GORDON SANITAIRE by Gordon Urquhart (III)

A Most Inconvenient Breakdown

There’s never a good time for your car to break down, is there? Inevitably the other car had to be off the road when it happened, didn’t it, which just made the problem into a debacle, and added a sour taste in the mouth for good measure. Of course, wifey’s car was being used at the time, some distance away, and she has her tennis and the volunteer work she does each week at the migrant centre, so it was never going to be an option to co-opt the  Pajero for the rest of the week. (I call Nancy wifey to annoy her.)

“Bother!” the Mole said in Wind in the Willows, and if you remember, he followed it up with: “O blow!” Well, I can tell you I used rather stronger language than that. There was the one that rhymes with fire truck – that got a good work out – and a few others of Anglo-Saxon origin, and I generally cursed my ill luck and the sheer inconvenience of it all.

Luckily the mechanical failure occurred at lunchtime near a mate’s stud just outside Dural. He took me in, fed and watered me – a light, rather precocious Beaujolais – and sent me on my way. He has a driver, this friend of mine, and the man was able to get me back home before sun down, which was doubly helpful as it meant Nancy and I would not be forced to miss dinner. (Little Nepalese place we’d heard good things about should be in line for a Chef’s Hat when the next Good Food Guide comes out. Excellent goat.) We took the 4WD.

They tell me that a gasket blew, and that was the source of the engine trouble. Do cars still have gaskets? Apparently so. Sounds like a component from some sort of nineteenth century steam-powered engine to me, but I know nothing of these machines. I enjoy sitting on leather seats, plenty of leg room, and a good quality stereo. Oh, and a sat nav. Funny how much we rely on those things now, isn’t it? Only invented a few years ago, and now I’d be literally lost without one. Nancy tells me I’m hopeless at reading maps, which may be so, but she’s worse, and that’s why the little map on the screen and the helpful guiding voice are so valuable on our little trips.

But the sedan was out of action, and so was the soft top, and I would be forced to make other travelling plans. These plans involved consulting timetables and being thrown into a state of abject confusion. Also, one reads many letters to the editor are about the filthy state of trains and the unreliability of buses, so I decided to travel to the office by ferry. We always think of it as a tourist attraction, but the ferry stops at a wharf near our lower garden, and before long I had sailed across a rather choppy harbour, walked across the Botanic Gardens, and was sitting in the board room waiting for the others to arrive.

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