Oh goodness. I got a text today from the man who bought my van, Pootle. The news wasn't good. Having packed up on the motorway the next day after being sold, Pootle has been sitting in a garage in West London waiting for a full diagnosis. The text brought the bad news: a new engine at...wait for it...are you sitting down...a minimum of ....£3000.00. Cripes!
Oh well. Whatever I decide to do next is up to me. But it got me thinking about car trouble. I've had such a lot of it that a blown up engine isn't really much to write home about now. And if you think it's a blase attitude, read on.
My first car was a VW Beetle. Its windscreen wipers used to pop a circlip every so often which would stop them working. It meant getting out, finding where it had gone and popping it back on. One Christmas it popped and I couldn't find the clip. It was pissing with rain so I made my sister take the laces out of her shoes and tie them together. I then tied them to the wipers and passed them through the quarterlights. With a lateral movement my sister, furious and wet by now, could operate the wipers. All the way to Dorset. We never spoke of it again.
But it got worse. I borrowed her car, a Citroen 2CV, without asking. It was my birthday and I was in the middle of another car crisis and needed to get to Devon for my party. The car caught fire. Flames were coming out of the dashboard between my legs. It was terrifying. But try telling that to an angry sister who's in Hong Kong reading a fax from her brother telling her that her beloved car has gone up in smoke. Incidentally, did you know that you are insured third party only when you borrow a car on a comprehensive policy? Ouch. We don't speak of that much either.
It wasn't my only 2CV disaster. I had one once. I got it up to 92 MPH. Amazing! And yes, it spent some time in the garage after that.
Then there was the camper. I hit a pothole and the fusebox jumped off its mountings. We had a minor dashboard fire. And let's not forget the night I moved out of London with everything I owned - this time in a different camper. Broke down outside Trellick Tower, 100 yds from my old home.
Oh happy days. Skippy next. He was a Vauxhall Astra who was stolen from outside a flat in Queen's Park. He was returned and fixed up for me but hit by a boy racer in his Dad's Discovery whilst it was parked outside my friend's house. I'd only had it back a week. He tried to blame me. Said it was my parking wot did it. The twat. It dragged on for a bit mind.
I borrowed Dave's car once. That wasn't good. it broke down on the A30 in a blizzard so I had to sleep in it.
My wife's car, Rosie. Mmmmm. That was expensive! The engine blew up a few weeks after we bought her. At least it was only a 1000cc. But, even so: damn.
And back to Pootle, who, on an epic trip to John O' Groats, made it as far as Bristol. He got sent home on a yellow truck that time too.
Talking of yellow trucks, we mustn't forget the incident with the smashed windscreen in Saintes. Doing 60 up the motorway. Suddenly the windscreen shattered, not cracked like modern screens, shattered. It was like driving into a whiteout with no warning. Mind you, we got 2 nights in a hotel whilstwe waited for a new screen. After three weeks sleeping in the van Jo was quite pleased. Saintes is a nice place to break down.
Unlike spaghetti junction. I was involved in a 10 car pile up there way back in the eighties. We were somewhere in the middle. That was pretty bad. And it wasn't my car either. Girlfriend's Mother's. Crikey!
So what do you wreckon? A blown up engine isn't so bad is it? We are alive and we've had some fun. In fact we've had so much fun I think it's all been worth it.
But now there's Pootle to worry about.
What shall I do?