Monday, January 14, 2008

Puddy is like my old Ford Fiesta.



Having spent a goodly amount of time in my vets this morning with Puddy wailing like a car alarm in her prison/hell/traveling box, I return to my desk mildly deaf and poor once more. Puddy of course must be knocked out for her ears to be treated and I get to go through the usual panicky wait until my vet gives me a ring to let me know she has survived her anaesthetic.
But it occurred to me as a I sat in the waiting room reading some piece of used toilet paper called the Daily Mirror, that Puddy is rather like my first car, noisy, expensive to run, slow, guzzles fuel, is constantly breaking down, but much loved.
My first car cost me exactly 40 of my Irish pounds. It was a Ford Fiesta, it smelled of dog and it had moss growing on the windows. I drove it out of the yard from whence I bought it on bald tyres, with a leaky radiator and a hole in the oil compartment. I then proceeded to drive it up the duel carriageway, smoke billowing out the back, roaring like a Sabaru Impretza due in no small part to the holes in the exhaust pipe, only for it to pack up somewhere in Stillorgan. Once I'd pushed it off the road and stood scratching my head for a while I named her Bess and fell wildly in love.
After I'd got her going again-and the tap of a hammer to the starter motor soon sorted her out,-me and Bess spent the next nine months tearing about Dublin, taking corners on two wheels and generally having a wild good time. I drove her everywhere, usually packed to the brim with like wise chumlies. She had no radio so we carried a kitchen radio around with us, the glove compartment filled with batteries for our musical pleasure. We also carried oil and water for when she ran out/over heated. Then I bounced her off a tree on the NCR thus eliminating one of the two doors from the joys of opening and shutting. Some of the floor boards had rotted out, and if you drove through a puddle you either got soaked or the engine cut out. But I solved the soaking by covering the gaping freezing holes with some carpet tiles from a skip at the back of Des Kelly Carpets. Cobalt blue and maroon carpet tiles, tres chic.
Oh wot larks, we would pull up outside trendy nightclubs, sparks flying from where the exhaust pipe- now held on with blue baler twine- would be trailing along the ground. I would climb out first-'Hullu hullu' and then my passengers. One by one chumlies of all makes and sizes would exit Bess, making her the sturdiest little clown car in all the land ( I think 8 was the most we ever fitted in to her, but Country Gay is quite slender).
At 6 in the am she would fill up again and off we would tear, roaring down the roads, waving and beeping at other sweaty dancers, sparks a flying, moss glowing in the early dawn light ( point of interest, when I was in my early twenties I didn't actually drink, I was near teetotaler, IMAGINE!)
But like Bonnie and Clyde, Sean and Madonna, Sean Bean and every woman he ever thought he might marry, our life together was cut brutally short.
See, Bessie was failing, and I, being cash poor and mechanically numbskulled, was complicit in her demise. First the knob came off the gear stick, never to be replaced, then a huge bolt PINGED out of her as I was hooring down the M50 one day, I think it was one of the bolts that held the gear box in place actually. Then the clutch cable snapped, but I managed to replace that, then the brakes started to go, then the speedometre stopped working and it was at this junction I did meet the Gardai.
T'was a sunny summer day and I was hurtling through the Phoenix Park at a probable 60 miles per hour, windows down, kitchen radio blaring Leftfield on the passenger seat, puffing away on a fag. Cheerful as you like.
Due to the blissful time I was having I didn't notice the Garda car behind me, nor their flashing blue lights, nor the first blast of the siren they gave me.
I did notice the second and the flashing headlights.
I said 'eeeek' and pulled in, pumping the brakes furiously as I did so.
Eventually I rolled to a stop and I sat there clutching the steering wheel, wondering if praying would help or get me struck by lightening.
An enormous blue lumbering beast approached the open driver's window. It blocked out the sun.
'How are we doing there?' It boomed.
'Bleaarghghfully.' I squeaked, having never been stopped before. I cleared my throat and tried again. 'Fine thank you.'
'Did you not hear the siren?'
We both looked at the radio. I switched it off.
Clunk.
'Sorry.'
'Do you have any idea what speed you were doing there?" He enquired, growing bigger by the second.
And I had to admit I was stumped. I had no idea. I explained about the speedometer not working and as I did so a spider, who had been living in between the door's sealing rubber and the frame dropped down from her perch to take gander at what was going on.
The Garda looked at the spider, then looked at me, then looked at the car. CAREFULLY.
I aways wonder what it was exactly that tipped him off, was it the twine, the moss, the rust? See, I think if old fucking Charlotte had just stayed in her poxy weby palace I might just have gotten away with it. I AM charming when in trouble.
'Could you step out of the car please.'
But no, spiders are so nosy.
Either way, one minute later I found myself leaning my arse on the bonnet of the squad car with the squad car driver, as the Garda who had stopped me squeezed his huge frame into the driver's seat, ground the gears and shot away from the kerb in Bess to test her 'road worthiness.'
We watched as he picked up sped, we watched as he shot around the corner, tyres now screeching like the Dukes of Hazard, we watched as he picked up more speed, we watched as he disappeared from view, leaving only a trail of purple smoke (fortunately with the dodgy exhaust pipe we could still hear him as Bess roared onwards, the little engine that could)
'I probably should have told him about the brakes.' I said to the young Garda beside me who was doing a fine professional job of checking out my bare legs and tiny vest.
'Why?'
'You've have to pump them a few times, you know, to get them to work.'
''Aye' said he copping an eyeful of side boobage, 'you probably should have told him that all right.'
And so we waited.
After a few minutes, the roar increased and finally Bess reappeared, hurtling back towards Chesterfield Avenue at quite a considerable pace. I clocked her driver. He was ashen- faced and his mouth was set in a fierce teeth clenching grimace. He skidded around the corner and finally came to a juddering shuddering stop, complete with gravel tear from where he was forced to use the handbrake, inches from the rear of their squad car.
We waited. I gulped.
He did not get out for a moment. Then finally he put his hat back on, dragged himself free and came to join us.
He pointed a trembling finger towards dear Bess, who seemed to be listing slightly on on side.
'That fucking thing' said he, quite ungarda like, ' is a death trap.' He looked at his partner, pale and tremulous, 'There's no brakes.'
'Apparently you have to pump them.' said his partner with a smirk.
'Ah well.' said I, 'see I meant to-'
The first Garda's head swiveled in my direction and the words died in my mouth, never had I seen a man so haunted, so sure he had been knock knock knocking on Heaven's door.
'This is what you are going to do.' He said, jabbing a finger the size of a canoe into my face. 'You're going to drive that thing home, we'll be right behind you, then you're going to ring someone to collect it and scrap it. Are you hearing me loud and clear? I don't want to see that, that thing on the road again. If I EVER catch that thing on the road again I will arrest you, do you hear me?'
At this point I noted there was a tiny note of hysteria to his voice and knowing when to shut up for once I nodded dumbly. I was then ordered to appear at my local Garda station with a bloody cert saying poor Bess had gone to the great wrecker's yard in the sky.
Oh I was bereft. I missed her, like the deserts miss the rain.
But a few weeks later I bought another ancient pile of junk and I was off again. At twenty we think we are invulnerable, we really do.
I hope Puddy lasts longer than Bess. She might be old and break down a lot, but I can't replace her. As long as she runs smoothly the wrecking ball will have to wait.

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26 Comments:

Blogger The Bad Ambassador said...

That annecdote, FMC, is nothing short of hilarious. For the love of <insert Deity of choice>, would you not write a book or something.

Hope all goes well with Puddy.

12:46 p.m.  
Anonymous nonny said...

Great piece miss cat, very funny indeed. You should write a book. It is an expensive business, animals. I have spent more on the dog this month than on my mortgage and I still haven’t found anyone to clip the hen’s wings, God only knows how much that will cost. Sure hope Puddy is ok.

12:55 p.m.  
Anonymous Babs said...

Nonny, you can clip hens wings your self, it's very easy. You just need a shap scissors. You hold the bird under your arm facing backwards, stretch the wing out, and trim, as if it is human hair, only its wing. Just make sure you don't go too short or there will be a lot of clucking as you will have cut the flesh.

1:11 p.m.  
Blogger gimme a minute said...

Frickin' hilarious, Fatmammycat.

My first car was also a Ford Fiesta. And by was I mean is.

I am now not filled with optimism.

1:39 p.m.  
Blogger Lou said...

Your poor cat, hope everything's alright! Am having another very bad case of pet-itis at the moment, I really want one!

Also really want my old car back after reading your post, my brother is currently bashing my beloved Mistubishi Lancer all over Dublin, I fear for it's safety...

2:18 p.m.  
Blogger Dr. James McInerney said...

Funny, funny piece - go write the book as the others have said. You got three or four copies sold already.

"Side boobage" - class!

2:24 p.m.  
Blogger 5thy said...

Great stuff, I needed a laugh! Fond memories of the better half's first car, also a FF; don't know which memory is worse - having to drive from Mayo to Carlow on Romantic Interlude with the exhaust wrapped in newspaper over my shoulder inside the car after it fell off & subsequent deafness, or turning over in it whilst navigating the Curragh plains in the dark one night when attempting to have some quality "alone" time together - me & him, not me & the car. Wasn't good for romantic outings, the FF.

2:27 p.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

Just received call from Vet. One polyp in the left ear has grown and she had two small ulcers, which have now been removed, but there's nowt we can do about that really and he reckons she'll get a lot of relief now. I can pick her up at 5. She's awake and grouchy, Later she will be asleep and full of cooked ham.
Stupid animals, making us love them so.

On the subject of cars, I remember my mechanic laughing when he saw Bess for the first time. I also remember what he said.

FORD= Found On Road Dead.
FORD=Fix Or Replace Daily.

What a tiresome wag he was. No wonder his wife left him.

I think all drivers should start out in terrible cars, it makes us appreciate a semi decent one when and if we can ever afford to get our mucky paws on one. Kids these days don't know their born, with their airbags, functional exhausts and working brakes.*


*yes I'm being sarcastic.

2:38 p.m.  
Anonymous nonny said...

Thanks Babs, my Granddad normally does it for me but can’t at the moment. I don’t think I’d be able, I’ll ask another Granddad (http://www.headrambles.com/) I’m sure he’ll know of a place.

2:46 p.m.  
Blogger Andraste said...

High-larious tale, Cat! Very visual - even cinematic!

My mother once bought brown 1973 Lincoln Continental in the middle of a huge gas crunch and we immediately dubbed her "Sweaty Betty." It was the size of a fishing trawler, and ran on pure balls and bad taste. I have visions of my 5 foot 2, blond butterball of a mother driving this boat around with a cigarette in one hand and her eyes barely able to peer over the steering wheel. Conspicuous consumption, indeed.

2:48 p.m.  
Blogger Rosie said...

i have this image of you tearing around town like toad in wind in the willows, Bess belching smoke in your wake and old ladies clutching their handbags and shaking their heads.

2:53 p.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

Hah, it must have looked like she was captaining a trawler. I do love those huge cars with the fins. Like the ones in Grease. Super.

2:54 p.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

Rosie, you wouldn't be far out.

2:55 p.m.  
Blogger Medbh said...

I had visions of "Deathproof" while reading, FMC. Hee hee.

Luckily, the gardai can't have any say over Puddy's condition. Unless she bit someone.
And yay for kittehs who get ham.

3:04 p.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

She's a lover, not a biter. Although I can't imagine she's feeling too loved up right at the mo'.
Here missus, I"m sending you an email.

3:09 p.m.  
Anonymous Shebah said...

Great post, FMC. I definitely think a book would be the way to go. Give poor Puddy some kisses from me, you feel so sorry for them when they aren't well. My ginger kitten has changed from a dainty, delicate little kitty to an absolutely huge tom. I think his unknown dad must have been a maine coon or a tiger and he is still only a few months old. Don't know what the cat grown limit is, but if he gets any bigger he'll be like a dog. Anyway, I love him dearly, he is like a king of cats and is extremely naughty. My Christmas tree was wrecked, and half the glass baubles smashed.

3:24 p.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

Aw, I bet he's absolutely a beaut. They really do steal our hearts. even though they can be VELLY annoying (I'm looking at you, Bigger of the Cats)

3:31 p.m.  
Anonymous Sam, Problemchildbride said...

Gold! Fatmammycat gold! This is brilliant and I do heartily add to the chorus of those wanting a book out of you.

3:48 p.m.  
Anonymous sheepworrier said...

Brilliant post FMC - brings me back to my teenage days of tearing round the country roads in 'junior', a frankenstein of a car that couldn't be technically called one make or another - held together with black tape, ignorance and spilt beer.

3:48 p.m.  
Anonymous Babs said...

FMC If you like cars with giant wings check out the beauties on this one, the Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz 1959, my all time favourite car, 42" tail wings, I want one please...
http://www.1959eldorado.at/bilder/59eldorado-gp-backleft02.jpg

3:48 p.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

A frankenstein, how apt.
Sam, I'm glad you enjoyed it. Driving on a wing and a prayer was a goodly part of my youth.
Babs, sweeeeeeeeeet.

5:05 p.m.  
Blogger Flirty Something said...

Brilliant - even better than my Fix It Again Tomorrow

7:08 p.m.  
Blogger Rusticissimus maximus said...

Oh, very well written FMC! I'm still on my first car...a Suzuki Baleno, complete with moss on rear window as well. Only very SMALL patches of rust though. No string as of yet, so I'm hoping for a few more years yet.

9:51 p.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

Fiats and Suzukis eh? You fancy Dans and yer fancy cars.
Rusty Max, it's the spiders you wanna watch, moss knows how to keep its counsel.

10:29 p.m.  
Anonymous laughykate said...

I had a friend at university who had an old Humber. It had been handed down through the family and eventually she inherited it from her sister. We generally always had to push start it looked like there were mice living in the seats. It's name was Herpes. The family's reasoning behind the name? They had it for life.

2:21 a.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

hahha, snarf. I like it.

9:18 a.m.  

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