Saturday I was on a mission. Matt and Melissa needed to get a car, but couldn't fit in actually buying one between their new baby and working. I volunteered to go to the mechanics, check it out, buy it and drive it back. I rode from their house in Tottenham all the way to the garage in Harrow, about 30km through suburbs, parks and back streets. It was a beautiful, but chilly day and I got to see Finsbury Park, Hampstead Heath, Wembley Stadium and a whole bunch of little places I've heard mentioned on the telly, but never really imagined I'd ever see. Suburb, street, shop and last names which all have different uses back at home. It took almost 3 hours and was a good way to see the northern parts of London.
While waiting for my own Arthur Daley to rock up and take the cash for the car ("I'll be there in 20, I'm just down at the pub and want to finish me pint first"), I sat down and struck up a conversation with Kevin, the 5 year old son of one of the two mechanics. Kevin had just started school, he was hungry and he liked watching his dad fix cars. His dad and his colleague had spentthe better part of the day replacing the "moh-a" on a Rover hatchback, which some "dozy geezer" had blown on the M1, but was paying a packet to get it fixed by 5:30pm. While attaching the final tubes and the finish touches on the engine swap over were being executed, the car sales guy turned up just as the two guys who owned the car did, forming a small audience around the front of the car. Kevin started making little groans and grabbed at his mid section. I asked if he needed to go to the loo, and he said yep. It was at that moment a fire broke out in the engine bay of the Rover. The mechanic under the bonnet starts yelling, "BLOWER.. Get a fuckin blower", as he was blowing at the fire like a 10 year old kid trying to put out the candles on their 76 year old grandfather's birthday cake. Kevin tugs at my sleeve, I look down and see his face, twisted into a tormented expression looking back up at me, with a small yellow puddle forming at his feet. The other mechanic races over with an extinguisher, puts out the flames and then leads Kevin away to the loo while his dad explains the mess to the car's owner. I was waiting for Jeremy Beadle to pop out of from behind the door and say, "'e wasn't expecting that, was 'e?".
On the drive home, I navigated my way across London in about an hour, only missing two turns and surprisingly not seeing any of the expected nightmare traffic. With the roads clear, the scenery new but vaguely familiar and the radio on, I remembered what I like about driving. I'm amazed at what you can get for 500 Quid. A 1996 Ford Mondeo with 52,000 miles on the clock. An idea is stirring. Nah.. Too much hassle.
Today I went to the Camden Markets. It's not just one little back street car park with trestle tables and a handful of hippies selling Nepalese beanies. It's an entire suburb with old factories and mills gutted, filled with stalls, lights, cafes, vintage shops, jewelers and a whole lot of hippies selling Nepalese beanies. It'll take a few visits to see it all, but I might wait until Jo and Craig get back from Paris.
I got free tickets to the Football tomorrow night. Fulham vs Middleborough. Nice one Bruvva.