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.
'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.
'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.
Labels: Where are the brakes?