I’m a bit cheesed off with the hourly emails from discountgaragekit.com demanding that I ‘create my Dream Garage’. They seem to think I really need a 1000hp dyno, a four-post lift, an air conditioning system and a cocktail bar. This particular customer even forked out for a Chesterfield and, it seems, the same throbbing heartland rock band that all car and bike websites have to feature.
I’m a dreamer all right, but not much of a Dream Customer. My Dream Honeymoon took place not amidst the palm fronds and pellucid waters of Bermuda or Bali, but in a half-finished hotel in Bury St Edmunds. My Dream Kitchen will, one day, have work surfaces that aren’t rotting chipboard, plus an inside temperature slightly greater than zero. I don’t seem to crave a fleet of Dream Bikes, beyond the ancient GS my wife lets me ride (if I’m good and never mention Bury St Edmunds again). I might admit, under interrogation by the Mysterons, that my ideal garage is actually something like the Thunderbird 3 silo on Tracey Island. Never spilling (or boiling) a drop of that swimming pool water, right next to daily rocket launches, was very impressive, when I was seven. (Yes alright, it still is.)
Originally, I was hoping to use the ancient stone shed that came with our house for my various Dream Projects. Tragically, once that had been painted, weather-proofed and made the most horizontal surface in Scotland, it was colonised by Mrs Spark and filled with her tools, bikes, top boxes, top box contents, spirit levels, laptops, panniers, etc. Even my old car engine on a pallet has been cruelly served its eviction notice.
So I’ve been compelled to strike out on my own and become an independent Garagiste. Naturally the planning process has been, shall we say, delicate. (I sometimes wonder if “Conservation Area” refers to the conservation of momentum – as in, let’s conserve it at not having any.) Naturally it’s taken a couple of years to find builders who would turn up within six months of the agreed start date. These have included the guy who built Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (seriously) and a former Tanzanian rugby international who escaped the French Foreign Legion (seriously).
Here is the current state of play. Ok, so it’s not exactly Jay Leno’s Garage – but you should have seen the state it was in before:
No, that’s the after picture, not the before one.
There has been speculation about what lies beneath those boards. Popular guesses include ‘WW2 bunker’, ‘wine cellar’, ‘planning by-laws document vault’, ‘Thunderbird 3’ and ‘Your final resting place’, but my lips are sealed. Let’s just say that I know exactly how far the vault of a certain high street bank is from this spot. Even if I’m not bang-on, a raid on the wool shop would still be a win. Just think of the bonus Dad Points from the daughter who’s developed a lockdown-induced fixation with knitting. Endless, endless knitting. I can foresee a few giant, stripy Motorcycle Cosies in the Christmas stockings this year…
If you google ‘Dream Garage’ you come up with a lot of people in America who have space for 20 supercars, yet inexplicably complain about owning 21 supercars. I’d have been happy enough to have my little projects emerge from the fold-out Chinese tent, covered in tarpaulin fragments, which adorns our front yard. It’s a mixture of Little House on the Prairie and Chernobyl Sarcophagus. We don’t have a Residents’ committee on our street (or at least if we have, they’ve kept it a secret from me). If we did, they would probably have responded to the noise of late-night swearing and angle grinding with some late-night flaming torches. Telling people I was yurt glamping would just heighten concerns that I’d been drinking (or had a particularly sociopathic definition of “glamorous”).
Finishing touches to the Dream Garage will hopefully include luxuries like a door if it ever turns up, plus an intercom for pre-ordering tea. If you have suggestions about tasteful decorative items for the exterior, such as antlers, glass fibre sharks, crossed spanners, neon santas etc, please submit these first in writing to the Planning Polizei of your choice. Just don’t mention the C word, or Paragraph: 014 Reference ID: 17b-014-20140306, or the name of the Garage Dreamer who inspired you.