The Lining Of Clouds #memoir #humour

Dave The Mechanic

Coming home from holiday brings back many memories. In the long hot summer of 1975 (no, ok, that was 1976, but where would we be without rose tinting) my holiday comprised a kind of grand tour around the UK with my best friend, Dave. We had little in common really beyond a love of beer and being in the same maths set but friends we were.

Where we really differed was in the sphere of things mechanical. He loved them, I broke them. His particular focus was his car, a fragile bipolar Ford that he lovingly stripped and fripped while trying to persuade me Frank Zappa really was singing and not self-waxing his buttocks.

Since I knew zip about the workings of the internal combustion engine he could bullshit me with a baffling dialogue of pidgin Haynes every time the magic stopped and we pulled onto the side of the road.

In truth Dave loved a good breakdown so he could spend time tinkering.

I sort of knew a significant part of my holiday would comprise verge-perching so I brought several books and cassette tapes to wile away the hours.

Of course, reading and rewinding crappy C90 tapes takes you only so far given the likelihood of occasional showers during a British summer especially if one occasional shower decides to bump against a few others in an overly friendly cloud hug.

By the end of our third week our tour had taken us to Caerleon in Wales, Manchester and Carlisle in the West and Huddersfield, Hull and Beverley in the East. It was a drizzly Monday and we were cruising down the M1 heading for Coventry. Mud was competing with the Mahavishnu Orchestra with background notes of the Blue Oyster Cult and Caravan as our musical interlude when we began cruising to a halt. Dave steered us to the hard shoulder, barely able to hide the grin in his voice. ‘Total loss of power.’ Even I could work that out. I sat in my seat staring at the oily raindrops, once again putting a bet on which one would reach the bottom first while Dave unloaded the boot of his gubbins.

‘It’s the reversing spraggle-doggit. It’s recrabbling and needs a fres-pizzle at torque N.’ Or something like that.

It’s darkest before dawn; you need to reach the bottom before climbing back up; there is always a light at the end of every tunnel. So many clichés, so much wasted hope.

But even occasional showers have silver linings. Or perhaps pewter, but at least something almost shiny to cling to. A jam sandwich pulled up behind us and a comfortably sized constable who, in years, was clearly a classmate of Methuselah, climbed out and waddled our way.

As soon as I saw him, I knew I needed to join Dave at the bonnet end, if only to translate from Greasish into English.

‘What’s up, lads?’

Dave began to explain.

I butted in, ‘We’ve broken down. Not sure why, officer.’

Dave glared. Constable Gnome nodded and spoke into the radio on his lapel. ‘Hello, Doris. Couple of likely ones, broken down near junction twenty.  Can you sort out a tow?’

Dave made a sort of hiss that both Darth Vader and Hannibal Lecter might have mimicked. ‘I can fix this.’

‘You’ve twenty minutes, kiddo; then you’re towed.’

Dave dived into the Stygian depths while Constable Orange and I exchanged pleasantries. From time to time Dave popped up like a tungsten sprung meerkat to check on his enemy and then returned to the bowels of his car. Sadly he was still freediving when a rusty truck pulled up in front of us. A slick and strutting youth, no older than us, stepped out, rollup limply dangling from his lips and sauntered over.

‘Wassup?’

Dave shielded his baby from the Gaze From the Dark Side. ‘I’m nearly there.’

The Pimpled Protagonist leant over the radiator and sucked in a breath. ‘That’s yer problem, mate.’ A stubby finger pointed at a gaping hole, the size of a florin, in the engine block. How Dave had missed such an obvious flaw was as mysterious as anti-matter or the continuing popularity of Cash in the Attic.

‘There’s a technical term for that,’ he smirked, looking at each of us. ‘Yer fucked.’

Dave was broken. We helped him to the passenger seat in the truck where he curled, foetus-like and reviewed his career options. I felt for him, of course, but, at the same time, I knew I’d no longer be made to feel totally inadequate. Clouds, silver linings and all that jazz: sort of depends whether you are inside looking out or outside looking in.

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published four books - Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, My Father and Other Liars, Salisbury Square and Buster & Moo. In addition I have published two anthologies of short stories, Life, in a Grain of Sand and Life in a Flash. More will appear soon, including a memoir of my mother's last years. I will try and continue to blog regularly at geofflepard.com about whatever takes my fancy. I hope it does yours too. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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31 Responses to The Lining Of Clouds #memoir #humour

  1. Aww… poor Dave! Geoff, you had me at “He loved them, I broke them.” But as usual you kept rolling into stellar story-telling. “From time to time Dave popped up like a tungsten sprung meerkat to check on his enemy and then returned to the bowels of his car” may be your best description ever. Hugs on the wing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      Thanks Teagan. Have you been deified yet (thus turning you from highly manoeuvrable into omnipresent?) Or are you still stuck in the Dantean loop that is DC?

      Like

      • I’ve long said that I must actually be dead, and somebody put Dante in charge of my afterlife. I’m still in DC, but I’ve almost drained myself out of the putrid swamp. This afternoon my loan for my little New Mexico cottage was approved! Woot! If my coworkers knew, 3/4ths of them would think I was going to a foreign country…
        Hugs!

        Liked by 1 person

      • TanGental says:

        I can just see you, astride your trustee steed , saddlebags full of purloined fairy dust that you have secretly being mining from your apartment out of the undisclosed government reserves that are the reason Washington was chosen as the capital so many years ago and form the bed rock of Capitol Hill and which are waiting to be dug out in case we ever find ourselves snagged into the inevitable Fairy Wars that will follow Demongeddon. Looking forward to the next part of your journey!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Dave reminds me of my brother’s mate around the 70’s, haha brilliant!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. gordon759 says:

    I love the idea of ‘pidgen haynes’.
    On a factual note (bizarre in one of your tales, I know), but the summer of 1975 was a long, hot one. It’s just that the summer of ’75 is forgotten, even by those who experienced it, by the even longer, and hotter, summer of ’76.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Very funny. (I can’t read “Hull” without hearing Ricky Gervais from The Office saying it.)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m sure I have read this story before, Dave and certain phrases remain firmly fixed in my ancient memory……. Your writing does that to me 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      Not sure but probably. Now I’ve taken down all the posts that contain short pieces that are going into the new anthology it’s not always clear where I might have published them. Still the chances are pretty high that it’s been here before. No new ideas, you see!

      Like

      • Oh you are probably just taking a breath before the next flood of creativity takes the world by storm. It’ll probably arrive the week before Christmas along with all the rellies and the turkey. Plus this is a story that can take several repeats, there is so much to gurgle over!

        Liked by 1 person

      • TanGental says:

        Hope so… I had this notion walking on the beach with Dog the other day… the shingle was being washed up and down but what if it was the shingle doing the moving and it was moving the water as part of its plan, as a species of sentient stones to move in and take over our coasts preventing us from leaving these shores except by air…hmm…

        Like

      • Just because we cant hear them communicate and don’t see them move doesn’t mean they aren’t. 🙂 Perhaps the stones haven’t yet realised that all their plans will come to nothing because flight exists – they thought we were trapped, but just hopped on a plane and went off to cause mayhem elsewhere ….. I watched a documentary about the intelligent octopus yesterday – had no idea they are so self aware and capable of problem solving as well as shape shifting and camouflaging. They put a newly caught octopus in a tank with a jar and a crab inside. He realised he couldn’t get at the crab so left it alone. He was then put next to one who knew how to open a container containing a crab. The new octopus watched the teacher, got excited and promptly opened his jar. Just like that, one viewing – I think there is something else at work there too as due to the way of opening the container the watching octopus couldn’t always see what was going on. The commentator wondered why they hadn’t taken over as ‘king of the ocean’ and I thought maybe they have more sense than to do that – why not just live peaceably and enjoy life like the dolphins do. Just thought you might be inspired by that tidbit.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. You were in Caerleon and never called in for a pot of tea and some Welsh cakes? You’d have had a big Welsh welcome, especially Dave. I can see that he treated that car like a baby so, when it broke down, it must have been like the end of his world. I think we can all emphasise with him.
    Thanks for sharing the memories.

    Like

  7. arlingwoman says:

    I well recall unreliable cars. So glad I don’t have them anymore. Love the idea of a bipolar Ford, though. I may have driven one as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Elizabeth says:

    Love the road trip story. Reminded me of knowing about steel belted tires because of seeing them through the worn out rubber on one such trip.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Widdershins says:

    Poor Dave. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Rowena says:

    Hi Geoff,
    Tell me about this so-called hot 1975 and 76. Did it actually manage to hit 20 degrees celsius? What kind of hot and sweltering are we talking about?
    My husband is a bit of a Dave and his knowledge of mechanical parts has expanded onto computers and they’re full of all sorts of bits and pieces to keep this kind of mind occupied. As you know full well, I also break things. So, Geoff is kept well and truly busy at our place, especially when you add the kids and dogs to the mix. BTW, I’m not sure that I mentioned that I drove into a concrete curb taking the lad to emergency recently and that cracked the radiator and the car was written off. It’s become a bit of a running joke that I took the lad to hospital but the car didn’t make it home. Thinking about it, I could well fall into that 1% I mentioned in your previous post.
    Best wishes,
    Ro

    Like

    • TanGental says:

      30 plus for several weeks in 76, not quite so hot in 75. Much like this year. And yes sweaty too! And good to know there are others out there creating employment opportunities. You’ll enjoy an upcoming post on this very subject

      Liked by 1 person

      • Rowena says:

        30 plus is getting serious. Even we heat-seeking Australian can start to complain once it’s over 30…especially 35. BTW the beetle seems to be hanging onto the string from the venetians doing a good Tarzan impersonation (just in case you were wanting an update). Still buzzing too.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. willowdot21 says:

    Laughing again 💜💜

    Liked by 1 person

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