Returning to the family home last Thursday after collecting his car from a routine service, James Hepworth, a 43-year-old married man from Lincoln, finally confessed to his wife what he described as the "last remaining love that dare not speak its name" -- the unconditional and all-consuming adoration he felt for Dave Shepherd, his auto-mechanic at Cecil Lane Motors.
"Mechanics have always understood and nurtured the real me," declared Hepworth, "from Vince Hemmings, who saw my old Renault 5 through my first MOT, and blokily suggested I’d be getting a lot of ‘action with the birds’ in the backseat despite my lingering virginity, to Dave Shepherd, the man prepared to act like he believes me when I say the Vauxhall Zafira in for its 20,000 mile service has got a surprising amount of poke, these sweet kind men have all discussed connecting rods with me as if I had a clue what they actually are. More than any woman or career achievement, a mechanic has always made me feel like a man."
Later that same evening Hepworth told his friends of his feelings for "the white knights of the auto trade" at the pub, and was "touched and overwhelmed" by the response. Men he’d known from childhood broke down in tears and said that they too, harboured a love that was so much more than a mere crush for their mechanics. The rest of the evening passed with supportive hugs and shared stories of bone-crushing handshakes, honest and open xenophobia, and topless calendars they’d never be allowed to have in their own studies.
Back at home Hepworth’s wife Jane was said to be digesting the news and its implications. "I guess, deep down, I’d always known this about James," she said, "after taking my Clio in for an oil change he’d suddenly want two sugars in his tea, take an interest in how West Ham were getting on, and start every conversation on every topic with ‘Well Dave says...’ -- the signs were there."
However, Mrs Hepworth is remaining stoic in the face of the revelation that her husband has fallen for a greased-up, well-toned man 20 years his junior, "At least we have something in common now," she commented, "Dave moves in with us next Tuesday, and James is so excited he doesn’t even mind that he’ll have to sleep in the box room from now on."