Sunday, 25 November 2012

Quiche, through and through

It was a long week. Last Sunday I finally decided to fix the car which had been SORN’d for over three and a half years. I started by replacing the battery. For reasons that I’m not going to make clear as it would make me sound like an idiot, I’m curious as to how long a never-used battery lasts after having been bought. Is it I suspect, like a not-used-in-a-long-while battery, dead unless given a charge every now and then? Let’s pass on that, on Saturday I bought another battery, and on Sunday I took over two hours to remove the dead one in the car. On the VW Polo there’s a plastic casing inside which the battery sits that wasn’t quite as described by the Haynes manual my father helpfully bought me 18 months ago. Nevertheless I felt a misplaced sense of manly achievement, though this wasn’t enough to fix the car.

Dented Ford Puma
Three and a half years and I confess the main (only?) reason for this effort was the knowledge my Ford Puma - 117,000 miles on the clock with one not-so-careful owner - had about as much chance of passing its MOT as I have of reading The Busconductor Hines, which was Friday’s Kindle Daily Deal. This of course was a purchase with the noble purpose of understanding how the other half think (other readers that is) and at less than the cost of a prawn sandwich I couldn’t go wrong, though on reflection I should have bought the sandwich; given that it’s set in “Thatcher’s Britain” I only have myself to blame.

On Monday I called the RAC. My heroic and ultimately successful struggle with replacing the battery had not been enough; the engine turned as if from a slumber with no intention of waking up. It was time for the professionals. Mine spent hours in the rain with me watching him doing something with coils and spark plugs and fuses, several times he removed and replaced the engine cover - I didn’t know you could do that, I didn’t even know it was a cover - at one point he used a hair dryer and hit the base of the car with a screwdriver. Was an oxyacetylene torch involved? It may have been. Yet even an expert wasn’t enough; at a cost of £90 (since it had no MOT and therefore wasn’t covered) I had to have the car - the good car that is to replace my crappy car - towed to the garage.

To Rockhampton; a small village that can be reached along the back roads from my not so tiny town, there you will find Woodward Motors. An essential part of my motoring life for several years and the one on whom I was reasonably sure. It could be the fuel pump, was their guess when I handed over the keys, and a phone call the following day confirmed it to be the case; this, some rusted up brakes, a service and an MOT accounted for an impressively large bill, impressive for a VW Polo. I wasn’t impressed; I’d deserted the car and gotten my just desserts.

Volkswagon Polo 2002
Flooding meant a delay of a few days; it wasn’t until Friday when I could pick up the car from a sand-bagged garage. I had only the car tax left which at ‘only’ £135 was cheaper than before. On the point of applying online, being prepared to wait a few more days before I could drive, I remembered something called a post office and thus only 15 minutes later I had a legal car, one I could drive once I get rid of the smell.

If car tax was the second, the first saving was insurance. A worthless car costs more to insure than one with value, this despite the insurer only replacing to the market value of the car. My father reminds me this is because I am seen as more likely to have an accident in a 1.7L Puma than I am a 1.2L Polo, though as anyone who’s seen me drive will know, I am no more likely to have an accident in one of those cars than I am the other. I can’t possibly be blamed for having been hit three times, though there was that one time I span off into a ditch. Oh, and the time I swiped the concrete pillar in the car park, accounting for a large dent over the rear wheel arch. Yours, for less than the cost of a cheap tablet computer. Though on reflection....


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