|If God wanted Minis to go this fast they'd have bigger wheels.|
|Nigel Fryatt look-alike|
But it was OK, Nigel Fryatt and his guys at C&CC were buying it so it was gonna be all OK.
Except, at one AM Friday morning, the day they were coming by to look at it get the papers, give me a check and take it away, THAT VERY DAY at 1 AM there was a clank as I was sliding sideways around Hyde Park Corner.
|Hyde Park Corner|
One of those small, awful and expensive noises you feel as much as hear. At the next light, the whole car wobbled at idle. I thought it was probably an engine mount and took it a Big Time Mini mechanic at 8 AM. Call us in a couple of hours, they said.
Don't wait for my OK to fix it, I said, It has to be fixed. No matter what. Going to California. Gotta sell it today. Absolutely.
At ten they said that it wasn't an engine mount, it was the engine stabilliser bolt sheared off in the block. They were working on it. At eleven they said they had gone down the street for some more drill bits. At noon they said they had a flame on it. And at two thirty they said, "We give up."
But that was still plenty of time to take a minicab over to get the little fuck back to my house in Hampstead by 3:30 where I could hope the Fryatt & the Cars & Car Coversions guys would still want it.
Plenty of time. Being Friday the minicab drove straight into a traffic jam. But I really know the route and I steered him through the back streets and into a worse jam.
A half hour crawled by.
I ran the last 150 yards. The mechanic said he was really sorry they couldn't do anything. No charge. I gave him a twenty for the gents who had spent the morning bent over it and drove away very, very carefully, the engine rocking violently at the slightest twitch on the accelerator. No petrol, the gauge said. But it always says that.
Besides I don't have time to stop for petrol, I have to stop by Ian & Tiba's house because naturally I forgot ALL of the little fuck's papers and documents like the letter from Paddy Hopkirk.
So I charge in their house, almost mash the cat into a pattern on the carpet, fling the contents of two suitcases into the air, until there on the bottom is the blue folder with the papers and I run out. Nineteen minutes. Plenty of time. Slow ease off. Into second gently, smoothly. Over the past few months it has developed a habit of ripping its exhaust system off its mounts and dragging it on the ground and I think I've got that little quirk licked but you never know. Third gear. I am driving like the car is full of baby girls holding jars of wired Semtex.
Seventeen minutes to go and easing gently onto York Way, I'll skip the BP petrol station because it is on the wrong side of the road and getting across the traffic twice could add another minute maybe two. Plus a pit stop would take five minutes, so don't even think about it. When the throttle return spring snaps with a wee ping as we pause in the traffic and the engine soars free like it loves to do. It now idles at 75 MPH. Roar, scream, sweat, crawl.
It crosses my mind, as every time I have to stop the engine screams and another half pint of petrol is transformed into partially burnt hydrocarbons, fuel economy never having been one of its strong points, it crosses my mind that having passed the BP station there's an EXXON a mile up the road, and maybe I should consider risking a stop when I get there. (to be continued with anquish and anxiety)