You find me in a great mood. (Yes, that was sarcasm. It doesn’t always translate well to the written word. Imagine me saying it in Basil Fawlty’s voice, when he’s talking to Sybil. That might help.) I should explain; especially since this is a blog and just telling you I’m in a nark and putting ‘The End’ would be weird.
I have this car. It’s a Renault Clio, aged 11 years, which in itself is probably not a good thing, but this particular car was a driving school car for a few years before it was mine. Now, you may not drive, yourself, but I assume most of you have some concept of what a driving school car goes through. Its poor little wheels have been scraped into thousands of kerbs during parallel parking, effecting a turn in the road using the forward and reverse gears and just general driving (learners aren’t always as good at steering as they would like). The gear box has been put through such heinous things that Al Qaeda started a petition for legislation to put an end to it and after being subject to many driving tests in its weary lifetime the Clio goes into spasm if I accidentally bring a rolled up newspaper or clipboard into it. This seriously curtails my desire to swat flies or carry out surveys in my own vehicle. It’s something of a disaster.
As well as the trauma wrought upon the car by its driving school days, it also has other problems relating to age and shoddy workmanship. It rains on the inside, like Dali’s Car, but not as fascinating and worth considerably less. You have to use magic movements to get from second gear to third and, although I do it every day, I am in no way able to explain what those movements are. I just know that I can do it, but other people can’t. If it were human, even ATOS wouldn’t send it to work. Dr Gregory House would look at it and say, ‘Sorry. It’s beyond me!’ We’d all nod our heads and know deep down that it was for the best. But it’s not human. It’s my car and I have to drive it pretty much every day.
And, more or less, finally, there’s the problem with starting it; there’s a special way to do that as well. Again, something I can’t explain and didn’t really appreciate until this morning. You see, today, my husband had an appointment for a test-drive and he had decided to take the car and get it appraised as a part exchange for the potential new car, which would probably knock £40 off the price and leave me to inherit his old car. Which doesn’t work properly either, but at least you don’t need an umbrella to drive it. Well, yesterday, I spent hours getting it clean, wiping down the upholstery to get rid of the smell of damp, dead dreams and desperation, to the point where one of my arms stopped being fit for purpose and I was hallucinating from the cleaning product fumes. I imagined the car looked passable: ridiculous! Then this morning my husband took the key, went outside and killed the car. It sounded like it always sounded at first, then started to protest and finally choked into a racking, tubercular cough and died. But because he was on a tight schedule he had to go to his appointment anyway, leaving me with this problem; how do you get a 12-year-old in a Las Vegas style dance costume to Ormskirk on Ladies’ day with no car and all the trains packed with 7 inch platform soles, orange spray tan and fascinators? Answers on a postcard to: ‘I want a divorce or a new car’, Flowery Watts, Liverpool.