|How can you not be impressed by this raw, naked power?|
If I ever become world famous for writing this bollocks and end up in the interviewee's seat on Top Gear's Star in a Reasonably Priced Car, my own car history of Renault 4 - Allegro - Strada - Peugeot 205 - Renault 21 - Ford Escort - Renault Scenic - Nissan Micra would probably win me some sort of prize, or have me beaten up in the car park. If it comes to violence, I'm sure I can take Hammond and Clarkson, but May would be the one who fights dirty and it would end badly. You'll note three Renaults in that list, for which I blame the parents, and is all the evidence sociologists will ever need that nurture is more powerful than nature.
While Gary Numan has famously fallen out of the sky while flying around in planes, I bet he's never watched with amazement as he is overtaken by one of his own wheels while driving down the M4, and incident which was interesting to say the least.
That was before I developed the skills to service my own car. These alleged "skills" included the cannibalism of a lawn mower for vital parts that kept the Allegro on the road, and an emergency repair on the M6 near Birmingham that involved a lump of chewing gum. An emergency repair that was still holding good several years later when the car headed to the scrap heap.
The problem with modern cars is that they're deliberately engineered to prevent the curious from trying to fix them yourself. I drove a Renault for a few years, and once you open the bonnet there's a huge metal plate covering the entire engine with holes for water, oil and brake fluid, the message being "Get your filthy hands out of here, you English dog, this is a job for highly qualified, highly paid French engineers". One minor repair cost me over £150 pounds, nine-tenths of the labour being getting the metal plate off and back on again.
|A little bit of bedtime reading. I know what you're thinking.I have a cold.|
In fact - and take note JK Rowling - such is the power of the Haynes Manual ALL books should end with the words "Refitting is the reverse of the removal procedure", because that's the kind of happy ending where everything is how it was on page one, only with a handful of nuts and washers left over and a grubby hand-print on the sofa.
Like all good fiction involving a boy wizard, there are lessons to be learned from servicing your own car., and I am happy to leave you with three of the most important.
Lesson one is simple, and it's this: "The high tension cables leading to the spark plugs are live and filled with millions of electricity. Don't try to grab them while the engine is running."
A lesson well learned, which was also the day I discovered that the easiest way to do a Donald Duck impression is to run several thousand volts through your body by grabbing high tension cables. It's an impression that is unlikely to get you a job at Disney World because the only words that comes out are "F-ING HELL! F-ING HELL THAT HURTS!", which Donald never says, even when stoved in the face with an anvil by Huey, Dewey or Lewie, the ASBO triplets.
Lesson two: No matter how long you spend servicing your car, and how much money you've saved, it's still an Austin Allegro, and you've lost at life.
Lesson three: Refitting is the reverse of the removal procedure. And they all lived happily ever after, until a wheel fell off on the M4.