Well. all the chirpy, creative, life-enhancing, best-laid plans I had for Nablopomo projects have temporarily disappeared, fugitive in a haemorrhage of self-esteem brought about by my having pranged the car. Not in any dramatic, skin of my teeth scenario of the kind to make one experience an epiphany of acute thankfulness at being alive or anything like that, simply the kind of stupid, unnecessary event that leaves one feeling a total bloody prat.
I'd had a pointless afternoon out at the shops. This was because on my weekly supermarket trip last Friday, I bought four litres of milk, split from a pack of six, which is normal practice. However, although the bill was somewhat alarmingly high, not until I was home did I realise the cashier had scanned the code for the six-pack and then timesed it by four, so I had in fact paid for 24 litres of milk. I telephoned, no problem, but I would have to make a return trip, and that had to be Monday, today, everything being closed on Saturday for the Day of the Chrysanthemum Dead. For the want of a nail...
This afternoon looked astonishingly like the first day of the January sales. Everybody having been cooped up for the weekend with their deceased and a pungent array of chrysanthemums, they clearly couldn't wait to get out to the shops and the land of the living again. Instead of sensibly obtaining my refund and getting the hell out, I thought I might as well make it worth my while being there and trailed round looking at things we can't afford to buy, like rugs and curtain material, and doing a bit of research for obscure items on Tom's wish list, so I was quite late starting for home. Molly started to whinge, understandably, by the time we got to Quessoy, that she'd been out in the car all afternoon and had barely sniffed so much as a fence post, so I diverted to the arboretum. We both relaxed and inhaled deeply of the twilighty, smoky air and glowing colours, and I rebuked myself for wasting my time in the fleshpots when I could have been here all along.
I relaxed yet more as I pottered homeward, and relaxed so much that I have no recall at all of what I was thinking about or looking at when the car mounted the very high pavement in the bend in the road by the small supermarket there with an alarming crack, but I do seem to remember I seemed to drive along it for quite some way before I dared to come down off it again. Fortunately no one was walking on it at the time. I limped a couple of hundred yards to the nearest carpark, that of the pharmacy.
Thanks to the conveniences of mobile phones and a second car, I quite quickly sorted out a lift home and the garagist to come and look at it sur place tomorrow (nither Tom nor I do wheel-changes), and then reassured the staff at the pharmacy that though my dear old BX might look like a rusting and abandoned wreck with a very flat tyre just waiting to be torched by the racaille of Quessoy, I truly was coming back for it in the morning.
So, I've done my best to make an entertaining anecdote out of it, and heaven knows I should be able to tell a story against myself by now, I've had enough opportunity. But the fact is, I am left with the unpleasant conviction, and it isn't the first time, that though I might occasionally be able to turn a reasonable phrase, make a pretty picture, even perhaps cook a meal, when it comes to certain basic life skills that other people take their ability to undertake unthinkingly for granted, like driving a car, I am a totally incompetent cretin. Attempts to mitigate the fact: I was tired, accidents mostly happen within 5 miles of home when people start to relax, it could have been worse, or have happened at a worse time, just don't cut it.
What's the point in taking great care to be thrifty, to carefully watch and husband our resources as we do, when with a moment of carelessness I bring down needless expense and worry on our heads? It may be only a burst tyre, bad enough, but it may be worse.
I hate hurting my car, there's no escaping our reliance on our motors; the car, and that car in particular, because it's the rough workhorse of the family, is the means by which I go to work, fetch provisions, collect the free off-cuts of wood from the sawmills to help keep us warm, pick up bags of plaster and cement and compost, carry the recyclables to the ecopoint and walk Molly in the woods or round the plan d'eau after, look after and keep my friendships oiled and attended to, and generally raise life above the level of harsh subsistence.
Since experiencing the awakening, enlightenment and reassessing of priorities occasioned by the onset of acute diverticulitis, and other spiritually improving practices and disciplines, Tom has become extraordinarily cheerful and laid back with a 'sufficient unto the day' kind of attitude to things like this that I wouldn't have believed possible at one time. I appreciate this deeply. I still feel crap. He doesn't, at this time especially, need to be suffering anxieties about my competence in moving myself about independently and safely. We don't, at this time especially, need to have the financial burden of car repair bills.
People's Climate March, Edinburgh
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