I was camping with Mum and Dad, my older sister was there but not my younger brother. Made sense my parents looked very young. We had loaded up the car to go on Holliday, then in an instant we were there. We were trying to pitch the tent but however hard we tried we couldn't. We couldn't put the tent up, try after try!
KNOCK KNOCK, I was startled out of my dream by the rude awakening my Mum always said I would get one day.
"Ah brilliant, your not the AA?"
"No we're all on emergency call mucking in, there has been a terrible pile up on the A30, you're lucky I was passing on the way to the scene otherwise you might have been stuck till morning."
"Well thanks, it's stupid really I just can't get the last wheel nut off to put the spare on."
"The trouble is they put them on with these windy guns, they don't think of how anyone's going to get them off!" He said.
I liked him I thought, as he walked back to his lorry and returned with - his Big bar wheel nut taker off a.
"This should do it." He said - YAAAAHHH, nothing, the 4th wheel nut remained steadfast. I secretly felt vindicated, I would be able to tell Tara that even the breakdown man couldn't take off the 4th one, with his Big bar wheel nut taker off a!
"It's on tight isn't it!" He said.
Yes I replied, realising the missed sarcastic remark opportunity, but he didn't hear me anyway; he had already returned to his lorry to get his Bigger bar wheel nut taker off a.
He returned with his bigger one, but also with what looked like a length of scaffold pole.
"Never underestimate your enemy, I haven't got time for this." he mumbled under his breath as he put his bigger one onto the wheel nut, and then the scaffold looking like pole over that, very lever like I thought.
"What I want you to do is put your foot on the big one where it makes contact with the wheel nut, so it doesn't come off, do you understand?"
I nodded and got into position, I was ready.
The break down man got as high up the scaffold looking like pole as he could reach, and I put my foot where he had said, exactly where he said.
He started with his downward force, gently at first, then more... Nothing.
"This bastard is on tight isn't it!" He said.
Yes I replied, but he didn't hear me because his gentle at first approach had been notched up a bit, a lot, well to over 11.
The break down man was swinging on his bar that extended his big bar like a monkey for around 15 seconds until finally.
The break down man managed to land on his feet with dignity, and began to return his bars in silence to their allocated places on his lorry. Hearing the urgency of the messages coming over his radio, and sensing his embarrassment related to his bars I suggested that I'd be able to manage it from here. Besides, I couldn't imagine the horror's that awaited him at the scene of the accident on the A30. He set off with a pip of his hooter & a wave of his arm from the lorry window.
I gathered my thoughts, Tara, hotel, shower, then finally the job in hand. I jacked up the car, removed the punctured tyre and offered up the spare in it's place. Just a little higher I thought twisting the jack and there.
All this time referring to the wheel fasteners as wheel nuts was not technically correct, they were studs, and studs were slightly harder to replace because you didn't have the benefit of the poke out things to balance the wheels on as you secured the nuts.
The studs were all together in the plastic Citroen wheel trim for safety, so I leaned the spare into position. The spare wheel was almost in perfect situ, then, then, standing I tripped on the jack, stumbled heavily, then, hopping instinctively completely off balance to try and remain upright resulted in my left foot landing with all my weight onto to the edge of the fore mentioned Citroen wheel trim.
Underneath the wheel trim to act as a circus see saw fulcrum was the bent French wheel brace. Of course it was. I landed banging my head on the back of the car just in time for front row seats to watch the wheel trim tidily wink the wheel studs over 6 feet into the pitch dark dense shrubbery at the side of the lay-by.
"Is this for fuckin real!"
I searched for nearly an hour with a torch that intimitently cut out just to properly take the piss. I couldn't believe it, Tara,
Tara would be waiting, warm and comfy. What would she think, she'd be asleep, no she'd be waiting.
Could I call the AA again? But what about the big accident!
For one of the first times in my life the pressure of life forced me to the ground. I sat crossed legged on the lay-by with my head in my hands for around ten minutes, in despair, genuinely not knowing what to do.
"Lost your wheel nuts have you?"
I took my hands from my head, did I just hear a voice or am I finally going insane!
"Lost your wheel nuts have you?"
I jumped to my feet.
"Over here, look up, I'm in the window."
High up in the grand castle like looking building that I had admired earlier on in this shit evening, was a light at a window. In the window was a man, talking to me about my wheel nuts.
"Hello, yes, I've lost my wheel nuts, I'm in trouble, have you got a phone in your room?"
"I shouldn't be in here." said the man at the window.
"Right, well, I can help you with a lift if I could use your phone?"
"I shouldn't be in here, would you help me?"
"Of course, but I'm in a jam here myself, my girlfriend is waiting for me at the hotel in the village and I'm stuck!"
"Right, lost your wheel nuts haven't you, listen. Take one wheel nut off the three remaining wheels, put those three on the fourth wheel, the spare I presume and that will get you to safety."
I was silent in thought for over a minute. That's fuckin brilliant.
"That's a brilliant idea!" I shouted at the face in the light at the window.
"Make sure you replace the missing wheel nuts as soon as possible though. Ideally they need to be put on with a torque wrench by a professional mechanic. And then will you come back and help me? I shouldn't be in here."
"Of course what's your name, have you got a contact number?"
"My name is Watt, just Watt, Dr Watt."
It was another hour before the Citroen was wearing four wheels with three 'wheel studs' holding them on. Loaded and ready to go I looked up to the window to say goodbye but the light was out. It was impossible to see the window without the light so I shouted.
"Bye Watt, I'm off, I'll see you tomorrow and see if we can get you back to where you should be?"
No reply. I shouted another goodbye which was met with the same dissapointing silence, then set off to the hotel, Tara, tea, shower, and a tale to tell.
Tara was looking at me when I woke up. Apparently I actually said "Where am I."
Slowly over a hotel packet instant coffee and fiddly inch eye private eye size need six milks. I began to remember the previous feckin night alright!
And then it hit me!
"Tara I've got to go back to give the bloke in the window a lift, the three wheel nut bloke."
"Your not making much sense, someone helped you, that was the AA wasn't it?
"No this was after the AA, after the AA man went, I lost my wheel nuts and the bloke in the window told me what to do. He said he needed a lift, he'd gone to the wrong place!"
"What was his name?"
"Tara your a genius, Watt was his name!"
"Well I don't know? Paulie can we go please. Soon!"
I carried Tara's luggage downstairs to reception just ahead of her. The bell was too tempting so I did...
"Hello, my name is Martin." he said pointing to his Martin badge like this.. ( just imagine! sake..)
"Checking out, just one night, Tara have you got the key?"
Tara passed me the room key which I placed on the desk.
"Could you possibly get me the phone number of the large mansion castle looking like house that's around seven miles away?"
"That will be £47.50 please, cash or card?
"Card thanks, you didn't answer me about the phone number for the large.."
"Could you put your PIN in Mr Hallam thank you."
"No, and if you continue to ignore my request you better get me the manager to talk to!"
Just as I had finished talking an older man and woman appeared introducing themselves as the managers.
I wasn't convinced, If your the managers, then where are your badges?
They took a step towards me before saying in unison:
"Badges! Badges! We don't need no stinking badges! Mr Hallam you're asking for something we can't give you. The institution that you're asking about has been closed for over ten years."
"That can't be true, I spoke to someone in the open lit window of that building last night, he helped me considerably! What are you saying I imagined him?"
The two managers looked at each knowingly.
"And what did this so called man help you with Mr Hallam?"
"If you must know he offered advice, very good practical advice because I had lost my wheel nuts!"
"Ah, now we're getting to the bottom of it, you went a little crazy? Can you tell us about the person that you spoke to, what was his name for starters?"
"Watt was his name, I didn't go crazy! Watt was the name he gave me when I asked?
"And what was it?" asked the badge less managers.
"Watt! Watt was his name!"
This went on and on for.. two hours say.
In conclusion we never got to the campsite, me and Tara became really close friends but decided the romantic spark in our relationship had died.
I had returned to my car in the hotel car park and all four wheel nuts were on all four wheels. There was no record of any AA assistance and no record of an accident on the A30.
I drove past the grand castle like looking building on the way home and it was true, it was derelict, boarded up.
To cap it all off when I got my credit card bill there was no record of the hotel payment what so ever!
I called Tara and explained:
"Wish I'd hit the mini bar big style now!" she said. "And had a cooked breakfast, speak soon Ciao Paule x."