So the plan was to get some petrol, drive up to Zouch and walk along the canal towards Sutton Bonington, charging the battery in the process. I got my gear together and went out, turned the key in the ignition and – yep, you’ve guessed it, it was already flat. The engine wheezed once or twice but despite my furious pumping of the accelerator it failed to ignite. Not to worry! I have my trusty jump leads in the boot for just such an eventuality as this. I knocked next door and they came out and got me started. So that was that problem sorted.
Zouch was unsurprisingly very muddy when I got there but I parked up and walked a couple of miles, then turned and came back. It’s a lovely walk and in the summer I went further and came back via the very picturesque village of Sutton Bonington. Nottingham University’s botanical department has a plantation of trees between the canal and the village, which is lovely especially in autumn. And back to the car; a slight anxiety about turning round without dumping it in the canal (there was never any real risk of it but even a theoretical risk is enough for my mind to present me with scenarios of doom) and so home, where a worried OH wondered where I was since, the car engine being left running, I’d had no time to say goodbye before leaving.
I don’t know if good fences make good neighbours but good jump-leads certainly help. I always remember a story I heard when I lived in Leigh about a guy who was always baiting the police (the boys in blue were not popular up there since every second person was on some kind of hallucinogen) – anyway, this guy marched into the police station and said, ‘I’d like to report a flat battery.’
‘That’s not an offence, sir,’ replied the desk sergeant.
‘No,’ explained the guy, ‘it’s flat.’
After a few irritating exchanges he took the officer outside and showed him a car that was completely squashed – with, yes, a very flat battery. The officer was not amused; whether he did the guy for wasting police time is not recorded.
And that was my afternoon.
I try to shop in actual places as often as I can, but when you’ve walked all the way to B&Q because your car has a flat battery and the website says they sell jump leads, only to discover when you arrive that the car-care section has been reduced to a couple of square inches in aisle 64, what can you do? It’s too far to walk to Halford’s in my current condition and I don’t like Halford’s anyway, so I did what I had to do: I clicked and I ordered. And lo! the jump leads came.
I have to confess, I’m way out of my comfort zone with all this stuff, not only because I don’t know much about it (cars I mean) but because any men you ask are likely to indulge in a prolonged bout of mansplaining which will leave you feeling two inches tall and none the wiser. But I couldn’t have been more wrong about this: my neighbour was only too willing to help and confessed he ‘hadn’t a clue’ about using jump leads – in fact most of the people I spoke to had never used them.
This is what’s happening with technology nowadays; people are becoming de-skilled. Not only do we not know how to fix our cars, we couldn’t if we did because the whole thing has to be hooked up to a computer and done by a recognised mechanic. I think my car is the last generation of vehicles to have no computerised components.
Well, once the neighbour and I had failed to locate his negative terminal another neighbour came across, one with experience, it appeared. He offered a battery charger. I accepted. In the meantime more neighbours came to join us, so at one point half the street was leaning in and inspecting my innards (so to speak.) The battery was on charge all night and lo! nothing happened. I’m going to put it back in and try it, just in case the indicator’s not working, but my hopes are not high. I fear a new battery is required.
Oh well. Could be worse; it’s not like it needs a new engine.
And of course since the new jump leads were being delivered and since we were in all day except between 1.30 and 3.30, guess when the delivery window was? Yep.
Lucky the son was awake…