My best man and his beloved Reliant Robin

A post on my old school facebook page caught my eye this morning. Lady S and I are enjoying a well earned rest from the rigours of our job; at a luxury resort in Cyprus. Thus giving me the rare opportunity to catch up on the lives of my fellow inmates of Salesian School Chertsey, whilst sipping on my banana daiquiri.

For those of you fortunate enough to not know the school; it sported a motley collection of drunks, perverts, sadists, in-denial homosexuals, mysogenists and general neer do wells. And I’m talking about the teachers. In fact most of our more ‘colourful’ betters were priests and brothers of the catholic order of Salesians. Enough said.

Anyway, it would seem that despite their best efforts “the class of 80” has turned out to be a pretty nice bunch of people. The group postings have evolved into a gently humorous reflection of life as a teenager in the seventies, with a tendancy to spark new memories and recollections along the way. And it was one of these that got me thinking about the events leading up to my wedding back in ’84.

The post in question was about the crappy old cars that were part of our lives back then and I was reminded of my best mate’s, and soon to be best man’s, car – a Reliant Robin. 3 wheels and 650 ccs of pure motoring pleasure to the enthusiast. 20120922-163427.jpg

“Wolfie”, who modeled himself on Citizen Smith but was formerly a punk rocker called Andy Littlecott, had grown long wispy biker hair and a serious pair of sideburns. His main mode of transport was his BSA Bantam but, like many bikers reluctant to get a shed license, he also owned a Robin. At this point in time he was also petrified as his destiny awaited him in the form of the best man’s speech. Not known for his public speaking, this was a daunting task for the poor lad. Especially as I had already addressed the question of his hair and it’s compatibility with a morning suit and top hat. ‘Andy mate?’, I asked, ‘it would be nice if, twenty years later, we looked at our wedding photos and didn’t wonder who the hobo was pretending to be our best man. Any chance you’ll get a hair cut?’ His assurances of smartness were genuine and, we felt in the circumstances, reasonable.

Six weeks to go and all that remained was the question of our transport to the wedding. Obviously, the Bantam was out which left the Robin. “it’ll be fine!” Wolfie said, “I’ll make sure it’s working properly and nice and clean and everything! Don’t worry!” Which did nothing whatsoever to alleviate my concerns, but I had no choice. “Okay”, I said slowly, “but you better be right or Lady S will have a bot fit.”

Three days before the glorious event Wolfie rings up mysteriously, “I’ve had a bit of a problem with the Robin, but don’t worry it’ll be fixed before Saturday.”

“What the hell are you talking about Andy?”, I said.

“Well I haven’t hit anything and I should be able to make good the damage by Saturday. Bye” and hurriedly hung up.

Jesus I thought, what will my darling betrothed say? Lady S, being possessed of considerably bluer blood than myself had the great and good coming to the event and was not in a mood for potential embarrassment. Or as she put it, “All you’ve got to do is get yourself to the wedding sober and presentable so don’t f**k it up!

Come the glorious day I’m a bit more than the average groom’s nervous, waiting for my carriage to arrive. At the appointed hour I hear to my relief the familiar putt putt putt of the Robin’s lawn mower engine as it crunches down the parent’s drive. A pair of mirror shades grin out of the driver’s window at me.

“What the f**k have you done to your car Wolfie it’s all stuck together with packing tape!”

It transpires that Wolfie has been minding his own business driving the Robin down a leafy avenue in Virginia Water at about 40 mph – almost its top speed – when suddenly a car pulled out in front of him on his side. Unable to brake, Robin brakes were almost optional, he was forced to swerve onto the other side of the road. Now any one who has watched Top Gear will know how Robins perform under these conditions for those of you who haven’t I give you The Robin’s party trick. The car, well I call it a car, rolled unto its right side and slid down the road towards the oncoming car. Wolfie, keen to remain cool at all times, managed to right the car by bouncing off a grass verge narrowly avoiding the oncoming car but such was his angular momentum he rolled the car on to the left hand side too. Fortunately the other grass bank leapt up to meet the body work and the car miraculously righted itself without hitting either car.

“I can’t believe it”, he said, “I’ve managed to completely f**k the Robin by missing two cars and they didn’t even stop! The bastards have rubbed my door handles off!”

“Never mind your door handles, how am I supposed to get in the car?” I asked.

“Through the window of course! We’ve got to get some petrol so you can practice at the station. It’ll be fine.”

You can imagine the amusement I managed to generate for the inevitable crowd that greeted me at the petrol station as I struggled to get out of the window of a Robin – with the doors held on by brown packing tape – in my morning suit and top hat.

“You’re not going to a wedding in that pile of shit are you mate?” some wit called out. Yes I am I thought, mine. I was livid.

“Right Andy”, I said, “we’re gonna have to get there early. Park round the back of the pub and make sure no one sees us. If Lady S finds out we’re f**king dead!”

It was one of the longest journeys of my life but Andy, like any good best man, kept his cool and got me there on time. A couple of large sharpeners and a cheeky Rothmans sorted out my nerves and I was ready for the event.

It was a lovely ceremony and as my beautiful wife to be glided up to meet me at the alter she looked at me quizzically, “are you alright my darling?” she asked “you look a little flustered? Any problems getting here?”

I’m looking over at Lady S sipping her glass of bubbly in the fading sun and wonder what would have happened had I answered her.

It’s not for us to reason why.


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