Orrite, me Babberrs! Chrristopherr Belgian ‘ere, a.k.a the Belge-meisterr, superr-salesman extrraordinairre, prroperr Brristolian, rroad warriorr, an’ now… (followin’ my rrecent trriumph in a hotly contested contest) Bankstone News’ new motorrin’ corrrespondent.

Not quite surre ‘ow I got the job, trruth ta tell. Chaps in the office said Bankstone must ‘ave been lookin’ ferr a safe pairr of ‘ands. Well, I’ve got some hands, alrright. But as ferr safe? You don’t get where I’ve got in sales by playing it safe! I’m more of a rrenegade, me. A frree spirrit, if you will.

But anyways, ‘ere I am outside the office on Whiteladies Road watchin’ Bankstone bloke Dixon Tyson pullin’ up in the firrst carr ferr me take out rroad testin’. Tiz a Chrysler Ypsilon Twin Airr somethin’ or otherr, ‘ee tells me, proper pleased with hisself, like. Tiz a shiny rred colourr, with a black interriorr, mind. Leatherr seats, ‘ee purrrs prroudly, easy ta wipe down.

Now, I rreally don’t wanna be thinkin’ ’bout whateverr Tyson’s been wipin’ off of them seats, but I can see strraight off someone’s been munchin’ savourry snacks in thurr, an’ not cleaned up. Plus thurr’s a ‘stale ale’ sorrt of smell. All rratherr scummy, quite frrankly. I ‘ave enough trrouble with the kiddies at ohm, mind, without this sorrt a thing to cope with. I ‘old back from sayin’ anythin’, though. Good mannerrs matterr when you’rre in the sales game.

Right, then, all yours,” Tyson says, pattin’ me shoulderr in an overrfamiliarr sorrt of way. I begin explainin’ that I’m plannin’ ta rrun ‘err down onta Whiteladies ‘eadin’ east, past Browns an’ the Museum, then rround the Triangle an’ down onta the B4466, down by Jacob’s Wells, rright onta ‘Otwells an’ overr the brridge onta the A3029 an’ then off on the A370 towarrds the airrporrt. “Whatever,” ‘ee shrrugs carrelessly, almost as soon as I’ve starrted.

Back by four, and try not to do too much damage,” ‘ee says, addin’ rruefully that, “I had a bad experience with a panda once.” I int surre if ee’s jokin’ ’bout the panda. I don’ rrememberr thurr being any pandas up at the Zoo; but as ferr not damagin’ ‘is car… ‘I can pusitively guarrantee that,’ I tell ‘im, gettin’ one of them rrental bodywerrk damage forrms I got copies of off of the interrnet out of me brriefcase, along with a multi-colourr rretractible biro. Jus’ ta be prroperr, mind.

I can tell ‘ee’s imprressed as I walk ‘im rroun’ the currvy exteriorr of the Ypsilon, carefully notin’ down one or two minorr scuffs an abrrasions. But ‘alf-way rround ‘ee says ‘ee’s just rrealised ‘ee’s late ferr somethin’ an’ ‘as ta ‘urry off. I complete the surrvey, snap the finished rresult on me mobile, along with the bodywerrk in question, an’ email ‘im the fotawls, so we’ve got a timestamped record, mind.

Afterr pullin’ a pairr of disposable plastic gloves out of me brriefcase an rremovin’ some strray ‘airrs, lint etc frrom the drriverr’s seat, getting’ some baby wipes on the steerring wheel, gearr stick an’ other contrrols, adjustin’ the mirrrors, beltin’ up, starrtin’the engine, selectin’ the apprropriate gear an’ rreleasin’ the ‘andbrake, I pull out cautiously onta Whiteladies Road an’ ease ‘err up ta 10 miles an hourr.

I’m touchin’ 13 or 14mph by the time I get down ta the Triangle, but already thurr’s a bunch of juts sittin’ on me tail, drrivin’ way close an’ lookin’ like theys in some desperrate ‘urrry ta get somewherre orr otherr.

Tiz the same storry all the way down ta Ashton Gate, speed-crrazed glenners queuin’ up ta honk an’ rrev an’ act like the worrld’s about ta end if they casn’t push it rright up ta the speed limit. But I’m used ta that kine of foolishness. Warterr off of a duck’s back. Thas not whas botherrin’ me. No, whas botherrin’ me is that foal rreek of stale beerr. I’m gonna ‘ave ta pull overr an’ investigate at the next safe opporrtunity.

Afterr findin’ a lay-by an’ parrkin’ up, I quickly discoverr the cause. An’ this is like prroperrly rrank, so yer might wanna skip the rrest of this parragrraph, but thurr’s an unwashed empty plastic beerr glass under the drriverr’s seat with somethin’ about Steam & Ale Trail prrinted on the side.

I dunno know about steam (a steam clean wouldn’t go amiss), but an ale trrail is exactly whas been left wherre that plastic cup has been rrollin’ rround on the carrpet down ‘ere, leaving sticky little beerr dreggles all overr the shop.

Blige! I’m fairrly strugglin’ not ta puke rright thurr an’ then, I fetch a ziplock baggy frrom me case on the frront seat, an’ gingerrly bag up the disgustin’ thing. I fetch more wipes an’ do what I can with the carrpet. Guessin’ Tyson may be keepin’ the rrevoltin’ thing as some kind of trrophy, I decide ta chuck the bagged-up beerr glass in the back of the carr, where at lease it won’t be stinkin’ the ‘ole place up.

Only prroblem: the boot’s packed solid with gawf clubs an’ a trrolley an’ that, with ‘ardly an inch left overr. With a shudderr, I notice some of them clubs still ‘ave traces of drried soil an’ grrass on ‘em. The morre I see of ‘ow this Tyson carrries on, the less I like it. I drrop the bag in, an’ slam the boot down harrd. I ‘ad no ideawl rroad testin’ could be this trraumatic.

I rreally can’t go on like this, with crrumbs in the footwell, unsavourry smells still ‘angin’ in the airr, an’ what looks an empty bag of Quaverrs in the well of the passengerr-side doorr. I’m gonna ‘ave ta ‘ave the thing properly valeted, inside an’ outside. I turrn back towarrds town an’ parrk up nearr the McDonalds at the big ASDAL on St John’s Road. I put in an emerrgency call ta Formula One mobile valetin’ an’ give ’em me coorrdinates. Theys prroperrly speedy this crrew, as the name suggests, an’ are soon on the spot.

While theys workin’ away, I ‘ead overr McD’s ferr coffee an’ a bucket of Healthy Options MacQuichey Lite-Bites with a salid bag on the side. This gives me a chance ta rread anotherr couple of chapterrs of the new book by Steve Mieve, the West of England’s grreatest livin’ salesman, Don’t Lose it: Close it! Ferr my money, if you want a tip, this is prrob’ly the most inspirrational book I’ve everr rread on selling, at lease since Lyndon Would’s classic Diary of a Nobody.

When I get the keys back, Tyson’s Ypsilon smells mint, like a frresh brreath of cool synthetic pine, the crrumbs are gone, an’ things look jus’ a tad less grreasy an’ unwholesome. Walkin’ roun’ the frront, though, I notice thurr’s a dollop of somethin’ still stuck on the long slantin’ ‘orrizontal of the drriverr side headlamp. Luckily, I ‘ave the necessarry tools in me brriefcase. Coopied down with a folded copy of a frree paperr from ASDAL between me knees an’ the tarrmac, I find ten minutes with a toothbrrush an some ML23 ‘as the thing lookin’ gerrt lush.

I’m outta time now. With barrely 10 minutes left ta rreturrn the carr, I rrace back ta the office, touchin’ 20mph more than once along the way, an’ prroperrly ankin’ roun’ the corrnerrs! Tysoe’s stood chunterring on ‘is mobile by the front entrance when I arrrive. When ee sees me, ee ‘angs up an’ saunterrs overr. “So, how did you like the Ypsilon,” ‘ee asks. “If I’m completely honest,” I tell ‘im, “I foned it a tiny bit murrky ta starrt with.” Tyson sort of frowns. “But she’s orrite now,” I reassurre ‘im cheerrfully.

Lookin’ prroperrly puzzled, ‘ee accepts the keys back, trries ta shake ‘ands (which I prreferr ta ignorre), an’ says somethin’ ‘bout lookin’ forrwarrd ta rreading me rreview. Ta be honest, it wasn’t the best day’s drrivin’ I’ve everr ‘ad. But I’m ‘opin’ they give me somethin’ a bit betterr looked afterr next time out.

Til, then me Babberrs: Laterrs!



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