Monday, 12 February 2007


The garage knocked twenty quid off and sent a bloke round to pick me up. I should think so too, after work of £750. I'd booked the car into the garage today for a 50,000 mile service, which I suspected would throw up a few things that needed sorting before the MOT.

And quite a few things were thrown up and needed sorting. Like the brake pads. There weren't any. No discs, either, unless you count the slice of metal that one mechanic called out had the thickness of a postage stamp. That explains the squealing noise when I do the emergency stop routine outside the house. There's so much squealing inside the car I probably didn't hear it for the first three months.

Then the exhaust was dropping off. I sort of knew about that, because of the speed humps. There's always a bang-bang-clunk coming from under the car when I drive over them. And I knew about the dent in the back with two smashed indicator covers. That's where some fool parked a lorry behind me and I reversed into it. Then the car's starting to burn oil. I didn't know about that. The side mirror's cracked. I knew about that one. And someone's pinched the spare wheel from under the car. I didn't know about that. Perhaps the local dodger took it the same time as the hub caps, two of which disappeared one night.

It all added up to quite an expensive day. Me and Dig have a policy about this. We shrug our shoulders, pay up, and cost out the car over the year. When it's too expensive to run or repair, we take it down the garage and trade it for something cheaper.

The last car we took to the garage was in a pretty desperate state. An electrical fault meant that the windows would wind down and up on their own accord. The buttons didn't respond to me. I just had to park it with the windows down. Sometimes the windows would be up when I got back. Sometimes I'd park it with the windows up, and they'd be down when I got back. Not surprisingly the local dodger was delighted, and nicked the tax disc. The police were frequent callers.

I was glad to see the back of it. By the time we'd finished with it, it was a work of art, inside and out. Squirrel had taken a piece of gravel and drawn a picture of a penguin on the paintwork. And the inside of the car was like the bottom of a skip. I never had time to clear it out, loading and unloading triplets everyday. They ate, slept, and used the potty in it.

So taking passengers was unfortunate. It was awkward when The Hat got in. I'd taken the kids to a local safari park with a plastic tub of cooked pasta pieces, curled in tomato sauce, for them to chew on the journey. When they'd had enough I put the tub in the passenger footwell, and forgot about it. Over the days it got covered up with plastic bags, newspapers, empty drink cartons, tissues. Then the whole lot slid about and the lid came off the pasta tub. When The Hat got in, she put her feet on what she thought was an old newspaper and they went straight through to the pasta. That was difficult.

I can't say the present car is in much better state. I try to keep it a bit cleaner inside, although rotting bananas seem to be a usual find. Biscuits have been ground into the carpet, and get covered over with apple juice and vomit. If we leave it, the mould starts and I have to get out the paint scraper.

But at least we have a roadworthy car. So if I smash into something, hopefully the insurance will be valid, and I won't have to pay out thousands, be declared bankrupt or go to prison when I can't pay. Phew. £750. It's starting to sound like a bargain. If only they'd thrown in a valet service as well, everything would be great.

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