Thursday 7 February 2013


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                                                      Legends of Brocklehurst Chapter 13

I sat down on the bed trying clear my sleepy head. I checked the spare bedroom, and Mark wasn't there. How had Mark got home? Had I let him take the car? Surely not? For the life of me I couldn't remember. I rang his number, and his mum told me Mark was in bed. I asked her to look outside to see if there was a Mercedes parked nearby. My sinking heart fell even further when Margaret told me it wasn't, and that Mark said I had dropped him off when he got in early that morning. I also rang a mate who lived near Mark, and asked him. He checked as well with the same result. No car.

I dashed down stairs, and searched for the car keys to no avail. Totally distraught I sat down, and tried to work out what could have happened. I decided to walk to Mark's, about a mile or so, to see if I could find the missing vehicle. Had I driven Mark home, and broken down, or worse had an accident? But where were my keys, and how had I got back in to the cottage ? Nothing about this made any sense.
Taking my spare house keys I traced the route I would have driven. As I reached the main road I turned left to head into Carlisle. For some reason I glanced back, and there about eighty yards away in the ditch on my side was a burnt out shell. Even when I reached it I couldn't tell what make of car it was. Neither could I tell if it was a left hand drive, so total was the fire damage. I opened the boot, and there were the remains of the charred cases of beer.

Without doubt it was the tour car.

As I stood shattered, working out the connotations of this discovery, a police car pulled up, and asked me what I was doing. I explained the situation, and they said a CID officer would visit me to take a statement within an hour.

I walked back home, and searched once more for those keys. Again I failed to find them. Now I had a serious problem re: the insurance. If I said I had left them in the car I wouldn't be covered. As Mark was still at home in bed I didn't know if he had the keys. I went round to the back of the cottage, and booted the locked rear door in. I was going to have to tell the police that someone had broken in, and stolen the Mercedes keys. When the police came I explained I had taken a sleeping tablet after the trip from Frankfurt, and the first I knew of the break in was when I woke up to a phone call telling me there was a wrecked car not far from my house. I had covered my story by ringing the guy who lived near Mark, and asking him to ring me back. I said he was inquiring about how my trip had gone, and laughingly said at least my car wasn't lying burnt out in a ditch. I don't think the police believed a word of what I said, but what could they do ?

By now it was almost midday. I still couldn't ring Pegi at Anthem so I went to the bank, and collected the currency for the tour. But how could there be a tour for me now ?

At 2:00 pm promptly, nine o'clock in Canada, I rang Anthem. I was almost stammering as I told Pegi my news. Whatever response I was expecting, it wasn't the one I received. She just started laughing, and shouted to others in her office what had happened. I could hear all sorts of comments amongst the cheering, and just felt relieved that the reaction was a good one. Once Pegi was able to talk sensibly she told me to travel to London by train that evening, and Anthem would arrange for me to pick up another rental car at Heathrow in plenty of time to meet Neil.

Although I was relieved, I was still no nearer to solving the mystery. Mark was adamant I had driven him home.

To this day I still don't know the truth. After the tour I even went to a hypnotist to see if anything could be revealed, with no success. Over the years Mark has "fessed up" various things he has been guilty of, sometimes long afterwards, but still says he knows nothing about this, and I believe him. ( We were discussing it yesterday when I told him this part of the story was being posted this weekend.) The only possibility I can think of is that I did drive Mark home, and must have left the keys in the cottage door when I returned. The car key was on the same key ring, and if anyone was skulking about later the car would have been easily stolen. If that was the case I can only believe it was some friends of Mark's who had called round to see if we were still up. We had stopped briefly to show some of his mates the car in Carlisle as we passed them. The skid marks by the burnt out Merc suggested it may have over shot my turning on the way back to mine. Possibly panicking at the damage they fired it, and of course nothing was missing from the cottage. If I had crashed the car I couldn't have set fire to it if I had wanted, I didn't smoke anything but joints in those day, and then only at home so never carried a lighter with me.

A good friend happened to work for the salvage company that collected the shell. He told me the sum total before the fire damage was a busted front bumper was estimated at eighty pounds!

Later in the day Pegi rang me, and told me a top of the range Ford Scorpio had been rented, and I was to collect it from Budget Car Hire at Heathrow prior to meeting Neil off his flight. I couldn't believe the lack of worry about the Mercedes, but I suppose in the grand scheme of a Rush tour, one burnt out hire car, didn't rate too highly. However there was one little draw back. I would have to fly to Frankfurt from London on a day off to pick up the Mercedes Estate Car for the main land Europe leg of the tour. It was a small price to pay all things considered.

That evening when my taxi picked me up, to take me to the railway station, the driver started laughing, and showed me the local evening paper. There on the front page was my picture along with one of the burnt out wreck, and the full story. There was also a quote from me, which was strange as I hadn't spoken to any journalists. The picture was one taken of me when they did a story about the tour a month or so earlier. It had been a double page feature with pictures of me complete with my Rush albums, and that first Signal's post card. What the article didn't say was I hardly ever listened to them. The taxi driver gave me the paper, still very amused I was his passenger.
I was able to relax for the first time all day on the train to London. A meal, and a few glasses of wine certainly helped. By the time I arrived at my hotel I was very tired, went straight to bed, and fell asleep immediately.

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