Many years ago, Norma and I bought my son a Formula 1 racing car. The car cost £230,000 and the wrapping paper cost £47.50. It was really difficult to conceal the present prior to the big day and the mystery gift somewhat dwarfed the other presents around the Christmas tree.
No seriously, this particular Formula 1 racing car was actually a child’s bed. The racing car was fantastic, tastefully coloured in white and red with large black (wet weather) tyres and the headboard was the cockpit.
My son loved the bed too but, as with all things, his interest slowly dwindled with the passing of time. From being proud and excited to show it off to his friends, he became a little embarrassed when pals entered his room and saw his novelty bed.
Finally, he convinced us to replace the bed with some anonymous, bland divan with a supportive mattress and drawers (instead of gigantic, silver exhaust pipes) underneath. He kept moaning that he banged his head on the aerofoil every morning, his legs dangled over the end of the front spoiler and that he was now 23 years old, after all.
As this was prior to the days of eBay, we advertised the bed in the small ads section of the local paper. On the day the paper was published, a gentleman called and expressed an interest and said he would come round on Friday night.
Friday came and went. The gentleman didn’t come round. Surprisingly, we didn’t get any more telephone calls. Reluctantly, we prepared to take to bed to the tip as we had not been able to access the lavatory for four whole days as a Formula 1 racing car was completely blocking the upstairs landing.
Norma and I managed to manhandle the bed down the narrow staircase where it perched vertically and precariously in the hallway. Dinner guests looked perplexed and politely enquired: ‘Do you know you have a Formula 1 racing car in your hallway ?’
Fortunately, the gentleman called again, this time promising to come round on Sunday. This time, he did come round with his young son whose eyes immediately lit up at the sight that greeted him in the hallway. The gentleman agreed to take the bed and he didn’t even attempt to haggle me down from the £40 price tag.
The prospective buyer was a builder and, because he was working on a big job where he wasn’t getting paid until tomorrow, he asked if he could pop round tomorrow night with the money.
He was happy to return and collect the bed then but as he had his van with him, he wondered if he could possibly take the bed now. As his lad was so excited, I agreed and, with a tear in my eye, I helped him lug the Formula 1 Racing car outside and secure it on his van.
Off he went, with his lad beaming in the passenger seat, proudly looking back at his new acquisition, the best present he had ever had from the best dad in the world.
Inevitably, the builder didn’t pop round on Monday with the money. Or Tuesday. So I summoned up the courage and rang him at home. His daughter told me ‘My Dad says he’s working in Cleethorpes on another big job and isn’t coming back. Ever.’
I fleetingly contemplated tracing the gentleman to his home address and demanding what was rightfully mine. I thought better of it when I remembered how the burly builder had broken my middle finger with his very firm handshake.
Then I remembered the look on his son’s face when he walked in and saw the Formula 1 Racing car cunningly disguised a bed, so I put it down to experience and thought
‘That was the best £40 I ever spent.’