New wine in old bottles.

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
Why it isn't a wise thing to put new into old.

Submitted: April 26, 2015

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Submitted: April 26, 2015



New wine in old bottles_Booksie large 1.


Looking at the house from outside, it didn’t appear to be in very bad condition. Catherine had found the old place by chance, when walking around in her lunch hour. She wasn’t sure whether she wanted such a large house, but then she thought that if she had children, all the rooms not used by her, would be more than sufficient. In her mid-thirties, Catherine still held out for the right man to turn up in her life. Meanwhile, she made the choice to purchase the old house. The agent thought the house was too much for a woman to handle. It needed a lot of refurbishment, and the exterior walls needed to be damp-coursed and painted white. Catherine went all over the house and noted down everything that needed doing up. It was no different from building a new house. 

When the deeds had been signed over to her and the other paper work was finished and done with, Catherine sat down in the bedroom of the flat she was still renting, and examined the list of things to be done before moving into the old house. The walls were in good condition, and she decided to begin by getting them painted. The banister rail would have to be renewed, and also the dirty old carpet would have to be replaced with new stuff.

There were times during the process, when Catherine felt fed up with the house, and wished she had gone in for something smaller. However, she felt a lot more optimistic as the old house regained some of what had been its old glamour. The fresh paintwork did a lot to embellish the interior. It was impossible to move in, because the painters had left their pots of paint all over the hall, and one day her dog had fallen into one of the paint pots, and she had the most frustrating of jobs getting the paint off its paws. The house when finished was very attractive.

Then Catherine had a brainwave, and that was to dig under the foundations and get two more floors out of it. The builders were delighted with the extra work, and got down to it. An architect drew up plans for the extra floors and, of course, everyone asked about the new floors and whether or not the old house would be able to take all the digging and building. Catherine returned to her rented flat for the duration of the extensions. Some of the neighbours sent in formal complaints about shifting all the earth under an old construction, and how it would affect theirs. The architect said he could see no reason why the extra floors could be a negative action.

The deep digging started on a Monday morning when Catherine was at work. She received a call telling her that the house had sunk under all that digging and she could not possibly live in the house. After work, Catherine went to take a look at the house. It wasn’t even standing upright, but leaning over on one side, right where the men had started shifting the earth. Luckily for Catherine, her house was detached, and the other house-owners either side of her were not affected.

Catherine was upset by the destruction of her home which, hadn’t been paid for yet. She rang her mother and father, “What can I do?” she asked imploringly.

“You can sue the construction company. Did you take out an insurance against anything like this happening?” her father asked.

“I’ve got an insurance, but I’m not sure what it covers.”

“Get the papers about the builders and the insurance, and come over here and see us. We’ll see what we can do to help you. By the way, you should have had more sense than try to convert an old house from below. Why did you go in for such a huge conversion?” her father asked her.

“I thought that if I have children it would be nice to have more rooms to let them run around in.”

“You really are a simpleton. You don’t have a boyfriend, so where did you get such a crazy idea from?”

“I just thought it. That’s all. I’ll get all the papers relevant to the house, and take them round to you. See you later. Bye.”


Brenda was a person who tried to squeeze her salary as far as possible to make it go further than it really could. She made everything last well past its sell-by date. She measured out the number of spoons of jam she could get from a jar. The bread was eaten by slices, and not by how hungry she might be. Everything in Brenda’s life was planned out to the last detail. She bought her clothes in the sales, and made them last till they were falling apart, and couldn’t be sewn up any more. She wore rubber soled shoes, so as not to have to have them repaired. Yes, Brenda was cautious. As a result of her penny-pinching, she had a healthy bank account. The one thing she never reckoned on giving her any trouble was her car. For reasons best known to her, she liked her car very much, although it was now completely out of date. Brenda thought she was driving a good car. It had been once - seventeen years ago.

One morning she got into her car in the garage she shared with her parents, and found that it wasn’t ticking over as it should. Simon, her father, saw her struggling with the car and told her, “I said ages ago that you should get a new car, and now the poor old thing has given up the ghost. Leave it here, and I’ll take you to work. When I get back, I’ll have it towed to the mechanics who do work for me in town.”

Brenda was most put out. “Do you think it’s anything serious? I’ve never had it stall like that before.”

Simon, decided it was wiser to hold his tongue. Talking to Brenda about the age of her car and its condition was not a good subject. He wondered if she would ever get a new car, or just keep on patching the old one up.

Even the breakdown lorry had trouble dragging the old banger to the mechanics. Simon rang them up and asked for an estimate for the complete overhaul of the wreck. “We’ll send you the estimate as soon as we can, but don’t you think it’s time your daughter bought a new car.”

“You tell her that. I’ve given up. She never listens to me. The money she’s spent on that old pile of metal, she might just as well have got a new car. I await your criticism and estimate, and hope that this time she uses her brains, and realizes that the vehicle is past it. Looking forward to hearing from you.”

Brenda arrived home after work and asked her father, “What did the mechanic say about my car? Does he think he can fix it?”

“He said he’ll get in touch when he’s carried out a complete examination of it.”

“Did he say how long it would be before it can be used. I need a car for work.” Brenda said, sounding a bit sorry for herself.

The mechanic rang up Simon three days later, asking him to go down to the workshop. He got to the workshop half an hour later to see a serious face looking at him. “I can see you’ve got bad news about Brenda’s car to tell me. Well, what is it?”

The mechanic handed Simon a sheet of paper with a list of things wrong with the jalopy. Simon said, “I’d have been grateful if you had written it off, instead of all these jobs. What’s this about the engine?”

“That’s what the main fault with the vehicle is. The engine is too old, and the car should have been written off ages ago. Why can’t your daughter see sense?”

“She’s got a bee in her bonnet about this car. It’s a sheer waste of time talking to her. She’ll have to pay for it out of the insurance, if they will do so. Thanks for spending your time on it. I feel very embarrassed about the whole thing. Tonight I’ll let her know, and then we’ll see what we shall see.”

The two men bade each other good-bye and Simon went home, leaving the heap of junk that Brenda loved so much in the workshop. He knew what her reaction would be.

That evening when she got home, Simon told her the result of the mechanic’s report, and handed her the list of problems the car had. She said nothing, until, “The engine can be replaced, can’t it, Dad?”

“If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a hundred times, that you must buy a new car. That old heap you run around in is too old to be repaired. It’s only fit for the car cemetery. There! I don’t want to hear any more. It’s your car, as you’re always telling me, so get on with it. By the way, it’ll cost you a fortune to fix everything that’s wrong.” So saying, Simon left Brenda alone in the dining-room, still holding the mechanic’s list in her hands.

Simon refused to interest himself in his daughter’s car, till the mechanic rang him one morning. “Simon, did you know that Brenda visited me and told me to carry out all the repairs - including a new engine. I told her it would cost her a lot, but she said a good car is worth it. I said it might have been good once, but now it was old and decrepit. She insisted, and even gave me a deposit for the spare parts and the work. The rest is to be paid on receiving it back.”

Simon said, “Thanks a lot for telling me. I think she’s obsessed with that old thing.”

The following weeks saw Brenda anxious and worried about her car. “I hope it’ll be good when it’s finished. I’ve asked for a more powerful engine to be fitted. The idea of speeding through the countryside excites me.”

Simon, who was looking at the television, said, “What you do is up to you, as long as you don’t involve your mother and me. OK?”

“Yes, Dad.”

That night Simon told his wife, Alison, when they were alone in their bedroom, “I wonder what Brenda’s got in her head, because I seriously think she hasn’t got much of a brain. She’s asked for a more powerful engine to be put into her car.”

Alison stopped putting night cream on her face, and turned to her husband, “I do hope she’s just joking. That old thing isn’t up to it.”

“I doubt that she’s joking. What’s true is, that she makes no sense at all where that car is concerned.”

That night Alison slept soundly, while Simon was lying in bed, worried sick thinking about Brenda driving around in a rusty old jalopy with a fast engine inside it.

A few days later, Brenda picked up her reconditioned car from the mechanic, who said, “Now, Brenda, you have to remember that the engine is new and performs much faster than the old one. So, go carefully at first, till you’re used to how sensitive it is.”

Brenda left the mechanic’s workshop in her proudest possession, of which she was now even prouder. Many times over the recent years other drivers had laughed at her car, saying it was too old and too slow to be on the road. Now she’d show them! The mechanic’s was not too far from the city centre that had parks and gardens as well as business premises. It was springtime and there were lots of people, old and young, hanging out near the pubs, cafes, and restaurants. There was also a great show of motor bikes and expensive cars, all of which were powered by fast engines. Brenda in her ruinous-looking vehicle soon became the butt of rude comments. The new engine inside her car gave Brenda a new lease of life - and cheekiness. She shouted through the window as she drove past the group of young men, “You’ll be sorry when you see how my horrible old car can beat you easily with no sweat.”

One of the young men shouted back, “All right then, we’ll race you to the river bank - and no tricks. You’ll find we’ll be waiting for you when your ancient old buggy finally makes it.”

Brenda felt exhilarated and they all lined up, with Brenda’s vehicle looking quite out of place amongst the newer and more elite of the car world. One of the bikers waved a scarf and they were off. The ease with which the cars took off was apparent from the beginning. Brenda, not to be outdone, pressed her foot down hard on the accelerator, and the poor old car shot forward and lost one of its doors. The car began groaning and more of its bodywork began to hit the hard road surface. Brenda took no notice of the death of her car, she had only one thing on her mind, and that was not to be beaten by the others. Her foot stayed right on, pressing harder and harder. There were now a lot of people lining the road as the cars sped along to the river. Brenda was doing well and people were pointing at her and her car. She was happy and proud. She was also not paying attention to where she was on the road, and with an ever dilapidating car, travelled on towards the river, where it could go no further, and fell straight down the bank and into the river. The other cars pulled up and watched Brenda’s car slide beneath the water. Someone rang the ambulance and the police, and it wasn’t long before the whole area was flooded with the general public, hoping for a morbid story.

Simon and Alison were having a drink in their garden when they received the phone call that Brenda had suffered a car accident. They went to the hospital where they found their daughter in bed, seriously injured, with her head in heavy bandages. There wasn’t much to see of her face. Simon wasn’t feeling sympathy for her, and he said, “You never listened to me or the mechanic, you just can’t put new engines into old cars. By the way, what was left wasn’t even considered good enough for scrap. We’ve spoken to the doctors, and you’ll be in here for a couple of months. You seem to have done yourself a lot of damage.”

Alison stared down at Brenda, and said, “At least we shan’t have to worry about where you are while they’ve got you in here. Was the race worth it?”

Brenda didn’t answer. She was unable to. Everything in her body ached abominably and her indifferent parents didn’t help.

“We’ll pop in tomorrow, perhaps. Sleep tight. A big kiss from us both. Goodnight, Darling.” And Brenda’s parents left her hospital room.


Gabriel was elderly, and an old fashioned jeweller, that meant he was keen on creativity. He made nearly all the old pieces to be found in his shop by hand. When a client entered his shop with good stones in old settings, he never asked the provenance of such jewels, but handed over the amount the man or woman was expecting. Once in his possession he examined the earrings, bracelets, and necklaces, in detail - to work out what he could do with them. Some of the stones proved to be of great value, and he extracted them from their settings and then cleaned them till they shone in their own beauty. He put them in his safe to be reset later on. He replaced the lovely stones with ones of inferior value in the old settings. Gabriel had fixed clients who liked his antique jewellery, and they bought up those pieces. The lovely old stones which, at times, were much larger than modern ones, were sent to an auction house and were examined by experts, who then said whether they were good enough to be auctioned. The stones considered not good enough for auction were reset in modern settings and sold at expensive, but reasonable, prices. Gabriel was happy with his business. He was both entertained by the jewellery work - and happy. Every morning he went to work content in the knowledge he had a job that he liked doing.

Eileen, Gabriel’s wife, had a business in hairdressing and beauty, many years before they had bought a flat in an old part of the town near a market. It wasn’t far from Gabriel’s shop, and their lives were made easier by the fact that they lived in a thriving area, albeit it an old district. Every morning Eileen got up early and, after tidying up the flat, made her way to her beauty salon. She opened the door to her establishment and looked up the names of the day’s clients. She then put out the towels and beauty items, such as: for manicure, pedicure, massage, or face cleansing - apart from the shampoos, extensions, hair sprays, and products that the women who entered her salon would be willing to buy.

The girls, who worked for her, arrived one after the other, till they were all present. The first ladies to be attended to entered, and the day started. Every day was much the same as the previous one, with the only difference being the clients and their treatments. Eileen was good at public relations, and went from one client to another, making sure they got what they wanted. The norm was, that while they were waiting for a hair colour to take, the lady in question would be offered coffee, tea, or a cold drink. Eileen’s motive was to have a happy atmosphere for her clients and her workers. Working all day in that cosiness was time consuming, and the days went by quickly. On quiet days, Eileen and the girls would do each other’s hair and manicures. Those days saw the group of beauticians with well coiffed heads, and beautifully looked-after hands, leaving the establishment.

New wine in old bottles_Booksie large 2.

Just before Christmas, Eileen and her staff were all together in the salon working, when they heard a strident crunch. They stopped working and went out into the street to find out where it was coming from. The ladies who were under the hairdryers were immediately attended to, while Eileen went to see what had made such a terrible noise. The street was full of people who were staring at the building where Eileen and Gabriel lived. Eileen was struck dumb on seeing that the exterior wall of the building had simply collapsed. She saw that all her possessions and those of her neighbours were on view to the general public. There were six floors and a flat on each floor. The building was old, but had been given a safety guarantee. Eileen rang up Gabriel, who closed up his shop, and went round to find Eileen in a desperate state, standing in the street outside the remains of the building they had lived in for so long. There were policemen and firemen all over the place. Gabriel went up to a fireman, and asked him, “Have you any idea what caused the wall to fall down just like that?”

The fireman asked him, “Do you live here, Sir?”

“Yes, but it looks like we’ll have to move now. Will it be possible to get our clothes and other belongings?”

“Yes, Sir. We’ll accompany you when it’s safe enough for you to go inside. The collapse was brought about by the builders who were busy drilling into the main supports. The bank that had acquired the premises had wanted a lavish marble floor to be laid. The builders didn’t realize how fragile the old building was, but soon discovered when they realized that the exterior wall couldn’t take the weight. But it was too late to be able to undo the damage done. And here you have it.”

“What are we supposed to do as regards living quarters?”

“The mayor has sent a message, that all those affected can stay in an hotel till rebuilding is done.”

Gabriel wasn’t so sure. He felt it would be a better idea to get another place. Obviously, the construction company would have to give everyone a new flat. After all, it was their fault.

Eileen asked Gabriel, “What are we going to do?”

“Tonight we’ll sleep in the rooms behind the jewellery shop, and see what happens. I don’t trust the mayor to put us in a good hotel, so we might just as well look after ourselves. Do you remember saying that doing all that work being done on the premises would bring bad luck. You can’t keep changing things. In the end the result is catastrophic.”

“Let’s hope we get enough from the construction company to allow us buy a new place. At least we’ve got our businesses to keep us going,” Eileen said, wondering when they would be able to get in, and get their clothes and other important belongings.


Catherine was informed by the builders’ insurance company, that she would receive some compensation, but not what she wanted. She told her landlords that she would not be moving for a while, due to what had occurred when the builders had begun digging out the basement of the house she had bought. As she was so independent from her family, Catherine thought it better not to say too much about the old house she had tried to renovate, in case she got a rollicking from her father.


Catherine had met Brenda at a gym she attended once in a while, and one of the other women who knew the two, told Catherine about Brenda’s accident, and the hospital she was in.


Catherine went to visit Brenda to see how she was, and to take her mind off her own problems. By that time Brenda was sitting up in bed, and was allowed to get up and stagger around on crutches. “I’ll be able to leave the hospital next week and go home to my parents’. I have a feeling my driving days are over.”

“Why do you say that?” Catherine asked her.

“Because my legs and general reflexes aren’t very good, and therefore my reactions are slower than they should be. All that added up, doesn’t make for a positive panorama for driving yet.”

“If you like, I can take you home on the day you leave hospital, unless your parents are coming.”

“My parents aren’t at all happy with me. I tried to make a racing car out of my poor old jalopy, as my father called it. I ended up in the river when having a race with the young men who hang out in the city centre.”

Catherine laughed, and said, “Have any of them been to visit you here?”

“Yes, all of them. They don’t seem to be bad types at all.”

“You wouldn’t mind introducing me to them would you?” Catherine said, who had been man-less for more time that she liked to think.

Brenda sat and stared at Catherine and then said, “That sounds like a good idea. I’ll get to work on it, as I have nothing else to do till I’m over the accident.”


When Brenda was feeling a lot better, she and Catherine went to Eileen’s establishment to get their hair cut and the full beauty treatment. They told Eileen about the state they were both in. Eileen said, “I can’t help with a new car, but the construction insurance company that caused the destruction of our flat and the rest of the building, has some new flats going up in a different part of town. Would you like to see them?”

Catherine said, “I’d love to. Anything must be better than the place I’m living in.”

Eileen and Catherine set a date for viewing the show flat. Brenda said, “If you hear of a cheap car going, please let me know.”

Eileen who knew all about Brenda’s tightfistedness said, “Don’t you think it’s time you bought yourself something new. You can’t spend the rest of your life trying to put new things into old.”

Brenda was a bit peeved at those words, because they were exactly the same as those her father had told her the night before.

The two young ladies trekked out of the beautician’s, Brenda still limping, and Catherine setting her pace to her friend’s.


Catherine and Brenda went to see the show-flat with Eileen. They were both duly impressed and applied for one each. Brenda put down for a parking space, in spite of the fact she wouldn’t even have a car for some months.


Eileen and Gabriel were more than happy to be able to start from scratch in their new flat.


Catherine felt the flat she had acquired was a bit small, but complied with the size, because it would be hers - and the insurance covered a lot of the price.


Brenda’s parents were amazed when she told them she was buying a new flat, and everything in it would be brand new. Brenda’s healthy bank account was at last being put to good use.


Simon and Alison, seeing the change that the accident had wrought in their daughter, bought her a small new car.


After Brenda moved to her new place, all her old things were sent to the thrift shop she had bought them from originally. 

© Copyright 2019 Georgina V Solly. All rights reserved.

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