‘So he says to me: “I’m afraid it’s not going anywhere sir”. Calls me sir, he did.’

‘Very polite of him.’

‘Wasn’t it? “Completely dead, sir; I’m going to have to tow it,” he says.’

‘What’d he reckon was wrong with it?’

‘He reckoned the casing round the crankshaft looked iffy. So he sticks it on the back of his van and tows me up to the garage.’

‘You pay for that?’

‘Only when the wife found out it was broken. She wanted to go up the shops on Saturday.’

‘Ooh dear. What’d you do about the knackered old crank?’

‘Told her to get the bus.’

‘Right. How’d she take it?’

‘From the stop at the end of our road. So I’m there, waiting for the bill from the garage –‘

‘He’s the short fella with the wonky eye?’

‘No, you’re thinking of Iain. Iain’s only got one eye, Bill’s got two.’

‘I’m not sure that’s right, but carry on.’

‘So, I’m waiting for the garage to ring and, when they do, they’ve only gone and fixed it.’

‘That’s good isn’t it?’

‘But they didn’t do anything. It got towed in there, dead as a dodo. Next morning, they stick the key in and it starts. First time! They didn’t even want any money; said it wasn’t right to charge someone when they hadn’t done anything.’

‘That’s what I told that policeman.’

‘I walk up there and pick it up, and it’s running like a dream. Unbelievable.’

‘So it’s alright now?’

‘Far from it mate, far from it. That was three weeks ago, right, and it ran perfectly for, say, three days. Four tops.’

‘And then? What, the same old song?’

‘Same one. Stone cold dead at the side of the road. I’d only gone out to get a paper and there I am, stuck outside some old people’s home on the seafront. I called the recovery people and they only go and send the same bloke out. He keeps going on about it being déjà vu.’

‘What’s that, the old people’s home?’

‘No, you’re thinking of Shangri La. That’s further along. So I’m telling him what happened and he says he can’t understand it; that he hasn’t seen nothing like this before. And I’m thinking, there’s something weird going on here. How come it’s broke, then working, then broke, then working again?’

‘Sounds like my mate Gav.’

‘And he’s saying to me that there’s no way that it should have got going without a good once over and a firm application of grease.’

‘Still sounds like my mate Gav.’

‘But he drags it back up the garage and we leave it there and, bugger me, they only go and ring me up that afternoon to tell me it’s working again.’

‘Same thing?’

‘Exactly. They just turned it over and it went first time.’


‘Isn’t it? You know what I think? I reckon it’s cursed.’

‘Your car?’

‘I reckon there’s someone out there who’s got it in for me. They’re trying to mess with my head.’

‘Like some voodoo thing?’

‘Yeah. So I’m panicking now. What if someone’s done something to the car? There’s some evil old witch who’s not happy with me.’

‘The wife wasn’t pleased then?’

‘Not a bit. So I tell the garage to have a good look over it, just to check. They changed a few pipes that were looking a bit old, but that was it; nothing else.’

‘So how’s it been since?’

‘Terrible. I only got five miles before the new pipes fell off. The whole engine’s covered in diesel and there’s smoke pouring out the front of the car. I’m stuck in the middle of a roundabout in a puddle of fuel. Like I said, it’s cursed.’

‘You don’t really believe that.’

‘I do. I’m sure of it. I hate getting in the car now. I’m worried; I get all jittery; I’m just waiting for the next thing to go wrong.’

‘Sounds like it’s driving you mad.’

‘That’s the only place it is driving me at the moment. And knowing my luck, I’ll have a breakdown before I get there!’

‘Mate. What happened with the pipes?’

‘They tow me back up the garage –‘

‘Same guy?’

‘Same guy. And they put new pipes on and they change the oil over and they get it all cleaned up again. I go up there to pick it up and there’s only a great big crack in the windscreen.’

‘You’re kidding.’

‘I’m not. And the bloke in the garage is trying to tell me that it’s not their fault; that this great big crack was there already. But I wasn’t going to let them get away with it. Not only is someone messing with my car, and my head, now the garage’s trying to convince me I’ve been driving round with a broken windscreen and hadn’t noticed. Bloody cheek. They were obviously trying to pull a fast one about the windscreen, but I saw right through it.’

‘It wasn’t that badly cracked then?’

‘Well, it needed to be replaced. The glass guy comes the next day and I’m telling him about what’s happened: how it broke, then worked, then broke, then worked, then the problem with the pipes falling off, then the windscreen cracking. And I can tell that he thinks I’ve lost it. He’s giving me that careful look, you know, the one you use for the weird bloke who insists on sitting next to you on the bus even though you’re the only two on there. But he does come up with a good suggestion for what I need.’

‘A bicycle?’

‘No. A warranty; says I ought to ask the garage for one. So he fits the new windscreen and I’m just sitting there. I don’t know how long I was there for, just trying to work out if I can bring myself to drive anywhere. Anyway, I finally get up the courage, turn it on, drive round the corner and the rear view mirror falls off.’


‘It bloody does. So I stop and I’m shaking and I keep going over all of the things that have gone wrong. I’m in real trouble.’

‘Mate, you’ve got to move on. You can’t keep looking behind you.’

‘I bloody couldn’t, could I? I’m just sat there and I’m really struggling. I’m in a really dark place.’

‘That tunnel on the A38?’

‘And I’m trying to work out what to do, ‘cos I’m not sure I can face ringing the breakdown people again.’

‘Do they do frequent flyer miles? You’d be quids in by now.’

‘I wedge the mirror back in place and carry on. I’m almost home and there’s this almighty banging from underneath the car. I pull over, have a look –‘


‘And the plate on the bottom of the engine has fallen off. It’s dragging along the ground, just held on by one bolt.’


‘I wouldn’t believe it myself if I hadn’t been there. And I’m telling you, someone’s been messing with me; they have to be. This sort of bad luck can’t just happen on its own.’

‘So that’s what you came round to tell me about? That’s been quite a story.’

‘Not quite. I actually had something to ask you.’

‘Oh right, what’s that?’

‘You don’t want to buy a car do you?’

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