“Well Old Girl, this is a turn up for the books!” It was Her Ladyship... “Guess what?”
Hmmm, let me see. I know... Curiosity has discovered a relative on Mars? For heaven’s sake woman, how would I know what to guess?
“It’s terribly exciting Old Girl. Here look at this email.” She thrusts her tablet thingy towards me. “Look... See... We’ve been invited to Birmingham! Isn’t it brilliant?” I couldn’t help wondering whether she wanted a truthful answer or a polite one.
“We are going to be guests of the Pre War Austin Seven Club. What do you think of that then?” What do I think? How about do you have to come as well?
“Oh,hang on, I’ve just seen when. It’s the middle of November, and it’s rather a long way. I think you’ll be going on a trailer.” Then she was gone.
I’d completely forgotten about this conversation until Her Ladyship hauled me out of my garage one cold November morning.
“Let’s give you a really good clean up,” she said as she hoiked me off the ground. “Wheels first. They’re a terrible mess.”
It took her two days to clean me up, both inside and out. “Now Old Girl, I want you to stay clean. Okay?” I really do despair of this woman. How on earth could I get myself dirty without her having a significant hand in these matters.
A few days later she took me down the drive to where there was a car transporter trailer waiting. One end was attached to Madam’s modern car and at the other end, a pair of ramps awaiting my arrival. “Up we go Old Girl.” Her Ladyship revved my engine and quite deftly, planted me safely onto the trailer. I couldn’t help wondering whether she would be as good securing me in place as she was getting me on board that thing.
“There we are Old Girl, all ready to go.” She clambered into the modern car and started to roll us forwards. There was a horrible grating and grinding sound. Madam slapped on her brakes.
“What have you gone and done now?” A rather angry Ladyship almost fell out of her modern and came back to look at the trailer. I awaited her apology with my usual patience. It didn’t take long. “Oh sorry Old Girl, my fault. I haven’t raised the trailer’s rear legs.” Grabbing a spanner, Madam proceeded to lift up and lock the legs in place. Once more we were on our way.
We had achieved several miles when she pulled over again and got out. “Have you put on weight Old Girl? I can’t seem to get any speed.” If she hadn’t been in such a rush to get away, she would have noticed that she had left the trailer’s handbrake on. Now the brake drums were happily smoking away. The penny dropped... “Ah. Oh. Whoops... That was a bit daft wasn’t it?” Her Ladyship released the brake and yet again we were on our way. I couldn’t help wondering what she would mess up next.
It didn’t take long. It was Cardiff Gate services. Her Ladyship pulled off the motorway, swung us round some roundabouts and into a car park. She spent the next ten minutes driving round looking for a suitable space to park us. I have to confess to getting rather exasperated at how many times we drove up and down the same lanes. Then we stopped, Her Ladyship got out, looked around, got in again and moved us on until we stopped again and she repeated the action. This happened several times until I heard a number of expletives and she stopped in one of the access lanes, scribbled a note and stuck it on the windscreen. “I need the loo Old Girl. Can’t wait any longer.” And she was gone.
We arrived at the NEC as it was getting dark. “Hmm now where is car park number three? Ah, here we are...” We joined a short queue of cars and the security man glanced at a clip board as we pulled up.
“You not supposed to be here,” he said as he stretched himself up to his full five foot two inches.
“What? What are you talking about my man? I’m looking for car park Three. It’s beside Hall Seventeen.”
“This is Car Park Five... You’re not supposed to be here.” This wasn’t a very helpful thing to say to Her Ladyship especially after a several hundred mile trip that took most of the day.
“Then,” she forced one of those smiles that suggested she had accidentally got some battery acid on her tongue. “Perhaps you would be ever so kind and advise me to which car park I should go.”
“You need Car Park Three.”
“I know I need Car Park Three... I thought this was Car Park – bloody Three.”
“Well it’s not. This is Car P...”
“Car Park – bloody Five! I know.”
“There’s no need to take that manner with me, Madam.”
“If you’d been hauling this thing from Pembrokeshire to Birmingham for the last six hours, you’d be taking on this manner.” He appeared not to listen.
“If you swing round here, go back to that roundabout, take a left, then straight over the next one with a left at the one after that, you’ll find Car Park Three.”
“Thank you, I’ll do that.” She smiled another of her sweet acid smiles and muttered ‘Bloody Idiot’ under her breath as she drove off.
“I heard that.” The security man shouted at us as we turned around.
“Now what did he say? Left at the first roundabout... Right got that... Straight across at the next. There it is... Soon be there now Old Girl. Not far, then we can unload you and park you in the nice warm hall. Here we are – Car Park Three.” She stops beside another security man and smiles sweetly at him. “I need Hall Seventeen young man. Can you tell me where I need to go please.”
“Not this car park, Lady. You need Car Park Three.”
“But this is Car Park Three.”
“No it ain’t, this is Car Park Seven.”
“Seven? But the man back there said this is Car Park Three!” I began to wonder whether Her Ladyship was giving up the will to live.
“You took a left at that roundabout didn’t you?” Her Ladyship nodded. “Well you should have taken a right.”
“But he said...” He cut her short.
“Go back to that roundabout and go straight over, then at the next take a left and you’ll be there.”
“Thank you... Thank you very much.” I didn’t detect much gratitude in that reply. Perhaps it was her emphasis on the ‘You’. She swung us round yet another roundabout, then slammed on the brakes. She pulled out her mobile phone and punched at its dial.
“Hello? Is that Nigel?” At last... She’d shown some sense, she was calling The Nice Mister Nigel. “Nigel, I’m lost. I’m here, but I’m lost and rapidly giving up the will to live... What? The last one? That was Car Park Seven and I think I am now heading for Car Park Three. But judging from the directions I have received so far, I could just as easily be in Earls Court... Oh... Yes I can see it... Head that way, yes... What? Oh Okay, and I’ll meet you there. See you in a couple of minutes...” She tossed her phone into her bag.
“Soon be there now Old Girl...” We pulled off again and lo and behold, within a couple of minutes The Nice Mister Nigel was in the passenger seat, guiding an exasperated Wrinkled One to Hall 17 where they unloaded me from the trailer and delivered me to the safety and warmth of the NEC.
And a last word from Her Ladyship. Sincere thanks to everyone of the Pre-war Austin Seven Club team at the Classic Car Show who made me feel so welcome and who looked after me so well. Apart from some heavy driving rain, we made it home safe and sound. Although it took a week to dry Miss Daisy out.