“Hi, Jack!” said Bill the mechanic as he crawled out from under the car. Then, with a wave in my direction, “Is this your latest little grease monkey?”
I wasn’t sure about being called a monkey and hid behind my Grandad Jack’s trousers, watching Bill warily. When my mother called me a monkey, it didn’t bode well.
“He’ll do,” replied Grandad, patting my shoulder. “My best little helper. Thought I’d give him a taste of real garage life and show him where I used to spend my time. How’re you getting on without me?”
“Better than ever,” came the ironic reply. “Get things done quicker without you messing ‘em up!”
I was indignant on Grandad’s behalf, but he just laughed and punched Bill lightly in the chest.
“I have to see a man about a dog,” Bill said. “Can you keep an eye on things for a few minutes?”
When Bill had left, Grandad and I looked around the workshop, which had been his livelihood until his retirement. Suddenly, we heard the roar of a car engine outside and then it stopped. We stepped outside and I saw the most wonderful sight in the whole of my five years of existence: I discovered later it was called an “E-type” but in that moment it was like standing next to a dark green space rocket.
A young man climbed out, handed the keys to Grandad and said, “I’ll be back tomorrow. There’s a knocking I don’t like, hope you can fix it.” Then he turned and walked off.
Grandad looked at me, and I at Grandad.
“Well now,” said Grandad. “He gave me the job, didn’t he? Get in, lad! Let’s see what’s wrong with this little monster.”
I was a little doubtful. After all, Grandad had retired. But he was right, wasn’t he? The young man had asked him to fix it. So I did as I was told and scrambled into the passenger seat. I couldn’t see through the windscreen, but that didn’t matter. The car felt and smelt like heaven. Grandad got in next to me, turned the key in the ignition, and off we went. I thought the engine sounded like the greatest orchestra in the universe as we drove down the road and then – onto the motorway! Oh joy, oh bliss! Grandad put his foot down and invisible hands pushed me hard back in my seat as we whooshed along at the speed of light barely touching the tarmac. Then he braked hard, we left the northbound carriageway and turned back, southbound. The motor roared, the world zoomed past and I was in paradise.
Finally, Grandad drove us back to the garage and stopped the car outside the workshop. Bill was waiting for us.
“You should have a look at the carburettor,” Grandad said. Bill nodded.
“I might have known!” he grinned.
I looked around, a little less shy than before.
“Is the dog OK?” I asked. For a moment Bill looked puzzled, then he grinned again.
“Oh yes, sonny. The dog’s fine.”
“Come on,” said Grandad. “Let’s get some fish and chips on the way home.”
That was the best day of my life.