I called in at an East London car mechanic, who insisted on calling himself himself a Vehicle Technician the other day, to see if my car was ready yet to be picked up, as I had to go to Amsterdam that afternoon.
The chappie explained to me that many problems had been found that he had not anticipated, and produced a list of which he read out to me.
I thought that £900 was a little on the high side, the car can only be worth£290 tops – nor do I recall the front nearside wheel hanging off when I took it in to have a new drivers side wing mirror fitted. As for the damage to the bonnet? But it was a long time ago when I took it in, over six weeks ago and my mind might have been confused a tad. But the wing mirror had still not yet been fitted.
He spat on the floor and with a kindly smile then offered to hire me a company car at a reduced rate that I could use for my business trip to Netherlands.
He pointed out that it was a classic, and would be ideal as it was an estate model, for my transporting my stuff to see the client. And that it was named Gertrude, after Gertrude Elderley the 1924 swimming Olympian who became the first woman to conquer the English Channel two years later. He added that she will be going over the channel herself now, and that was a heart-warming thought as he stifled a tear (or laugh?) and it seemed this brought a smile to his face for some reason.
Anyway, I took the Morris Minor Estate home, but it broke down within two hundred yards.
I walked back to the garage and found the chap stood reading Forbes magazine in the workshop, although using the term work was not strictly applicable.
He cursed under his breath, gave me look that would have done Hannibal proud, and followed me out to the car. He had a look and said threateningly: “Burk! You ain’t put no petrol in it have yer?” Then he wandered off back to his garage… well I say garage…
So I walked to the nearest petrol station, bought a can and some petrol, returned and put it in the car. This was going to be an expensive trip I thought.
I drove to me shed, and loaded the gear I needed easily enough into the back of the Morris Minor. It didn’t take too much effort for me to eventually get the rusty back doors to close, just time, cut fingers and plastic ties.
Trying to sell Gas lamp light wick trimming gear is not easy you know.
The trip went okay, and the car drew much attention, mostly from the Dutch traffic police.
When night came, I left the Hotel Pooier and went for a walk around the city. I came across one of the many brothels, that was to be expected, but guess what I saw – a lucky chappie inside cleaning the windows. I wonder ho they paid him?
I got a bloke to take a picture of this like… what can I make of it?
I waved at him, but he hid behind the curtains.
Any when I got home, I took Gertrude back to the garage mechanic… sorry Vehicle technician, but the road was blocked off by police vehicles and armed response officers. I noted there were Counter Terrorist units, Police helicopters circling above, a Royalty Protection unit, Drug squad vans, Police dog units, Bailiffs, Reclaim Sheriff’s and a head-librarian in attendance.
I’ll try to contact him again next week… or not…