young drivers GGGGGRRRR or, one in particular young whippersnapper (i know his dad, sort of) passes his driving test and uses dads phone to ring me to ask if i know of any cheap cars. I explain that bangers are cheap at the moment, price of scrap is low so beware the shiny turd, etc etc. His dad seems wise enough, so I assumed he would look em over for the boy before he buys. Couple of days later a straight looking, old lady smelling, 106 XR turns up. owner wants 100 quid with 3 months MOT, 'noisy gearbox' she says. I text the dad with details, no reply. Two more days and the price goes to 70 quid, I text again. no reply. I buy the 106 for 70 quid, drive it about 8 miles in rushhour, everything is fine apart from a growly front wheel bearing (its tinny, gutless and i have to take my boots off to find all 3 pedals, but its a tiny car) Very next morning I get a phone call from the kid. Do I have a car to swap for a french people carrier has just bought, he hates it. We meet, I drive the unMOTted picasso, he drives the 106. He loves it and wants a straight swap. I tell him he can have the project 106 for 100 quid spare or repair and i dont want the picasso (even though it seems like a cracking deal for me) He insists he is happy with a straight swap. Deal is done. I park up the picasso and ignore it, as I expect a phone call from an angry dad, and the deal to collapse, no harm done. Next morning (Friday) I get a phone call from the kid - gear linkages have fallen off the 106. Hes being all gangster on the phone with me, The gearchange was a bit sloppy when i drove it, so I stop him short by agreeing to come and change the rods for him, or does he want his picassso back? (which is what i think he wants) no he says. I arrive at his house at 9:15am to look at the 106 and he has 3 rods in his hand, he doesnt remember which is which and where they came from. I go to the local breakers and get the rods off a saxo, noting their position etc. go back fit the rods, but the gearchange is odd and i cant get 2nd. All the other gears are fine, I drive around the block. I suggest he drives it to scaryoldcortinas yard so I can have a better stab at solving it. (he lives on a steep hill and its not ideal for jacking up cars in the street.) He doesnt want to and starts a long and loud rant about how the 106 had cost him 350 quid and now i need to sort it out etc etc. I explain to him (after offering him his own car back, again and he refused) that he may have paid 350 for the picasso, but the 106 is worth 100 quid, as that was the asking price. I now suspect its an attempt to extort funds from me. I say 'do you anyone who has knowledge of these saxo/106 linkages?'. He says yes his mate, but he will charge 20 quid to sort it. I immediately agree to pay 20 quid, once the job is done and leave. Saturday, early morning phone call. His mate has had a look at it, says its loose rods, buy new rods, oh, and wants me to give him 20 quid for his 3 second look under the bonnet. I laugh and decline. I go to kids house where I again, in front of his dad (who has remained totally silent on the matter thus far), ask him if he wants the picasso back and offer to drive him to it right now. No, no, no he says. I look at the dad, who raises his eyebrows and says nothing. I agree to get the 106 sorted before monday. He is happy, Im biting my tongue, but now just want to end this jeremy kyle parallel life and get back to my own. I ask umpteen people about the rods and no-one really has any answers. 4pm saturday I return to his house and tell him i cant sort it out and the best solution is a swap back, no harm done etc etc He absolutely refuses and says he hates the picasso and i should give him money for it, as he is 'late with a payment on it'. I smell a trap, I havent seen the v5 for the picasso yet, and now it looks like he swappd a car he doesnt own. I refuse and ring his dad, perhaps he can make the kid see sense and take his picasso back, dad arrives and has an indoor heated argument with the kid while I sit in my car. Dad comes out and tells me the whole sorded tale. Kid is in hock to a local part-time car dealer, part-time talc salesman. URGH. I have seen this bloke 3 times drive past while huddled over the 106 and each time he gave me a 1000 yard stare, now i know why. Kid is still insisting he doesnt want the picasso. Dad says he will have a word with pablo daley and find out details and I leave. Sunday morning I set off for 200 mile round trip to collect an engine. several missed calls later I returned the dads call ' can he have his picasso this morning'. I explain that i wont be back until 2-3pm but I will pick the kid up and take him to collect his picasso. later, I hand the kid the key to his french lovely and then he starts bleating on about how he put 10 quid of fuel in the 106, I ignore it and open the gates for him to leave. He starts the picasso and before it can move it runs out of petrol. He has no money. No fuel. Im not providing either. He rings his dad to borrow a fiver. I push the picasso outside, and enlist scary to tow-in the 106. scary looks at the 106 and says - those rods are on wrong and the gearstick mechanism has been played around with. we tow it in. On the flat a finally have a look underneath and find a very clean car for a 1998 106, good sills, floorpan, chassis etc, but still no gears. scary has a play with it and manages to get all gears apart from 2nd, again. drive it into the picasso's space in the yard and forget about it. I remove all the petrol from the 106, only one 6 litre can, and do a few odd jobs in the sunshine and quiet of a sunday teatime. scary rings - he has discovered the rods are connected wrongly, the bottom rods connects to a totally different place on the gearbox. I start to think its not a grump, but a grin. I lose out on time and money for the rods etc, but I have got away unscared by chav society one more time. Repeating the whole saga to SWMBO last night and she asked - what do you think you were storing in the picasso for the last 4 days. URGH, now its a grump. Have I just been played by a semi-illiterate, chav and his puppet master?