Father and son work on a clutch of memories

Dad's sitting in the corner of the small couch, reading about historical places.

He looks historical himself sitting there, occasionally rubbing his greying hair while thumbing through the pages.

He decides he's had enough history, places his book back on the bookcase and picks up his keys.

''Luke, come here.''

I get up and follow him out to the front garden like a dog following its master.

He slides the key into the Land Rover and twists.

The lock flicks up with a small grinding noise as age makes its presence known.

''We're gonna bleed the clutch. Now, this may take some time.''

I grunt in agreement.

Dad gets the jack out of the boot, jacks up the front left wheel and slides in an axle stand.

He takes off the front wheels and fiddles around.

He goes to the garage and comes back with a syringe, jar and a clear tube.

''Sit in the driver's seat and pop the bonnet.''

I jump in hesitantly and pop the bonnet.

Once again Dad starts fiddling around; he leaves the engine bay and lies down on the ground, wriggles under the car and says, ''When I say clutch, pump the clutch - Clutch, clutch, clutch!''

This reminds me of the first time I was let loose to drive on the streets.

I came around an uphill corner in third gear and didn't change into second quick enough, so I came to a stop.

As traffic backed up behind me, and my panic rose, an impromptu hill start took place.

The word I had grown so familiar with was repeated.

''Less clutch, more clutch.''

But away I went, I was so proud of my first hill start.

He gets up clutching his jar now filled with a viscous treacle brown liquid. It reminds me of the golden syrup I had on my oats for breakfast.

He uses the syringe to consume the clutch fluid and squirt it back into the clutch reservoir.

He returns to his cold, unyielding bed of stones and shouts, ''Clutch, clutch, clutch!''He stops for a brief reprieve.

''Try the clutch, how's it feel?''

''Looser than an old man's intestines!'' I bellow back.

I faintly hear his laughter carried by the wind, which makes me smile.

We repeat this tedious process for the next hour, until boredom and curiosity consume me.

''What exactly are we doing?'' I say in a monotone voice portraying my boredom.

''Were changing the clutch fluid but there's an air bubble in the reservoir that's stopping the clutch from working properly, so we're trying to get that out,'' Dad explained patiently.

I'm so bored I go and get my iPod, plug it in and play my favourite song.

''Turn that crap off!'' Dad booms.

In response I slam and lock the doors and wind down the window slightly so I can hear his mindless ''clutch, clutch, clutch''.

We try for another 10 minutes, then Dad rejoices, ''Aha!''

He starts jacking up the front left side of the car as far as it will go, trying to bring the bubble towards the drainage plug.

We set out to remove the pesky air bubbles once again and after 10 minutes of relentless, ''clutch, clutch, clutch'' we successfully get the clutch working again.

''Well that took longer than I expected, but at least we got there in the end.''

Dad's perseverance and ingenuity paid off.

''Brakes next,'' he beams at me.

''Nooooo!'' I shout and slide out of the car in a stupor of boredom.

Dad chuckles to himself and starts putting the wheel back on.

Once done he lets the Land Rover down and replaces the jack in the garage.

He walks back out carrying bags of rubbish and chucks them in the boot.

''Wanna drive to the tip.''

He knows I can't say no.

This time I jump in without hesitation.

We set off down the road to the sound of a V8 burble and Earthquake blaring out of the speakers.

 


• By Luke Ryland, Year 13, King's High School

 

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