In which I grind to a halt and have to be pushed out of the way by two nice young men

My plans for tonight – to spend an hour catching up on the latest inane drivel from the boys in the steam room and then to attend a public meeting about the local aerodrome’s plans for a hard runway – went all awry.

The latter has the local community and parish councils up in arms, with its stated aim of doubling the number of flights. The aerodrome’s management has offered to re-orientate the runway, meaning less noise over residential areas during take-off and landing, but my personal beef is that it’s not the take-off and landing that’s the issue, it’s the pointless driving round and round in circles over my house, making a tedious droning noise that drowns out the radio and telephone conversations. If they were actually going somewhere I wouldn’t mind as much – I think what annoys me is the bored rich boys doing pollution-inducing circuits for no apparent reason other than to boast to their friends that they’re training to be “pilots”.

The company is holding out the carrot of dozens of jobs to be created if their plan gets the go-ahead, but since it has already admitted that staffing levels are much the same whether they have to handle one flight or 50, I don’t get the logic.

I would have said as much had I got to the meeting but I missed out on both my little trips tonight thanks to the car juddering to a halt at the end of the road and refusing to start again.

This is the embarrassingly over-sized Fentonmobile of which I’ve written previously, the vehicle that became my transportation system after the Great Renault Overhead Camshaft Eruption (QED an earlier post). Until tonight it had lived up to the rave reviews given it by the previous owner, my friend Tom, who reckoned it had given him 12 years of carefree motoring. Perhaps it misses him. Perhaps it doesn’t care for the cavalier treatment it’s had at my hands, notably the fact that some little scrote prised out the wing mirror the other week, leaving me with either a bill for nearly £200 to replace the entire unit or having to do a bodge job with a piece of mirror, some cardboard and some parcel tape (I chose the latter).

The F-Mobile is probably also pissed off about the fact that it’s been going around plastered in industrial cling-film since one of the rear windows fell out and shattered to smithereens on Reigate Hill. A very well-known glass repair company was quick enough to turn up immediately after the event but went away when they found they didn’t have the right part, and haven’t been seen since.

Anyway, two nice motorists came to push me out of the way – perhaps motivated more by wanting to get somewhere than by pure chivalry. After a refreshing rest at the side of the road and mulling things over a bit, the F-Mobile decided to give it another go, and eventually started. I know what it was thinking – it was thinking it would let me get half-way to the health club then conk out again on that windy, narrow, unlit, country lane, just to inconvenience and embarrass me. I know how cars think and I was having none of it. Instead, I drove the bugger straight to Peter the Mechanic’s, down the road. They didn’t look particularly surprised to see me there, having been at the sharp end of my various mechanical failures over the years – more depressed, like.

People who have company cars talk a lot of rot about how hard done by they are – having to drive vehicles that someone else insures and taxes and MOTs and services and that magically get repaired for free in the event of a breakdown. I know company car drivers who don’t even bother checking their tyre pressures – because that’ll get done at the next service. “I pay tax on it, you know,” they say. Yeah, and do I get a tax rebate ‘cos I own a manky old rust-bucket that’s down the garage every second week? No. Shut up.

Anyway, the Toyota’s at the garage and I’m having another cosy night in. Watch this space for more on my exciting transport arrangements.

Pic credit: Graeme Weatherston,

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