by Paul Sweeney
So the time had come to say goodbye to my little Nova; I'd never really been sorry to see a car go before, but this time I was. Still, another new car would be exciting and this one would be bigger, faster, better, right? Well no, as it turned out.
I arrived to collect the Astra and there it was, waiting ready for me on the dealer's forecourt. Shiny, brand new with that special smell only new cars have. I immediately took off for a spin. Compared to the Nova, it was bigger inside and out; it had four doors, a bigger engine and was a little better equipped. It was quiet and smooth as you'd expect of a new car .... and yet there was something missing. It wasn't fun.
That initial disappointment grew deeper when I found old vans passing me on hills -surely there was something wrong? This Astra was at the time the European Car of the Year but it had no, "Get up and go".
I took it unhappily to the main dealer, Wilnecote Motors of Tamworth to investigate and they quickly informed me there was nothing wrong with the car - and perhaps there wasn't. I'll never know, but what I do know is the sparkly, lively character I had enjoyed so much in the Nova was completely absent from the Astra.
I was disappointed, but there was nothing I could do about it; it was a company car and I just had to live with it until it was time to change again. At least I didn't need to do any maintenance on it, which left me more time for other jobs around the house.
One weekend I decided I couldnt put off mowing the front lawn any longer and pulled out my little Qualcast electric mower. It was the cylinder type and as I started mowing I noticed that all it was doing was flattening the grass, which sprang back up a few minutes later; it was barely cutting the grass at all!
I fetched my toolkit and patiently took the thing apart. I cleaned, oiled, adjusted and even sharpened the blades before carefully reassembling everything. I plugged it in, fired her up and .... it was even worse than before!
Muttering dark threats, I took it apart again; I must have missed something, so this time I even broke the Golden Rule of Blokedom - incredible as it may seem, I fetched the Owners' Instruction Booklet and did exactly what it said. Down to every last detail.
Reassembly complete, I eagerly plugged the power cord in once more and tried it on the front lawn. The result? No change. Well, not strictly true - it was as good as it had been before I tried to fix it the first time - meaning it still wasn't actually cutting the grass.
I decided the bottom plate against which the revolving cylinder blades strike was bent, so I went to the local B&Q and bought a new one - that would fix it! It didn't - well, maybe a marginal improvement, but no more.
By this time I was getting a tad hot and bothered - and had pretty much lost interest in mowing the lawn until my dear wifey yelled from the living room window, "Are you still ******ing around with that ****ing mower?" in the sweet tones she seemed to reserve just for me. "I'm getting there", I lied gamely as I took the mower apart one more time.
This time, I disassembled the mower almost completely - I had a dozen or so odd-shaped bits of cheap metal lying around me. Again I checked, cleaned and re-fitted the entire thing, then spent quite a while adjusting the blade clearance to as near perfection as I could. This was it ... the moment of truth had come.
I plugged the power cord in again, pulled the '"start" lever and set off across the lawn once more. I got to the far end of the lawn and did a smart 180 degree turn, looking back expectantly to see the fruits of my labours - and saw a neat strip of flattened uncut grass already beginning to return to the vertical position. At that very moment, Mrs S yelled "Are you coming in or not?" (expletives omitted) and it was then that I finally cracked.
I yanked on the power cord so hard the plug pinged out from the power point a few yards away, then I picked up the mower by it's handle and began circling it around my head wildly (think of a puny version of Geoff Capes throwing the hammer and you pretty much get the idea). After a few complete circuits accompanied by yours truly yelling I know not what, I let go of it.
Now if I'm honest, I suppose I imagined the mower sailing majestically across our front garden, bouncing in slow motion as it hit the ground and exploding dramatically into a thousand pieces. What actually happened was the control lever caught in my sleeve which tore - and the mower along with half of my shirt landed pretty much at my feet, completely undamaged.
My neighbours (for they were surely observing from their hide nearby) didn't say a word, coming as it did after the infamous Cortina-kicking incident, but I'm fairly sure I heard squeaking sounds remarkably like suppressed sniggering.
Wifey meanwhile had watched the whole thing from the house, and to my surprise had a rare grin on her face that soon turned to a chuckle until it became a most unladylike guffaw. I had to admit, I must have looked pretty ridiculous and before long I was laughing too. I can't offhand recall any other time when we both laughed together like that, although I suppose it must have happened occasionally.
Next time - a new job results in another search for a used car!
Filter by Author
Filter by Month