Both our bowling involvements had been minimum during the season and we were certainly not in line for winning club trophies.    Sadly, Ella could not come to terms with the rift with Laura, making her depressed for most of the time at home.

Both her other daughters were fully aware of their mother’s state of mind.   Janet got in touch with us to let us know that she had arranged for Ella to see Laura during August.    We could stay at Janet’s house where we could visit Ludlow for the day and hopefully mother and daughter would resolve their differences.

During our stay at Tanworth in Arden, Janet and Bob made us welcome, with Jane and Louise challenging us to a game of bridge.   This, of course, was to remind us of our camping holiday in France with them a few years previously.   We arrived on the Sunday, enabling Ella to discuss with Janet how she should handle this meeting with Laura the following day.   Bob always seemed  to understand Laura’s husband, Peter and felt sure that everything would work out alright.

The following Monday morning, Ella was shaking with fear that things would not work out right.   Janet decided to persuade Ella to make a phone call to Laura and ask what time she should come to Ludlow.   The only message from Laura to her mother was “No useful purpose can be served by coming over!”

Ella broke into tears, with Janet trying to console her, without avail.   All that Ella wanted to do was go home.   I too, was shaken, not knowing how to come to terms with this cruel treatment by Ella’s daughter to her mother.    I was certain that Ella would need medical treatment for her shock to the nervous system.    This trip home, in silence, brought back memories of the abortive trip to Ludlow, when we were not allowed to see Laura’s baby boy after his birth.

We are taught in the Lord’s Prayer to forgive one another.   This, I found impossible and could only find one explanation, in that Laura was not well in breaking one of the ten commandments, ‘Honour thy father and mother, that thy days may be long in the land God giveth thee.’

I was resolved not to mention anything adverse about Laura to further increase Ella’s anguish and it was in silence that we retired to bed soon after we arrived home.

The following morning, I assumed Ella was fast asleep, as I dressed and went downstairs to prepare the breakfast, which I had done through all my married life.   Taking their breakfast, be it Gladys or Ella, upstairs to eat in bed, seemed to be acceptable to both of them.    This suited me, for I liked the quietness, whilst having my food in the kitchen to start the day.

This morning was different, only Ella’s eyes moved, as she watched me place the tray on the side table.   She was unable to sit up in bed to receive her breakfast, only her right arm moved, pointing to her left side with a pained look.    After asking if it had gone to sleep, and not getting any kind of answer, although her chin had moved, I realised there was something seriously wrong.     In the process of sitting her up and placing a pillow behind her, it was evident that her left side was useless.

The standard breakfast was a tray of cereal and toast, with tea, which I placed on her lap.   When attempting to speak to me, her mouth twisted and the voice was slurred and I could only decipher a word here and there.   Eventually, she came to terms with her disability and was able to use the spoon with her right hand and drink her tea.

Within an hour I managed to get the duty doctor to call, Dr Robinson, who was also our family doctor.   He asked me a number of questions, including “Had she had any recent worries?”

During this short spell of questions and answers, Ella’s eyes seemed to pierce me as a warning to keep Laura’s name out of the enquiry.   When she was asked to raise her left hand to her nose, she had understood the request, for the hand was partially lifted.     On completion of further tests on the heart and pulse, his general conclusion was that she had suffered a mild stroke during the night.

Dr Robinson’s diagnosis came as no surprise since I had seen the stroke symptoms at the Havant Stroke Club on Monday mornings.    He would arrange for an occupational therapist to visit us and make an appointment to visit St James’ Hospital for further examination and to specify the appropriate treatment.    I was required to contact social services to arrange for a carer to make regular visits.

The occupational therapist from the Havant War Memorial Hospital gave advice on how to cope, the emphasis being on allowing the stroke patient to cope on their own, whenever possible.   Ella was able to walk dragging her left leg, and was advised by Karen Grose, the therapist, to negotiate the stairs in a sitting down position.   The most difficult problem for Ella was only to be able to use an eating implement in the left hand.   The therapist stressed that new cells in the brain can be trained to replace the damaged ones in the co-ordination of physical movements.

The home care manager, Drew Gurney, from the social services department called within a few days after contacting this service, to assess our needs.    After taking details, including our ages, she agreed that, at 76, home help was needed and she would recommend that we had a carer for two hours each week.

When I was transferred to this area, I was aware that there was a very good health service and also a good social service.   Little did I realise then, how much I should be dependent on them.    This was even more true when an appointment came through for Ella to see Dr Mani at St James’ at 1.30pm on the 24th September.   After she had had this appointment, she would have both her medical and social needs examined, including those of her carer’s support on the domestic scene.

When Dr Mani had examined Ella at the appointed time, I was called into her surgery.   This small Indian lady doctor was very concerned how I was coping, and that I must let them know if I needed support of any kind.   She then disclosed that my wife’s brain had been damaged in the area affecting personality, motivation and depression.    These cells could not be replaced by unused cells, and could only be repaired by medical treatment, subject to the blood condition, which would have to be checked.   In the meantime, she should attend the weekly clinic in her ward at St James’ each Tuesday.

When taking up driving for Havant stroke club, I had no idea that Ella would one day be a stroke patient and experience the benefit of getting out and socialising and sharing each other’s problems.    It brought home the fact that there are many worse stroke cases, particularly those who were confined to a wheelchair.    This Monday morning routine, coupled with the Tuesday attendance at St James’ clinic, gave her something to look forward to each week.

At St James’, she met a member of the staff who played bowls at Leigh Park bowling club and had played against the ladies at this neighbouring club.    When she told me this, tears came to her eyes at not being able to come to terms with having to give up the game.

To keep Ella’s morale up, I endeavoured to take her out in the car each day, which could be a drive in the country to Hoggs Lodge, with a trip to the coast the following day.

Harry had been remarkably stable during the year, and was upset when he learned of his step-mother’s stroke.   We called on him once a week, and were always greeted by Sylvia, who was never without a smile.  If the weather was favourable, we took Harry for a ride around Southsea front, and occasionally sat Ella on a folding chair on the beach.

I had booked a short break at Minehead for the 14th October, before Ella’s stroke, and decided that if she was well enough, we should go.   This would give us an opportunity to see Barbara at Dunster, whilst staying at the Saga hotel facing the Esplanade and sea.

I was satisfied that my sickly green Allegro, with 70,000 miles on the clock, was in good mechanical order, for it had never let us down and could take us to Minehead and back.  It was quite spacious inside, although an old model of ‘V’ registration, and it could be comfortable for Ella to spread out on the back seat.

With frequent breaks at motorway cafés, we reached Minehead during the afternoon on Monday, 14th October, to join the Saga party.   We would not be seeing much of this group, for did not Barbara have a small job for me in the back garden?   This was an archway at the end of her garden path, so that she could see from her kitchen windows, climbing rose plants growing over this lattice structure.

Also, Andrew and Linda wanted us to call at Coombe Martin to visit Linda’s parents, William and Joan, particularly as her Dad had not been too well.     The latter became our first priority, so that Monday night, after our meal at the hotel I ensured the car had petrol and oil for the morrow’s trip and that I had identified the most interesting route.    This was planned as a round journey, via Exmoor to Blackmoor Gate and to Coombe Martin, returning by the coastal road Porlock and the inland road to Minehead.

We saw Barbara for a short time in the evening, after she had been at Hinckley Point, working  during the day.    Her concern was for her mother’s health, and she was relieved to learn after I had cut up her meat, she was able to eat her evening meal.  

Another purpose for the archway, I learned was to block the view from the bottom garden gate by people on the recreation ground.    So, on Wednesday, Alan, get on with it!

Our journey through woods and moors via Wheddon Cross and then along the B3224 road to Coombe Martin, provided us with some splendid views of Exmoor, with the witnessing of a fox hunt taking place at Simonsbath.

William and Joan were delighted to see us in their bungalow, which backed onto the farm they had previously owned at Bizzacote Road.   William was keen to show me the long back garden, where he had a vegetable patch to keep him occupied.    I saw the field, known as the Ball Point, adjacent to William’s garden and again, I was reminded of the nightmare trip on the Granddad tractor, as he took me up the incline on this field, causing me to fall off the back of the tractor, due to both the bumpy ground and steepness.   Strange way to make an impact on the future father-in-law of his Granddaughter, Linda!

Ella could still not get used to their cats not being allowed in the home, as they sat on the window sills.   Joan always spoke highly of Andrew, and was impressed with his residence at Shrewsbury, and with the town itself when they stayed there.

Before leaving, I told them we were returning via the coastal route, but she advised me to return the same way as we had come, as did William.   They thought that Porlock Hill would be too difficult to go down, it was notorious for motorists to be rescued!   I smiled, for why should this 1in4 be more difficult that the Hardknott Pass in the Lake District?

It was not until we joined the A39 road at Blackmores Gate that, after passing the minor road on our left, signposted to Hunters Inn, that we eventually sighted the coast and sea, stopping at Lynton for a short break, to give Ella a chance to look around the shops and for us both to have a snack.

On leaving this quiet little seaside village, rejoining the A39 road, we noticed Brendan Common signposted on our right, reminding us that we were close to the Lorna Doone country.   I was surprised with the amount of traffic on the road in the direction of Porlock, at this time of year.   A toll road on our left, signposted to Porlock, together with the slowing down of traffic, warned me that we would soon be approaching the ill-famous 1in4 Porlock Road.   This was confirmed, as we read the road warning, “Get into low gear” by further signs of “1in4 gradient!”

I was glad that Ella was sitting on the back seat, where it is not so visible when the driver is making a mess of things.   I had always been taught to use the gears as a brake, to save the brakes from wearing and getting hot.   As we started to go down the incline, nose to tail, I found that I could not disengage the clutch, and had to use both the foot and handbrakes to avoid hitting the car in front.   The car was behaving like a steed, when its rider pulls on its reins, causing it to arrest its speed, resulting in side movements.   There were a number of ‘S’ and ‘U’ bends, which had to be negotiated using only one hand on the steering wheel.   I had an occasional thought that the driver to my rear would have suspected that I was drunk.

During this battle of the brake versus the gears and engine, Ella was not aware of the danger that she was in, which greatly helped me to keep my cool.    Miraculously, we reached the bottom of the hill, passing the end of the toll road on our left.  My thoughts were then that perhaps we should have used it and avoided the situation I was now in.    I was unable to stop in the High Street, but managed to pull up in a side lane and send for the RAC.      I took Ella into a local café, when she told me she knew that I was having problems and kept her eyes closed most of the time.

To my surprise a breakdown recovery vehicle arrived from PG Hayes of Minehead, and not from the RAC, who had assigned this garage to answer my call.    The mechanic soon assessed that my Allegro was not roadworthy, and took us back to our hotel in his vehicle, towing our car behind him.   Fortunately, the garage was only a five minute walk away from where we were staying, enabling me to call the following day to hear the result of the their examination of the clutch.      The next morning I had a call from the owner of the garage, Mr Hayes, shortly after breakfast, stating that a new clutch unit had to be ordered and fitted, which he did not think could be done before Friday.

This was not a serious matter, compared to the danger we had been in going down Porlock Hill with a faulty clutch.   We would now have to go to Barbara’s by bus, and get on with the lattice archway.    Fortunately, there was a structure in place already, it was a matter of securing a suitable wooden lattice that could be attached and bent into an arch.   My usual source for obtaining wood pieces was the sawmill just on the outskirts of this small village of Dunster.   Ella, not being very mobile, was quite happy to occupy herself, while I got on with the business of finding lattice material.   My trip to the sawmill proved abortive, so I decided to return to Park Street and phone the garden nursery at Minehead, where we bought the California Glory climber, which had now spread its branches along the trellis attached to the hut at the rear of the garden.   Yes, they had strips of suitable material and would be open late enough for Barbara to collect after she returned from work at Hinckley Point.

We spent Thursday again at Barbara’s, while Alan ‘got on with it’, having obtained all the necessary bits and pieces the previous night.

Alan’s archway was completed by the time Barbara returned from work, and seemed pleased with the end product.   Thus, I had put my stamp on Barbara’s garden, which I knew gave her immense satisfaction.    She had inherited her mother’s gardening interests and was only too pleased to receive advice from her Mum in her garden arrangement.

We all went back to our hotel, where Barbara joined us for an evening meal, and insisted that the drinks were on her.

The garage had been promised that the clutch unit would be delivered Friday morning and said that the car could be ready by midday to allow us to return home.   This did take place, and I was pleased when we arrived home, that this trip had been achieved.    Mission accomplished!

Not only were Ella’s bowling days over for the present,   but also her bridge sessions, in which she had gained confidence at both the Monday afternoon sessions at the bowls club during the winter, and the Thursday evening sessions at the local senior bridge club, Doyle House.

During the year I had collected a couple of prizes at bridge in duplicate competitions.  I overhead one pair of doctors talking at the hotel bar, “I do not know what went wrong this time, for we always win in this type of duplicate bridge.”   Of course, they had not come across a player like myself, who enjoys making bids without the necessary high point count.   Not for nothing was I always greeted with these words by Dora when I came to sit at her table, “I hate you.  I never know what cards you have in your hand.”   This was always how I wanted it.  

The second prize, a trophy, was at Emsworth bridge club, with my partner, Alan Wagg, where we had been winners of the 1991 duplicate bridge competition, which was played each month throughout the year.  My partner, who was the club captain, was of the same ilk as myself, for at times I thought he was bidding off the opponents hand.   We were able to say what we liked about each other’s bidding, without taking offence, which made our game relaxing to play.

On the bowling scene, I had reduced my activities to Friday afternoons’ All Change Drives and combination league one night a week.    Although I entered the club’s competitions, I was soon knocked out of each section.    I avoided playing in friendly matches at weekends to remain with Ella, since her playing days were over for the present.   This also applied to watching the game, for all it did for Ella was to produce tears at not being able to take part.

During November, Janet collected her mother so that I could have a break from Monday to Friday, playing bridge at the Holiday Fellowship guest house at Freshwater Bay, Isle of Wight.   The main event each day was duplicate competitive bridge.  Most pairs had their regular partner, which gave them an advantage against pairs who had not played together previously.   My partner for the week was from the north, an elderly widower, like myself, and was able to play my variable club, which enabled us to come halfway in the final results at the end of the week.

The main benefit of this guest house was that it was pleasantly situated overlooking the Bay and on the cliff downs, with some easy walks.   I was also able to walk to the local village’s indoor swimming pool and have a swim.    We had good food, sitting at different tables for each meal, providing fresh company, as is the custom in this Holiday Fellowship organisation.

The director had a desk type computer to obtain the results immediately the same day, which I found too much like a business.   Not only does the participant in duplicate bridge become acquainted with other bridge players, but also to different systems and conventions.    I have always practised ‘KISS’ - keep it simple.

I returned home via the same route I had come - ferry across to Lymington, and then by train to Southampton, where I changed to catch the train to Havant.

Before I finally departed from Freshwater, I remembered to say farewell to Tennyson’s monument, sited on the cliff downs, who had been our Poet Laureate in the early 1800’s.

The pattern of our Christmas week remained very much as in recent years.   Harry arrived home Christmas eve by taxi, staying for Christmas dinner.    He had his usual quota of nuts to crack, as always, and was keen to return to Outram Road after his Christmas dinner, confirming that he was settled there.

Sending Christmas cards to my grandchildren was always a careful matter, ensuring that none of them were left out, particularly where the presents were concerned.   With Mark Thomas having been added to the fold, there were six to be remembered - Joy, Peter, Jonathan, Elizabeth, Christopher, and Mark Thomas, whose ages ranged from 14 to a few months.     When at Coombe Martin, Linda’s mother, Joan, thought Thomas Mark would be the last addition.   It seemed that Linda had set her mind on having six children!

As we left 1991, two factors helped to reduce Ella’s depression, which continued into 1992.   Although her sessions at St James’ on a Tuesday were being terminated during September, having achieved the full benefit from them, she had become a member of the Emsworth stroke club.

This club met each Thursday afternoon, and was well served with helpers and drivers.   They assembled at the community centre, South Street, Emsworth, where creative activities took place, followed by exercises to finish the afternoon’s sessions.   Sheila Wallis, a trained physiotherapist, had both patients and helpers doing exercises, even those in wheelchairs.   Her trick, in sending a soft ball to catch or send round in a circle, seemed to have the effect of making each person attempt to hold the ball, no matter how severe their handicap.    All alike, responded to her order, “Keep your backs upright.”  

I was sure that if Sheila had been in the army, she would have been made a drill sergeant major, to match the one that had drilled me on the barrack square at Sandy Lane, Sunderland.    He had been specially imported from the Scots Guard Unit, to smarten up the NCO’s in the ack ack units stationed in the north east during the 1941 period.  No matter what position you were in the ranks, he could pick you out when you were not carrying out the drill correctly.

These senior NCO’s, of the regular army, who also trained officer cadets, were regarded as the backbone of the British Army, and this was particularly true after Dunkirk, when a new army had to be trained.   Another reason for Ella’s improved morale, was due to her home help that the social services supplied for three hours a week.   Her name was Wendy Firman, who did 1½ an hour’s housework and another 1½ was spent taking Ella shopping.    The latter service, I was very pleased took place, as shopping was regarded by me as one of my most hated activities.

They struck up a kind of mother and daughter relationship.    With Wendy having several children, ranging from school age to teenage, there was continuous dialogue between them whenever she arrived, usually by Wendy giving her an update on her domestic scene.     Wendy’s husband worked in the dockyard and cycled to and fro from Widley.   He must have been one of the few who still cycled to work out of the many thousands that were seen coming out of the dockyard gates before cars came into common use.

I still kept in touch with Bob and Ana, from our Teddington days, when he had played in the same hockey team as myself and when Ana had worked at Bentalls in the same period as Gladys.

It was a pleasant surprise when they visited us from Whitley, Surrey, after hearing of Ella’s stroke.   Ana took to Ella immediately when they first met, soon following our marriage.      This, I think was due to them both being northerners, and used to calling a spade ‘a spade’.   Bob, who was still working for the Ministry of the Environment after leaving the Admiralty Research Laboratory at Teddington, was chairing international environmental conferences in many parts of the world.    It was pleasing to note that he still had his feet on the ground and had not changed his down to earth manner.   He played bowls for his local club, and I was keen for him to come into the Bedhampton area when he retired.  There was a strong Yorkshire strait in both of them, and they would return, like the salmon, to the place where they were spawned, at the appropriate time.

While Bob and I were busy exchanging news, Ana and Ella were similarly engaged, but I guess that this was more about family matters and, of course their state of health.   Their daughter, Sue, my goddaughter, who held a doctorate in medicine, had an interesting post with an international chemical company, travelling to France a great deal.     She lived in Alnwick and was church warden at their local parish church, which brought her into contact with the local hierarchy, including those at the Alnwick Castle.

It did us good to have this get-together chat, and to know the value of long-term friendship.   I think that Vera Lynn’s favourite song would have applied there, “We’ll meet again, don’t know where, don’t know when, but I know we’ll meet again, some sunny day.”

Janet was keen to have her Mum stay with her again, so that I might have a break and take a bridge holiday.   This, I arranged for the 23rd March from Monday to Friday at Bourton-on-the-Water, where the Holiday Fellowship had a guest house.    We were always made a fuss of by all Janet’s family, and it was interesting to have Bob, her husband, to prepare the main meal on Saturday, before we arrived, and on the Sunday.    It was rather unfortunate that in the evening I had severe stomach pains and Janet had to take me to Redditch Hospital, where I was kept in until the following morning.   This turned out to be no more than severe indigestion.     Thus, my bridge session was not impaired.

With Tanworth in Arden, where Janet lived, being close to Wolverhampton, I gave myself extra time to make a flying visit to see Edna, Gladys’ sister, before finally making my way to Bourton-on-the-Water for 2.30 pm, the time for the bridge session to start.

I thought I knew the way onto the A491, once I had made the M5 and M42 junction at Catshill, but my navigational  ability proved otherwise, for I found myself heading for Birmingham on the A38.    Corrective action was taken by coming off this road at the first opportunity, to go in a westerly direction.     Fortunately, I found a minor road that took me over the M5, near Longbridge, and enabled me to get onto the A491, which I had travelled on many times, between Teddington and Wolverhampton.

This should have then been the end of my driving difficulties, but fate proved the reverse.   I had a repeat of the trouble I had at Porlock, I had difficulty in changing gear, and was in dense traffic that is usually to be found on a Monday.    It meant that I did not change gear when I should have done, putting the engine and the driver under great strain.    Things were made worse when I reached Wolverhampton, for a new one-way system had been installed, and I had great difficulty in locating the Wednesfield Road out of Wolverhampton, which I needed, to reach Edna’s house.

Once there, I paid my compliments  to Edna and Tony, who had not been expecting me, and asked if I may use the phone to get help from the RAC?    My watch showed the time around 12 noon, and although help did arrive in ten minutes, it seemed like an hour.    I made it clear to the RAC mechanic that I had to be at Bourton-on-the-Water by 2.30 pm.    He replied, “We sometimes do the impossible, but miracles we never do.  But we will try to make this impossible task.”   He set about identifying that it was a clutch fault and made some adjustment to the pressure pad.  He thought I could just get away with what he had done, after I had taken the car round the block in low gear.

The ‘knight of the road’ made it clear that the car was not roadworthy, but if I was prepared to stop to change gear, then it was up to me to make the decision.    I had no time to have anything to eat, it was approaching 1pm.    It was really a ‘hullo and goodbye’ as I waved to them to go on this perilous trip.

I switched my hazard lights on for the whole journey, for at each junction in the built-up areas before I reached the A5, I had to switch off my engine when the lights were against me.   I had a temporary relief from this exercise when on the A5, making my way to Cheltenham, for I managed to slip into third gear when going down a slope.   Perhaps I did what the RAC man had said they could not, in performing a miracle in arriving at the Holiday Fellowship guest house in time for the first bridge session.

The bridge director arranged for me to be absent at a convenient moment to phone an RAC approved garage, Troopers Lodge, at Bourton-on-the-Hill.     The bridge proved to be therapeutic, for I was a nervous wreck when I finally arrived and picked up my cards.    These cards acted like an overload switch, for I forgot what I had gone through and was occupied counting my high card points.

Soon following the afternoon bridge session, a young mechanic brought a breakdown recovery vehicle from Troopers Lodge garage.   He soon confirmed there was a faulty clutch, and towed my sickly green Allegro away to be examined and mended.  I was promised by the mechanic that the garage would phone me with the inspection results the following day.   This they did, and I was informed that the clutch arm would not release the pressure plate, causing the clutch to be permanently engaged, whilst the engine was running.   A new clutch kit had to be ordered, taking two days to be delivered, which would meant that the repair, costing around £100, would not be completed until Friday.   Shades of the Minehead situation, when the repair had not been completed until the day of our return home.

I now had a battle on my hands to reclaim the cost of the first clutch fitting from the RAC, who had chosen PG Hayes garage to carry out the repair, a matter of a few months previously.

During the mornings, while some bridge players had teach-in sessions, I strode around the village, which is often described as the prettiest village in the area.   The River Windrush flowed through the village centre under a low bridge without side walls.    Our residence had been the manor house, having spacious rooms and close to the village centre.

 I visited the garage on Thursday and was relieved that the repair was well in hand, to be delivered the following day.   We had intended to have a short stay at Shrewsbury, but with this recent trouble with the car, we just stopped Friday night at Janet’s and returned home on Saturday night, to rest the car and its driver.  

There were a lot of subjects to exchange between myself and Ella, on Friday night before we left.   Mine being the car, and hers the family topics, where Janet’s daughter Louise seemed to dominate the scene.   This did not surprise me, for Louise was a replica of Ella as a child, both in looks and in intelligence.  

Sadly, on the following Wednesday, Ella fell and broke her right wrist, which the X-ray revealed when she was taken to the Casualty department at Queen Alexandra Hospital.

Dr Robinson, who attended to her at home in the first instance, sent for a social worker, realising she would need further support, now that she had lost the use of her good hand.   This became evident when I had to help her dress before she went to the hospital.   I now knew how the expression, ‘getting your knickers in a twist’ originated.

Up until the time of this fall, there had not been a great deal of usage of the left hand.   The right hand had done most of the hard work, such as pulling on the stair banisters when going up to the bedrooms.   When using the hand fork, it would generally be for holding the food stationary, whilst the right hand, holding a table knife, cut the food into smaller pieces.

Whilst the right wrist was bandaged, the left hand now had to do the work of the right, as well as lift the food to her mouth with a fork.   Much perseverance was required for the left hand to take on this double role of using it for right handed activities also.   This was accomplished in a matter of weeks.

I was convinced, as was claimed by the stroke clubs, that idle cells in the head can be trained to replace ones damaged due to a stroke.    Many bowlers have retrained to bowl using the retrained hand in place of the usual right hand, for a right-handed person.

My attempts to be reimbursed for the first clutch repair, carried out by Hayes Garage, met with no success.   The only help I received at first from the RAC was to take the case to the Small Claims Court.   Finally, I wrote to the head of the RAC. 

  Here are the contents of the letter:-

 Mr A Rayment  H18A/RO729/5719202/S    ## Wigan Crescent


To the head of RAC Motoring Services              Havant, Hants                                

Dear Sir              2nd July 1992 

Claim for replacement clutch cost



I wish to draw your attention to the lack of response by PG Hayes Garage in the matter of repayment for the cost of fitting a faulty clutch.  This claim was presented on 28th April, 1992, in accordance with your legal advisor’s letter dated 27th April, reference L/MS/CD192/12925.  Since writing this letter, I have not, as yet, received any form of acknowledgement to this claim.

I made a special visit to Minehead, to return the faulty clutch, which had been replaced by Troopers Garage, Bourton-on-the-Hill.   I was promised by Mr Hayes that he would obtain a refund from his supplier on that visit in late May.   I have since phoned Mr Hayes several times, the most recent being on 30th June, with the promise that he would phone me back after speaking to his supplier.    I am still awaiting his call.

Your legal department advised me to deal with the Small Claims Court, if I did not receive satisfaction.    I would point out that due to the distances between the two parties, I could be paying for the cost of a third clutch by the time I have paid all the expenses involved.

It may be of interest to learn that this clutch failure caused me great distress in the traffic around Wolverhampton.   The temporary repair, carried out by the RAC at Wednesfield, to enable me to return to Bourton-on-the-Water, turned out to be a nightmare of a journey.   To get into 1st gear at traffic lights, I had to switch the engine off, switch the hazard lights on and pump the clutch pedal.   Needless to state, that my confidence in distance driving has been destroyed.

I would like to state, apart from this clutch affair, the RAC have given me very good service over near 40 years I have been a member.

 Yours sincerely

 Every story should finish on a happy note, and it was pleasing that this one also did.

The RAC Customer Relations Manager, Margaret Davis, based at Walsall, got in touch with me concerning my dealings with PG Hayes garage.   A few days later, I received this goodwill letter from Margaret Davis.

 Here is a copy of that letter:-

Mr Rayment

## Wigan Crescent

Bedhampton, Havant


       Our ref.: CR1007/11

      5th August, 1992

      Dear Mr Rayment 

Further to our telephone conversation of the 28th July, 1992. 

I am sorry you had so much trouble obtaining a refund for a faulty part fitted to your vehicle.   As a goodwill gesture, I enclose a cheque for £116.09, to cover the cost of the part plus fitting, and will endeavour to reclaim the cost from our agent. 

I trust this meets with your approval, and apologise for the obvious inconvenience the matter has caused. 

Assuring you of our desire to be of service.

Yours sincerely 

M Davis

Customer Relations Manager

 By this action, I continued to remain a life-long member of the RAC.  Margaret Davis also became a recipient of a Christmas card each year from me, immediately following this goodwill gesture.

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© Alan Rayment 1998
Last revised: January 15, 2001