I am writing this blog on the 12/12/2012 the day when according to the Mayans the world is going to end, my story is true and is about the events that took place at my Car Sales Pitch on the same date in 2010, after running my own business for 10 years it was the day when I decided it was the end of the World for Barrie Crampton Car Sales.
It had been another crap day at the pitch it was bitterly cold I didn’t feel like talking to anyone I needed my “Quiet Time” but as I locked the door to my Office I saw Mal still beavering away T-cutting the latest addition to his fleet of Sales Cars so I wandered over, Mal was a creature of habit even though it was a Saturday he would work till about 7.00 pm hoping to catch a “Straggler” (Late Customer) when everyone else had gone home.
Mal couldn’t even switch a computer on, he didn’t believe in the Internet and advertising but luckily for him I did, it used to infuriate me as he wasn’t attracting customers to the lot like I was, but when I did there was no guarantee that they would buy one of my cars, he could afford to sell his cheaper as he didn’t have the additional costs that I had, I used to tell him that he wasn’t selling cars, he was buying customers and we had several heated arguments on the subject.
I was in a worse mood than usual, as was often the case I had taken a phone call for him in my Office on my phone number, someone had been stuck in a traffic jam outside and noticed a car they liked, they hadn’t taken a note of the garage name and had just googled “Garages Walton Le Dale” and the results showed me, but it was his car they were interested in, all day and all my hard work trying to get my business ranked on Google, and they were asking about his bloody cars!
After I had told him about the customer who was coming first thing the next day (Sunday at 11.00am the time we officially opened) we talked for a few minutes and discussed other possible Sales that may happen the next day, there was another customer coming to see one of the cars that we owned jointly, again this inquiry had originated from my advert, my website, my video, my video test drive, my pictures, my hard work but his cash, as I walked away shaking my head, cursing and wondering what I was doing wrong that was working out right for Mal, he shouted“ Looks Like It Could Be A Good Day Tomorrow” and laughed, to which I shouted back “Maybe for you, you Lucky Bastard” Mal still used to go out for his 5 pints on a Saturday night (will explain later in the blog) but sometimes it meant that he would oversleep on Sunday Morning, So I added “And make sure you’re here on time tomorrow, because if you think I’m going to talk to them you’re mistaken”
Mal and I had a very strange relationship, I had known him for well over 30 years first as a competitor at the garage up the road from where I worked, then when I changed jobs I used to sell him a lot of our trade cars and he became a customer, he also used to frequent the pubs that I did and I could class him as a friend too, now I was working from the same forecourt as him he was a friend, competitor and we sometimes bought cars together so he was my business partner too, Mal was quite devious with his tactics and would often intercept any customers heading to my side of the pitch, his excuse on many occasions were ridiculous like “I was picking up some litter on the forecourt” we had lots of arguments, which had to be put aside as soon as a customer came on one of our “halvers” for sale cars, and I had still never forgiven him for his immaculately timed “wind up call” a few years earlier, that had caused me to lose my temper and hurl abuse down the phone in front of our mortified Vauxhall Zone Manager (this incident is covered in a separate Blog click here to read it My Big Fat Gypsy Squatters
Mal started off with a small petrol station in the town where I lived, and he used to keep about 5 cars which were for sale each one of them was mint and he had cleaned them to perfection, a lot of the time he would even take the carpets out and clean underneath, who he thought was going to look there I will never know, but I nicknamed him “Heineken” after the beer because he “Refreshed the parts that other Valeters (beers in Heinekens TV advert) couldn’t reach”, No one would have the excuse to Walk Away from one of his cars because it was too dirty, and he was as meticulous with a £500’er as he was with a £5000’er
Nicknames are a big thing in the Motor Trade Mal had tried to get a nickname for me to catch on but it didn’t, for a while he referred to me as Rhino, when asked why he called me that, he said “I was thick-skinned and I knew how to charge” J the name that did sum me up and was immediately adopted was “Crambo” this was a play on words amalgamating Crampton and Sylvester Stallone’s character Johnny Rambo in “First Blood” I admit that I do have ever such a slight tendency to overreact in some situations (substitute Go Ballistic for Over React), and I also have a love for Guns, Clay Pigeon and Combat shooting, My friends and a lot of Motor Dealers still call me Crambo to this day, I don’t mind as I was quite flattered and I also think it’s a lot better than “BAZ”, Over the years Mal earned a few “Nickname’s”, he was a creature of habit and used to drink 5 pints every night, for a while he was known as “ St Ivel” after the makers of a dehydrated milk product which when water was added made yep you’ve guessed it Five Pints.
Another time we were playing football in a competition, Mal was in Goal the ball was passed back to him as he came out to meet it he dropped to the floor clutching his knee, there wasn’t another player anywhere near him so we couldn’t understand it, and he was in our penalty area so it couldn’t even have been the world’s most obvious “Ronaldo” type dive, we stretchered him off (Dragged him to the side) and the rest of us continued the game while Mal writhed around on the touchline, later after a few pints of anesthetic and then a trip to hospital it was discovered that he had torn his ligaments when we were dissecting the game in the bar someone had said that Mal had collapsed like an “MFI Wardrobe” hence his new nickname MFI.
If coming up with nicknames was a superpower I would have it, I have the ability to hit someone right where it hurts, and find their Achilles heel with a name or phrase, not a great claim to fame I grant you but I am proud to say that I was responsible for several of the nick names that he really hated, in the early days of our friendship/feudship I had sold him a very old car for £50.00 (scrap value) I knew it was knackered, he thought it was a bargain and he was pinching it from me, the fault with the car wasn’t immediately obvious and he brought it back about half an hour later and asked for his money back (known in the trade as Cocking), So I christened him “Mal the cocker” that nickname stuck with him, in fairness our garage was at the bottom of a very steep hill and Mal’s garage was right at the top of it, the car I sold him had so little compression left in the engine that despite several attempts he couldn’t get up the hill and back to his car pitch.
The next part of his nickname was added after a game of snooker, we were playing for money and I was in the middle of what would have been my highest break ever, I had just potted the pink, Mal had taken it out of the pocket and replaced it on the table, I potted another Red and screwed back for perfect positioning to take the pink again in to the centre pocket, this is when the controversial moment occurred, Mal had put the Pink back on the Blue spot by mistake but I had thought it was because the Pink spot was covered by a red so it had had to go onto the next highest available spot, Mal said that hadn’t been the case and promptly picked up the Pink and moved it leaving me snookered on every colour, once again my Jekyll and Hide persona took over and “Crambo” smashed the cue ball into the pack as hard as he could and refused to play anymore against “Mal The Cocking Cheat”
I always got into work early and this Sunday morning was no exception I had been there at 7.30am, as was normally the case I was ensconced in an episode of Top Gear with a fresh piping hot cup of freshly filtered coffee in my hand, when a customer knocked on my Cabin, it was my favorite episode of Top Gear the one where Jeremy Clarkson races Hammond and May and Jezzer was in a Bugatti Veyron, and It was Mal’s customers who were interrupting my viewing, Mal was nowhere to be seen, I was cursing, I picked up my mobile and rang his number, it went to answer phone “Mal you lazy tw##, get up your customers here!”
It was obvious this customer wasn’t going to go away and leave me to watch Top Gear in peace, so in an effort to get rid of him I walked over to the main building opened Mal’s Office and got the keys to the car, left the customer looking round it and walked the 200 yards to Mal’s house, ringing him and banging on the door, there was no answer and I was starting to worry a little, I thought he had probably got involved at a Lock-In at the local pub and stayed out the night, but just in case I rang someone who had a key to his house so i could check inside, but still not convinced that he wasn’t just in a beer induced coma I went back to get my flagpole so that I could knock on his bedroom window.
Back at the pitch another customer had turned up, more annoyingly he was interested in yet another of Mal’s cars, again I got the keys for it, valued the first customers part ex and sent both of them out on a test drive, grabbed my flagpole and marched back to Mal’s where I banged on his window, it flew open but it wasn’t Mal, it was his key holder she hadn’t waited for me and had gone inside, she was crying and she shouted, “I can’t wake Mal”.
The door was open and I took the stairs 3 at a time, but Mal wasn’t being Lazy he was being Dead, he looked for all the world like he was just asleep and was on the bed completely dressed except for his shoes and socks, it was obvious he had died the night before when he’d got back from the pub there was nothing I could do, there was no amount of artificial respiration that would bring him back to the land of the living.
The Paramedic arrived and he confirmed that Mal had indeed been dead for several hours and he assured us that he would have gone out like a light and that he wouldn’t have suffered at all, I didn’t feel like it but I went back to my pitch and dealt with his customers, before the Ambulance drove away with Mal in the back I had sold 2 cars for him.
The last thing he had said to me the night before was “it Looks Like It Could Be A Good Day Tomorrow” he was wrong! But I was kind of right, he was a “Lucky Bastard” even though he was dead he’d still sold more cars than me.
RIP Malcolm Buchanan