Purveyor of Bollocks to the Crowned Heads of Europe
Monday, 13 May 2013
Here in posh Bath, we have a different class of dentist. I hope their surgery isn't equipped with collectable, vintage chairs and drills too - I still have fond childhood memories of watching a slow drive-belt run round exposed pulley-wheels whilst smelling my own teeth burn.
The departmental store, 'Jolly's' behind the car was Bath's very own, family-run equivalent of Debenhams or Harrods. In the 1970s, the prim, old Mrs Jolly could be found taking tea in the cafe next door every day, occasionally chatting to minor members of the Royal Family. Today it is owned by House of Frazer.
My German dentist friend is also keen on vintage, British cars because he is - inexplicably - a true anglophile. Dentists in Germany cannot command the fees extracted from us by our British ones, through government legislation, so he can only afford old Minis of the type which were built in Oxford before BMW took over. Every time he picks us up from Bremen airport to make the 1 hour trip back to Bremerhaven, I get stuffed into a Mini with my knees smashing against the dashboard when we go over the slightest bump in the road, and H.I. sits crammed in the back getting poisoned by exhaust fumes. At times like these, I wish he admired modern German engineering more than he does.
The Mercedes 2-seater sports I delivered the bride-to-be in yesterday could only take two people - absolutely no further space in the back, even for an umbrella - but this is the sort of car I wish we were picked up in from the airport, but with two extra seats.
I met the owner in town, and he gave me a brief run-through about all the gizmos attached to it, saying that I should not touch one particular button, as it would go fast enough without re-setting the performance configuration anyway. Then he simply said, "Well, what more can I say? It's a car".
So I pulled it out of the parking space, making full use of the bleeping reverse warning signals, then when I approached a junction and stopped by putting my foot on the brake, the engine just cut out. The slight, involuntary feeling of panic when this happened was allayed when it noiselessly re-started itself when my foot came off the brake though. German engineering.
I picked up the blushing bride (hardly) and with a bit of time to spare, we took a little trip to Claverton Down so she could get her blushing under control (hardly).
Going up a steep hill (effortlessly) I pulled to the left to allow a car coming the other way to pass safely, and a different warning bleeper went off in the cockpit. The car was telling me that I was getting quite close to a stone wall. German engineering.
I had originally planned to borrow a different car from this man, but he had sold it by the time the wedding was due, so I had to make do with the Mercedes, especially since the bride had refused to arrive in my unwashed old Volvo 850 estate.
He has been a fast-car fanatic ever since he passed his test and seems to have the resources to indulge himself in his passion. The car I had originally wanted to use was a twin-turbo Bentley of about 600 horse-power.