After making a raft of lifestyle changes back in October, I was given the all clear to return back to work.
Mechanics have a bad reputation in this country.
The stereotype of a sexist, overweight man in greasy overalls and a leering face is one that has existed for decades.
There might well be grounds for this in some parts of the country, but for my part I’ve never known one of them. The mechanics that I’ve met, from within my own working life and through my Father and Grandfather’s businesses, have always been good men – methodical, patient and generous.
Before the accident, I’d spent nearly 10 years working at the same Mechanics in Sheffield. I’ve always loved engines and have spent the majority of my life taking them apart and putting them back together again. The Automobile trade has been in our family for decades. My Grandfather was a used car salesman in the 60s, a profession that earned him a lot of money and naturally led him into an expensive habit for collecting rusted buckets and classic barn finds. I spent my childhood with him and my Father, in his grimy garage, fussing over greasy motors and hunting through scrap heaps for that one special part.
Probably our greatest achievement as a team was bringing an old Ford Capri back to life.
I still remember the day that we found her.
Most families take their Sunday walks through parks, forests or beaches – my family loved scrap yards. We’d wander through these strange wastelands of forgotten things, chatting amiably whilst casting a scrutinous eye over the mountains of long rusted Beetles, Fiestas, Transits and Kias. Parts and pieces littered the ground around these huge stacks, one would occasionally grab my Grandfather’s attention and he would spend the rest of the walk turning it over in his big hands, trying to understand where it had started it’s life.
We were taking a leisurely stroll through a local yard, the dog bouncing ahead of us, sniffing piles of trash and thinking better of inspecting them any further, when my Father’s eagle eyes spotted a distinctive ducktail spoiler poking out of a particularly large stack of vans. He stopped in his tracks and stared. This meant one of two things, he’d forgotten to lock up the garage back home or he’d just spotted something else. Before he could say anything, my Grandfather saw it. “Go get the man, Matthew, I’m buying that Capri.”
It took us nearly 2 years to get that beauty moving. There were nearly 2 million of these vehicles sold between 1968 and 1986, but finding the right parts for our model was a challenge, especially without the use of the internet. Nothing could compare to the first time that engine turned over though. The sputter, the cough and then a glorious roar. That sound cemented my future as a mechanic, but it also instilled me with the same care and love for broken things that I’d witnessed in them men of my family, as well as my colleagues at work.