmets on, and even the local Police could be seen riding around without protective headgear, so being the teenager that knows better then his father, I decided I'd also go without.
For the next 2 weeks I would pootle from one side of the area to the other (when I could get the damn scooter started). I'd made friends with an English family who owned a bar right in the middle of Albufeira, and would hang about with the teenage kids during the day. We'd either stay in the bar, where I would drink much to much to be legal in the UK, and then ride home and sleep it off. Or we'd go down to the beach and take pedalos out into the Mediterranean, or just mellow on the beach itself and watch the scenery walk past.
Eventually a couple of days before the end of the holiday, my father decided we should go to a restaurant on a beach quite far from the villa. The quickest way there was along the main road through the Algarve, the IC4, a dual carriageway. So off we head in convoy, me on my whining bee in a jamjar, my father in the plastic jeepalike. Just outside Vilamoura, and the Police pull me over. Not understanding much they are saying, I get frustrated, and fortunately my father takes over the reins. My father will tell you that they were upset because I wasn't wearing a helmet, whereas I distinctly remember what upset them was I wasn't carrying my documents ("Presentia Documentia"). I dumped the scooter in a bush, and went back to his car where I had a complete 'benny' in front of Roz Mark 2 because I knew he'd go berserk. I think Roz had a word with my father, because he stayed completely calm. I also think he'd decided before hand he'd never let me live it down, and as you have seen, he still likes to gloat about the day he nearly got arrested for me not wearing a helmet.
Even though it was about my lack of evidence of insurance.
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