Today I decided to give my Faithful Chariot a pre-Christmas treat. In a couple of months time he will become a teenager so there may well be Trouble Ahead. For now, I am prepared to indulge him with a little TLC.
In short, I booked him in for a Winter Health Check at the garage. Mr B, who has undergone more health checks over the last eighteen months than some people have had hot dinners, doesn't think a Health Check, whether
winter or any other season, is that much of a treat. However incorporated in my booking is a complimentary valet, inside and out. This is the automobile equivalent of a massage, a facial, a salt sea scrub and colonic irrigation.
Since I took over responsibility for All Things Vehicle Related from Mr B, I am ashamed to say our poor car has suffered from a hefty slice of wholesale neglect. I do speak sweetly to him whenever we are on the road, rarely raising my voice even when
sorely tested by other road users. I occasionally take him to visit a petrol pump, where I spend a ridiculous amount of money on Gas, all the better for Guzzling, don't you know? But my Good and Faithful Servant deserves so much more from me.
Just how much I realised this morning when I rose early (i.e. before the Man From The Garage arrived to collect his client), pulled on yesterday's clothes and headed out to empty the car of all the rubbish that has accumulated
over the last several months while I wasn't paying attention. Dozens and dozens of parking tickets, sweet wrappers galore, several out of date books of maps, print outs of directions drawn from Googlemaps, half-finished tubes of Extra Hot Mints, and quite
a few discarded cardboard coffee cups, witness to necessary stops at motorway service stations.
Pulling the car rug off the back seat, I unleashed a shower of sand which coated everything in a silvery sheen.
How many Family Seaside Days have we enjoyed this year? How many beach picnics sitting on this very rug? Why did I always just bundle the rug into the car at the end of each sun-drenched day? Did I never think of, well, shaking it? I am covered in shame, just
as the back seat of my car is covered in sand.
Of late, my Trusty Friend has been displaying signs of becoming uncharacteristically temperamental. It's a fore-warning, I suspect, of the Teenage Years. Yellow
warning lights keep coming on, then going off again - like Christmas tree lights on the blink. I consult my Owner's Guide which tells me my vehicle needs coolant, whatever that might be. Mr B says it's the same as antifreeze - well, why didn't it say that
in the first place? I successfully locate the relevant orifice under the car bonnet but I can't open it as the cap won't budge. It is at this exact moment that I decide to book my Chariot into the Health Club Garage.
I wave him off hoping he will return fit, relaxed - and, very importantly, clean. Before he drives off in my Old Friend, The Man From The Garage manages to open the coolant cap but concedes it was a trifle tricky. It wasn't just me, then. I take the
bus into town, reflecting on how fortunate I am not to have responsibility for a whole bus. A young woman behind me is discussing her attitude to marriage and children. She has no desire for either, she tells her companion, though she may well get engaged
- because she wants the ring. Her understanding of the word "engagement" seems much like mine of the word "coolant." As in, wide of the mark - though who am I to judge my fellow man, given the state of my car's interior?
When I arrive home, Mr B says the garage has called to say that the Trusty Chariot needs a new front tyre. Poor thing, My Wheels may well have been hobbling around for weeks. I can imagine how he must have felt - rather like me and my poor feet after
Our Jack's party on Sunday afternoon. I knew it was a mistake to wear my high heels in a vain (and mistaken) attempt to look at least a little more elegant.
Well, the Chariot is back in the drive now, all
fresh, shiny and refreshed. I did apologise to the Mr Garage Man, when he rang to take payment details, for the appalling state of the interior. Not to worry, he said, breezily, he liked a challenge.
able to check exactly how well he met the challenge because it was too dark for an inspection by the time my Four Wheeled Friend was returned. I am sure in the morning I will see a Dramatic Improvement. I will go for a quick spin to check that lights are not
still flashing on the dashboard. I won't go far but at least as far as Hobbycraft. And I will fill up My Rejuvenated Wheels with petrol so that he will be well placed to cope with Christmas journeys ahead. I hope he appreciates all I have done for him.
Swing low, Sweet Chariot. I'm counting on you to carry me home...