Enthusiasts of British Motor Vehicles Built Before Nineteen Eighty Five and the Practical Classics Classic Car and Restoration Show at the National Exhibition Centre. Part 1 (How’s that for a snappy title!)
by Mike Peake (Fatbloke)
The show was fast approaching and it wasn’t going well. I only had half a day’s leave left so I wasn’t going to be able to help out at set up and I would miss most of Friday at the show, Princess Gar was having Diva fits as we had a couple of exhibitors pull out at the last minute, his Cool Wall wall wasn’t a wall and the tie he’d bought for the awards dinner didn’t match his shorts. On top of all of that, the leisurely drive up to Cole Towers with my caravan the Sunday before the show couldn’t take place because we woke up to 10 foot snow drifts.
I wanted to take the caravan up early so I could go straight to the show on Friday after work without having to worry about setting up my sleeping accommodation. It was to this end that I booked my last half day of leave for Wednesday and would take my travelling abode then.
Wednesday afternoon turned out to be the truly disgusting rotten cherry on top of the cake of despair. For 18 years I’ve been pulling my caravan off my drive without incident, this time however, someone must have made the wall bigger without me noticing and as the back of the van swung I felt a bit of a thump. I was greeted by this when I got out of the car to check.
I said some very bad words and then some even worse ones when I realised that Mrs FB would probably notice the result of my slight misjudgement and my sleeping arrangements for the foreseeable future were going to be either the Honda or (more likely) a hospital bed.
I decided to push on to Gar’s place so I could cry on his shoulder. It was just north of the Worcester junction on the M5 when someone decided to pour itching powder on top of the truly disgusting rotten cherry on top of the cake of despair and I realised just how impressive my vocabulary of bad words really was. I noticed that the caravan road lights weren’t working. I was closer to Gar’s than home so after wiggling the plug to no avail, I pushed on again wondering if I’d ever be able to shift my reputation of “bumbling incompetent fool”. I dumped my wrecked van on Gar’s drive leaving it looking like the traveller site from hell and went home.
The rest of the week went by in a blur of baking award winning lemon drizzle cake, packing bags and hiding from Mrs FB and her dreaded Rolling Pin of Thunder. Before I knew it, I was back at the NEC and all my woes were left behind.
A very pleasant couple of hours was spent chatting and eating cake before a jolly nice Chinese meal and an early night in order to be back at the show bright and early Saturday morning.
Saturday dawned and we were all up and raring to go. Phil Allin turned up to leave his work van on Gar’s front garden too so along with my wrecked van, the Brooks camper and trailer the conversion of Cole Towers to traveller site was complete, and we’d all like to apologise to his neighbours.
It was now time to leave and collect Liam White who was staying at a hotel near the NEC. I need to paint a bit of a picture here so you can truly appreciate what was to happen on the 10 minute drive with Liam to the NEC. Liam Is a huge, foul mouthed, ex forces Irishman who regularly chews iron bars and spits out nails. (No offence Liam)
Due to Gar removing a couple of seats from his battle bus, the only place left for Liam to sit was on a deck chair immediately behind our dear Gar who was driving. For reasons that I can’t go into here, Liam took it upon himself to do a very creditable impression of Father Jack which involved lots of loud rude words, banging on the sides of the car and slapping Gar around the head and tickling his ears. Whilst the rest of us thought this a jolly good jape, Gar was trying to concentrate, drive and navigate the intricacies of the NEC parking system. I could see him go from “mildly flustered”, to “quite cross” and finally “bloody incandescent”.
It was while Gar was reversing and trying to see out the back around 5 fatblokes blocking his view, that Liam thought it would be hilarious to bang the roof really hard making us all jump out of our skins and think Gar had hit something. Well it was the last straw for Gar. He just snapped and uttered the words that will stay with me forever. “ LIAM! I know you’re hard and all, but if you do that again I WILL beat you to death!”
Well, there was a moment of silence before we all dissolved into gales of helpless laughter at our lovable, kind, gentle and cuddly Fat Controller issuing death threats… to Liam of all people. We realised quite quickly that this reaction didn’t really help alleviate Gar’s mood, but fortunately, the drive was over and we exited the car without further incident.
To be continued....
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