I took Vera back to the Airport the other day. Nice job, I hear you say! How kind!
Nah, not really as she is one of our Russian Agents. Six foot tall in her stocking feet and ex-KGB! She brings an awful lot of students to us. It really is the least I can do. Added to that she is a lovely person and a very kind soul. Who wouldn’t want to help her? Yes, Vera is one of the nicer people I have come across even if she did a lot of interrogating in her previous job.
The thing is Vera is one of those ladies who love their food. ( wink wink nudge nudge) Do you know what I am saying? Loveliest lady in the world but a bit of a Heifer and taking her; plus three large suitcases and her daughter is maybe a little too much for my Citroen C1! But we coped.
Ever up for a challenge and in the spirt of Entente Cordiale, we give it a try. Now you will be wondering what Vera has in her suitcases and I am going to tell you. Firstly, don’t get carried away by clothes. There are absolutely NONE in them and in fact she goes back wearing two or in some cases three (think knickers and socks) pairs of everything on her person. This does, so she tells me, allows her to fill her suitcases to the gunnels. Indeed it does but it also allows her to sweat profusely with her weight and the amount of clothes she is wearing. I’ll elaborate….
Vera fills her suitcases with Food! Yes, Vera comes over to visit Tesco to buy Bovril. In fact she is just as happy buying it in Asda or Sainsbury. Just so long as she can get Bovril. I cant remember why it would appear important enough for her to come over here for fresh supplies. So when she comes she stocks up on as many bottles of the stuff as she can fit in her suitcase. And believe me, that’s quite a lot! Its apparently all to do with when they were under the cloak of the Communism. After all, who knows when it may happen again ( ie a Russian invasion) and she wants, she really, really, wants to be prepared.
Sorry, I have digressed. So we stuff the suitcases in both the boot and the back seat. Her daughter takes the remaining space in the back seat, which believes me is not a lot and then Vera gets in. Well, when I say Vera gets in, she pulls open the passenger door and flops on the seat. I swear the car dropped on the left hand side and I was grateful at that particular moment that I had, only last night, checked and inflated the tyres. There is a God and all that springs to mind. Oh don’t be thinking that its anything to do with the weight. Okay, a little of that maybe, but the main reason is the fallout of flash when Vera sits down. I slip into the driver’s seat and all becomes apparent “ Houston, we have a problem!” Yes because I realise I won’t be able to move off the driveway. And it’s not my fault. No, dear readers, Vera being a lady of rather large proportions has a backside that, not content with using up the passenger seat slides like ectoplasm over onto my seat as well. How on earth do I get the handbrake off with Vera’s ample arse covering it?
I hatch a cunning plan which will enable me to rev up at high speed and simply fly off the driveway and continue up with A 23 with the handbrake on. It should work and hopefully I wont burn the clutch out before she gets out! So into second gear as best I can and off we go. I stall it. So I try it again. I stall it again. Its becoming embarrassing. Its also gone very quiet in the car. No one is speaking and I am now starting to sweat as profusely as Vera. Although of course her sweat is down to an excess of clothing and mine is down to sheer embarrassment. Third time lucky. I really rev it up this time but I get another foot along the drive and stall it. Vera pipes up “ is this new car darling?” (she still has a slight Russian inflexion due to her communist education even though she had been spying in The States for the past twenty odd years)
“ No. Why?”
“Looks like you have slight problem with gear changing. “ She looks at me and folds her hands across her ample stomach. Suddenly Vera wasn’t such a nice lady. My mind is racing as to whether I keep trying to drive with the brake on or I tell her that her arse is stopping me lifting the handbrake off. I decide to tell her. After all, she has a plane to catch. What’s the worse she can do to me now that the Cold War is a far and distinct memory?
“Vera, I wonder if you would mind just moving to the left a little bit so that I can reach down and release the handbrake?” There I had said it and it was out in the open.
Vera looks at me. She slowly leans towards the window and at the same time takes her right hand and lifts her bum cheek up into the air. She looks at me again and her silence, as the phrase goes, speaks volumes. I use this time to quickly slide my hand under the buttocks and release the handbrake. I want to be quick in case she releases the bum cheek and my hands becomes trapped. Lo and behold the deed is done and we are off the drive quicker than Vera can connect the hose up for a Game of Water Boarding! ( and let me tell you that actually that’s pretty quick )
Time is marching on but not as quickly as I would like. Its all become very tense in the car and I can almost sense the East European Prison Exchange on the Bridge feeling. No one is speaking but a lot of heavy breathing. Well that heavy breathing is from Vera more than anyone else because she is still trying to sweat off those extra clothes.
The other thing to mention is that Vera’s buttocks did return to their place across both of our seats. This meant, once again, that my driving of the car was hampered. Only this time it meant I couldn’t change gear very well but I rode the clutch and managed to get to Gatwick driving the car the whole way in either second or fourth gear. It had got to the point where I didn’t care if I burnt the clutch out; roared the engine to within an inch of its life or boiled the radiator, I simply could not ask her again to move her buttocks. Gatwick Airport was in sight. I breathed a sigh of relief. As I coasted to the parking place (I could do nothing more than coast, seeing as how I wasn’t able to use all 5 of the gears) the tension seemed to ease. Obviously passengers and driver felt the ordeal was over. The next problem of course was going to be to try to get the car into neutral before it stalled. Oh I was past caring by this stage and I simply knocked it out of fourth and hoped for the best. As I anticipated, the car was so confused it kangarooed and stalled. Thanks Vera!
As Vera rolled onto the pavement from her position right across the front of my car, I wondered if it would damage relations between us. Even then I had to give her a gentle push, whilst all the time pretending I was fiddling with my seat belt, because although the car door was open, she had so much clothing on she couldn’t manoeuvre herself properly. Both of us pretended that this hadn’t happened. I had seen another side to Vera. I don’t know why I felt it was my fault, after all I hadn’t worn three days worth of clothing under my overcoat and I wasn’t so large my bum cheeks overlapped the car seat, but still I felt guilty. Once suitcases; passengers and Vera were unloaded it was only left for us to say our fond farewells. I was in no doubt that it would be speedy on both sides. However, after the hugs and kisses she turned to place her suitcases on the trolley she said “ Better get some driving lessons in Darlink. Not good to drive everywhere in the wrong gear!” and with a flourish of her two scarves around her neck, and a pool of sweat left on the car seat she was gone.
For my part I was left, most surprisingly, rather speechless.