It is 5.08am.
My most hated time of the day.
5.08 looks like ‘SOB’ to me and it’s what I want to do when I see that time on the clock.
I usually see 5.08am glowing in red digital letters in the dark while I blink in the sweat damp knots of my bedsheets and the alarm whispers ‘Walking on Sunshine’ or some similar radio rock drivel to coax me from my slumber but lately I’ve been seeing 5.08 on my wrist while stood outside on my driveway in the freezing cold.
I’ve pulled my bike from the tangle of other bikes in my garage. I like riding bikes but it’s best to ride when you want to, not because you have to. I don’t like ‘having to’ do anything, if I’m completely honest with you, I like doing things because I ‘want to’, but there you go.
On the driveway next to my house is a Morgan Aero 8 sports car. It apparently has 367 brake horsepower and has a 4799cc BMW V8 engine beneath the sleek black hood. It can do 170 mph. It costs about £57,000.
Next to the Merlin, on my driveway, is a Fiat Punto MkII. It has a 1275cc engine and pulls like a fucked donkey. It doesn’t do any top speed at the moment because it failed it’s MOT.
It cost me £700 but is worth about £200 now, or nothing because it’s fucked.
I look at the two cars. “Bastard.” I mutter through the scarf over my face.
I am up at 5.08 because I haven’t got the money to fix my car while my neighbour is snoring gently in bed with a Morgan Aero 8 on his drive.
I get on my bike and ride to work.
A few days later I’m struggling to get past a vast Land Rover Discovery blocking next door’s drive and part of mine. It’s massive. Like a black, shining tower block on wheels. You’ll have to excuse my photos of it – a freezing fog has descended and my hands are white and shivering while holding my camera phone.
But you get the idea.Anyway, it’s an SDV6 HSE, it’s got a 2993cc engine that kicks out 252 brake horsepower and has a top speed of 112 mph. You could probably pull a house over with this thing.
It costs £51,000.
You might not be able to easily see it, but that little thing crouching in this behemoth’s shadow is a Fiat Punto in lichen green. It’s my Punto. The front tyre has now gone flat on the passenger side.It is 5.08am.
Cold water drips from the skeletal trees that line our street. Freezing vapour builds on the scarf over my chattering teeth.
My tax is due on my car that doesn’t work and I can’t afford to pay that either.
I get on my bike and ride to work.
That afternoon I see my neighbour.
His name is Clarke.
Clarke is polishing a top-of-the-range Audi on the drive.
The Discovery is gone.
I don’t take a picture of him cleaning the Audi because that would be a weird thing to do.
“Afternoon.” I say.
“Afternoon.” says Clarke.
There is a short exchange of pleasantries. Short, because it’s a bit one sided.
You see, Clarke is in the luxury car trade. He gets to drive any car on the forecourt whenever he likes. Bentleys, Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Mercedes, they all regularly pop up on his drive.
Right next to my fucked Punto.
“Hi Luci! It’s been a lovely morning! Great weather. Crisp but bright.”
“It wasn’t when I was out. It was foggy and about minus three.”
“Oh. What time was that?”
“Eight minutes past five.”
Clarke smiles. He has a smile as flashy as his cars. Even and white. I’ve got a smile like a kicked in fence. I try it out but it’s fooling no-one.
Clarke keeps on waxing the gleaming carapace of the car. “How’s your motor doing? Looks a bit lop sided! Ha ha!”
“Ha. Yes. The tyre is flat. I’ll change it in a bit.”
Clarke nods, polishing. He is tall and athletic. Every day at the gym is Upper Body Day. He has thick hair. He has a large Superman tattoo on his shoulder.
What an arrogant prick.
He says. “Listen, if you need a new car just give me a shout. We get all sorts of motors all sorts. I could sort you out a little run around for a couple of K, if this bus is past it’s best.”
I say, “Thanks.”
I don’t have a ‘couple of K’.
I don’t have three hundred quid to fix my fucked car.
I don’t have eighty quid to pay six months tax.
I put my bike in the garage and go into the house.
The car you see here on the left is a Porsche Carrera S. It’s what arseholes and wankers refer to as a ‘Quick Motor’. That means rich arseholes and wankers can rev the living knackers off it while passing me on my bike on narrow roads at eighty miles an hour.
It boasts a 3.8 litre engine, kicking out a massive 400 brake horsepower. It can do a top speed of 188 mph, but why you’d want to is beyond me. It looks pretty fancy, but in my opinion it lacks the iconic styling of the Porsches they used to screw around with on Miami Vice so I’m not impressed.
This one will knock you back a hefty £83,000 or so.
Looming from the gloom on the right is a slightly older model, a 2000 edition of the classic Fiat Punto. This little gem boasts a tape deck with a variety of rock albums such as Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours, All the Led Zepplin albums, REM’s Automatic for the People and Graham Parker & The Rumour’s Squeezing out the Sparks. There is a door pocket half filled with Haribo and a handy ice scraper for those cold morning starts.
There will be no cold morning starts, however, because it’s fucked and it would be illegal to drive without tax or MOT. That’s why I’m getting on my bike and cycling to work.
The time is 5.08 precisely.
I’m not a car person. Really I’m not. I’m just not very materialistic. I don’t care what people think of me, if they’re judging me on what I own or what I do not own. It’s a pretty good job really, because I don’t own much. I find owning lots of things somehow weighs me down, it troubles me. I’m not competitive. I don’t like competing with people. Competition means taking pleasure in the defeat of others and I take no pleasure in others pain.
And that’s what prestige things are – items that say ‘I am better than you, I am a winner, you are not as good as me’.
That sort of shit does not interest me.
There is a certain comfort that comes with money, a comfort I do not have. I’m not starving or anything, and I can afford certain small luxuries, but when I’m presented with an eighty thousand pound car sat next to my knackered wreck… well… it grates at times.
That afternoon I find Clarke polishing a brand new mountain bike. At a glance I reckon it’s a thousand pounds worth.
The reflectors are still on the wheels and on the handlebars. It has not been ridden.
Clarke sees me and looks pleased because he knows I like bikes and presumes I will be envious of his bike.
I am not envious.
Bikes I have.
He can keep his fucking bike.
“Hi Luci! Do you like the new ride?”
“Have you ridden it yet?”
“Then it doesn’t count as a ride yet. Those are The Rules.”
Of course, there are no such rules but he doesn’t know that.
Clarke blinks and grins. He says, “I got a bike to ride with my lad, Billy. He’s been in a bit of bother at school lately and I thought some time together would do the trick.”
I doubted this tactic would work. Billy is an arrogant little prick and him spending more time with an older, more experienced arrogant prick is not going to help his attitude.
Of course, I say none of this.
I smile and say, “That’s nice.”
I suspect Billy of throwing eggs at our house a few days ago. In a way, I hope it was him. If he does it again I will shoot the snotty little fuck in his little bald knackers with my air rifle.
Of course, I say none of this either.
While we’re on about violence, Clarke spends a lot of time on the golf course. He plays golf with a little fat smug cunt who likes to take the occasional cheap shot at me in the presumption I’m too thick to pick up on his clumsy wit.
I’ve made up my mind to punch him if he tries it again.
We’ll see how that pans out.
I say something none committal to Clarke about going for a ride some time then I go into the house and drink some beer.
The stars are out this morning, wheeling above me in the raw cold of the morning. It is dry and cold, the kind of cold that hurts the lungs. I am wearing my fleece face mask when I leave the house.
As if he has been reading my mind, my neighbour has come home with one of those Porsche Carreras that I always thought looked pretty sweet on Miami Vice. Here it is:
This is the last straw, in a way. I really like this car. I had a toy version when I was a kid, maybe a slightly older model, but you know what I mean. I look at the car for a while. I’d like a go on it. I bet it’s got a tape deck instead of a CD player and I could play my tapes from the fucked Punto in the Porsche Carrera.
I don’t know it’s engine size, horsepower, top speed or how much it costs. All I know is it’s pretty fucking cool and that cunt Clarke will get to buzz about in it when he finally gets out of bed.It is, of course, 5.08am.
I say, “Mmfaffbad.”
That is what ‘bastard’ sounds like behind a thick fleece scarf.
I ride to work.
That afternoon I bump into Clarke.
He is loading a hair dryer, a coffee machine and a bin bag full of clothes into the tiny back seat of the Porsche Carrera. He sees me and looks slightly panic stricken.
So I talk to him.
“Hi Clark. Kitting out the new motor?”
He looks at the things in his hands and grins sheepishly.
“Oh, no. I’m… leaving. We’re splitting up, me and the wife. I’m moving in with my mate, you know, you met him a couple of times…”
“Fat fucker? Beard? Takes the piss?”
Clarke’s watery smile fades a bit. “Yes. That’s him.”
I say, “I’m really sad about the break up, Clarke. Is it… like… you, or is she… you know…”
Clarke looks like he might cry.
I don’t take pleasure in this. I don’t like to kick a man when he’s down.
I prefer to kick a man when he’s standing.
Clarke says, “No, it’s just not been working for a while. Drifting apart, that kind of thing…”
I say something to him about giving me a call if he needs a hand but I don’t give him my number. I wish him luck, tell him I’ll see him around.
I leave him to cram his meagre possessions into the meagre storage available in the car he does not own.
I realise that I’ve actually got a fuck of a lot more than most people.
The next day I get £115 pounds from We Buy Any Car for my Fiat Punto.
I spend the money on pizza and stuff for the kids.