This is why people sign up with the AA, the RAC — or Bat Patrol.
Even if your big end goes the way of Alan Carr’s spazz box — in a Nostradamus meets the Sod of Sod’s Law in a punctured hot air balloon plummeting towards a Sharknadoid tsunami kind of a way — you can rest assured that your hero will save the day (especially if your otherwise buggered car has operational reclining seats).
After a brief five minute wait on the hard shoulder, your fully equipped hero arrives, his cape fluttering in the breeze with the unflustered bravado of a monkey wrench spinning across ice.
UNLESS, that is, your summoned hero turns out to be...EAR MAN.
Let me be clear from the outset that this isn’t his real name. Like Mr Do Something and Mrs Waiting To Be 47 before him, his name derives from the chance collision of his existence and my whimsy du jour, and because this all took place on a Saturday, said whimsy bordered on the Lear-like.
So: guy with BIG EARS.
But: not immediately evident as a hero.
Prior to the arrival of Ear Man, hero duties were taken up by Cheery Yorkshire Bloke. He took an age to arrive but once he’d skidded his rescue vehicle next to my stricken conveyance he diagnosed a buggered gear box scenario within seconds, all the time looking wonderfully slick in his pan-body cocktail of hair gel and swarfega. To round off a perfect afternoon he announced that because he’d been on duty since 2am he couldn’t help any further and would have to call on...another hero.
Cue Nice Young Boy With Unduly Spazzy Hair.
Half an hour later I found myself in the presence of a roadside emergency duo as Cheery Yorkshire Bloke hung around to help Nice Young Boy With Unduly Spazzy Hair haul Dead Conveyance Central onto the back of Hero Rescue Vehicle of Wonder. Those boys sure knew how to harmonize their grunts, and if fate has done playing cruel tricks on my soul, I hope to see them romp through the coming series of X Factor and emerge as triumphant winners following a nailbiting final belting out Motorhead classics against some wankily embryonic boy band and a blind fat woman from the Isle of Wight.
In an ideal world, we’d have thundered towards the horizon there and then, but Cheery Yorkshire Bloke (now sopping wet after the sweat of his labours had transformed his gel/swarfega coating into a kind of Blumenthal inspired semen jus) spotted a problem:
Nice Young Boy With Unduly Spazzy Hair’s rescue vehicle wasn’t equipped with a long enough cable to operate Now In-tow Dead Conveyance Central’s indicator lights!
I suspect that if the first hero in this trio (and remember: this post is about EAR MAN — and he hasn’t even showed up yet...) had been Uncheery Yorkshire Bloke, the scenario would have ended with NiceYoung Boy With Unduly Spazzy Hair having to throw in the towel and bugger off back home. But the camaraderie between the Cheery and the Nice knows no bounds, and Cheery Yorkshire Bloke offered his younger companion the cable from his own rescue vehicle, adding (cheerily), “me boss’ll fookin’ kill me tomorrer...”
So, let’s get up to speed. I’m in a rescue vehicle driven by Nice Young Boy With Unduly Spazzy Hair, mentally calculating that — yes, I can still be home in time for the new series of Dr Who — when the heroic sporter of ludicrous locks pipes up with er...yeah...so I can only take you as far as Sheffield, mate.
Clearly, vehicle rescue heroes have finite orbits. In this respect they are like the knobbly husks of rock circling planets as moons.
I hate Sheffield.
Of all the cities I’ve never visited for any good reason at all, Sheffield tops the list.
Always, always, always, shit things happen to me in Sheffield.
And now it was time for EAR MAN to add his surly self to that list.
To recap, I refer to Ear Man here as Ear Man because he had big ears. What he didn’t have was a connector cable for the indicator lights on my hapless conveyance — a grim fact that only dawned on him after Nice Young Boy With Unduly Spazzy Hair had sped the fuck off from Sheffield’s scarred backside of a landscape with Cheery Yorkshire Bloke’s badly needed item of kit.
Ear Man scratched his ear. “We’ll ‘ave to guh back to headquarters...”
If facial expressions could be likened to luxury desserts in a five star Michelin restaurant, mine at that moment would have been a Marco Pierre White inspired dolphin cream and Peruvian strawberry Eton Mess upon which no less than sixteen terminally ill mules had squirted their plumes of bacteria-swamped rectal effuse.
On the way to “headquarters” I discovered three telling nuggets of information about Ear Man.
1) He deemed Nice Young Boy With Unduly Spazzy Hair to be so young looking as to warrant the observation Christ, I thought he’d nicked that fookin’ rescue truck or summat.
2) He’d been recently marooned in a broken vehicle himself “down Spain way”.
3) In the remaining 45 minutes of the trip he said no more, adding nothing to his ruminations about Nice Young Boy With Unduly Spazzy Hair’s single digit age and clarifying no further precisely where he broke down in Spain, all of which led me to conclude that the mental effort required to maintain a pair of BIG EARS must be as astronomical in kind as the jar used by Cheery Yorkshire Bloke to store his gel/swarfega supplies.
Needless to say, when we got to Ear Man’s headquarters, the indicator cable he retrieved from the dingiest warehouse known to mankind didn’t work.
In my Always Searching For The Ultimate Dream Scenario kind of a way, it might have made more sense if the conversation had panned out like this:
Ear Man: Hold on a second while I fix up the cable.
Whirl: A second? Shall I time you?
Ear Man: No need, pal — it’s working.
Whirl: That’s ideal beyond belief! Thanks to your fully functional cable, I shan’t miss a second of Peter Capaldi’s debut as the new Doctor!
Instead, the conversation went like this, half an hour later after the miracle recovery of a second cable:
[Car speeds by, horn papping, driver shaking fist]
Ear Man: They’re fuckin’ mad, some of these buggers.
Whirl: Yes, that’s the third one like that since we left your headquarters with your fully functional cable operating the indicator lights on my stricken conveyance!
[Ear Man’s ears twitch as he thumps the dashboard]
Ear Man: Ey up — I don’t think it’s fookin’ workin’...
By the time we left headquarters for the second time I knew its layout, its decor and its aroma like the dungeon in which my parents incarcerated me from the age of four months.
As we headed south at 18½ miles per hour, my infant-born claustrophobia gripped me anew. Being trapped in a moving vehicle with a connoisseur of the In-Yer-Face Life Story may constitute one of the worst forms of living hell, but being trapped in the same moving vehicle with a paragon of deathly silence and understatement is far, far worse.
In desperation I offered Ear Man a chocolate eclair. It’s an ice breaking trick that has worked superbly down the ages for everyone from Joan of Arc to Morrissey.
“No thanks,” he said. “I’d love one, but I find ‘em too moreish.”
Hey, auricular rescue patrol HONCHO (yes — I figured by now that ‘Ear Man’ didn’t cut the mustard as a monicker), who said anything about the offer of a subsequent eclair? You get ONE — and then we talk about something, ANYTHING!
In the constipated silence that followed, my only consolation was that we didn’t get lost and end up in Sheffield again. I gasped for air and bit my nails down to my elbow joints. I gazed upon the sorrow etched onto Ear Man’s face, a sorrow mirrored in the Rorschach grease stains splattered on his rip-resistant utility trousers, the glum expressions worn by the clouds and the puddles in the road, and O Satan, save me please from this unending torture!
When I finally crossed the threshold of Whirl Towers and waved Ear Man on his way with the force of alien planet-rearranging bellows, only five minutes remained before Peter Capaldi’s dramatic entrance as a Doc Marten sporting Time Lord extraordinaire.
I slugged at whiskey, bit at Yorkie, tossed myself off into an easy chair.
My Ear Man ordeal was at an end.
And my Dr Who ideal had just begun...