Important word of caution, whilst I am usually a good natured, happy go lucky kinda guy with an infinite amount of patience and startlingly good cheekbones, any sniff of abuse or unwarranted* unkindness towards her and I will, most definately, reach down the perpetrator's epiglottis and show them things that would normally only be available via x-ray.
Right, onto the job in hand.
We've all heard stories about people who've found wonderful things in the most unlikely of places. Antiques Roadshow is full of people who have found original Picasso sketches in their Aunt Mabel's loft or there are those despicable people who find an original, fully working, 1920's Brough Superior in a neighbour's garage which they buy for a fiver as 'It was our Derek's and he never used it, even when he was still alive'.
So, imagine my excitement, when everyone's favourite Chilli cook and professional Scotsman, my good friend SMick, arrived at my front door with news of a 'vehicle' that he'd found out about, just lying in the mud in a farmer's field just around the corner. It was, quite literally, just around the corner, as in those days you could spit the distance from my house to the wonderful British countryside - You had to check no-one was in the way of course, things like that didn't go down well with the residents' association, but a well-hawked loogey would land on grass, or in a tree, or on a sheep.
So, dutifully, I clamboured into his Peugeot and drove the 100 yards to the farm. I walked around to the outbuildings, through knee deep mud, in my white Status Quo style white hi-tops (It was around this time that I changed my footwear of choice to second-hand army boots) and said to SMick.
'OK, where is it?'
'There,' pointed SMick, proudly
'Where, is it behind that scabby P.O.S. Mk1 Transit Luton?'
The slow grin that swept across SMick's face told me all I really needed to know.
'You've got to be.. erm... flipping joking, I'll be in the car...' I said, and started to squidge away as fast as I could.
He convinced me that it would be a good idea, a nice little project, something to do during the day when the pubs were shut. And if we couldn't get it going, then the box on the back was aluminium (Not Al-OO-min-um) and we could weigh it in and get some money out of it.
I honestly cannot remember how we got it out of the field, I think I blocked it from my memory the same way that victims of alien abduction do, I'm fairly sure it involved lots of sheets of wood, many, many bottles of Newcastle Brown Ale and an almost Olympic quantity of swearing.
Eventually, it found itself on my drive. It didn't actually look all that bad with a large proportion of the mud washed off. It also turned out to have a V6 engine which was a bonus, which on it's own started a selection of trike/go-kart fantasies. After the battery was left on charge for about six weeks, the engine would succesfully turn over but not 'catch', dutifully we did what any men confronted with a failing engine would do, we stood staring at the engine and scratched our heads.
'I think the carb needs priming,' SMick suggested, sagely.
'Right you are, how do we do that?' I replied - I wasn't then the mechanical whiz that I'm still not now.
'Well, we just take the air filter off, put something flammable down the carbs and see if it will start then.'
'Flammable?' I asked, nervously, not quite liking where this was going, 'Like what?'
'Like petrol, or actually petrol?'
'Actually petrol, we've got petrol, and it's what you'd expect to find in the carb anyway, should be fine.'
I bowed to his greater knowledge and we poured, what turned out to be significantly too much, petrol into the top of the carburetor and turned the engine over.
Now, I've never seen a real giant lightsaber, but I can imagine it looking something like what came out of the top of the carb - a nine foot high column of flame and noise which existed just long enough to drive my eardrums into my rectum and blow my eyebrows over to the other side of the road - It's a good job, in hindsight that we'd taken the bonnet off else it would have bounced off it and cut a neat porthole in the garage door.
'I think we might scrap it,' Said Smick, batting at his still smouldering sweatshirt.
'What?' I shoulted as I was still mostly deaf and over the other side of the road looking for my left eyebrow.
Over the next few weeks we set about stripping down the van to its component parts. Many interesting and fun times were had during the project.
Do you remember when I talked about our friend 'Gullible' Steve? The gentleman who ate of the baby-carrot and rottweiler chilli? Well, a couple of incidents involved him:
1) He was stumbling about in the back of the van, seeing if there was anything of any worth amongst the rotting hay and mud. When there was a cry, a protracted coughing fit, a torrent of expletives directed at myself, SMick, life in general and birds in particular. I turned to SMick, who was sat next to me in a deck-chair and said,
'Didn't think to tell him about the nest full of rotten blackbird eggs we found yesterday then?'
'Nope,' replied SMick, taking another gulp of his beer. 'But I did put it right near the side door so we wouldnea forget to throw it in the bin.'
2) The roof of the Luton box was made of fibreglass, which is not as weigh-innable as aluminium sheet, so we asked Steve to have a go at taking it off. We assumed (Which taught me that you should never assume) that he would get a ladder, and maybe a saw and cut the roof off. But no, he clamboured up onto the roof with an axe and a hammer.
'Is that a good idea?' I asked SMick, knowing full well that it wasn't
'Idea? No... Opportunity to laugh? Yes.' He replied, reaching down into the crate for another beer.
It took him a good fifteen minutes to fall the eight feet or so into the back of the van as he smashed the roof our from under himself. Thinking about it now, we really should have thrown that blackbird nest in the bin.
I didn't remain completely unscathed through the project, I had countless fibreglass splinters pulled out of my arms with pliers, cuts, bruises and boo-boos of various kinds.
And I understand that SMick still bears the scar of his particular mishap. We had got to the stage of trying to flatten the aluminium enough to get it in the back of the car and take it to the scrapyard and SMick was belting away with a lump hammer at a piece of metal that he was stood on.
Well, he missed... And hit his shin... He went completely silent, looked at the group of grubby schoolchildren that were hanging around watching us, looked at me, said, very quietly,
And went inside the house.
The flow of profanity lasted a good half an hour and featured words that I didn't think could be used in that particular context. It left seven local dogs paralysed down one side and a further three pregnant. He'll show you the scar now if you ask him nicely, it's quite impressive.
I'll never forget that summer - And neither will the person whose drive we dumped the burning remains of the van on.
Anywho, I've been informed that my Daughter has mentioned about the time I shot myself, maybe I'll tell you about that on Monday. Have a good weekend, and if you see me around, feel free to buy me a pint - I think I deserve it, I've had a hard life!
*There are times when my Daughter's Blog will warrant abuse, feel free to fill your boots in situations such as these.