I could have sworn I saw Lembit Öpik on a Segway today.
Let me rephrase that. I definitely saw a group of people on Segways, and I think I saw Lembit Öpik among them. Riding around on a Segway is just the kind of pathetic publicity courting he would attempt. I thought they were running some sort of publicity puff on the electric machines, as they were accompanied by a film crew. Which I suppose they were, as everything is up for sale these days. The downside of this was that, although I was able to take the guy's picture (he told me he was the South East sales director - or something - for the company) I wasn't able to have a go, for fear that I might fall off in full view of the cameras. This despite the fact - he said - that 90% of people pick it up in 30 seconds. Maybe he knew me, but I was up for it, really I was, and a boy part of me (let's face it, the major part) would quite like to own one.
Except that I was informed that it would set me back near enough 5 big ones. £4600, to be exact. Get out of town. Slowly.
There has been much debate about these things, as I'm sure you are all aware. Dubya falling off has to be one of the greatest political pratfalls of all time, matched only perhaps by Kinnock falling over on the beach (apologies for the rubbish BBC presentation) and Hitler slipping on the banana skin just after he finished his Nuremberg speech. There is a community devoted to posting YouTube vids of Segwayists falling off their vehicles in spectacular fashion and there are the inevitable overtones of the infamous C5 (by Enid Blyton)
A few facts, as relayed by the sales director (and I don't mean to be beastly - he was actually a very nice chap, but you know, I'm on a roll now...) The top speed of a Segway is 12.5mph, and it will run for something like 24 miles on a full charge. Dubious about this as I am, because it seems too numerically neat, I'm told that at current levels, the Segway costs 12 and a half pence a mile to run. A work colleague calculated that his car, which has a roof and seats, costs 15 pence a mile to run. H'mm.