Thursday, 14 August 2008

Alan's wheelie great

Our son's just seven and a half weeks old and already he's got himself a new set of wheels - thanks to a nice man called Alan.

Let me explain. Vanessa and I were pushing Jamie around in his pram last Saturday when we noticed that one of the left front wheels was, for want of a better description, wonky.

Being in the "not in the least bit technically gifted" category of men, I did the obvious thing and hit it with a hammer. No improvement. So I hit it again. And again. Still no joy.

I then spent the next half an hour plus on t'Interweb trying to see if I could buy a replacement. The good news was that I could. The bad news was that it would take four to six weeks to arrive from America. Even worse was the fact that I'd have to fit it myself. As if.

So there was nothing else for it, we'd have to get a new pram.

The two of us began by checking out eBay for a good deal but none jumped out.

So on Tuesday, just before Vanessa's visit to Next and mine to the photo shop, we headed into Mothercare. This time, one or two prams did jump out but we couldn't agree. Plus, at the end of the day, it seemed both a shame and a waste to chuck out an otherwise perfectly good pram just because of a wonky wheel with hammer damage.

I was lamenting this fact to the nice store assistant when she mentioned the existence of her "best friend" Alan.

As well as being her best friend, we quickly discovered that Alan was also the in-house "pram technician." No, I'd never heard of a pram technician either but basically he fixes prams which obviously worked for us.

Alan was summoned and both he and store woman spent the next 15 minutes checking on the computer to see if they could order in a new wheel direct from the makers. Unfortunately the answer was no as our pram was an old model. I was gutted.

"Hold on, I'll go and see what I have in my workshop," Alan announced, as I bent over to scoop my guts back in - we were back in the game.

"He'll find something," said store woman with a smile. "He's great Alan, he's got everything in there." (I felt compelled to silently order all grubby thoughts to leave my mind).

The tension was building, even for Jamie who let out a dull blast on his bum trumpet.

A few more minutes passed before our hero - who reminded me a bit of Mr Hooper from Sesame Street - emerged with two sets of front wheels under his arm.

"I'm not sure," said Alan. "They haven't got any logos on them."

"Doesn't matter to us," I pleaded. "Really, we're not Posh and Becks."

"But loads of people treat their prams like their cars," said store woman.

"Not us," said I. "Plus I can't drive so I wouldn't know."

And off Alan went to his workshop. And not only did he bring the pram back with the wonky wheel changed, but he had replaced both front sets - and even went to the trouble of taking the logos off our old ones and transferring them on to the replacements to ensure they matched the back wheels.

According to what I saw online last Saturday, a single wheel would have put us back at least £30. This fine gentleman replaced all four wheels and charged us a total of £15 for the privilege.

It's little happenings like this which restore my faith.

So both thanks and sincere good wishes to store woman and her best friend Alan, two very fine human beings. And don't forget to shop in Mothercare.

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