Sunday, 4 March 2012

Car troubles in the big smoke.

My car has, annoyingly, suffered a tedious malfunction. It's such a pain. Anyone who has ever driven will probably sympathise, but I don't need sympathy. I just want it fixed!

I have some groovy electronics in my motah (for non-Londoners, this is how the natives describe their automobiles -- they mean "motor"). These electronics can control every rollable window. I can lock and unlock the boot (trunk, if you're from the US). I can adjust the wing mirrors. I can secure every door. I can even make the car fly (oh no, sorry, that's Chitty Chitty Bang Bang; thinking of something else...). Anyway, all this clever-dickery happens at the push of a button on the driver's door. Well, at least, it did.

Yesterday, none of it worked properly. Suddenly, when driving along, the windows began to operate themselves at random. The interior lights started believing they were in a small disco (not a full nightclub, more like the family party you have in a church hall when your grandfather reaches eighty-five). The clock on the dashboard started telling random times (unless my car has become a Tardis, but given how little I can get in the boot, that seems unlikely). I couldn't get the passenger side door open -- it was hermetically sealed shut by Volkswagen's uber-locks (these are German cars -- they make their security devices Siddie-proof).

Sigh. I have no idea what's wrong with it. Suggestions welcome. In the meantime, I am reminded of a breakdown in years gone by when I had a cheapo motorised heap which really did deserve to go wrong much more often. And it did. Regularly.

These days, no self respecting Londoner would dream of attempting to drive into Central London. They have the Congestion Charge at rich-person-only prices, and you need to know in advance you definitely have a reserved parking space or you may as well forget it. But back in the day, I used to take my chances. I was young and naive. On this particular day, I had the good fortune to break down on Tooley Street, a main artery for South London traffic looking to drive across London Bridge.

As luck would have it, I managed to overheat on a hot summer's day right in a spot where just a single line of traffic can get through the lights. I used to enjoy summers in this particular car; it was always overheating and I would have to cruise around with the heater on full blast on the hottest days just to draw warmth away from the engine. I also used to travel with numerous bottles of water to replace the fluids lost to perspiration under those circumstances. Honestly, was I not the coolest guy in the whole of London town? No, I wasn't.

As the clouds of steam erupted forth from my blown radiator cap, the line behind me started to beep, honk, and swear. "For [goodness] sake mate," someone nearly said, "will you move your [steaming] heap of [junk] out of the [blinking] way?!" This may not be an exact quote, but you get the idea. Embarrassingly, a police car driving the other way also stopped to enjoy the view, immediately blocking the opposite route out of London in that helpful way the police have, and substantially worsening the situation. Leaving their own car parked like a traffic island, they sauntered over to help me push my stricken vehicle to the side of the road. Then they said, "You can't leave that there, mate..."

Ah, the happy memories of it all. You have to wonder in this day and age if it's all more trouble than it's worth. Take my advice. Walk.


  1. Oh dear, brings back excruciating memories of car break downs in the past for me also. Cars are SO much more trouble than they are worth!


But what do you think? You can now comment anonymously, so please do -- obviously, if you want to leave your name etc, that'd be great.