A new opportunity comes along.
For a few days, I was a bit of a celebrity, and people wanted to buy me drinks while I recounted my story. I paid for the car to be taken over to Ian’s workshop and asked him to look it over and let me know the outcome. When he called me back, it didn’t sound promising. There was a lot of bodywork damage; two doors needed replacing, and there would need to be some realignment to the frame. I’d avoided any damage to the engine, and everything could be repaired, at a cost. He asked about insurance, and I had to admit I’d only taken out the bare minimum of third party cover, so I wouldn’t get any money from insurance towards the repairs.
The next Saturday Ian was on his regular Saturday tour of the town’s pubs, and we were sitting in the comfort of the Jolly Anchor’s snug bar.
“We’ve both worked on that baby a lot,” he said, “and I’d hate to see it go to scrap. I’d like to work on it for you for nothing, but I don’t have that sort of money.”
I thought about this for a moment. I’d just about repaid the loan I took out to buy the car, but I had no savings to speak of, and nothing much to show for my life so far, apart from that car.
“How about if I pay for the parts,” I suggested, “and we work on it together. I don’t have anything else to drive, and I’m out of a job now. You might have to sub me some of the cost, but I’ll pay you back when I can, I promise.”
It was his turn to think, and I could see him weighing up the options in his head.
“What about this,” he replied. “We trade cars – you sell me your XK150 as is, and I’ll let you have that XK140 Roadster that’s in the corner of the shed. It is a few years older than yours, and the paintwork could do with some attention, but it’s an OK runner. We can both work on both cars, and we’ll call it quits. What do you say?”
I’d seen the 140 in his shop, how could any car lover miss that classic sporty look and that chrome work. It was a soft top, not something that was tremendously practical in our climate, but even so, I could see myself driving along the coast in the summer months, with all the girls admiring me. We shook on it, and then Ian finished his drink and set off to another pub
Back in those days, the “snug bar” was for the middle class, and I didn’t normally use it. It was quieter if you wanted to talk, however, and it was where Ian generally drank. After he had left, I went back to the public bar and got into a conversation with a few of the locals.
By midafternoon, the bar was starting to empty, and I thought it was about time I moved on too when George Smart came over to talk to me. George was a new landlord of the Anchor that had come in just a few months ago, and there was speculation among the locals that he was in over his head. It was his first pub, and it showed in his flustered approach when the bar got busy. But he seemed pleasant enough and was easy to talk to when there weren’t too many people around.
“I hope I’m not speaking out of turn, but I couldn’t help overhearing some of your conversation with that farmer guy in the snug. I heard you mentioned you didn’t have a job,” He said. “I’ve noticed how you seem to know everyone that comes in here, and you have a good voice, so I wondered if you’d be interested in a part-time job here?”
It was nothing I’d ever considered, but seeing as how I was currently spending most of my time in the pub anyway, why not get paid for it?
“I do have a few other potential things lined up,” I lied, “but I could certainly help you out in the short term, what sort of hours did you have in mind?”
“Well, I could do with some help this evening if you’d like to start straight away,” he said “and then we can take it from there.”