Tuesday, 17 August 2010


for the first time in my life i am a car owner
for years i have hired vehicles for the odd weekend getaway
as and when
but now that i am the unproud owner of a rusting metal leviathan
i quickly find myself out of my comfort zone
and out of my depth
not that this is necessarily a bad thing
there's no doubt about my discomfort
at making my personal contribution to ecological meltdown
but i'm talking about a different kind of discomfort
for the over-sized german people's wagon
inherited from some friends returning to korea
sits stubbornly on the drive
an immovable object
(if only i was an unstoppable force)
over the last few weeks
i have reluctantly been coughing up the readies
like an out-of-order fruit machine
the service
the insurance
the road tax
the breakdown insurance
into four figures already
finally yesterday i decide to take the new addition to the family for a short test-drive
problem one: the remote doesn't work
i have to turn the key in the lock the old-fashioned way
just to open the door
problem two: the car doesn't start
the engine is unmoved
i quickly come to a straightforward but unwelcome conclusion
the battery is out of juice!
perhaps five weeks of inactivity have taken their toll
what do i do now?
i've heard of people using jump leads
to charge the battery from another vehicle
(the mr bean episode i used to use in class
where he gives someone a heart attack immediately springs to mind)
but where can i get a pair and what exactly do i do with them?
i give my little bro a call
he suggests taking the battery out and getting it tested
but then starts warning me about the potential dangers of electrocution
by accidentally touching a terminal with a spanner
and closing the circuit
not exactly encouraging
i set off around the neighbourhood in search of assistance
the claridges at number 29 are away on holiday
i have to introduce myself to the chinese neighbour at number 25
who keeps chickens in his back garden
no, he doesn't have any jump leads
he uses aa homestart
i head up the road towards my parents' place
stopping off at the o'neills at number 83
they don't have any jump leads either
although mr o would be happy to help me if i can lay my hands on a pair
i'm beginning to detect a distinct lack of neighbourhood resilience
when i remember m & d's mechanically-minded neighbour, rob
unfortunately he's away on holiday too
suddenly i think of the hynds
who i know through governing at h's school
i get through to jack, who doesn't have any jump leads
but does have a battery recharger
he offers to pop round the following afternoon to take a look
and this novice breathes a tentative sigh of relief...

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