By Mandy Gray
The back door opened and Colin peered into the kitchen. "I've got it," he said, with excitement. "Come and help."
So we were the proud owners of a Morris Minor, Moggy for short. I kicked off my slippers and put on my shoes.
'Why would he need help to get the car onto the drive?' I wondered. 'Surely he would just drive it up.'
I followed him outside looking eagerly down the drive, but there was no sign of the forty-year-old relic.
"Well, where is it then?" I asked.
"Its erm... it's just up the street with Darren, we've just towed it here."
I looked to where our friend Darren was standing and behind him was the car. Darren was grinning from ear to ear; it must have been infectious because I couldn't stop myself from grinning too.
"Don't laugh," Colin said quite seriously. "It just needs a bit of work and it will be as good as new."
"I'm not laughing at the car." I lied, giggling behind my hand. "It is a bit of a dinosaur though isn't it?"
I couldn't help thinking of my friends reactions to the news that we were getting a Morris Minor.
"What's a Morris Minor?" One had asked. "Is it one of those cars with only three wheels?"
"Wait until its road worthy." I said, with enthusiasm. "You'll all be falling over yourselves for a ride in it then."
They looked shocked and sniggered. "Don't hold your breath."
I told them they had no sense of adventure, to which they replied I could keep my adventure and they would catch the bus.
Darren brought me back to the present with a nudge. "Well jump in then, Mandy." Darren was enjoying this, I could tell. I looked through the driver's side window at the torn seats and the rubbish covering the floor. I shook my head and shivered.
"I'm not getting in there," I said, backing away, "there could be anything crawling about under all that rubbish. You jump in and I'll push it."
I'm usually a brave person, but when it comes to anything that creeps, crawls or slithers and is about ankle high then I turn into a jibbering wreck
"Don't be daft," Colin said, losing patience, "there's nothing in there. Just get in so we can get it up the drive, the neighbours are starting to show an interest."
I still wasn't so sure, but I climbed in anyway and sat in what was left of the driver's seat. It had sunk so low I had trouble seeing over the dashboard. I looked around and kicked at a couple of pop bottles that lay on the floor and cringed.
Thirty minutes later Colin and I stood looking at the pitiful sight of the car. Colin shook his head while inhaling deeply and exhaling slowly, while I on the other hand had a change of heart. The car wasn't so bad after all; it was a four door and dove grey. Not the colour I had in mind. I wanted a red one, I'd always dreamed of owning a shiny red classic car, maybe I could talk Colin into having it resprayed. All in all, Little Mo (I'd named it there and then) had potential. I also decided that once the car was finished it was going to be mine.
Surprised at my offer to help, Colin gave me the job of clearing out all the rubbish, which I accepted with good grace and disappeared into the house to change. I returned later wearing my oldest clothes, my trousers tucked unfashionably into my socks, and pulled on a pair of gloves.
Colin looked at me and tutted. "You don't need gloves on its not even cold."
"Oh, but I do," I said, "and not for the cold, they're for whatever is crawling about in there. Besides there are sure to be spiders as big as my fist so I'm not taking any chances, the gloves stay on."
Colin shook his head; I think he knew that all my good intentions to help would be gone with the first sighting of a spider or worse, a mouse. Well, the car had been stood for a few years in someone else's garage, so it was a possibility that something might be living in there.
By the end of the first two weeks Colin had removed the interior and had started to store things like seats, a wheel arch and even the engine in my greenhouse. The car now looked look a lot worse than it did when we got it. I started to lose interest in it up as the weather changed and it was freezing being outside holding this and passing that, it was November after all. Colin was a trooper. Come rain or shine, he'd be out there tinkering with this and painting that. Did I feel guilty about leaving him to it all? Yes I suppose I did, but only a little because what do I know about renovating a car, not a great deal that's for sure. So I made him endless cups of coffee to make up for my desertion.
We'd had the car about a month and it wasn't looking any better. Colin had taken out the engine, cleaned it up, greased it and it looked quite impressive, all shiny and new. The trouble was did it work and to find that out it had to be planted back into the car and as if by magic there was Darren to lend a hand. Thank God for that, I really don't think I could have budged it if it was left to Colin and me, even if he did hire a crane to lift it in.
The day finally came when we tried out the engine. I was upstairs when I heard the car cough and splutter and Colin say, "GO ON! GO ON!" The next thing I heard was little Mo roaring to life. I looked out of the bedroom window to see Colin drive it up the drive and reverse it back down again and he repeated this a couple of times. I was a little confused as to what Colin could be sitting on to perform this wonderful thing, bearing in mind that the seats were in my greenhouse. Curiosity got the better of me and I went down stairs to have a look.
Colin was beside himself. "Well? What do you think? She runs okay doesn't she?"
So the car was a she now. Typical man. "Yes, so now it won't be long before it's done then?" I asked hopefully.
"Ooh no," he said, shaking his head, "there's still loads to do." He climbed out of the car and a yellow bucket fell out after him. So that's what he was sitting on. "In fact I was thinking," he went on. "I wouldn't mind having a look round for another Morris Minor, just a scrapper to strip down for spare parts. It would save us pounds on parts. What do you think?"
"I'm not sure about that, where would we put another one?" I asked, hoping he wasn't serious.
"I could keep it at work and strip it down there."
"Okay, but it's not coming here. I'm not having another Morris Minor on my patio." I was really adamant about it.
Two weeks later he found one, a dark blue two door a bit newer than ours. It had been advertised in the local ad paper for 150. Colin went to look at it but it was a bit of a wreck. He looked round it and found that it had some potential parts on it , some of which were new and the interior was better then the interior in ours. So after a lot of umming and arring they agreed on a price of 60. Now all he had to do was get it down to work as it wasn't exactly roadworthy. He asked around for someone to help him tow it, but no one was available, not even Darren, which to me was a little too convenient. Maybe they had all seen the car.
Then it came as I knew it would, he asked me to tow it. I have never towed anything in my life and didn't relish the prospect, in fact I was terrified. It had been snowing earlier in the week and the back roads were still slightly slippy, but after a lot of persuading I finally agreed.
Luckily it was only a couple of miles away and we jumped into my 4x4 and set off. Oh and I forgot to say the car was going on my patio. Okay I'm weak and I give in easily, but seeing as I was towing the thing, I had hastily changed my mind.
We pulled up outside the house and I could see the car on the garden, I couldn't believe my eyes it was indeed a scrapper. Two sides of the roof were bent as though it had been lifted at some point with a crane. I followed Colin out of the car to get a closer inspection. It had a back wing missing and the front seats were loose I continued looking
round it and nearly choked when I spotted the registration plate. It started with OGR I tried not to laugh as I didn't want to offend the man who was selling this relic. When he went back inside the house Colin asked.
"What's so funny?"
"That." I said, pointing to the reg plate.
"So what of it?" He asked, looking slightly puzzled.
I looked at the car and back at the reg. "Well it is a bit of an OGRE don't you think?"
Then the car was coupled onto mine and we set off and considering I had never towed before I was convinced that I was a natural at it.
"Keep to a steady 10 to 15 mph and you will be fine." Colin had said.
I must say I have never been so embarrassed in my life. Driving 10 mph passing people standing at bus stops and people walking there dogs, who I might add, stopped mid stride and stood slacked jawed watching us pass. I couldn't wait to get home, so much so I kept forgetting myself and pressed harder on the accelerator. My car's engine rose to an uncomfortable loud whining 20 mph and every time I glanced in the rear view mirror Colin was frantically waving his hand up and down wanting me to slow down.
So that was that. Two Morris Minors sitting on my patio, which was now resembling a scrap yard, and my greenhouse, well put it this way; there will be no tomatoes this year, that's for sure.
A month later the Ogre had been cannibalised by little Mo until an empty shell remained. Mo on the other hand was looking good, but the Ogre was still sitting on my patio. Then one Sunday Colin decided it was time to remove it, I at that time didn't know how that would happen.
"I will have to cut it up," he said. "Then I can lift it onto the van and get rid of it that way."
So that was that. Colin looked like he had stepped out of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre with cutting tool in hand he set about the task. He removed the roof first and as I looked at it, I thought it looked quite good as a convertible. I looked from that to little Mo my mind ticking over. Colin noticed and realized what I was thinking.
"No," he said, "we are not turning it into a convertible. Too much work and money, we will leave it as it is."
Next he cut it into two halves sparks flying every which way and it sat there looking a pitiful sight.
"Right," he said, "let's get it round the front of the house so we can get it on the van."
"What me lift that?" I asked, shocked.
"Well I can't lift it alone, can I? Just see if you can lift it."
I positioned myself like I had seen the weightlifters do on the television and lifted my end of the car.
"Oohh." I groaned.
"Are you alright?" Colin asked, with concern.
"Yes fine," I lied, the strain obvious in my voice. "Let's just get it round the front."
If I could have stepped out of myself and watched as I struggled down the drive, I'm sure I would have been in stitches. I must have looked a sight because by the time we had got round the front I was nearly on my knees, not to mention my back was nearly out. The thought of having my patio back encouraged me and so I soldiered on. Sighing with relief we dropped the car part onto the front garden. I attempted to straighten my back wincing at the ache and realized we had got to do it all over again with the other half. After a lot of struggling the car was finally strapped onto the van and was on its way to a destination I never thought to ask about.
Now only Mo presides on my patio and I can live with that because it is nearly finished and I will soon be behind the wheel. I can't wait to drive it. Maybe then I'll have another tale to tell. I wonder if my friends will still want to catch the bus when they see Little Mo in her finished glory. Hopefully not.
THE END (for now)
By Mandy Gray