Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Travels with an under tray

We are back to the garage about the tray under the car.

This is becoming a plot worthy of a Trollope novel. In fact if Trollope was alive today, he may well have written up the car tray saga as She knew she was a pissed off Grit or Travels with a broken car under tray.

Let's start at the beginning. The comprehension problem.

What is a tray? Tray? I thought that's what waiters carried around. I remember a particularly fine tray-carrying demonstration in a Parisian restaurant. Pre-children, obviously, when the world knew only the manly Dig and the girlish Grit.

I can picture the place now, all gilt mirrors and crystal chandeliers sparkling in a cathedral-sized restaurant; warm with bodies and scented food and bubbling with voices, diners sat close in fine-eating camaraderie, and the waiters twirled around holding aloft huge silver trays with sparkling glasses of blushing pink Kir and gleaming white plates, steaming with Parisian food. In balletic carousel, those trays above our heads circled and dipped and rose, dipped and rose again through the gentle progress of our meal.

Anyway, that was then and this is now. And my education in trays under cars is still rudimentary. Thanks to a Google search, I have discovered it's something replaced on racing cars and Scalextric models. And last time I was here, the garage receptionist who looked like the perfume assistant for Elizabeth Arden explained the nature of a cracked car under tray to me in words of one syllable. I probably received the news that it was all our fault and therefore nothing to do with the manufacturer with one disbelieving upper lip curled and one eyebrow raised.

But I'm back. With the car and its broken tray, for the garage to fix.

Miss Perfume's not here today. It's Delta. Delta looks about 20 and may have just came off the set at Trisha. She's all forearms, broken teeth and home-made tattoos. She's chatty and says they can 'ave a look and come back in an hour because they boys will have sorted it. That seems simple enough and keeps me happy.

An hour later I'm there to receive the news.

Right! announces Delta. She slams the clipboard on the desk and sniffs a bloke sniff but doesn't drag her forearm under her nostrils. There's nothing we can do about it! she exclaims. With that tone of voice she might have been saying That's me up the duff then, thanks to Baz who's married to me half-sister Shazza! And then she smiles.
It's bent, drawls Delta, like under trays happen everyday to everyone.
Bent? How's it got bent? Last time you said it was cracked.
Did we? she asks.
You told me it was cracked, I insist. I'm seconds away from jabbing a forefinger at her. I probably stab the clipboard instead. When we brought it in for the new car check, you said the tray had cracked.
Oh, answers Delta. Well there's nothing we can do about it anyway. You want to take it to our crash repair shop. How d'ja do that anyway, crack yer tray?

Right now I'm feeling a little pissed off. If they knew about the tray in January, and they knew they couldn't repair it here, why the **** did they let me book in the car to have the tray mended?
I throw stones at it, I say, and look her in the eye. You see, two minutes with Delta and I've got forearms as well. I've probably got a ciggy hanging out the corner of my mouth, no tights and a hairnet on.

Grit's attempt at pissed off humour gets nowhere near Delta. She looks at me puzzled with her eyes squinted. You don't wanna do that, she says.
I'm joking.
Oh. Perhaps you ran over an animal.
What? What type of animal breaks a tray? Are we talking leopard? Are we talking a particularly vicious night-time creature wreaking revenge on cars in once-green fields? Perhaps it prowls at night, creeping under everyone's car, cracking each tray with its bare paws and the strength of ten men. Check your car in the morning.
I'd have known if I drove over an animal, I reply. Wouldn't I know? Surely I would. What size animal cracks a metal tray? A hedgehog? What about an antelope, with horns. There'd be a bump wouldn't there, and blood? And circumstantial evidence, like dead antelope all over the front of the car.

Have you, you know, she nods and her voice drops to a whisper, like we're taking dirty secrets, gone over a speed bump?
Now it's my turn to look puzzled. I'm constantly driving over them I say, shrugging my shoulders.
Ah ha! Delta sits back and pulls a face which says that's the problem sorted then. You might have gone over one a bit too fast! she adds.
Yes, I think. All stay at home mothers with three kids hanging from them have nothing better to do than sit in diesel powered cars, racing each other, probably right now, up and down village cul de sacs, doing wheelies and hand-brake turns, shouting Respect! to Mavis in Rochester Avenue, who always clocks up 60mph in a 30-zone before tucking the kids into bed and reading Dolphin Diaries.

I'm not likely to speed, I argue, lying. I've got three kids in the car. And it is a new car, so I'm going to be driving slower, surely. I sound like I'm reasoning it out. I probably am. I'll speed on the motorway because everyone else does, but I don't speed in Smalltown, where the speed bumps are, because there's always a police car creeping round, and it would just be like asking coppers to nick me right there and then.

Well I dunno then, shrugs Delta. A stone could do it. Sign 'ere. It says we didn't do the work.

And that puts me right back at square one. When I gather up the emotional resources I'll take the broken under tray off to the crash centre and claim a panther did it.


the mother of this lot said...

You're going to make yourself even more fed-up than you already are recalling balletic carousels in Parisian restaurants.

And watch out for that Mavis in Rochester Avenue - I've had a run-in with her before now.

Allie said...

That bit about the Parisian restaurant was beautifully written.

Cars are just a way of sapping all your money. And it's not like they're even pretty to look at.

Kelly Jene said...

That was funny. Speed bumps. I've hit a leopard before you know.. doesn't do much damage.

Just kidding.

Potty Mummy said...

The High Street. Midnight. No, scratch that - 3am (the fuzz will be busy with the punters being kicked out of Spearmint Rhino). Bring your handbrake, your Earl Grey, and a warm sweater.


Mean Mom said...

Truth is so much stranger than fiction. Do you feel as if you have slipped into a parallel world, sometimes? You got a good blog out of it, though!

Grit said...

hi motl, you are right of course. and i simply cannot throw away that brown sueded dress i wore in bologna, size 8. i keep it to torture myself.

i agree allie. i agree i agree. we have even caught a bus in the rain to prove it. and then the next day we got back in the car. i am not proud. but i am weak.

hi kelly jean! let us compare speed bumps... post some pictures on your blog and see if we can start a movement!

respect, potty mummy. (and jol brings hot water bottles to all outdoor activities. a highly recommended tip.)

hello mean mom! i often feel i've fallen into someone's script and can't get out. this is a good way of coping, though!