Casefile 1: Big Jim’s Breaker’s Yard Bour­ton-on-the Wa­ter

VIZ - - Letterbocks -

When look­ing for a scrap­yard in the beau­ti­ful Cotswolds, you are spoiled for choice. Ev­ery honey-stoned pic­ture post­card vil­lage seems to have a tra­di­tional metal recla­ma­tion yard nestling amongst its streets of charm­ingly quaint thatched cot­tages. How­ever one estab­lish­ment that I would hes­i­tate to rec­om­mend to any­one is Big Jim’s Breaker’s Yard 1010 miles out­side Bour­ton-on-the Wa­ter.

I checked in just be­fore lunchtime, hav­ing pre­vi­ously phoned up to re­serve a wind­screen wiper mo­tor from a 1978 Peu­geot 504. But when I got to re­cep­tion, which was housed in an old car­a­van that had clearly seen bet­ter days, the surly manager in­formed me that my par t wasn’t ready.

The manager ex­plained that he’d had a lot of trou­ble with peo­ple ring­ing his yard and ask­ing him to re­move car partspar ts and then not turn­ing up to col­lect them. I couldn’t help notic­ing that his hands were filthy and his oily over­alls looked like that hadn’t been washed for a cou­ple of days at least. Not a good first im­pres­sion.

He told me that it would take him about half an hour to get the mo­tor, and I could wait in re­cep­tion. Or, he sug­gested, I


was wel­come to head out into the yard and get it my­self. He would even lend me a socket set. Need­less to say I de­clined his of­fer.

I sat down in the rudi­men­tary wait­ing area, on what ap­peared to be the front seat of a Vaux­hall Vic­tor that had been crudely mounted on a Handy An­gle frame. The fa­cil­i­ties were spar­tan to say the least: no wi-fi,no ta­ble ser­vice and no cof­fee-mak­ing fa­cil­i­ties. The only things to read were a cou­ple of trade mag­a­zines and an air­gun cat­a­logue, all of which were dog-eared and cov­ered in oily fin­ger­prints.

Af­ter about forty min­utes, the manager re­turned with my car part, which he plonked down un­cer­e­mo­ni­ously on the counter. Pre­sen­ta­tion clearly doesn’t take much pri­or­ity at Big Jim’s. The wiper mo­tor was cov­ered in a layer of thick black dirt and flecked with rust. The power ca­bles had been crudely nipped, leav­ing bare cop­per wire vis­i­ble.

The manager brusquely in­formed me he wanted twenty pounds for it, but as I’d been quoted fif­teen pounds on the phone I queried the bill. He ex­plained that it had been a bas­tard to get out and showed me an oily gash on his thumb where he’d cut it open on the Peu­geot’s bulk­head. I re­luc­tantly handed over the cash, which he folded up and stuffed into his over­alls pocket.

When I asked if some­one could or­der me a taxi, the manager mum­bled some­thing in­audi­ble and wan­dered off into the back room. I checked out and waited fruit­lessly out­side the re­cep­tion area for nearly forty-five forty-fiveminutes.min­utes. In the end I was forced to set off on foot for the near­est town.

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