Winter time in England can be very cold. On Fridays I collected Barbara from the railway station and she had sit on the back of my motorbike. This was no fun in the winter. I also drove with the bike from Norwich to Cambridge and back in the weekends, a drive which took about 2 hours each way. During winter I wrapped my boots in plastic bags to stop them from getting wet. Half way I had to stop to warm up in a coffee bar and when I got to my room it would take a long time before the numb feeling was out of my fingers and toes. Therefore it seemed a good idea to us to buy a car. It was the first thing that that we bought together. A friend of ours knew a good car that was for sale and it wasn't very expensive, 250 pounds, so we bought it.

Well the engine of the car was ok but the rest was hopeless. Because of this car we became experts in car mechanics. I have spent a lot of time on that car and Barbara did her share. I still remember Barbara on a Saturday morning with a sanding machine in her hands attacking the never ending rust of that car. The brake cylinders leaked, sometimes it would also leak petrol, the water pump broke down, the clutch hardly worked and it took me two whole days to mend that, it had holes everywhere. It was just a pile of rust. The most spectacular thing was the time that we had to inject petrol with a syringe in the petrol pump in order to get it started. As we didn't have much money we bought al our parts at the scrap yard and mended everything ourselves as far we could. But it was our car and we were kind of proud of it.

Funny though that Barbara became a beauty queen while she lived absolutely not like one in England. As she didn't mind getting her hands dirty or scratched with working in the fish and chip shop or at college with the weaving and knitting machines or with repairing cars. I don't think many fans knew this side of Barbara.

The car also became a test case for my negotiation skills. Barbara could never understand why I always payed the price people asked. I never negotiated, I suppose I couldn't be bothered and I didn't want the hassle and the discussions. Barbara was right when she said to me "The way you live your life you have half the worries but it is twice so expensive. I am sure you live a long life".

Barbara did negotiate and she thought it would be a good idea if I learned it as well. One day our car had to go to the garage because it failed its MOT. Barbara and I agreed that I was going to do the negotiations and she would watch and if necessary help me out. I did my best but the garage owner was not impressed, we didn't get a lower price. When I asked Barbara later what she thought about my efforts, all she said: ˜well you did your best". After that she never made any more comments about my lack of efforts in doing negotiations. I guess she had given up on me on that part.

eerste auto

Our car, a Hillman Minxs, picture taken by Barbara at the University of East Anglia. I am wearing a Chinese silk coat that Barbara had given me.



英格兰的冬天可以很冷的。每个周五我都到火车站接Barbara,她就坐我摩托车后座上。冬天里这可不是什么享受的事情。我还得骑车从Norwich到剑桥,周末再骑回来,单程需要大约2个小时。在冬天,我用塑料袋把我的靴子包起来,这样子它们就不会湿掉。在途中我不得不停下来到一个咖啡吧里暖和一下。 我回到住所的时候,总要过很长时间冻麻的手指和脚趾才能恢复知觉。因此买辆车应该是个好主意。车是我们共同购买的第一件东西。我们的一个朋友知道有辆好车要卖出,价钱也不贵,250磅。 我们就买下来了。

这部车除了引擎还ok之外,其他部分都无可救药。因为这部车,我们俩几乎成为汽修专家。我在这车上花费了很多时间,Barbara也干了不少活。 我至今还记得一个周六的早晨,Barbara手中握着个砂轮机,打磨车上没完没了的锈。这车的汽缸是漏的。有时候还漏汽油。水泵也坏了。离合器几乎不能工作, 我花了两天时间才修好。车上哪儿哪儿都是洞,根本是一堆锈铁。最精彩的事情是我们得用一个注射器给油泵加汽油,才能启动汽车。因为我们没有多少钱,我们在废车场买了所有的零件,只要我们能自己修的我们都自己动手。尽管如此,这是我们自己的车,我们还是比较为它感到骄傲的。

有趣的是Barbara后来成了选美女王,她在英国的时候绝对没有像选美女王那样生活着。 她毫不介意自己的双手弄脏或是变得粗糙,她在炸鱼薯条店里工作,在大学里操作编织机器,修理汽车。我想她的影迷们不会知道她的这一面吧。

这部车也是一个考验我谈判技巧的案例。 Barbara从来不能理解为什么我总是别人要多少钱就付多少钱。我想我是觉得麻烦,不愿意去争论讲价钱。Barbara说过我,"你这么活着只有别人一半的烦恼,但是付别人两倍的价钱。我估计你会长寿的。" 我想她说得没错。

Barbara通常负责讲价钱,她觉得如果我学着点也是个不错的主意。一天因为车子没通过旧车性能检测我们必须把车送去汽车修理店了。 Barbara和我决定由我主谈价钱,她在边上看着,如果需要的话,她再出面帮我。我竭尽全力了,可以维修店老板不买账,一分钱也没能讲下来。后来我问Barbara我的表现如何,她只是说了句,"噢,你尽力了。"从此以后她再也没有对我的谈价无能发表过更多评论。我猜她是对我这方面彻底放弃了。


(Thanks to Natalie for the translation)



# What's next?Karin 2012-09-14 12:34
Rob what happened after? How did u guys break up? How did she end up leaving Uk?
# RE: What's next?Rob 2012-09-14 14:00
The coming weeks I will add the remaining stories, including the break up.
# RE: Our car 我们的车 1979Karin 2012-09-14 14:04
Thank you! Thank you for sharing with us your beautiful journey with Barbara. 27yrs passed but the feeling of her passing was still very fresh to me. I was only 11. I will keep following your stories.

# RE: 32. Our car 我们的车 1979Sandy 2019-06-13 01:21
Hi Rob,
"The way you live your life you have half the worries but it is twice so expensive. I am sure you live a long life". What a precocious wisdom of saying these words by her at that age. The tough life made her realized this earlier than most of us. Thinking of she always expressed her bright side in front of the public, and tasted her past makes me feel painful again
Thanks for your sharing to let us more understand Barbara and to feel the same as what Barbara ever experienced.
# RE: 32. Our car 我们的车 1979Rob 2019-06-13 09:27
Yes, she was much more mature than I was at that age
# Barbara was smart!Ken Chau 2020-06-16 12:02
Barbara was pretty smart and knew how to bargain. She was the pack leader, no doubt!

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