Well. I have a car. Maybe. I seem to have a car at the moment. Um. A car-shaped object. It looks a lot like Wolfgang. Except that this red, convincingly dented and red-paint-touched-up, very Wolfgang-like car-thing keeps starting. Well. So far.
Yesterday afternoon I rang the garage. The line was engaged. It went on being engaged. I said to Colin and Niall, when they arrived to ring handbells, that the garage had taken their phone off the hook so I couldn’t ring them up. I kept trying. Eventually someone absent-mindedly put the phone back in its cradle again and then there it was, ringing, and they sighed heavily and answered.
It’s all ready, said Paxton.
Uh huh (I did not say aloud). I’ve heard that one before.
Paxton heard me anyway. No, really, he said. We couldn’t find anything wrong with it . . . until we discovered it had been fitted with a gingledrabbler. We’ve never seen a gingledrabbler on a Volkswagen before.
Um. Granted that everything I know about cars could dance on the head of a pin with room left over for a picnic table, but this is not a word I’ve ever heard before, in relation to cars or anything else. I don’t want to have a discussion about it but I do at least know the word ‘solenoid’ exists, for example, and that it’s a Car Part in one of its manifestations, and that you need the one or ones in your car to be happy in their work. Gingledrabbler I do not know. Apparently it’s another of these fluxy electrically channelly things. And it was interrupting the flow in Wolfgang somewhere.
So we called Volkswagen, Paxton went on enthusiastically, and they said, oh, yeah, only a few cars were fitted with gingledrabblers—
—Which I take as a bad sign, just by the way. They tried it and they decided it was a bad idea and didn’t do it any more.
—but, went on Paxton, they said they were still making replacements. So we ordered one. And we’ve fitted it and the car starts.
Okay, good, I said cautiously. Wolfgang had run brilliantly over the Jubilee weekend after our little emergency trip to the local garage with the RAC man, and then declined to start two or three times as he readied himself for the additional exertion of dropping me in the proverbial soup at 70 mph on the motorway. And then there was last Tuesday. I’m feeling a little bruised.
I’ll take it out tomorrow morning and drive it really hard, said Paxton. And turn it on and off a lot. Give us a ring, and you can pick it up in the afternoon.
My today began last night, as my todays usually do. We are in a supper resistant phase with the hellhounds.* The current system involves that they must have lain at tortured, food-repelling angles all over the kitchen floor for a sufficient time and then locked in their crate before they will eat. Sometimes. And it’s not like the exact sufficiency of time is measurable or predictable. Nooooooo. No, you have to monitor the tortured angles, and at the RIGHT MOMENT you have to move them into their bed, and then watch them closely** for tiny signs of interest in the contents of their bowls. If you shut them in too quickly it doesn’t work, and then you have to start all over. If you wait too long they just go to sleep. ARRRRRRGH. I could be solving the global financial crisis and finding a cure for malaria with the focus and energy I’m using TRYING TO GET FOOD INTO HELLHOUNDS.
Last night was a Chaos fail. And I couldn’t stay awake any longer.*** So we all got off to a slow, late and CRANKY start today. And the weather was going RAAAAAAAAIIIIIIIIN sun RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAIIIIIN sun RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAIIIIIN WIIIIIIIIIIIIND sun so on the whole I decided we did not want to walk back out to Warm Upford again. Instead I sacrificed my music lesson and Oisin drove me out there.† I approached Wolfgang with caution, holding out three keys in a humble, supplicating manner.†† I got in the driver’s seat. I buckled my seatbelt to indicate my faith in the process. And with Oisin looking on somewhat cynically, I turned the key in the little hole. . . .
And Wolfgang started. Vroom vroom. There was a problem?†††
Hellhounds and I had a gorgeous post-more-handbells‡ hurtle this evening while my knees and ankles went No heavy knapsack! No endless commuting with heavy knapsack! Wheeeeee! Do you have any idea what a bag of dog kibble WEIGHS? No, don’t put it on the scale, we don’t want to know!
And then we got in Wolfgang‡‡ and luxuriously DROVE to the mews.
And now I guess I get to see if he’s going to start for the, uh, fifth time in a row. . . .
* * *
* You’ve all seen some version of this, yes? http://mikewarot.blogspot.co.uk/2010/04/humor-how-to-give-cat-pill.html ^ Of the ones I’ve seen, this one’s my favourite, not least for the ‘how to give a dog a pill’ add on at the end. But then dogs and sighthounds are only distantly related. You’re much better off giving a sighthound—my hellhounds anyway—a pill the hard way, which is to say opening its mouth and poking it down its throat. It will look at you reproachfully, but that’s about all.^^ But try to offer it food out of context and clearly the end of the world is approaching. My guys adore liver, and (usually) shoot out of their bed to beg for it if they think it’s on offer.^^^ But offer it outdoors in what might conceivably be a training environment and it’s squashy, red-brown cyanide. My guys’ recall is mysteriously good^^^^ but for godssake don’t offer them a reward for coming, that will put them right off.
^ Although it leaves out the peeing-on-you stage. I was once left in charge of a cat that had to have a pill every day. Longest week of my life.
^^ If it’s your own dog, and it manages to hork it up again, I find that saying ‘you’re supposed to swallow that, you wretched animal’ before repeating the opening-and-poking routine is usually effective. Dog Hierarchy: Make It Work for You. You might as well get the breaks where you can, you’re still going to be cleaning sick off the floor at intervals, not to mention the out-of-hours emergency runs to the vet. +
+ Companion animals are SO REWARDING.
^^^ This includes after they’ve had their dinner and I might be so brazen as to be having liver myself for mine.+ I’ve told you before that the hellhounds are so, well, awful, about eating that I have positively encouraged them to learn to beg while I’m putting their meals together: ANY interest in food is to be encouraged. This means that on liver nights I approach preparing my portion with a kind of lightning-raid mentality, because I will have hellhounds underfoot for the duration. Yes, they get scraps of mine too. When I decide to err as a dog owner, I err comprehensively.
+ I LIKE liver, okay? It’s also one of those superfoods—we buy organic—that is a Very Good Idea if you’ve got a chronic debilitator like ME.
^^^^ knocking on wood here till my knuckles bleed
** While pretending to ignore them. This is easier out in the kitchen with, you know, light, than it is in the deep dark recesses of the frelling crate.
*** I was too tired to KNIT.
† And I brought my camera . . . and there was no puppy.
†† Paxton said that sometimes the chips in the keys go wrong. So when Paxton drove us in the other day I sent him back with ALL Wolfgang’s keys.
††† Oisin followed me home. So he could pick up the bits that fell off, as he said helpfully.
‡ The theory is that I ring only with Niall and Colin on Thursday or Niall and Gemma on Friday, because I have a novel to finish, etc. But like this week we were already set up for Gemma on Friday and then Colin suddenly realised he wasn’t leaving on holiday till Friday and could therefore ring handbells on Thursday, and . . . I have no self control . . . but my touches of bob minor on the three-four are improving.
‡‡ With a remarkable assortment of stuff that seems to have silted up at the wrong end. There’s its equal and opposite load at the mews.
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