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.
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。
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。
(Thanks to Natalie for the translation)