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)


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