Old Friends.


We sat across from each other. Old friends, once been closer, but over the years a little distance, perhaps more than we would have liked. It had been over a year since we last had met.  http://www.classicaraddict.com/motorcycles-and-renewed-friendships/

Far warmer in the pub, beside warm log burner. Coffee, good and cheap. About 15 years ago when I had my Kawasaki Z1000 MK2 my friend had gone for 15 mins and came back 45 later. He later bought a Suzuki Bandit 1200 and now has a collection of bikes that many would envy. Our shared connection being first bikes and then all things with an engine.  

My relationship with bikes, well motorcycles has always been a lot more  ambivalent. When younger, they were my life, freedom at its best. Yet now, and despite having two in the lock up waiting for me to get around to fix them I don’t ride.  

With the brace still on, we chatted about dealing with injuries as we get older. My friend spoke about driving, and how thankfully when he had his wrist problem a while back, he still could. Likewise, now I can drive again, far easier in Tug (Vitara,) than my MX5, yet I can. http://www.classicaraddict.com/no-driving-for-6-weeks/ 

We spoke about what we missed when restricted. For me it is the water. My friends and I despite all of us growing up fairly close to the wild north coast of Cornwall never really got into water sports. My older brother was one of the local surf gods from an early age. I was never that good and to be honest bigger surf scared me. Yet the water and the beach has always there. I moved to the South Coast of Cornwall 25 years ago, here it was more swimming and sailing initially.  For a few years I had my own little boat, sailing all year and every condition.  It was only 3 years ago I fell in love with paddleboarding.  

I’m writing sitting in Beerwolf Books, Falmouth http://beerwolfbooks.com. Across from me there are a couple of students in deep discussion about post modernism and Marxist theory. They remind me of how I used to belong to that group when I reading for my undergrad. Even then, I approached it from my default perspective of pragmatic cynicism. I belonged, but didn’t when studying. Someone once commented that I was too practical to be truly academic. I think they meant that when using a hammer, I didn’t hit my hand.   

I  can drive, which is truly amazing with my leg in a brace. Most days and timing it for 2 hours before low tide I head to Swanpool beach. There, a little group of regulars surf the gentle swells we get. Long boarders and paddleboarders together. What has really amazed me is people know who I’m, they chat before heading to the water. The last few years have seen an explosion of those of in and on the water. I belong to that group, much more than I expected.  http://www.classicaraddict.com/one-more-wave/

As we sat drinking our coffee, catching up. My friend spoke of touring on his bike and how mutual friends also had done European tours on theirs. I laughed, bikes could never be practical, for how could I carry a board? My travels consisting of looking stretches of water and rideable surf, not too big or crowded.  

Two old friends catching up, seeing the difference yet understanding some things are the same. For him, the open road calls, for me, it is the water. 

 

SAAB TOO FAR…

This is the first in number of short stories best entitled, this really did happen… 

 

LOUD KNOCK…
A loud knock on my door woke me from thoughts… It was 10.30 pm and to my shock there were two policeman…

“Mr Small, do you own a blue SAAB 900 convertible?”

“Err, yes why?”

They then told me that it was now hanging over a wall in a local car park. No, not joy riders but simply the handbrake failing and this was it’s resting place.

Where I live, we play the parking lottery every day. There is a free car park behind the main street. It is steep and despite being mostly rectangular at one end cars can park at an angle. This was where I’d left the SAAB an hour or so before…



Assessing the situation. 

I followed the Bobby’s down and there was my car. Resting on the wall it was sitting partly on the petrol tank and across the back axle. We were all amazed that it didn’t touch another car during its 60ft passage. With one wheel was about 3 ft over the wall. The damage was minimal, yet unless I was careful much more might be done moving it. The police told me that couldn’t get an Hi AB in to pick the car up. Did I have any ideas…

The Saab rolled from where the blue car is parked past the garage on the left to about where silver car is. Quite a distance and how steep the car park is clear.

Solution. 

The SAAB being front wheel drive and those wheels thankfully were on the tarmac… So, in theory I could drive it off… Mentioning this to the police, they expressed concerns about the tank rupturing. As I’d helped my banger racing mates, I knew how tough the tanks are. As it was  a pre General Motors SAAB, which meant the tank was super strong. Also, being an older design, the back axle was about 3ft from the rear of the car, or a lot to catch on the way off.

The police agreed that this was the best option. Then told me to take it gently. I sat letting the car warm up for a couple of minutes. They gave me the OK.

This was the point I dumped the clutch at 4000 rpm. I didn’t see the faces of my audience, but as the rear wheel hit the far edge of the wall the suspension compressed and then rebounded. This bounced the rear of the car up as I planned. Clearing the wall, no further damage to the car was done and with only a few scratches in the render of the wall the police told me not to worry about it. Then came the question of where to park it until I could get it fixed. The only level parking space was taken by a scruffy Triumph Spitfire, my Spitfire…

 

Afterwards

After admitting to owning it the Spitfire, I swapped the cars over and in the morning drove it less than a ¼ of mile to my local tyre and exhaust centre to get the back box replaced. Then my local SAAB Specialist fixed the handbrake. Anyone who has owned a proper SAAB knows that they are very well engineered cars, but it takes a while to learn the idiosyncrasies. So easier to get someone who knows what they are doing than to struggle for hours.

It could have been so much worse. Sadly, the one thing that could kill the car did a few years later. With an odd engine and gearbox design, this was the weak spot, and when second gear went, I drove the car to the end of its mot and then sold it to my mate the specialist.

Oddly this car, despite being well made, comfortable, more economical than expected, very stylish, and with good handling I never truly bonded with it.

Having had another front wheel drive, four-seater convertible, a MK3 VW Golf, that one I still miss. The SAAB, glad I had it, but somehow it was less than the sum of its parts.

Oh, and every time I’m in the car park, I remember and grin.
And the Spitfire has its story… Well lots, but there was one story that relates to this one that will be told.

 

No Driving For 6 Weeks!

No Driving for 6 weeks…  

 

Fog of anaesthetic was wearing off fast. swimming for the surface, mentally fighting the effects of the drugs I sought awareness.  

 

Water was provided, a sip to ease my dry throat. I even managed to thank the surgeon as he left. Then then propped up, hands still attached to various tubes. My leg felt locked, secured, I assumed to ensure that I didn’t move it as I came around.   Fully awake, Tigger was itching to go, porters were called to take myself and the previous patient back to our rooms. Catching a glimpse of her as she was wheeled away, clearly the operation was far harder on her than mine. 30 minutes later the nurses decided to wheel me up, before I made a hobble for it…  

 

There, Rebecca was waiting for me, worry on her face soon replaced by exasperation… Having brought my own food in the form of oatcakes, I asked for them along with some water. A nurse popped in and out a few times, checking I was OK. Apparently, my heart beat dropped down to a level where they wondered if I’d become a tory.  

The physiotherapist knocked and entered, after detaching my arms from the monitoring equipment she pulled back my bed sheet. Rebecca said my face was a picture at this point.  My leg was encased in a brace. ¾ length and clearly meant to be worn for a while. 

I’d been taught to use my crutches before the op to save time. Knowing that I was expecting to have either a piece trimmed away or my meniscus repaired. The two options having different recovery periods. For one the brace would been worn for a few days and the other, weeks… .  The surgeon had repaired my knee, which meant no driving or paddle boarding for 6 weeks.  Needing to keep me in for 4 hours to check that I was OK. A cup of tea was brought and then an oversight on my part. No shorts, so it was time to cut a leg off my jeans, fashion… !  

Compared to when my back and knee had been bad in September this was far less of a nuisance, more a question of logistics…   

Another nurse came in to discharge me, we soon worked out we had a mutual friend in Jasmine, who co owns and runs Daaku. Soon I was up on my feet, rucksack on my bag heading towards the car. As I was leaving the nurse wished Rebecca good luck. 

This forced break means that I’m going to start looking at my using my education. Time to change careers for something a little more financially beneficial. Writing once again, and perhaps having the confidence to submit my work. 

A quick thank you to my Doctor, Mr Mathews the surgeon and all the staff at the Royal Duchy Hospital. We often moan about the NHS, but in this case I couldn’t have been treated better. Thank you.