Tag Archives: Brothers

Bloody Cars!

racEvery now and then something comes from left field kicking a carefully scheduled day into touch. (The football reference may not be entirely accurate given the Spinster’s limited interest into activities involving balls). Whilst away en famille my car was driven by a friend as it seemed a tad mean to leave the black beast reclining unused outside the house. Nothing unusual or untoward about this so far. The Spinster arrived back in God’s Country on Sunday driven (competently but rather swiftly) by my darling brother and the car was due back yesterday. 810 am mid hair taming session the telephone rings; anything before 9 am alarms this gal given that the Spinster requires an ever-increasing length of time to prepare to tackle the day!

The caller is the friend who has borrowed the car, she asks if the car has ever done anything strange and if so what did I do. Basically as the car was driven out of a junction something happened; a sound as if something had dropped and then the steering ceased leaving the car stationary in the middle of the road at rush hour! Now putting myself in the driver’s shoes the Spinster can fully appreciate the rising panic that she must have been experiencing; my brother on the other hand takes a masculine laid back approach.

The Spinster has RAC breakdown cover but of course this is for me not the person driving the car (she is insured to drive the vehicle) so in my mind I have to do two things: one phone RAC and two get meself to the car asap. The added dimension being the driver of the car is on the way to the airport! No pressure then lady. But of course the Spinster hasn’t got a car; no I am reliant on a third-party my brother who is about to drive back to the North East where he lives. Fabulous boy has just made his sister a cafetière of coffee appreciating the Spinster is best given a wide berth until sufficiently topped up with stimulants: caffeine, nicotine and Fentanyl. As an aside the Spinster is loving the unintended consequence of my brother working away; duty-free fags – how can it be right that 200 purchased in China cost the same as 20 in Barry? Hmm don’t answer that…

Hopping downstairs the Spinster goes to the kitchen to where my brother is; OK I confess I am a bit stressed at this point, the phrase ‘neurotic’ female wouldn’t have been an unfair description. BUT nevertheless the Spinster NEEDS to phone the RAC and get to Cardiff at warp speed (insert number that implies super fast). And yes I am also sufficiently self-aware to observe that the Spinster did resort to pleading my brother to get going! The image of a dear friend stuck in the middle of a busy road being roundly abused by irate drivers kept flashing through my head plus the idea of her missing her flight was frankly TOO much to bear.

On the way to Cardiff the RAC man phones and says he’ll be with me in 10-15 minutes; at this point we are stuck in traffic about 5-10 minutes away from our destination. The Spinster has not had any breakfast and the coffee remains undrunk; fear not I am chain-smoking those duty-free fags whilst simultaneously sucking Fentanyl lollies! So picture this the Spinster is half way presentable (the phone call having interrupted those essential sartorial preparations) my face is practically rigid and resembles a porcelain mask worn by Japanese theatre practitioners; pinpoint pupils flicking frantically as I attempt not to vomit expletives! Tidy look ladies!

We arrive at the car which by now has been pushed to the side of the road; my friend is remarkably calm as she explains what happened so the Spinster can ‘authoritatively’ tell the eagerly awaited RAC man! By now it’s just gone 9 am and the three of us are standing on the pavement chatting; the other two seem relatively relaxed something the Spinster hasn’t quite managed. Somehow I also manage to miss the phone call from the RAC man who has left a message saying he can’t find me; now to be honest it could have been my fault, the Spinster may have given the name of the wrong road in the frantic melee of 810 am. Either way the RAC man is only a couple of streets away thankfully.

Friend leaves for the airport in a taxi; it transpires the flight isn’t until 1140 so there was only ever a remote chance of her missing the flight – had the Spinster had the presence of mind to ask this small detail then my stress levels could possibly have been a little less stratospheric! Brother then leaves around 10 am having ascertained that his presence was no longer required; no point ruining everyone’s day! The problem has by now been diagnosed the dropping as the car had turned was the clip in the drive shaft on the front offside wheel snapping.

Over the next 2 plus hours the diminutive RAC man who amused me as he neither looked old enough or strong enough to get to grips with such a task; but the Spinster was wrong, very wrong. Before phoning the Seat garage to ask if they had the replacement part he had tried to make one out of ‘stuff’ in his van a la Ms Allsop Make do and Mend or perhaps Val Singleton (?) of Blue Peter from sticky back plastic and string. Mr RAC demonstrated an incredible degree of ingenuity and innovation but sadly nothing worked. The garage say the parts department will phone back which of course they don’t so we abandon my useless vehicle on the side of the road and drive to the garage.

Before realising the temporary solution wasn’t going to work the Spinster was to drive the car to the Garage; carefully taking every bend VERY wide to avoid the wheel falling off. The RAC man gave me a little pep talk reassuring me that he would be right behind me and would cover me (whatever that meant)! Other than the possibility of having a fag inside as opposed to on the pavement there was nothing appealing about this prospect…thankfully it never came to me having to piss off other drivers as I took each corner very wide marginally missing their stationary vehicles at the junction!

Of course the Spinster had a bunch of appointments yesterday: one friend due at 11, another with her gorgeous daughter at 2, a third at 330 and two more at 7ish! Nothing like using one’s time productively but to be honest it was always going to be a challenge and this car disaster was frankly more than a tad inconvenient. At the garage it seems to take an inordinate amount of time for the Parts Department to conclude they didn’t have the part, a clip costing 41p, in stock! RAC man returns to the van to deliver the bad news.

There were two options: leave the car at the Seat garage or take it to a small garage opposite Fairwater Police Station; the Spinster always takes the car to the dealer something the RAC couldn’t get his head round. The small garage will do it quicker and cheaper he tells me so off we go to Fairwater where 11 am friend is waiting to pick me up to go home. There the story concludes (almost) with me getting back to Barry at 1230 over 4 hours after that initial phone call! The Spinster gets increasingly irritated when things out of my control gobble up time; you never get those hours back and the impact of all that uninvited stress no doubt does nothing for a gal’s blood pressure!

The garage phoned later that afternoon; the good news they could get the part and the bad news the magic 41p clip cannot be purchased without the whole drive shaft unit so the repair bill will be c£350! But the Spinster requires a car; when your legs don’t work the car takes their place so the car is currently in the garage. Hopefully I will get the car back today as although I wasn’t planning on going out today because I can’t I WANT to! Great for a diet ladies being house bound; no prospect of popping to the shop for ‘treats’. So if the Spinster needs a blast of additives there is a choice of cold pizza from yesterday or the Doritos my brother left behind; think I’ll give the random bottle of Badger beer a miss!

Now if only I could put me hand on the card with the garage’s telephone number on…

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A Family Weekend

photo (4)I spent the weekend with my family and I can honestly say I haven’t laughed so much for a very long time. My brother and I are only a year and a week apart with the Spinster being the elder. We were catching up during one of my brother’s ‘in between’ times; he’s currently doing glorified shift work in Azerbaijan! (Four weeks on two weeks off). On his next ‘in between’ time he’s off to North Korea on an organised tour; in times gone passed the Spinster had occasion to go to Beirut and the Russian Federation – only now do I reflect on how we’ve put my wonderful parents on edge! Risk exposure makes for a rounded citizen after all.

There speaks a sibling who doesn’t entirely know what her sibling does for a living; he’s a Chemical Engineer who revels in any opportunity to reduce the Spinster’s expensive cosmetics down to their base elements which invariably include oil or its derivatives! Thanks for that excuse me if I choose to switch off when you start talking; a handy wave indicating when you’ve finished would be also be appreciated I can zone back in! Seriously I know we might not like it but the oil industry does underpin many aspects of the global economy; very personally impacting on the car reliant Spinster every time I fill up with diesel!

photo (4) - Copy

This weekend the Spinster was on a mission; the object of the search into the upper reaches of the attic was my collection of Beatrix Potter ornaments. For some reason the rooting out of these ceramic animals doing ridiculous human activities had become urgent! In this Spinsterial brain a magnificent ensemble of c 30 figurines carefully wrapped in exquisite tissue paper. As you can see above there are in fact only seven; six intact with Mrs Puddle duck having suffered a broken neck at some point! And now as the Spinster stands back and looks at them they aren’t nearly as attractive or cute as I remember; the Mrs Piggy one in particular has the appearance of a sinister cross dresser!

Whilst in the attic we took the opportunity to go through some of the other boxes finding everything from well worn handmade toys courtesy of our gorgeous Granny including a matching brownie and cub scout now rather floppy! The kind of toys we as children had back in the 1970/80s just aren’t the sort you can gift to this generation; even if the musty attic smell could be banished! So off to the dump they went along with all the Spinster’s old school books neatly tied in years; I didn’t excel and they certainly didn’t merit even a quick browse but OMG did we love covering our exercise books in those days!

Report 6 JPGFar more interesting were the note books my darling father made to accompany a 1962 trip to the Lake District. NB this must be where I the Spinster gets her eccentric habit of reusing notebooks as one of the instructive manuals was contained in one from The Tottenham & District Gas Company Ponders End Works!(see above) The innards had been removed leaving the cardboard shell available to staple the notes to. Simply perfection dad! He and I share a number of eccentric habits of which this is only one!

 

 Report 3Such neat handwriting alongside purple typescript outlining the daily schedule with meticulous, if wicked, attention to detail. The annotations pithy little cryptic comments including Friday 3rd April Easy day. Mr Pink splinter! I asked Dad about the trip and if indeed there was someone called Mr Pink (a name the Spinster last heard in Reservoir Dogs). There was a teacher of that name but he could remember few details about that trip; at least initially, he later randomly dropped in a few facts. The notebooks were a reminder of how much the teaching profession has changed; normally taking boys on trips he stated emphatically that he always made sure he had a woman on hand if girls were there! As if those troublesome females needed special attention!! My father is and has always been an old fashioned gentleman in the true sense of that phrase.

Report 4Most intriguingly the notebooks revealed my father’s incredible sense of irony, humour and sarcasm. When reading the note on clothing (see below) he starts with a salutary fact that the previous year three Rover Scouts had died from exposure was assumes given the context of the sentence. Going on to the madness of wearing shorts in April and concluding with the sentence ‘The party are insured against personal injury and death but there is no money available for funeral wreaths’ That sentence had the Spinster literally doubled up with laughter and you know how I can’t multitask anymore! I had to brace meself against the wall momentarily!

And finally there’s the hilarious word of warning when visiting the coal mine when going underground it is likely that everyone will be search for means of making fire. Ending with ‘There is generally one individual willing to risk his own life and that of others for a quiet smoke’! People dismiss the eccentric comments of older people consequently devaluing the decades of experience they bring; an immeasurably valuable asset if only we took the time to really listen. End of rant!

Over lunch my brother regaled us with the off road cycling he had done with mates earlier in the week. Following a well trodden path the three of them came across a couple otherwise occupied; in flagrante I believe is the polite phrase! The woman naked (it was a hot day) astride the prone man enjoying the summer sun; a few yards further and they would never have been seen he observed. Perhaps, the Spinster noted, they wanted to be seen? Father discreetly smirked with mother rather more open with her expression of surprise! Oh yes dearest people really do behave this way.

The best was yet to come when the phrase ‘do bears shit in the woods’ came into its own. Boys out doing serious endurance rides are on occasions caught out; the action of cycling being hardly conducive to crossing ones legs! Well that was simply too much for us all ending with a question as to where the word ‘dump’ came from (as in taking a dump rather than taking to the dump referred to earlier)! Oh yes men do go native when there’s no other alternative; even the best brought up sons (of course all our sons are such) can be dirty little boys!!!

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