Sunday, July 6, 2008

The wheels on the bus go round and round

Actually, they don’t. By now I should have played nine courses on my first of two trips to Northern Ireland. On Tuesday night I packed up the van, said goodbye to my wife and started the engine. Or tried to. It coughed, spluttered and complained. It belched out black smoke and stood firm. It wasn’t going anywhere.

I shall sum it up by using the words of Pascal Wyse from The Guardian newspaper:

“Apocollapse: A moment of blood-fizzing rage powerful enough to make you talk to inanimate objects such as hammers. Yes, they are involved in a global conspiracy to pervert the course of your DIY, but tools are trained to resist blunt interrogation tactics such as, ‘Why can’t you just do what I want?’”

Replace ‘hammers’ with camper van, golf club or, for that matter, golf ball. I imagine that this paragraph was a lot longer until the expletives were deleted.

[Photo: Scrabo par three 17th. I had hoped to drop in for another round on one of my favourite courses - not likely to happen now.]

So, the camper van was dead. The local garage came and towed it away the next day. Head man Jimmy said it was a timing belt problem – ironic since we’d had the timing belt replaced on our car only the day before – and it would be ready on Thursday. Not too serious, I knew I could make up the time.

Thursday evening I go and pick up the camper van. I see it being driven up the road as the garage gives it a quick test and I know everything’s OK. It’s parked outside and I get my keys back. I go inside, chat to Jimmy, buy a new wing mirror (previously broken on the way to Kilkenny), pay the man and head for my camper. I place the new mirror on the driver’s seat. I mean it. I literally place it there, and the mirror cracks. Ha, ha, ha, plonk (that’s a man laughing his head off if you don’t remember the joke). Jimmy laughs, which was good of him under the circumstances. He’ll get it replaced he says. Back in the camper van the engine turns over beautifully. Finally, I manage a smile as I put it into reverse. But no, it won’t budge. Just that horrible grating noise. I try all the gears but to no avail. I remain calm (ish) and find Jimmy and his son, Michael. They both try to find a gear but with the same result. Scratchy head moments all round. Clutch cable, they conclude in disbelief.

It should be ready next week. Wednesday if I’m lucky. Sure, it messes up this trip, but at least there’s a bright side: at least the clutch cable went when it did and not when I was up North, and the same with the timing belt. And let’s be honest, the weather is appalling at the moment.

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