I find simple day-to-day things quite difficult, so having a car with a slow puncture was always going to be a challenge. But with prodding from my wife, I managed to book into Tyre City. 9.30 in the morning wasn’t ideal, but I made it there (though properly dressed and without my phone). 

Forty-five minutes later I got back to the garage to find an exasperated mechanic who hadn’t been able to locate the wheel lock key – and nor could I. As Leonard Cohen said: “There’s a crack in everything.” Shit.

The day wasn’t finally over till I got back home at about 5pm. So how was that? Everything seems to happen by chance in this town – to me at least. First stop (after picking up my phone) was a local garage, Limitless Welding in Harold Mews, to see about getting the wheel off. Jo gave me a tip-off for a guy up on the Ridge “who could fix anything”, (the Ridge!!). I rang first, getting a warm welcome from the receptionist and “Yes, we can” after consultation.

On the way, Google maps wanted to send me on a bicycle route. I pulled over on the pavement to deal with it – in the middle of town – but soon had the police banging on the window and giving me a ticking off, something about a pedestrian crossing. 

Where it started

Of course, when I arrived at Baker Motor Sport, Chris “the guy on the Ridge” was busy with other things … but “could I wait?” I was in the middle of an industrial estate! Then I remembered Summerfield’s Gymnastic Club where I’d taken my granddaughter to Tumble Gym – they had a refreshment area. I blagged my way in, had a coffee and did some useful things on the phone.

Bored after an hour, I went to see how Chris was getting on, popping in to Scan Tech printers on the way, attracted by their funky car wrap arounds – and, oh joy, picked up some advertising for the paper. At the garage, Chris was nearly ready to get going. Reassured, but with an hour to go, I went back to Summerfields to discover that the cafe was open to the public after all; and the guy cleaning tables I’d been talking was Lee Ballancore, the owner of the gym. 

I learned that Summerfield’s Gym has an interesting back story (coaching high achieving gymnasts – even an Olympian) and an interesting current story (surviving Covid and becoming a community hub) – something to write about for the next issue of HIP. I was beginning to get the next bit of Leonard Cohen: the cracks in everything also let the light in. 

Then, after a lovely chat with Val the receptionist (Chris’s mum), the car was ready to go. Now late afternoon I was keen to get home and put my feet up – but decided to take a detour via the Horse & Groom for a quick pint, ending up chatting with Stiv. Finally, feeling exhausted, I arrived home and unloaded my pockets; out came one wallet, and then … a second one, Stiv’s. Putting feet up went on hold while I rushed off to find him. 

Sue, the barmaid, didn’t know anything about a missing wallet. I knew Stiv lived in Norman Road, but where exactly? With the help of Steph from Stella Dore, I tracked him down, blissfully unaware that he had been robbed. Finally I got home and lay down on the sofa.

There I contemplated Leonard Cohen again: not really a wasted day, as so many nice things had happened. Even when chasing after Stiv, I’d bumped into community legend Anne Tucker, someone I hadn’t seen for ages and who also had another story for the paper (next issue), followed by musician Mike Willis, also with a story. And of course I also had the story of the day to tell. 

So thank you Leonard for helping me see the good in the bad and saving my sanity (Anthem by Leonard Cohen)

We hope you have enjoyed reading this article. The future of our volunteer led, non-profit publication would be far more secure with the aid of a small donation. You can also support local journalism by becoming a friend of HIP. It only takes a minute and we would be very grateful.