Big Mouth (Herring Gull – Bridlington)
Somebody said I don’t put enough photos in my diary posts – apparently readers today have a short attention-span. In my view that’s a sad indictment but hey-ho. So let’s play a pictorial game: Spot the difference between this pic I took of a carousel in York:
… and this one of my wheel in Bridlington:
Answer: the carousel goes round whereas my wheel does not. Because the fucking bearings went. The story goes like this:
I was heading to Filey, doing about 50, when I heard a loud crunch at the back and the Ottermobile was yanked violently to the left. I immediately turned the hazards on and pulled over to make emergency calls (and change my underpants). At first I thought the exhaust had come off but soon realised the rear left wheel was smoking and I could smell the stink of red-hot axle-grease.
Tell me this; why are some people such arseholes? Though I’d put a warning triangle at the rear and opened the bonnet to show both directions I was in trouble, I still had at least three motorists peeping their horns, flashing their lights and making get-out-of-the-way gestures. I made fuck off gestures back because as I say, they’re arseholes. On the other side of the coin, one couple kindly stopped to ask if I was OK. Not arseholes. But I digress.
Eventually, saviour arrived in a mechanic called Ian from Beverley – a young and handsome man with a friendly face and disposition. He jacked me up, as it were, took one look and said “It’s your bearings.”
“What’s up with them?” I asked.
“They’re fucked,” he replied.
“Right. Is that the technical term and more importantly is it a big job?”
“You need a recovery vehicle and I knock off at 5,” he said, “It’s my lass’s birthday and we’ve got a table booked.”
In man-to-man language I knew that meant he was on a promise, and far be it from me to get in the way of a man’s conjugal rights, fucked bearings or no fucked bearings.
Ian wasn’t being unhelpful, he just didn’t have the tools to fix the job onsite, all he could do was escort me off the road and onto a safe place while I waited for a recovery truck. So very slowly I crept some 500 yards to a farmer’s drive as Ian made the necessary calls. Telling me that help would be there in an hour, he shook my hand and left.
“Enjoy your shag,” I quipped, and he gave me a wink that said it all.
As promised, within an hour, further assistance arrived in Rob, who deftly tail-ended me, as it were, and told me to get in the back of his pick-up because his lass was in the front. “What is it about Yorkshiremen and their lasses?” I thought, “Are they joined at the hip?” But anyway it turned out to be a family business owned by Rob’s father-in-law, and as we towed the Ottermobile back to Bridlington I got to know this lovely couple as best I could. Also from Beverley, they bigged-up the town and its market, its minster (where they got married 15 years ago) and its horse racing. And they’d be combining this job with a fish and chip treat on the seafront, especially if the famous Audrey’s was open.
When we got to the garage it was closed (or “clersed” as they pronounce it in their nick of the woods) so they dropped me on the forecourt, leaving me to prep for the night.
The garage was in a residential street and there were loads of kids running about, clearly amused at the sight of a grey old man putting his slippers on. I fearfully expected Jimmy Savile references but mercifully none forthcame. But they hung around for ages, causing me to wonder what time kids go to fucking bed these days!
When it finally went quiet except for seagulls’ cries, I did some soul-searching. How had it come to this? How had my life gone so tits-up? Yet another depressing setback, halting my project and progress up to Scotland. So I had to think of Aline, and Lucy, and James the gypsy hitch-hiker, and all the others I’d met on my journey who were fucked-up but always ready with a smile. Because we are all fucked-up in some way, I mused, just some of us are more fucked-up than others. And some of us cope with fucked-up-ness better than others.
“Look on the bright side,” said Jayne on the phone, “You’re alive and you’ve got somewhere to sleep.” She was right of course, that’s true. But it’s also true that I’d had another brush with death; both Rob and Ian said I was lucky because if I’d driven 100 yards further the wheel would’ve come off – and if I’d been on a motorway… It didn’t bear thinking about.
That’s why this one’s called Big mouth Strikes Again. Not because I’m a fan of The Smiths and Morrissey, which I am, but because I’d dismissed Bridlington for its lacking lustre, and then I’m expecting it to put me up for the night and get my Ottermobile fixed on the cheap. And I was bragging about my project, saying it’s helping with the black dog and all that. Well I should’ve kept my trap shut because this was the second potentially-fatal incident (loyal readers will remember an early post about my brakes failing in Halifax). If these things come in threes, the next time it’s curtains. At times like this I wouldn’t care.