I didn’t sleep very well last night (again) so I didn’t get up very early today (ahem). I finally rolled out of bed because the phone was ringing dranglefab it usually I remember to unplug the freller.
It was Peter. I don’t know if they tried you first, he said*, but the garage just rang. Wolfgang is ready.
READY? I said. You mean they FIXED HIM?
I guess, said Peter. You’d better talk to them. But they seem to be expecting you to pick him up.
So I rang the garage. Yes, Wolfgang was ready. Yes, he started. Yes, the itinerant electrician had immediately discovered that the ignition switch was faulty, which had been replaced. Ignition has to be live all the time the car is running, so if it cuts out the car dies. And of course this also explained the erratic non-starting fault.
It’s a beautiful day.** Hellhounds and I enjoyed our four- or five-mile hurtle cross country to Warm Upford.*** I arrived at the garage with a song on my lips and a little prance to my step—rather similar to the innocent delight I was experiencing as I stepped on the Drollbody bus yesterday. I was looking around for Wolfgang—it seemed to me highly unlikely that if there’d been a sudden raid by pirates they would have included a 17-year-old VW in their haul—when Martha came out of the office and gave me the key. He’s† parked down the road, she said. We’ve run out of room.
So we sallied down the road. I unsnapped leads and put hellhounds in their bed in the back seat. I lowered the windows, because the weather is pretending to be mid June.†† I climbed into the driver’s seat. I put the key in the little hole. I fastened my seat belt.
I turned the key in the little hole.
And Wolfgang did not start.
Let me repeat that. Wolfgang. DID. NOT. START. THERE WAS NO STARTING. THERE WAS NO DRIVING BACK TO NEW ARCADIA WITH A CAR THAT STARTED.
There was, however, language. Wolfgang was making exactly the not-connected-to-the-whatsit noise that we began with. Months ago. There was more language. Then I noticed that the village infant school seemed to be having recess slap next to the village hall car park—that’s a jolly silly place to have an infant school playground—so I swallowed a few more outbursts, put the leads back on the hellhounds—who were not pleased with this development: they’d had their hurtle, thank you very much, and some serious lying-down was in order—and stalked back to the garage, all traces of prancing gone. I stalked past the office to the business end of the garage and found poor Blaze, kneeling beside a car. He looked up in surprise.
My. Car. Does. Not. Start, I said.
He blinked. And then, to his credit, he got up and followed me back down the road to where Wolfgang sat,††† pretending (badly) to be a car that started. The only—the ONLY—even faintest gleam of a silver lining to all this is that at least Wolfgang made his noise again. I think I might have had to trash the village hall or tear up the car park tarmac with my bare hands or something if he’d started then. At least Blaze has now HEARD THE NOISE.
However, he went on hearing it, since he still couldn’t get Wolfgang started. His dad—who originally owned the garage, and is now Blaze’s back up—appeared, bringing more clobber. They had bits of Wolfgang all over the car park, and enough kit and tools merely to build another car, although that doesn’t seem to have occurred to them. Meanwhile . . . I didn’t have my knitting. I didn’t have ANYTHING TO DO. ‡ Nightmare.‡‡
They never did get Wolfgang started. But Paxton borrowed Martha’s car—Martha has dogs, and there’s a dog bed in the back of her car—and drove us home. And I sadly rearranged my knapsack for carrying down to the mews and a very late lunch. We’d left at about one. We arrived at the mews a little before four.
And what have I learned from today’s further epic?
- Always take your knitting. Always. I had brought it with me when we drove out Sunday afternoon to leave Wolfgang for early Monday morning, in case we spent several hours by the side of the road waiting for the RAC. And I had thus discovered that the Mobile Knitting Unit hangs very neatly around my neck and over my shoulder and tucks in companionably with Pooka’s little pink leather bag. So I have no excuse. Except a foolish belief in the fixedness of cars.
- Always take your camera. There may be a puppy.
- Live in a city, where everything is walking distance anyway, and there are things like buses [sic], trains and taxis.
* * *
* If they did, I slept through it and they didn’t leave a message. Let me just say, tranquilly and en passant, that I’m the only member of this family who still drives, but Peter is still perceived as The Bloke—like this means something. Life is short and I’m apparently not going to live long enough to see the blue-collar end of the labour force—mechanics, electricians, plumbers, gardeners, painters, window cleaners^, whatever—stop knee-jerking trad gender roles. I dare say there are exceptions. None of them seem to live in this end of Hampshire.
^ Although Peter has a window cleaner that I am just going to lose it some day and murder out of hand. I will dance upon his eviscerated body and sing paeans to Kali. And then all the women in the neighbourhood will help me bury the body.
** It’s a beautiful day I could have spent several hours of in the garden, potting on replacement petunias, weeding, deadheading, and hanging out with adolescent robins.
*** Driving back from Curlyewe last night in that last looooooooong late light of English summer evenings Niall and I were making jokes about hey, Hampshire, this looks like a nice place to live. Hampshire is not top of any of the standard lists of Beautiful England and this is a good thing. We have enough of a tourist/incomer problem as it is. Hey, why are you looking at me like that? I’ve lived in Hampshire longer than Niall has.
† Okay, it’s.
†† Ha ha ha.
††† The owner of the car he was deserting would not consider this to his credit, of course, but I was there. And I was ugly. And I’m taller than he is, and I have hellhounds.^
^ Hee hee hee hee hee
‡ I did have ten minutes of Furry Delight. Blaze has a puppy. And I went back to the garage again to steal her water bowl long enough to give hot hellhounds some water. When I returned it we had Puppy Time. And you’re buying a dog for a working garage, what are you going to get? An Alsatian? A Mastiff? Even a Dalmatian? Or the ubiquitous black Lab? Nope. King Charles spaniel. And from the size of her feet she’s going to grow up to be teeny.
‡‡ I do in fact have a book of gardening essays by different people in one of Wolfgang’s door pockets for just this sort of emergency. The problem is that the poor book has become over the years associated in my mind with Bad Moments When I Have Nothing to Do That Are Something About Cars and Transportation Gone Wrong and I can’t actually read it any more. I should bring it indoors and replace it with THE COMPLETE JUDGE DREDD or something else that will soothe and uplift me in moments of stress and crisis.
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