by Mike Peake
The next 2 years was a busy time for my family. There were 2 terminal illnesses and bereavements, 2 weddings, 3 new babies. Poppy and I continued with our occasional forlorn visits of reassurance.
My eldest learned to drive and passed her test 1st time, passed her A-levels and got into the University of Westminster. My youngest continued to pursue her career in dance and studied for her GCSE’s. Mrs FB completed her Master’s degree and passed with Merit. She is now a Nurse Practitioner in a local GP surgery.
It is now January 2014. Talk in the Fatbloke house turned to my youngest daughters Prom which was due on 23rd May. (Coincidently, Poppy’s 44th Birthday!) I was banned from uttering the phrase “HOW MUCH?” under penalty of pain.
I have to say that the thought of having to take part in all the girly chats about dresses, shoes, hand bags, hairstyles, make-up, shoes, nails, shoes and everything else that women seem to need for these occasions (again) didn’t fill me with joy. So, I hatched a cunning plan!
“Erm…Would you like to use Poppy as your Prom transport in May?” I said to my Youngest. “Oh Wow! Yes please! That would be really cool.” She replied. I then gave my wife the sort of look that said, “Tell her we can’t do it and break her heart and ruin her Prom if you dare”. Mrs FB rolled her eyes and asked me if I thought I could do it? I paused and tried to look like I was pondering on the project before saying “Well, it will mean a lot of work, but I think I should be able to.” Mrs FB rolled her eyes again before giving me the sort of look that said “Don’t think I don’t know what you just did. Remember the callipers!” before saying “Well you’d better get on with it then”.
At this point, I tried to look nonchalant as I walked out of the house, down the street and round the corner out of sight before jumping up and down shouting with glee and dancing a jig. I then walked nonchalantly back to the house to plan my campaign.
I wanted to find out the scale of the task before me and decided that before I did anything else, I would see if I could get her started. Her reluctance to change lock ups suggested that the 14 year old battery had probably “expired”. A new one was sourced on line and collected from Europarts on my way home from work with another stop being made to collect a gallon (sorry 4.54L) of fresh unleaded. I then went straight to the lock up, opened the door and said “Here we go Girl. If you behave yourself we’ll soon be back on the road!” I’m sure I saw a shudder of excitement run through her frame!
I quickly drained the 2.27L or so of old fuel in the tank, connected the new battery topped up with the new fuel and primed the pump. I then had a passing thought that I should really change the oil before starting her, but as I didn’t have any fresh stuff or a new filter I thought “What the hell!!” I did pull the dipstick out which showed that the correct amount of very black stuff was in the sump.
I opened the driver’s door and saw that the under dash courtesy light was glowing excitedly. I lowered myself into the now pitifully padded driver’s seat and inserted the key into the ignition. I turned the key to the 1st position and all the dash lights were present and correct and glowing with anticipation. I pulled out the choke. Then, with much trepidation, I turned the key to the start position. The starter motor turned over vigorously and a surprisingly short time later…”HARK THE HERALD ANGEL SANG!!”…I whooped with joy, told Poppy what a wonderful, gorgeous, good girl she was and kissed her steering wheel… I was quite pleased.
After a couple of minutes I put the choke back in and she continued to tick over beautifully (even with a very rumbly water pump.) Feeling slightly light headed, possibly with jubilation but more probably from the build-up of carbon monoxide in my small lock up, I smoothly selected 1st and lifted the clutch. Poppy was moving under her own steam for the 1st time in 3 years!!
It was at this point that I realised I’d forgotten something rather important in all the excitement. There was no fluid in the brakes! Frantically reaching for the hand brake, I managed to pull her up in front of the lock up door opposite with mm to spare.
Sheepishly and carefully, I reversed her back into my lock up, trying to position her so I had enough room to work each side at the front of the car. I told Poppy again, what a good girl she was and with a wink and a smile at her, I shut the garage door. I’m sure she winked and smiled back at me.
With a spring in my step and a smile on my face, I went home to give Mrs FB the news and order the parts I would need.
Here’s a gratuitous photo of oily bits.
to be continued
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