(aka Bike, est. 2007)
Copyright© 2017 Angharad
The next day I sitting in the staff restaurant eating a jacket potato when a vaguely familiar figure approached. He sat himself opposite me and reminded me that he was Ben Smithers from electronic engineering.
“Sorry to intrude, Cathy, but you have a Jaguar don’t you?”
“When I have a chance to drive it.” His look of astonishment showed he didn’t realise my situation with two point four million kids needing a lift in the morning, hence the VW. “I have more children to take to school than it has seats, so I use a people carrier most days.”
“Have you used the local dealership for anything—the Jaguar one.”
“Once or twice, why?”
“It’s like this. I went on holiday to Spain a few weeks ago and about three weeks before I went my car broke down, something to do with the automatic gearbox according to the garage and it was touch and go if they’d be able to repair it before we went on holiday—we were driving down because we take the dog with us.”
I assumed there was a point to his story but it also sounded like it wasn’t going to be a happy one.
“The villa we rented belongs to some friends so we knew what we were going to. To cut a long story short, I got the car back the day before we were due to go, cost an arm and a leg but thankfully the warranty took care of it—thank goodness I took one of those out.
“We travelled down through France and didn’t rush, spent a night down in the Midi then over the border to Spain—went like a dream—the car that is. Got to the villa near Valencia and had a great couple of days just enjoying the sunshine, though it was a bit too warm for me.
“We decided we’d take a trip to Barcelona as it wasn’t that far away and that’s when it all went tits up—uh sorry—went wrong.” I excused his vulgar expression and he continued his narrative. “Bloody thing went wrong just outside Barcelona, called the breakdown people and they somehow managed to get it going again, but we went back to the villa instead of our day out. The next day it refused to start at all.”
I’d had a feeling he was going to say something like that. “We got on the phone to Jaguar here in England and they arranged for a Spanish dealer to have it in and sort it. Course we lost our means of transport for a couple of days or so but we were assured there’d be no cost to us for the repair and they sent a taxi for us to collect the car. Went better than ever—for a day—then went phut again. We spoke to Jaguar UK and they said they’d arrange to have it taken back to them on the back of a truck.”
“So how were you going to get home?” I asked knowing they hadn’t walked it.
“We looked at flights and so on but it was going to be so expensive so we decided to hire a car and drive back.”
“Didn’t the garage agree to pay for it?”
“Eventually they did, but that wasn’t cheap either—the rental of the car. We had a couple of days in Spain and spent half of that altering our ferry crossing, had to go from Brittany rather than Calais.”
“Bit of a drive the other end then and in a left hand drive car.”
“Yes, but at least it didn’t break down.” We both smiled.
“So when d’you get your car back?”
“Good question,” he replied, his voice heavy with sarcasm.
“You’d think it wouldn’t take a truck very long to carry one or more cars over from Spain to England, wouldn’t you?”
“Well they keep moving the date of when it will arrive.”
“They didn’t say—until this morning, my wife, she’s far more patient than I am, but when she gets the bit between her teeth...”
“So what was the reason?”
“She had to really badger them...”
“And the reason was?”
“They appear to have lost it.”
“Lost it?” This sounded absurd.
“As in they don’t have a clue where it is.”
“You don’t have a tracker on it, then?”
“Uh, alas no. But who would have thought it necessary, normally it only travels around locally and occasionally up to my mother in law in Norfolk.”
Having had a car taken I was rather glad ours had trackers fitted and I told him that. “It also saved my life when a deer shot out in front of me and I went through a hedge and rolled it down a hill. No one could see me from the road so the tracker was what told them where I was.”
“Was that in your Jag?”
“No, I had a Porsche for a while—well until that accident.”
“Oh, how did you manage with the children in a sports car?”
“It was the SUV thing, a Cayenne.”
“Hot stuff eh?”
“Quite—so what are they going to do about your car?”
He shrugged, “I have no idea, I presume someone must know where it is, so I’ll keep on to them to find it. If they can’t, I suppose it means they’ll owe us a sizeable chunk of money.”
“Looks like it; but how on earth do you lose a car which is being transported, there must be a paper trail or electronic one, somewhere.”
“That’s what I thought.”
“I mean, they would have to liaise with someone in Spain to bring it up and that could mean they waited until they had several other cars for the UK, but to take weeks without keeping you informed is very poor PR.”
“It’s over a month now.”
“Good grief, they could have pulled it up by donkey by now.”
“Exactly—excuse me,” he said as his phone peeped, “it’s my wife, I’d better go.”
Collecting a cup of tea I returned to my seat and mused upon the story I’d just been told. If you wrote that sort of thing as fiction it would have to be for a comedy show like ‘Last of the Summer Wine,’ with Foggie’s car being the one to go missing and Clegg and Compo setting out to track it down. I could just see Bill Owen in his woolly hat and wellies traipsing the streets of ‘Uddersfield seeking the missing car, trying to keep his mind on the matter in hand rather than Nora batty and her wrinkled lisle stockings.
When my mind returned to the present instead of rushing about in Yorkshire, I did wonder why he’d come and told me as I hardly knew him and certainly wouldn’t have remembered his name without his prompt. I could only think he felt some sort of camaraderie because we both own Jaguars, or I still do, his ownership may be in slight jeopardy from what he said.
Some people don’t like trackers in cars, I can only speak as I’ve found and in my case they saved my life and also helped me to locate Simon when he was kidnapped, so I’m very much in favour. If you want to do things which are antisocial or illegal, or are just to mean to pay the cost of one, you may feel differently. Oh well let’s see what torment Diane has for me this afternoon.
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