Regular readers (I presume that's plural) of this garbage will possibly be aware that I've been planning a final motorcycle flingette (cor blimey, the number of times I've said that!). The plan was to sell the BMW and replace it with..., er..., something else, but I wasn't sure what.
As usual, things didn't go according to plan. Snapped up a mint 2001 Honda VFR800 (with the gorgeous gear-driven cams instead of the sloppy chain-driven items which appeared on the somewhat unpopular 2003 onwards V-tec model) before selling the Beemer. This left me in the somewhat unenviable (or enviable - depending on your viewpoint) position of owning two bikes when I really only need one. I had, of course, advertised the Beemer before buying the VFR but, despite much interest (mostly from nutters and dreamers - see a previous posting), there were no takers. Then, having resigned myself to keeping the Beemer, an email appeared out of the blue from a prospective purchaser back in the UK. Emailed him a few photos and a bit of the bike's history and, hey presto, he agreed to buy. Immediately cancelled the ad on the classic bike website then did a quick Google search of the buyer (email clue) just to check that he wasn't some fraudster.
Well, knock me down with a feather. Turned out he was some multi-millionaire from 'oop north'. Cripes! And he was aiming to collect the bike in person. Double cripes! If a multi-millionaire from the upper echelons of The Sunday Times Rich List enters our 'umble abode, he'd have a fit, closely followed by a heart attack. The shock of seeing the living quarters of a bohemian hermit recluse is far too much to bear for most people (just ask some of my chums), let alone a top-notch squire. Panic!
Without letting on that I'd discovered who he was, I tried to prepare him for the shock of seeing our house by supplying this blog's address. In it, there are various photos that I rather hoped would put him off coming here. Maybe he'd then suggest meeting in more solubrious surroundings. But no, he'd be arriving with a box trailer on Wednesday. Eek!
Once I'd got over the scary prospect of entertaining one of the UK's richest men, my attentions turned to making sure the BMW was running properly after its winter slumber. And, of course, it wasn't. Damned thing wouldn't start. Battery on its last legs. So, last Saturday, I drove to BMW Limoges and bought a new one. But..., they were waiting for a new consignment of battery acid. Should arrive "at the end of next week". Too late mate. So bought the battery, minus acid, then popped into the local bricolage at Aubusson in search of the desired liquid. Sold out. Told me to try the place down the road. Stroke of luck. Bought the last two litres of sulphuric acid they had in stock. Returned home, filled the battery and put it on overnight charge.
Next day (Sunday, a week ago exactly), I gave the Beemer one last try at starting with the old battery. Sods' Law, she started. Took her for a spin round the hills. Fine on acceleration but a bit 'faffy' on tickover. Changed the plugs. No improvement. Ah well, no time to sort the problem. Probably just needs a good service. Which is what the buyer said he intended to do just as soon as he'd trailered the bike home.
Spent the next couple of days attempting to make the house (or kitchen area at least) vaguely presentable. A hopeless task. Absolutely hopeless. Even went so far as buying a new plastic tablecloth featuring a colourful design of hens, chicks, eggs and various vegetables to brighten the place up. Added a bit of colour to the dreary scene but didn't exactly create a kitchen from the pages of Ideal Home magazine. Hung the old tablecloth over the doorway to the eyesore that is the lounge, er, indoor shed. Even went as far as doing the washing up. That's how seriously I was taking things.
Come the Wednesday morning (chap was due to arrive at around mid-day), I was a nervous wreck. Had a quick shave and hairwash, squirted stuff in my armpits, polished my shoes and dug out a sweater without elbow holes, cleaned the loo, fitted a new loo roll then lit a joss stick in a futile attempt to hide the stench of dog pee and the involuntary trouser cough or ten resulting from an over-indulgence of the previous night's Ruby Murray. Then dragged the bike from the shed, gave her one last polish and attempted to start her up. Nothing. Old battery completely flat. Fitted new battery. Luckily, it worked. Engine fired up. Still a bit 'faffy' on tickover but otherwise parfait. Went back indoors to clean the grease from fingernails, face and trousers. Not a pretty sight. Phone rang. Buyer ten minutes away. Aaarrgghh! I look almost as messy as the house! Nightmare.
I stood outside waiting, ready to wave in case my visitor couldn't find the house, half expecting to see a chauffeur-driven Rolls Royce emerge from the mists of the valley. Completely wrong. Multi-millionaire arrived without a chauffeur, driving a slightly beat-up 4x4, wearing jeans and a casual checked shirt. Seemed a very normal chap. No airs or graces. Big relief. Chatted away about the bike, he asked all the right questions, said he had a modern Beemer but fancied the R100GS as well because it was a simple design without all the latest high-tech gadgetry and gizmos. Then we did the paperwork, he handed over the cash and, together, we secured the bike in his box trailer, then shook hands and off he went, heading back to Caen, a night channel crossing and a morning run 'oop north'. Sent me a very nice email the following day saying he'd cured the 'faffyness' by cleaning a carb and how pleased he was with the bike now it was running perfectly. Had I not done that quick Google check, I'd have never guessed he was one of the richest blokes in Blighty. He just seemed a normal classic bike fan. Didn't even flinch when we went indoors. Just said the house was in a lovely location and would be great when renovated.
My initial preconceptions and prejudices made me feel stupid. Just because some geezer's rich beyond one's wildest dreams, it doesn't mean he can't be a regular guy. My feelings of inferiority, brought about by the gap in our respective finances, were totally ridiculous too. From my buyer's perspective, I'm sure he didn't feel superior in any way. In fact, I was left with the distinct impression he rather envied my simple lifestyle. Interesting though: two people from opposite ends of the social spectrum brought together as equals by the sale of an old motorbike. And I loved the fact that he offered 250 quid below the asking price. Really made me smile. Me, bartering with a multi-millionaire! I refused to budge on price, naturally. Half Scottish y'know.
A Winters's Harvest
1 week ago