Fresh Beginnings ( Pt 3 )
Dear diary...my first year working at the car parts factory went pretty quickly. With Christmas coming and going, the festive season had been much anticipated and spent down in Bristol at my parents house. Mum had no idea how to approach the situation of my second marriage coming to an end, but she was now getting used to my unpredictably, so kept off the subject of nagging me knowing I was quite stubborn when making up my own mind about my life.
Not much occurred during that second year until early Summer. One hot balmy night I drove into the works car park as I always did, dreading the thought of yet another night of slogging away on a machine. Grabbing my bag with sandwiches and my walkman, I always liked to listen to my tapes of music I enjoyed while I was working, though they did have a radio, but never played the kind of sounds that entertained me.
My attention was suddenly caught by a humongous touring motor bike leaning against the wall, I hadn't seen so much chrome and leather in many years. The first thought that came to mind was that someone new had started working at the factory. All my thoughts of being single went out the factory door. “Oh! Be still my beating heart,” I said to myself. I hoped it was someone good looking.
As soon as I walked through the entrance I was intrigued as to know who the owner of the bike was. Having about five minutes to spare after taking my card and clocking on, I made my way over to my locker which I'd named Pandora's box, because I liked the name. Placing my bag inside and locking the door I gazed around, the only people I could see were Jane and the other two men I worked with, so decided to make my way down to the mold shop. As usual Robbie who had taken over as boss made himself known. “You coming to work on the machines?” He inquired in his usual sarcastic tone.
“You must be kidding!” I replied, walking straight past him, avoiding eye contact.
“Then there's no reason for you to be down here.” He loved to push his authority buttons, being one of the guys who used to wind me up when I first started.
I didn't answer and took no notice of him just continuing on my way, knowing as long as I didn't give him ammunition, he would probably be too busy to hang about. I was right as he headed into his so called office, but was actually just a room where the copy machine was and works telephone sat on the desk.
Wandering in among the machines, the usual people were ready to start work at 10pm, but nobody new was here, so I made my way back to the section I worked. Jane had already started her usual job of painting and checking moldings. She was so quick, I just couldn't keep up with her, but then I've never been competitive, it's just not my style.
I had a shock when I went over to my machine, some idiot on days had tipped all the contacts into the bin and all over the floor. Now I'd have to sort through all the good ones and throw the rest out, making my job twice as hard. I found out later that some kid that had started new on days, thought it would be fun to throw the contacts around and mess up the whole system. Well! I could have cried at the waste. No wonder this company is loosing money! I thought to myself. The kid got a right telling off when I told the boss in the morning, but sadly things didn't change and the boy in question got the sack.
When first break came at 12am, I couldn't wait to get into the canteen and check out any new faces. Walking through the canteen doors with my bag, I was disappointed to see the usual workers, so as me and Jane sat down with the other two men working with us, I decided to ask her if she knew who the bike belonged to.
We sat down opposite each other. “Hey! Jane.” I said in a hushed whisper, not wanting the men to hear me. “Have you seen that motor bike outside?”
Jane smiled and I think she knew where I was going with my question. “Yeah! It belongs to Phil.”
I was so surprised. “What! Phil the machine maintenance guy?” I asked, feeling smug as he was the man that had helped me with all the jobs around the house. Jane nodded and smiled again. I was just about to interrogate Jane further when who should walk in but Phil. As he made his way over to the coffee machine, I decided to approach him, suddenly feeling flushed, I'd never felt anything for him before, but whether it was because he had this huge motor bike, suddenly my interest in him became clear.
Phil beamed asking if I wanted a coffee. “No thanks!” I said. “I've got one, but I'd love to have a closer look at your beautiful bike...it's amazing.” Was all I could think of to say.
“Sure!” He uttered. “Just let me get a drink and you can check it out.”
Phil was a great guy and we'd been friends since I started at the factory, but that was all we'd been; just friends. I found it strange when suddenly I was beginning to have feelings for him. “I didn't know you had a touring bike,” I uttered, “when did you get it?” I could feel my face getting hotter as it flushed, it was out of control,
Phil didn't mention anything about my redness at first. “I've had it a couple of months, but never driven it to work before.” He replied. “So! You like motor bikes do you?”
“Yeah!” Was my reply. “I sure do.”
Without any hesitation he asked outright. “How do you fancy going for a ride on it sometime?” His big blue eyes seemed to light up.
Now my heart was beginning to beat fast, this was like a dream come true, it had been so long since I'd been on the back of a real bike. “I'd love to, just name the day,” I declared, suddenly laughing hysterically and rubbing my hands together as I jumped about with excitement.
Phil gazed at me with eyes piercing my very soul . “You're well and truly blushing, aren't you?” Now he had a smug expression when he saw that twinkle in my eye.
Not knowing where to look, I said, “My coffee's getting cold, I'll see you later and arrange a day to go out.” I just wanted to get back and let Jane in on what had just occurred.
Wandering back into the canteen, I felt like the cat that had just got the cream. Of course Jane knew before I even sat down what was going on. “So! When's he taking you out on the bike?” She asked nonchalantly.
“How did you know what was going on?” I was annoyed, because I wanted to give her the news myself.
There were no flies on Jane, she knew exactly what was going on.“Oh! I can see how you flirt with him when he comes up and talks to you at your machine.”
I had no idea what she meant and certainly wasn't aware of it myself. A lot of people came up and talked to me when I was working. “Well!” I said, “you know a lot more than me, because I've never been aware that I flirt.”
“Don't worry!” She whispered. “There's nothing wrong and he's a nice guy.” She then continued to inform me that sometimes people on the outside can see more into a relationship, than the person who's in the situation. I wasn't very happy about this, because I wasn't really interested in finding a partner and certainly not someone I worked with, but I still wanted a ride on the back of his machine.
My excitement was more than I could bear, when at the end of my shift, he came up to me and announced he would take me to a bike show on the next Saturday and would pick me up about midday. “Have you got a helmet?” He mentioned. By now I was smiling so much my upper lip was twitching, so pursing my lips together I announced that no, I didn't have a helmet, but I did have a leather jacket.
“That's okay!” He declared. “I've got a spare helmet which I'll bring along with me.” So it was organized and I couldn't wait.
Saturday morning came, I managed to get about three hours kip, but was way too exhilarated to sleep. My son luckily had caught the train to his dad's, so I wouldn't have to explain myself to him, going through the rigmarole of where and who I was going out with.
As arranged he turned up at midday with spare helmet in hand, I was already at the door ready for the off. Placing the helmet on I was geared up with my leathers and rearing to go.
There my carriage awaited gleaming in the sun, what a way to travel I thought to myself. Stepping on to the back seat and sitting down, it wasn't like a bike, more like being in a vehicle but without doors, I'd never been on such an amazing machine, I was in heaven, I could well understand why they called it a touring bike. He even had microphones built into the helmets so you could listen to music as you drove along...how amazing is that! I asked myself.
You could also get up to great speed and hardly feel like you were moving, it was like flying, such a smooth machine. We flew along the open roads for what seemed like only a while, but we'd actually been on the road for nearly two hours. I was enjoying the ride so much, I had no idea of time and the seat was so comfortable I could have quite happily carried on.
I could see a lot of bikers as we pulled into what was a car park, there were so many bikes there, I was gobsmacked and desperate to have a look around. My favorite bike, which if I could ride was an Indian, there were loads of them parked up and I was in heaven right now.
First we looked around the many stalls that were under cover and I was surprised at the amount of gear you could buy, though you'd need a small fortune to get kitted up properly. Phil insisted on buying me a top which I emphatically said he shouldn't, but he wouldn't take no for an answer. So here I was, not only on one of the best days in a long time, but also the bonus of a new T-shirt.
The icing on the cake was when Phil asked if I'd like to take a ride on the back of an Indian bike with him. Of course I wasn't going to say no...just wish I could ride one myself. After paying this man for the hire of the bike, we set off in a convoy with the many other Indian bike riders. It's such a wild feeling riding with other bikers as we cruised along. I felt so safe with Phil because he was an excellent rider.
Suddenly all my memories of the early 1970s came flooding back, with the scenery of fields flashing by, it was such an adrenaline rush. I remember being a passenger on the back of a Kawasaki with a guy who used to race bikes, he would take me on hairy rides around bends, where we would go so fast and our knees would almost be touching the ground, but again I felt nothing but excitement and no fear at all.
The ride went far too quick for me as we arrived back at base. There were literally loads of leather clad people discussing other peoples bikes and enjoying the day, some guys even came up to Phil and wanted to know about his machine, he was quite happy discussing engines, pistons and exhausts among other bike related paraphernalia.
One guy had an old Triumph Tiger bike which was in pretty good condition considering how old they are. I remember going out with a guy back in the 1970s who had one of the only Tigers still around, but he never rode it because of the fact it was an antique, so that's why seeing this one left me so enthusiastic.
Pretty soon sadly it was time to go. It had been a brilliant day out and we had no rain thank goodness, there's nothing worse than riding in heavy rain. Phil asked me if I'd like to come back to his house for a while, at first I wasn't sure, I know I'd been working with him for over a year, but I still didn't know much about his personal life, though I'm a pretty good judge of character and couldn't see there would be a problem as my son was at his dad's for the weekend, also I didn't fancy going back to an empty house, so agreed.
We hit the road once again and it seemed to be quicker coming back than going. I found myself closing my eyes and just drifting with the music from the helmet speakers, feeling like I was in the Easy Rider movie...I do love to dream! The other great thing about bike riding, is acknowledging other riders going in the opposite direction, there's always a hand wave, or a thumbs up which makes you feel a part of something special.
When we pulled up at his house, I noticed how much of a handy man he was, the garden was immaculately neat and tidy, this man seemed to good to be true. Taking my helmet off and stepping off the bike, we then walked up the path and as he put the key in the door, I noticed the curtains twitch and two little faces popped up. Phil smiled and waved to them, but I felt slightly uncomfortable having thought we would be alone.
As we entered two young girls came out of the front room shouting;
“Granddad!” Which then led them to grab his legs, while I lagged behind wondering what was going on.
Walking down the hallway I was led into the kitchen where a woman probably slightly older than me was sat at a table smoking a cigarette and drinking wine. She gazed at me and grinned, though I was taken aback when Phil introduced us.
“This is Jenny my wife, Jenny meet Jenny from work.” I swallowed feeling uncomfortable, but didn't want to show I was surprised, so just grinned back with lips pursed, thinking to myself! Phil never told me he was married and he certainly didn't wear a wedding ring.
Phil then introduced me to the two girls that were still grabbing his legs for attention. “These are my Grandchildren Tess and Jessie. Say hello to Jenny.” The two girls coward away hiding their faces in Phil's legs with shyness, I could tell they were feeling as uncomfortable as me, so I just said; “Hi!” To which they promptly ran out into the hallway and I could hear them clambering up the stairs giggling to themselves.
“Sorry about that!” Replied Phil. “Would you like a glass of wine?”
Well! I wasn't about to say no, so accepted his offer. Taking off my jacket and placing it with my helmet on a chair I sat down at the table opposite Jenny, as she poured me a glass.
I found I got on really well with his wife, though I did still feel uncomfortable talking about mine and Phil's day out. She never seemed to mind that he came over and helped me with jobs around my house and was enthusiastic to hear of my life, not knowing how I coped with a teenage son and so many jobs.
The Grandchildren were finally picked up by their parents. As the evening wore on we drank into the night. I found out they had an open relationship. Of course nothing had happened between us. I'm glad I found out about Jenny before anything did happen, because I would never want to be a home wrecker, even if she was prepared to let him do what he wanted.
They offered me to stay the night as Phil was drinking, so I thought it would be for the best. I could have got a taxi home, but I was enjoying their hospitality too much.
Nearing bedtime I was flopped down on the sofa and feeling sleepy, when Jenny said. “Come on...time for bed!” She grabbed my hand and led me out the door and up the stairs to a room with a big double bed in. Then too my shock horror began undressing.
“Where are you and Phil sleeping?” I asked wondering what was going on.
“Oh! Don't worry about Phil, he's quite comfy in the spare room.”Stripped down and naked, she hopped into bed and slapped the quilt cover. “Come on, I won't bite.” She uttered staring up at me with a sleepy expression.
I was so nervous and didn't know what to do next, so got under the quilt fully clothed. Thankfully nothing happened, as we both fell asleep pretty quickly, but after that situation nothing was the same between me and Phil, although we still spoke in work, I never went as far as chasing after him. Later I found out he wore his wedding ring around his neck, because of the job working with machines.
But thankfully my social life was starting up again as I met up with some old friends and so there were new times on the horizon.
To be continued...