Since I drove to London and its gold-paved roads last December, my car has languished unused in the multi-storey car park around the corner.
This is a terrible waste of a great motor, so now is the time to get it polished up and sold.
After seven months in the slammer the Nissan has a finger-width coating of dust and an amazing collection of spider webs and cobwebs. Greyed-out windows.
More significantly the car alarm has completely drained the battery, so the beast sits inert and cannot move. Time to call out the ‘home start’ service.
Normally the mechanic guy arrives with a magic box, a small red briefcase with electric ju-ju inside. Wire this up to the battery and press a button, voila. This time however the local garage sends out a burly black geezer in a full flatbed truck. Exactly the kind that cannot drive inside multi-storey car parks.
Our only option then is to roll the dead car down to street level manually, and furthermore “try and do it in one go mate”. So I hop in and the dude pushes me toward the downramps. The momentum builds fast and with no power steering I haul the massive dodgem around the downward spiral, looping crazily and narrowly avoiding parked cars. The guy sprints ahead of me waving his arms comically and checking for other drivers.
Finally I emerge into sunshine and jump-start the motor using the truck. Sign papers and shake hands. First trial over.
I give the engine a few minutes to think things over, to get used to the idea of running normally. Then cautiously I drive off, and 200yds later promptly stall. Dead car again. Sprint back to the repair truck before he disappears. Another jump-start.
This time I sit with my foot pressing the gas pedal, carefully keeping the revs up. For twenty-five torturous minutes. This is maddening, a bit like being in a stress position – if you move your foot fractionally the revs drop alarmingly and the engine has a seizure. My ankle is sending weird pain signals, but I daren’t move it. The truck is long gone. Finally I can’t take it any more and decide to make a break for it. Foot down. Second trial over.
Then the real fun begins – driving through deepest central London, on unfamiliar roads, in stop/start lunchtime traffic, all the while trying to keep revs high. Utter nightmare. Keeping your right foot down means braking with the handbrake and praying for the engine to keep going. Repeating the Google Map directions in my head like a mantra. Not thinking about being appallingly late for work, shirt streaked with grime and dust and spider husks.
Finally with nerves and tendons at breaking point I get to the right place and park up. Thankfully I chose a good SE1 garage and the bloke is incredibly professional; an oasis of sanity. Relax. Third trial over.