Tag Archives: Ken Clarke

Uncle Ken’s Motor

The hero of our story, Chris, was surprised and delighted when he inherited a lovely old Rolls Royce from his jovial Uncle Ken. Not as surprised as other members of the family who felt that Chris was entirely unsuitable to be trusted with such a treasured heirloom but Chris rose above their sniping. So what if he could not drive a car? He could still enjoy it.

In his younger days Ken had been more of a Jag man. But in his dotage he had acquired the Roller and became accustomed to its beauty. The Rolls Royce was truly a one off. Hand crafted by artists with years of experience underlying their skill, this was an automobile that was not only the envy of the street but the whole town. Uncle Ken’s Roller was a byword for quality. On the prow of the bonnet the traditional, elegant silver lady struck her familiar pose with the addition of a set of scales in one hand and a sword in the other. Debate seemed to rage over whether she was blindfolded or not.

So Chris proudly polished his new treasure. But one thing was immediately apparent. It was a costly thing to run. The one condition of the bequest of the car to Chris was that he had to fight tooth and nail to ensure that there were adequate resources available for the car to continue gliding along. Frankly if he could not find the means to maintain the old lady he was to stand aside and allow someone else to take up the challenge.

Chris had a friend called Tom. Chris and Tom got their heads together to discuss how to continue to afford to run this magnificent car. Tom was thinking aloud when he said, “travelling as the crow flies is always a much shorter distance from point A to point B so it would be cheaper if we could always go in a straight line.”

“That’s brilliant,” said Chris, “if I remove the steering wheel then the Roller can only go in a straight line. It will save me a fortune. I’ll call it Prohibited Cornering Technology. It will reform automotive engineering”

So Tom and Chris took the car to a whole bunch of mechanics and told them his idea. Everyone of them instantly told him it was ridiculous. One even pointed out that someone else had previously come up with a similar idea but they had thought about it for about three seconds and had given up.

Tom and Chris were not to be deterred. Finally they found a backstreet garage called Civil Servicing. This was a bunch of really good mechanics. Their’s was not to reason why. Their’s was to do the customer’s bidding. So Chris drove the Rolls in and declared “Pimp my ride!”

A few days later Chris returned to the garage. There sat his Rolls Royce with the steering wheel and column removed. He thanked the mechanics for their hard work. He started the car and looked to his left where the roller shutters to the workshop stood open.

“How do I get my car out?” Chris asked.

Everyone shook their heads. It was impossible, he was told. For the car to do everything it was meant to the driver had to have some means of choosing and changing direction. Prohibited Cornering Technology was as much of a failure as everyone else had warned. Chris rather sheepishly had to tell the Civil Servicing people to put everything back just the way it was. He cursed his luck, it had cost him a small fortune to try it out. All he was trying to do was save money.

Meanwhile some of the bigger petrol stations got together. They had heard of Chris’s plight. They offered to help him find a way of saving money. Chris was very excited about this. He liked it when people offered to do what he wanted. Other members of his family offered to help out. They offered ways that they could help to make the car affordable for them all to run but this was not the sort of help he wanted. Did people not listen? He wanted help to make the Rolls different.

Chris had a another friend called Dominic. One day Dominic and Chris were chatting about the car. It certainly used more petrol the more people it had onboard. The heavier the load, the greater the fuel consumption. This was a problem that needed fixing. Dominic had a brainwave. If the car had less seats it could take less people. Therefore a car with less seats was always going to be cheaper.

The problem came when they tried to take the rear seats out. You see the wonderfully comfortable and safe rear seats were well made and firmly attached to the chassis. Dominic had another brainwave. If they damaged the seats beyond repair then nobody would want to sit on them and they would always have less passengers. So out came the knife. After a thousand cuts the beautiful, vintage, quality upholstery was no more.

Admittedly the car was no cheaper to run on a daily basis. It still had all its other ancillary costs. But it’s capacity to cater for all circumstances had been reduced. And that had to be a good thing? Right? The comfort and splendour of the car was certainly diminished but at least we had got rid of some of those passengers. The only problem came when Chris really needed to give more than one person a lift. It would have been quite handy if he at least had extra seats available. Once or twice Chris even had to fork out extra for a taxi when he had no other choice. At least that was money that came from the taxi budget. And everyone knows Chris had spent a fortune on such expenses in the past.

A few repairs were needed to the engine. Chris had to take the car to a local garage. The people at Civil Servicing told him that this was a specialist repair. He had to take it to a place down the Silk Road called Vehicles, Headgaskets, Clutches and Carburettors. VHCC told him it was not going to be an easy fix. They agreed with him their hours in advance and did so at a very reasonable rate. When the job was done Chris turned up and paid them 30% less.

It has to be said the lads in the garage were less than impressed by this. Chris was a little upset at their reaction. It could be said he was disappointed. And pledged to make sure that he did something about it as he was chased down the road by mechanics wielding huge wrenches.

His revenge was to immediately head off to the local press. And so the next week the Ewell Argus ran a story about the extortionate costs of that repair. Admittedly the costs that he told them about equated to the costs of twenty such repairs. But never should the truth get in the way of a good PR swipe. The letter pointing out the inaccuracies was subsequently printed on page 38.

The little advantage obtained by skimming some money from the VHCC bill really made little difference. Fortunately for him the Big Petrol Station Group had come up with a plan. Instead of putting petrol in the car, he could run it on chip fat. By sheer coincidence the Big Petrol Station Group had just started to be exclusive suppliers of chip fat. And they could do it more cheaply than anyone else sold petrol.

Chris gleefully filled up with chip fat. Gallons of the stuff glugged in to the tank. Oh the glorious savings that he made. Sadly the Rolls Royce never started again. So this great, majestic old lady sat dormant on Chris’s drive. The steering was butchered, her engine was drowned in low grade fuel and the interior was left in tatters.

Still, Chris was now the very proud owner of the poshest chicken coop in town.

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