Monday, March 17, 2014
I awake from the warm and familiar deep pit of weekend sleep. There may have been revelatory dreams happening somewhere but they escaped with the daylight and the alarm and a hundred early morning intrusive thoughts that flash like limping chunks of electricity across my waking brain. Eventually along comes the realisation that today brings...car trouble. On Friday the car started to make odd noises, painful animal sounds coming from under my feet as we moved across different road surfaces. All the handling and performance (?) stayed happy but clearly there was a fault, a broken thing lurking below. The kind of fault that might just throw us into a bush or the path of an oncoming HGV or perhaps might cause the car to limp to a sorry standstill beside the M90's traffic cone defined edges. Travel over the weekend was curtailed, very little having actually been planned. A quick run to Tesco and the big shed where all manner of floor, wall and worktop coverings are housed. That was it, everything else was taxi-centric.
By Sunday night I was starting to panic, what if that dry and persistent clunking meant the imminent death of the car? An insult to all my planning after having just got a new timing belt fitted and the arrival of the blue and white note from the DVLA reminding me that the tax was due. Bugger and bugger my indecision and lack of...decision making. So a quick foray into Autotrader and Gumtree followed, just to check what is on or in the market, just in case the car's condition is truly a) terminal or b) unaffordable. Both look likely. There are plenty of cars on offer, the whole world's a vast and irritating marketplace. All you need is cash.
I looked for a while, selected a few and banked them in my memory; all sitting within my slim budget (unless I visited a proper bank first) so I have a list. There's a BMW, an Audi, a SAAB and as rank outsider but coming in strong due to price, miles covered and a sunroof is a Lexus. These are my rolling fallbacks should the old car be a goner.
So I'm up and out and gingerly trundling to the garage, my syncopated clunks from the nether regions of the car rising and falling like the performance of a badly conducted orchestra for the mentally handicapped. This drive has all the makings of a percussionist’s funeral procession; I squirm around potholes and schoolchildren and avoid jumping lights. I am riding on a wounded buffalo that at any moment could turn nasty and throw me. It doesn't though and I crash land like a B25 Flying Fortress and slowly hobble outside the garage entrance just as the owner arrives to open up. I explain the problem in fairly general but butch mechanical terms. I hope for Brownie Points for choosing a few techy names as conversational seasoning. Even though they know me well I don't want to appear like some dumb blonde non-blonde non-female. It is now that I'm at my most vulnerable, all of today, all of this week, perhaps all of the year hangs on the outcome of his quick diagnosis. He puts it up on the ramp and I go for a walk around the block. As I leave numerous other customers are throwing their car keys onto the counter like it was a Dalgety Bay Saturday night. It's a busy Monday morning elsewhere and here.
Twenty minute later I'm back; it's an anti-roll bar problem (of course, just as I suspected), a bit like a dislocated shoulder or tennis elbow and, workshop time permitting, repairable. It needs Volvo bits and bolts though and those bastards don't come cheap but the job might scrape in a £100 or so (it will be more). OK, no need now to continue with the anxiety of searching for a replacement car. I can day dream on some other more worthy theme until the next motoring crisis. The car is therefore abandoned pending the surgery and so mentally exhausted I get a grey taxi home. I recognise that the taxi driver is of course is an ex-professional footballer so we have good chat about cup finals, crowd humour and football finance on my return leg. I may have no car temporarily but I have some kind of short term peace of mind, priceless.