Wednesday, 24 August 2011


I am innocently driving the trusty GritMobile to pick up Tiger from the other side of town, when a horrible SCHCHGLMSHKSCH rises from under the bonnet as I lay my foot on the brake pedal.

I do the sensible thing and turn up the volume on Sue so I don't have to hear the horrible SCHCHGLMSHKSCH.

But it is quite insistent.

Hmm. I must think about this. I do not want to put the car in a garage for a day. This morning I calculated exactly how much time I have to organise everything for a smooth departure.

I must keep to the times to pick up Tiger from her windsurfing course at the lake and drop off Shark and Squirrel at their play dates.

And I must budget carefully. I have thought about this as well. I want to fill the car with only enough fuel to last the week. Then, if an insane and blind young man wants to steal the GritMobile while it is tucked in its nest behind closed doors, he will have to fill it with fuel first.

How I have planned ahead!

But the car continues to make that horrible SCHCHGLMSHKSCH.

Less than one week in England! How can I find a garage with a bank holiday weekend looming and us on a flight to Hong Kong? I wonder if I can drive without using the brakes?

I try that.

It is not very successful. My road speed is ten miles an hour and in the rear view mirror I see that I may be the cause of an accident.

So I think about not driving anywhere.

While the car screams SCHCHGLMSHKSCH I calculate the cost of taxis back and forth to the lake, over to a community arts centre on the other side of town, detour to Bletchley Park to drop off the relays, do the chip shop run on Saturday night, then take the hamster to live in the borderlands of Northamptonshire.

Taxis sound expensive to me.

I consider the options.

When I pick up Tiger to drive her home, I observe how we nearly smash into the back of an Audi because now the trusty GritMobile can barely stop. So I say to Tiger - paralyzed with fear at the sound of SCHCHGLMSHKSCH and the approaching Audi brakelights - that I will drive into the local garage to hear what they say. But frankly, I don't expect much when they're closing at 6pm and it's 5.55.

The garage mechanic sees me at the desk and his face falls and he says, 'Oh I remember'. I say, I have had a valet since then. Now it is making a SCHCHGLMSHKSCH sound.

So he rolls the GritMobile on a lift and crawls about underneath to say pads and discs, really bad, really really bad, and he stares at me.

I think, what are my options now, given the fact that I have three kids to get on a plane, I planned the point to a full stop so precisely, with all the stuff where I said 'yes, we'll do that', and I only have a hire car place that I need a car to reach?

He must have seen my face, and maybe he softened since I brought the car in for the MOT. Maybe he thinks how much mould has been steamed cleaned away, and considers how I must love the GritMobile. He says, 'We can do it for you now. Bill's just finished, but he has to stay on for his missus.'

Immediately I say yes. I don't think for one second whether there's enough money left in the bank.

As I drive home with the lovely safe brakes that don't SCHCHGLMSHKSCH each time I lay my foot on the brake pedal, I consider how I have reached that point where I solve difficulties by throwing cash at them, and sort problems in minutes that otherwise would take me months, simply by doing, and not thinking or planning at all.

Maybe I should take that as advice, and try solving a few other life problems that way, too.