Friday, November 05, 2004

The White Wagon of Death

Okay, okay, you can stop munching on broken glass now...

For those with an advanced sense of despair, here is another picture of me to push you into the abyss.

Today was dominated by the White Wagon of Death, Alasdair's stupid car.

It gave its first warning at around 11 a.m. this morning, when a burning smell wafted from the engine when I climbed out (from the driver's seat, not from the engine. I'm a swell guy, and I like to take chances and try new stuff, but I rarely travel inside the engine of a car, even at times of full moon).

I didn't think much of the burning smell. The car is a 15 year old Skoda Favorit and, like all teenagers, it can be expected to have the occasional tantrum. It may even have been indulging in the smoking of an illicit cigarette. I tapped the bonnet and issued a half-hearted warning on the dangers of boys and unplanned pregnancy, and then set about my first Boring But Essential Task of the day: the disposal of the Huge TV.

The Huge TV

I took the Huge TV from the boot of the car.
(For US readers, boot = trunk. May i also alert US readers of my blog to the fact that I say "to-ma-to" and you say "to-may-to.")
I am selling the Huge TV because I want to raise money for a trip to America.
Alasdair is sad, because he has been making secret use of the Huge TV while I have been living in Dublin. He has even gone so far as to burn the Huge Box that the Huge TV was being stored in.
He has yet to advise on whether this burning was part of a magic ritual that include naked dancing and animal sacrifice.
I am carrying the Huge TV into Kirsty's house because her parents are buying it.
As I explained in an earlier post, they had embarked on a lengthy process of husband-and-wife negotiations in order to overcome their natural suspicion of the incalculable risks posed by the purchase of "second-hand goods."
They had wilted in the face of the deal of a lifetime.
I deposited the Huge TV on the floor.
Just 10 minutes later, I received my payment - a whopping 50 GBP.
To convert this into your local currency, please use this service.

Kirsty is wearing strange grey trousers, pointy boots, a black top with prominent zips on the sleeves, and a short black jacket. Kirsty is my ex-girlfriend. It is decided to leave the White Wagon of Death and proceed to our next destination in the small blue Fiat that we shared as a couple. Oh! The memories! All those times we've sat there and eaten some chips together, or driven to sex therapy, what phenomenal good times we had inside that little blue smiling face of a car... and now I get to sit in it all over again...

I am mentally rehearsing some possible lies, should my next Boring but Essential Task become complicated by my non-payment of Council Tax for the period October 2003 to June 2004. I presently owe £191.63 and have zero intention of meeting this financial obligation... as I ponder this, Alasdair starts up...

"I'm reading OK! magazine... So listen to this... Britney Spears, well, she's certainly shown her trailer trash roots... oh, look, well... why do they need to print a photo of a pregnant celebrity in a swimsuit... and why do they need to print another 15 photos of pregnant celebrities from the past..."
Kirsty decides to defend the magazine's editorial policy.
"Well, Alasdair, if there wasn't an audience for pictures of pregnant celebrities in swimsuits, they wouldn't be printing them..."
I can't join in with this madness. What bothers me is HOW the magazine determines the existence of a market for photos of pregnant celebrities... they'll have them up in stirrups for the Christmas issue.

"Sandra's coming..."

We arrive at the offices of Teignbridge Council, the designated location for my next Boring But Essential Task. I am here to acquire a form that certifies I was on the Electoral Register in Devon for the last two years. I require this paperwork for the benefit of the Irish authorities; they won't let me access state healthcare until I provide it.

I have to wait for a while behind a girl with most of her knickers sticking out the back of her jeans. I have a mental image of that amount of underwear sticking out of the back of my trousers, and quickly move on to the business end of the fantasy, where I am being beaten and set on fire by a group of pitchfork-wielding locals.

"He izz a sexxx pessst..." hisses a toothless old crone.
"He had half his pants sticking out, and with only one intention, to slide his dingle-dangle up a lassie's skirts...," cries a man with wild staring eyes and a foaming mouth.
"We're wasting time... burn him... burn him...," chips in a tiny man in glasses, the air of a chatered accountant about him.

I am left with a single question - Who was the last woman to see my pants?

The girl and her knickers move away and I'm next.

Everything starts well enough... the receptionist says hello without grimacing and apologises for keeping me waiting. I then explain what I require and she is utterly confused. I try explaining again, using different words in a different order. The effect is not good. The receptionist's eyes are fully glazed now, with a hint of fear in her face. Is she going to whip out a crucifix and try to repel "Satan's emissary"?

Instead she reaches for a telephone.

"Sandra, can you deal with Mr..."
"Mr Kennedy..."
"Oh, thank you, Sandra... thank you so much..."

I am deep into one of my trademark scowls by now.

"It's okay... Sandra's coming..."

I flip forward 10 years into the receptionist's life and see her hammering against the door of her padded cell yelling, "Sandra's coming..."

There's nothing to do here while I wait. Kirsty and Alasdair are outside, sat in the car. I'm stuck here, surrounded by plastic plants and stands you can revolve full of council information leaflets. The subjects are riveting, "Do not be a victim of car crime" "How to validate the credentials of someone claiming to be from the Electricity Company" "Postcode your property with Ultra-violet Pens" etc... At this rate, I will be asking Yasser Arafat to shuffle over, so I can slide in and join him in a deep coma...

It ends. Sandra Smith appears in person, probably drawn by the sophisticated drawl I delivered into the phone, and the fact I promised her some flowers in an email last week.

The Old Woman and the Performance on the Escalator

We went to Torquay. There were things to do.

On the way down a flight of steps, there was an old woman holding a young boy. They were at the bottom of an escalator. Suddenly, the boy started thrashing his legs and being, well, I thought, being insane. Sure enough, he threw the old woman off balance and she fell backwards to the floor. Her shoes came off and travelled up the escalator. As did the boy. The boy sort of did funny "swimming on dry land" movements. The boy screamed in horror, the old woman screamed in horror. It was a kind of impromptu meditation on the nature of horror, through the medium of screaming. It was highly effective.

I was feeling disturbed. I wondered if the boy or the old woman would start getting their legs chewed off. That disturbed me more. I was only planning on buying a jumper today. Now there was a good chance I would see someone's leg chewed off.

Someone stopped the escalator. The old woman was helped to her feet. Her purple shoes were returned undamaged. We asked if she was okay. The boy was returned undamaged. I rubbed his head in a way I hoped was encouraging.

The crowd shuffled away.

Brown jumper (for US readers, jumper=sweater)

Having passed 30, I now feel the cold. I also have difficulty maintaining... oh, no, I'm not supposed to mention that.

I'm trying to do something simple here. I'm trying to validate buying a brown jumper.

No, I can't defend it. I did something bad. B-r-o-w-n J-u-m-p-e-r, the shame of it will outlive me...

"Donald, there's a shocking man at the door..."

It's time to return to the main theme of this rambling post, the White Wagon of Death. We'd arrived back at Kirsty's, said our goodbyes, and set off. There was a bad smell coming from the car, but things seemed okay.


... things were not okay... they were bad

The temperature gauge rose alarmingly. Steam hissed from the bonnet. The engine made odd noises, like all the moving parts were at war. I pulled into a side road to investigate. When we lifted the bonnet and checked the water, it was empty. Steam poured from the main part of the engine. I got a rag and carefully unscrewed the cap for the water.

"About 100 people burn their faces off each year doing this..." I commented.

There was no water.

"Alasdair, go and knock on people's doors. Ask for a jug of water."

Alasdair went away and started banging on doors. I caught the sound of him speaking to someone. I felt sorry for the people he was disturbing. Alasdair is a shocking man. I imagined the respectable retired couple who might live inside the house he'd disappeared towards.

"Donald, there's a shocking man approaching the door..."
Donald is there, poring over an article on the Bucket Killers in the Daily Mail...

"These Bucket Killers are sick, sick, individuals. Often, they will pose as drivers in distress, playing upon the sympathies of honest, decent, folk. They approach wearing a smile that and ask the unwary if they may have a jug of water. Then they make their move. From beneath their outwardly respectable clothing, they produce double-edged tungsten steel samurai swords, and proceed to hack off the legs and arms of their gibbering victims..."

Donald wanders out to be confronted by the sight of Alasdair.

"Hello, there, could we have a bucket of water, please, our car has broken down just outside."
Donald feels his bowels loosen momentarily. Jesus Christ, it's the Bucket Killers... he wonders if death will be swift, or will they stand over him, blocking out the sky and mocking his last moments on Earth. He silently removes a long knife from the rack and slips it into the waistband of his elasticated slacks.
"Of course, of course. Hmmm, I have a bucket somewhere..."
Donald produces a black plastic bucket and fills it with water.

I'm getting bored when Alasdair emerges again with his "Donald". This red-faced grey-haired pot-bellied man approaches the car, his eyes darting from side to side.


Blogger Darnell Clayton said...

Ha ha ha...Selah!

7:28 PM  
Blogger kingfelix said...

Don't start commenting yet! This is a work in progress!

It's quarter to two in the morning and I am trying to write jokes about girl's knickers.

Who said my life had taken a wrong turn?

7:46 PM  
Blogger The Kernow Cowboy said...

Its scary to think that during the cold war, western europe lived in fear of the USSR army rolling across the boarders.. driving Skodas and Ladas...

2:40 PM  

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