It all had to start somewhere, regrettably.
For me, the starting point was a scrapyard in the disturbingly horrific area of Manchester that is Miles Platting.
Wanting to impress friends, family and anyone who’d listen, I got myself a Saturday job at a scrapyard belonging to my Dad’s mate. For my services I was rewarded with £20 at the end of each day, which to a fourteen year-old in the mid-ninties was something akin to a lottery win.
I had dreams of arriving and being the master of all that was in the yard, assisting eager customers in their pursuit of used parts and other automotive paraphernalia. In reality, however, my first day consisted of the guard dog barfing on my shoes, surly customers and a particularly unpleasant moment when the bloke in the tyre bay asked me to check if he had a hole in his jeans, only for him to fart on my head at close proximity. It wasn’t what I had planned.
A Dolomite. Possibly functional.
Anyway, head-applied methane aside, I’d lost all motivation and drive. This working malarkey hardly seemed to be worth the fuss. Until that is, I saw a vision of automotive beauty hiding in the corner. It had wheels, it was brown and it didn’t have another car on top of it, unlike every other car in my sight. I had to have it.
After the exchange of £40 (God bless the ’90s) and after being laughed at further by the flatulent tyre-fitter, I was the owner of a brown Triumph Dolomite. It had leather seats, it had a functioning engine and it was mine, all fourteen-years-old-of-me! It had to stay at the yard, obviously, though the thought of being a ‘star’ on Police, STOP! did appeal.
Not mine, though this tactic would have saved both time and effort.
As I walked into school the following Monday, feeling like Sir Billy Big Bollocks himself, I announced to a number of my peers that I had bought a car over the course of the weekend. What I immediately learned is that 14 year-old boys are harder to impress than I thought. My first car, my rusty pride and joy, was renamed the ‘Doloshite’ within minutes. To use modern slang, I did a sad.
How I like to think of my first car.
The following weekend was the last time I would be with my beloved Triumph. Though I didn’t know it yet.
I arrived at the scrapyard, did all my work and then, with a couple of hours to spare, I set about tinkering with BL’s finest. Choosing to ignore the fact that I was fourteen, and as such, had NO GODLY IDEA what I was doing, I cracked on.
Many things were touched, twisted, idly ‘cleaned’ or readjusted solely because they could be. Then it happened… I decided it would be a good time to drive my car. The fact I had no idea how to drive was beside the point, I just wanted some kudos when I next went into school.
What I actually did, was drive it into a wall.
A somewhat over-dramatic representation of my ‘incident’.
I ran out of talent, as they say. Primarily because I didn’t have a thimbleful to begin with. I rounded a bend – engine screaming, as I didn’t yet know what a clutch was for – found the accelerator instead of the brake and promptly introduced aforementioned wall to the front of my car. It was terrifying. It was even more terrifying because there was a Policemanofficer who involuntarily oversaw my one-man stunt show, and he wasn’t best pleased.
Luckily I’d had my crash within the confines of the yard and not the A62. I sense my life would have taken a different turn had the latter been the case. He still gave me a stern talking to, though. But I guess he saw in his heart of hearts, and in my watery, uncontrollably sobbing eyes, that I’d perhaps learned my lesson. Or maybe he sensed I was a lost cause, who knows? Either way, I managed to walk away from that particular day’s horror without facing a bench of magistrates. Which was nice.
You’d think that’d dampen my enthusiasm somewhat, but it didn’t. There were three more cars yet to be owned in my fourteenth year of existence, but you’ll have to wait to find out what the next beauty would be.
Clue? It was also £40…