Saturday, May 19, 2007

Far from Perfect Timing

I've tried really hard to be brave and strong and grown-up and practical and thrifty. It hasn't been easy. I've come close to losing it a few times, pulling back from the brink of tears as I swallow the rising screams and stop short of throwing myself on the floor and howling like the baby I feel.

I looked out of the window. There was nothing to see, just a big empty oil-spattered space where my car should have been. I'd abandoned it on my mechanic's forecourt at 8.30pm the previous night with the assistance of a Polish recovery truck driver. I took the bus. It took forever. The next day I hired a car.

Gordon, my mechanic, sucked his teeth a lot and gave me his usual advice. ' Throw it away and start again'. Only I couldn't really afford to do that, not twice in one year. Disposable cars aren't good for the environment or the soul.

I ventured inside a car showroom one night on my way home from work. I think I know how some people feel when visiting the dentist. I waited for the shiny-suited salesman to hand a set of keys to a teenager with daft hair and an assortment of dafter mates in tow. They drove out in a sexy little Golf. That uplifted me slightly. If he could afford that on his pocket-money, maybe I might be able to get something reasonable after all. It didn't take long for the spotty salesman to bring me back to my melancholy default setting as he showed me a car in my price range - a Kia Picanto - a lacquered shoe box with a steering wheel stuck on it.

I waited until I'd reached the sanctuary of my hired Micra ( surprisingly nice to drive with the added bonus that you can't see how shit it looks when you are sitting in the driver's seat) before allowing a sob or several to escape.

I've since bought a cylinder head from a breaker's yard hidden amongst a labyrinth of streets somewhere in the depths of 1950s Hull. Gordon doesn't seem to be in any rush to transplant the donor engine and continues to predict a 50:50 chance of survival.

I popped along to see Archbishop Desmond Tutu, hoping some of his serenity would infect me, provide me with some perspective against real issues, third world debt, slavery, international conflict. It didn't. I'm still a completely miserable, inadequate, snivelling no-hoper with no car, money nor currently any way of getting to the airport next week. It did give me the chance to offer directions to a visiting American history professor looking for the Wilberforce Institute of Slavery and Emancipation. His name badge announced him to be ' Randy J. Sparks'. Now that cheered me up.