by Mike Peake
Time passed. My eldest was studying for A-Levels which seemed to require expensive school trips, including one to America.
My youngest decided that she wanted to make a career out of dance and got into a national “gifted and talented” program. I thought that the dance school bills had been eye-watering enough before, but now I arranged to have my whole salary paid directly into the dance school account.
All this meant that the best I could do for Poppy was to wander up to the lock up, run my fingers gently along her bonnet and fins and promise that I had not forgotten her. And just maybe... once or twice... sit in the driver’s seat making brmm, brmm noises and remembering better days.
It was on one of these forlorn visits that I came across an even more forlorn sight. The toneau cover was sagging under the weight of a large pool of water. I know you are supposed to leave the hood up in storage but the frame had now broken on both sides after the prom and I found it difficult to get it up single handed (as the bishop said oooohh Missus!)
Anyway, my powers of deduction were firing on all cylinders and I was able to deduce immediately, that the garage had a leak! I called the council who sent out a man. The man sucked his teeth and pronounced the lock up roof beyond repair. The council then offered me another lock up about ¾ of a mile away from my house and as it was far better than my current lockup had ever been, I took it. The council then gave me just one week to move the car! Poppy hadn’t turned a wheel in 18 months and had no MOT or Insurance. What was I to do?
It was the depths of winter 2012 and Poppy refused to help. Even with jump leads to the modern, her starter motor refused to display any more energy than a slightly asthmatic snail with a limp and the leaking calliper had drained all the fluid out of the system. (Not that I was thinking about doing anything illegal you understand.)
I was reduced to trying to beg, borrow or steal some sort of car trailer. So an appeal on social networking was in order and I hit pay dirt immediately. An old school friend came back to say that her husband had a car dolly I could borrow. I picked the trailer up the following day on my way back from work. The trailer was a great big heavy duty thing with deep impressions for the front wheels of the car, two heavy ramps to aid the arrival of the front wheels at the depressions and a winch for the same purpose. School Friends Husband then gave me detailed instructions in the use of the trailer.
I collected Mrs Fatbloke and arrived at the lock up. Mrs FB is a beautiful and loving wife (she might read this) but is no shrinking violet and isn't the sort to worry overly about a broken nail. She will get stuck in to pretty much anything. Which was just as well!
The plan was to position the trailer in front of the garage and simply winch Poppy up onto the trailer. That was when we noticed that there was no handle for the winch. I phoned School Friends’ Husband to see if there was a cunningly hidden storage space on the trailer where the winch handle was kept. His response was " Ahh yes...well...you see, the last time I used it, which was quite some time ago, I might have forgotten to put it away properly and I think it fell off somewhere on the M4 between Swansea and Cardiff...can't you just drive it up?" I didn't use any bad words until after I'd hung up the phone.
Never mind I thought, I was a Prop Forward, Poppy is only a little car - I'll push it up the ramps myself. So with not a little difficulty, I managed to squeeze my ample frame between the car and the garage wall and was at last in position at the back of the car, ready to push.
With a good deal of grunting, heaving, snorting and sweating, I managed to get her half way up the ramps but no further. Mrs FB was sat under the tailgate of her VW Touran, laughing. So I politely asked for assistance, (No, really! Impoliteness can have severe consequences. See calliper incident earlier in my tale.)
After another bout of grunting and heaving from the both of us, we'd managed to get her to the top of the ramp, but she absolutely refused to go over the lip and into the depressions. We relaxed and of course Poppy rolled back down the ramps and gently pinned us to the back of the garage. I now knew how John Mills must have felt in that scene from "Ice Cold in Alex" when the ambulance runs back down the sand dune!!
In the end, I came up with the idea of chocking the back wheels of Poppy and reversing the ramps and trailer underneath her. It worked a treat and Poppy's front wheels were soon in the depressions on the trailer and all tied down securely.
We set off for the new garage where we reversed the chocking process and slowly drove the trailer out from underneath her before pushing her back into the snug, dry new garage.
to be continued
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