Monday, 23 January 2012

Something about January

It's back to that bad old time of temporary inner conflict, the old Cougar is failing (in small ways) and as 140k approaches I'm not sure how long running him/her is affordable and practical. This may signal the end of a long and pretty pleasant era - and I'm double minded about ending it this way. Maybe it's just something about January and the lack of vitamin C in the watery sunshine that either blinds you or stays away from you. The main rival(s) to the Cougar is the Alfa Romeo 166. I've seen a few, though they are  scarce in Scotland. The best one I've seen (virtually) is down in Bristol, it looks pretty good, maybe too good to be true, an air ticket, a taxi ride and a tank of petrol away. Maybe it should just be a regular old and sturdy Mondeo that I should settle for. Playing it safe or playing it real?

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Domestic bliss

The long and short of the long sentence: She was determined to be more than a simple housewife. Then she thought about that thought and how it in itself was a blatant piece of stiff prejudice and was simply untrue. Nobody is simple, we are not simple creatures on any level and nobody understands the term housewife anyway. If it was to be a description, a career and compliment, or an insult towards some station in life that transcends all of them. Then she thought about the earring that had just fallen into the kitchen sink drain, how annoying was that? She though of how it looked, how it was a part of a now ruined pair, of the details, shapes and shiny faces, the fine wire work and how it had sparkled, the outfits it had gone with. Now it was somewhere down in the murky darkness of the drain, beyond her reach and now the only possible means of rescue was via the dumb spanners of some plumber or DIY expert. She blamed herself (just a little) for not pressing the back on tightly enough, it must have pinged as she leaned over. It could have been a manufacturing fault, poorly made of inferior material in the far east and in the great timings of all the small things it had failed at that critical moment when she'd been at the kitchen sink. The place where many greasy, culinary and domestic, clean events had taken place.

Then she smirked into herself and thought about the occasional sensual or sexual moment that had taken place there, across the sink, bending at the waist, glazed eyes, vulnerable, touched. After parties it had sometimes happened, a byproduct of drink and relief, a parting celebration at the dog end of a difficult social situation, a way to channel up and end the stress. His and her's in some unequal measure. These thoughts wouldn't return the earring or do the other chores, they were empty musings that passed across this kitchen sky like a flock of birds above the barrels of the hunter's guns. Those guns were always ready, pointed. Everything that flies by gets shot down sooner or later, all winged things find the hard earth as it argues with gravity for attention and supremacy. And so it was that the earring had fallen on it's golden descent and was somewhere, amongst the lost things.

She thought of the great pile of lost things that everyone imagines; teddies and toys, coins and keys, jewellery and precious stones, phone numbers, tickets and messages. The physical mixture of those things we cared about, too much to begin with and then not enough later, we were lazy and careless or taken advantage of by a surprise hole, a gash, a stretched pocket in a purse or the failure of some component part in the grand chain. We witness this small universe as it collapses, time and time again and washes it all up as foreign flotsam and jetsam on a strangers beach. She twisted the tap too hard, a stream of warm water rushed around the steel sink, swishing right then left in a desperate torrent always drawn to the drain. The crest of the wave hit the drain and a tiny hydro explosion occurred, froth and foam, bubbles and an earring, pushed up and quick as a flash back into the palm of her hand. Tight shut on the shining prisoner. More than a simple squeal was needed, she allowed herself a chocolate smile.

The economics of motoring

There isn't a financial expert or economic correspondent alive who would ever advise anybody to purchase a used Alfa Romeo. The small numbers and risk traffic lights trip them up, they dance before their eyes in an unholy significance that breeds a mathematical fear and makes them use such terms “strike a note of caution”. Modern man is undone by the backwards power of this forest fire. Nothing is safe, nothing is stable, nothing can be done but somebody is making a lot of money. Some trees were cut down in the making of this statement.

Monday, 9 January 2012

Under over pressure

A dodgy air line, a dodgy gauge and not wearing glasses, add to that the inability to do the mental arithmetic necessary to convert PPI to BAR and throw in an interfering rainstorm and you'll understand why I got my pressures so badly wrong. Then of course I had the incorrect coins and then the airline was out of order.

Eventually I've gotten it right but not before I'd magically over inflated all four tyres and still managed to mysteriously cure a slow, lazy puncture that's been slowly puncturing for weeks if not more weeks. Now the fog lamp warning light stays on, I'm sure what it's trying to tell me but at least the bulbs in the rear lamps have stopped flickering like the Blackpool Illuminations on a blustery October night. Win, lose, win I make it, could be the best week's ownership ever.

Friday, 6 January 2012

The 99th Secret

There are 99 deep and true secrets in the universe, hidden behind things, in things, outside of things and arounds things. And so it was that we realised that god knew only 98 of the secrets and not the full 99, never the 99th. Turns out that only the old wise monkey, the monkey of wisdom knew them all including the 99th. God isn’t particularly pleased about this arrangement and he's angry and frustrated about it. He's angry that the monkey knows the 99th and frustrated that despite the various pressures and bribes he has subjected the monkey to, the monkey steadfastly refuses to reveal Number 99. An intolerable position for any self respecting divine personage, so god lost patience with the old wise monkey. “Monkey” he said, “you know that I wish to know this 99th secret that you persist in keeping from me, you know that I could destroy you and your family, you know that I could wipe you from the pages of history and make your name to be as nothing but still you defy me, why oh why?”

The monkey didn't answer at first and looked god up and down and set a deliberately grim expression onto his face. “God you know I love and respect you but you also know that I cannot simply surrender my deep secret to you for nothing at all, in order for me to share secret No 99 you must give me something, something special, something that at least matches the value of the secret, something truly unique and precious.” The monkey smiled, “I have waited a long time for this moment, I believe you can and will give me the full desire of my very simple animal heart.”

God sat back, clenched his thumbs and thought long and hard. Finally he broke his silence saying, “Gentleman’s relish”. The monkey looked puzzled. “I know that you desire more than anything to be like man, I know that you, if you could would rather be a man than a monkey.” The old monkey smiled and nodded, god had seen straight into his monkey soul and pierced him with a plaintive and powerful truth he could not easily deny.

“If you will share with me the 99th secret then I shall share with you the secret recipe of Gentleman’s Relish and that my monkey friend once known to you and applied will make you more man than monkey and set you on level terms with the grass cutting, meat eating, coal diging, beast taming, number crunching men of the world.”

The monkey replied, “then tell me the recipe and give me the plain directions to the Road to China and I will reveal to you the 99th secret.” God looked pleased with himself and allowed himself a grin and snapping his fingers produced a glass full of gin and tonic, with crushed ice and fresh lemon. He supped it slowly slurping slightly. “Approach me and whisper your tale.”

“No”, said the monkey, you first.” God looked a little frustrated but humoured the monkey, “very well, here is the recipe, once you know this, once you have mixed it and tasted it you will be more of a man than a monkey and more of a man than any man on earth.” God did a quick hand shuffle and handed the monkey an A4 sheet headed “Gentleman's Relish Recipe”. Then in another quick move he produced a Tom Tom Sat Nav, “this is set for travel to China, by both the shortest and fastest routes.” The monkey grabbed the paper and the Sat Nav and scuttled into a corner to study them. “Stand tall, stand straight monkey,” cried god, “you're so close to being human now!”

For a few moments the monkey looked over his items and then stood up, tall, straight and (for a monkey) almost erect. He approached god and cupping his monkey hands began whispering in god's right ear. After a few seconds the smug look on god's face began to change, his eyes widened, his jaw dropped and he seemed to be swallowing hard. He straightened up, ripped the recipe sheet from monkey's hand and tore it up and then threw the Sat Nav against the wall smashing it to pieces. Then he stormed out of the room, stamping his feet as he slammed the door.

A small blue bird flew into the room, narrowly missing being trapped in the rapidly closing door, the bird circled for a few moments and then settled, landing on the shoulder of the monkey. They regarded one another for a few moments. The bird began to tweet sweetly and then gently spoke in a thin, birdie voice, “so what did you say to him to upset him so?” The monkey allowed himself a little giggle that seemed to twinkle up into his eyes and across his face. “Well god wanted to know the 99th secret of the universe, the final great secret, so, once he had given me the tokens that I asked for I told him, yes I did.”

“And just what was that?” The monkey grinned widely, “ I simply told him the truth, I told him that despite his Relish Recipe and his Sat Nav gifts the 99th secret stays with me because long ago I promised my own monkey god that I'd never reveal it to any lesser being. I don't think he liked that.”

"Tweet” said the bird.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Closed and open roads

Though it has a powerful exhaust and the gases are a potent mixture of hot and pretty destructive materials we can't be blamed for the massive woodland destruction and subsequent blocked roads that have occurred around here. The usual routes are impassable and the everything else is either part blocked up or covered in a carpet of debris and dead foliage. Of course last year at this time we were suffering a foot and more of snow and more slipping and sliding and digging out than I've ever experienced and it was minus 10. Yesterday it was a balmy 11 degrees but the wind still clocked 100mph, that's at least 4000rpm in a Cougar, downhill with a good following breeze.

At home due to this peculiar weather and serial pylon collapse the electricity has disappeared back up it's own corrupted exhaust pipe, so coal, candles and batteries are keeping us going surprisingly well, that's country life for you. I suspect that if the power failure carries on it'll be a drive through breakfast of some sort tomorrow to prepare me for the return to work and a frantic recharging of the soon to be dead mobile devices, perhaps we should also be investing in a small Honda generator to ensure a level of business continuity during these spikes of inconvenient catastrophe,or maybe I should just try wiring the Cougar's lump up to the domestic supply, has this been done?

Even in the grip of Hurricane Bawbag II I was able to top up the ever diminishing oil supply, we're on about a strong and imperial pint a week right now but still getting 38.4 mpg. There's life in the greasy old cat yet though I'd not bet on him/her making the planned (2015) cannonball trip to the Arctic Circle via Greece, Poland and Portugal and of course passing over the highest road in Europe at the same time. Nothing like doing Europe the hard way (and this is nothing like ...etc.). The next chapter will most likely be more fiction and less fact but you can never really tell.