Saturday, 10 May 2008

Driscoll 1


I first met Driscoll in Leytonstone in about 1985, though he was already old then. I never really knew if his first or last name was Driscoll, but that’s what we all called him.

Four years later we were in Liverpool together and on a trip outside of the city we stopped to look around a bookshop selling many, many old books. I bought a complete set of old encyclopaedias, in perfect condition but useless for any information post second world war.

They sat on a shelf for a long time, looking smart and looking for someone to look at them, then the internet was invented and they were forgotten, packed in a box and left with Driscoll.

When I left London to come and live in France Driscoll was carrying them and everything else we owned. We had a rendezvous with Krissie at the airport in Paris and we had just reached the edge of West London when his engine exploded. Well, exploded is the wrong word, it clunked and stopped and that was that.

I had a choice, I could pay for a tow to the nearest garage, leave it there whilst I hired a van to shift everything to France and return and pay the cost of garaging my van – overall cost about three thousand pounds – or I could pay the garage to install an brand new Mercedes engine on some sort of exchange deal and drive on that evening and keep appointment and dream– total cost about three thousand pounds.

Driscoll now sits in my garden, he has a little corner all to himself and each year or so I turn on the engine just to hear its roar. He offers emergency accommodation for surprise guests; he is equipped with double bed, sink and oven and is a preferred escape place for me and Krissie sometimes. Before I met her I lived in him for a year in central London.

A while back I offered his engine to a local mechanic in exchange for expensively saving one of our cars . The offer was accepted, the repairs done and the engine his but never collected. From time to time we would pass and he would say “I’m coming for that engine soon”. The years passed, about 10 and nothing happened and Driscoll started to become the place where we stored stuff we weren’t ready to dump. Still no one came for the engine.

The mechanic died in a car crash a year ago and although I never went to his funeral most of the people I know did. No one mentioned the engine as being among his last wishes; does a gentleman’s agreement end when death doth us part?

Yesterday I decided to clean Driscoll up and get him ready for spring and summer sleeping. I throw out a ton of rubbish that had accumulated and took it up to the village where the Mayor has installed a communal skip. The encyclopaedias were there and had to go, though I took one last look and saved a few colour illustrations.

I might frame them and put them up in Driscoll.

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