I didn’t sleep too well again, but this time it wasn’t excitement that kept me awake so much as concern over the car’s ability to make to to Leeds and back. I decided not to try to go back to sleep. Instead I left the house just before 7am and made it to the M1 in about 15 minutes. As the start loomed into view I gritted my teeth and told it I wasn’t going to let it beat me a second time.
I needn’t have worried. The 200 mile trip was an absolute dream without a single hold up and no over heating. I stopped once to check the tyre pressure and twice for a double espresso.
I got to Leeds in record time and would have reached Al’s not long after had my satnav not sent me round the same part of the Leeds Loop (I think it’s their inner city ring road) three times before I chose to ignore it for my own sanity. My sense of direction is notoriously bad and I usually shy away from trying to second guess my satnav, but even I could tell that something was up in this case.
Al’s house has incredibly picturesque views over something I suppose are called “dales” in that part of the world. When you live in London you forget that even at its quietest there’s always noise so it’s quite a surprise to leave town and hear … nothing.
Al turned out to be a truly lovely guy (you’d like him if you met him). He made me an Earl Grey and showed me the units. A three section sink unit and a run of three bottom units with a corner unit. They all need a fair amount of TLC and some bits will go to the nearest skip.
There is also a whole bunch of other parts that we couldn’t identify, including two odd looking large things that look like they belong in a hexagonal kitchen. In the end I didn’t have room for them in the car, so I left them for Al to throw out.
I set up shop in his driveway with my ad hoc set of tools. An electric screwdriver on the verge of losing power (I hadn’t thought to pick up the charger), a screwdriver with exchangeable bits (best £3.45 I ever spent in Woollies), a long flathead screwdriver whose head was bent about 5 degreesÂ off centre and a long philips screwdriver whose head had long since been stripped of any useful purpose. Al provided extra WD40, a drill with a blunt bit and an angle grinder.
He was right about one thing, the process did involve grazed knuckles, along with scratched forearms and a large cut on my left palm. He was wrong about his estimate of three hours though, it took more like six. The run of three units took about 1 1/2 hours, but the sink units proved to be a bitch and took the rest of the time. It would have been impossible without the help of his drill and angle grinder.
Along the way I chatted with Al and found out that he was the same age as me, had been involved in production and currently plays guitar in two bands, Chumba Wumba and Cud. Also he’s a vegetarian, like me. We concluded that there must be something about people who like English Rose.
He told me that he’d sourced two different lots of English Rose Kitchen units with every intention of installing them, but that they’d lost heart and given up. He also showed me a rusty old car and told me about two old British motor bikes that were further stalled restoration projects.
During the day I get a calls from Gary and Alexia (who has been singing with Rotten Hill Gang) to say that it looks like a song that we wrote and demoed for a Home Office TV ad is going to be used. The agency wants 50% of the publishing though, which is a liberty and a non starter, but I’ve seen agencies try it on before and it probably works with artists who don’t have a clue.
I managed to cram everything into the car while leaving enough room to see through the rear view mirror and, having agreed to stay in touch, set off home just before 7pm. If anything the journey home was even easier than the journey there. As I drove I mused to myself that it was vaguely appropriate that I’d picked up my first lot of English Rose from one of the rose counties.
I listened to Radio 4 and the rattling of aluminium in the back.
I have just one question for drivers who situate themselves about three yards behind me while I’m driving at the speed limit and there’s a vehicle in the lane to my left. Do you seriouslyÂ believe that by driving so close you’re going to make me speed up?
Oh and Loiners? That’s what people from Leeds are called. They just don’t seem to know it.