It's Knackered Mate

By Lynn Keller

Lynn is writing a contemporary fairy tale where a tree takes its revenge.

I shouldn’t need to remember this view - I’ve seen it so many times before - a man in an overall with his legs emerging from the van. This one is Alan and he lives in Wales, though he’s originally from Bristol. I know this because we’ve met several times before. Whichever AA man the legs belong to,(Glen in Devon, Dave or Geoff in Cambridge, Rob in Oxford) they are always accompanied by a range of sounds. Some of them are verbal: the sharp intake of breath; the fake cough; the guttural exclamations that roughly translated mean, ‘Bloody hell, what a state!’, ‘’This’ll take some sorting’ or ‘Nah, it’s knackered mate!’ Then there’s the ‘tool versus van’ noises. The stubborn wrench against bolt, the hacksaw versus pipe gnawing,  soldering iron against engine and, my particular favourite, hammer versus starter motor. This was one such occasion! The only thing that makes this memory any different is the second set of legs - Markus getting a lesson on how to sort it if (when) it happens again. Apparently, hitting a starter motor with a hammer is a 2-man job; one to use the hammer and the other (me) to ‘pump the accelerator’. This designation of tasks is not as sexist as it seems but is, in fact, chest related, specifically mine. It seems my 38D’s don't fit under the van! Passers-by do the sympathy nod and smile before getting into their fully functioning cars and heading off happy. I smile back with only a hint of envy and a thought of how much we would get if we sold it on ebay. When the engine finally kicks is, that old familiar smell emerges. The mix of slightly burnt oil, escaping petrol and pitch all merging to invisibly thicken the air. Relief! No tow trucks, no missed adventure, no embarrassing blocking of roads, no blame for holdups on the A48 read out on the travel news. Not yet anyway. See you soon Alan.