YOU never really realise how necessary windscreen wipers and screenwash are until they stop working.
It’s not like brakes, is it? Everyone knows how vital they are. There’s not a screen detective in history who hasn’t at sometime stood over the smouldering wreck of a recently crashed top-of-the-range saloon car and immediately suspected brake-related jiggery-pokery.
No-one has ever beetled up to Morse to report that the screenwash looks suspect, guv’nor, so let’s start looking at the angry son with the massive gambling debt. Only that very afternoon he had a hugely audible row with his very rich and now very dead father, currently lying in the wreckage. Said altercation was fortunately overheard by papa’s
opera-loving secretary, who will probably get bumped off by the second ad break, which is a bit of a shame because Chief Inspector Morse quite fancied her.
So I was fairly sure that if the Grumpy Yorkshireman wanted to off me he wouldn’t have started with the screenwash. That man does his homework.
No, I was fairly sure murder was not in mind when I suddenly discovered at 12.45am on Sunday, whilst progressing in an easterly direction on the M8, that the windscreen wipers had become temperamental, and the screenwash had left town altogether.
Fortunately the weather was dry, but the roads were fairly mucky and I figured it was probably going to be raining around Harthill because it always is, unless it’s snowing, or fogbound.
The windscreen wipers did a great job of redistributing the glaur about, but with no screenwash, it all got a bit like driving with net
At the euphemistically named Services, I popped out, gave the window a wipe, and recommenced the journey home, only now to discover that something under the bonnet was making a thunderous racket.
Oh, now I realised the problem. The faithful Rover was on her way out. We had finally driven her into the ground.
The car was working, but noisy. The windscreen wipers got in on the act and started flailing about like a maiden aunt having the vapours. The noise was incredible. I did the only thing I could under the circumstances. The radio was still working. I turned it up full volume and headed for home.
It’s got missiles... and a working radio
The Yorkshireman investigated the faults on the Rover. She was saveable, but also there was ominous internet surfing on Auto Trader and Gumtree, and mutterings about a five-year-old Hyundai.
He failed to spot the look of mutiny in my eyes. This time, amigo, I wanted a pretty car. And one with Things That Worked. There was a temper tantrum. There was a huff. There was stomping around a forecourt. Evans Halshaw, since you ask.
She is two years old. She has fully functioning windscreen wipers, brakes and radio. She has six ground-to-air Stinger Missiles. I may have imagined that. She is red. And oh my, as far as I am concerned, she is pretty.
No-one took my freedom (sadly)
All our cars have ended this way. One tiny fault suddenly unravels the whole construct.
There was the Renault. The driver-side window spontaneously jammed open on the way back from Dunbar on a bitter night just before Christmas the year Braveheart came out. As a film, I hasten to add. No-one has ever suggested that The Wallace was a member of the great pantheon of mighty gay warriors such as Alexander the Great or the entire Spartan Army, despite the funky and completely inaccurate make-up sported by Mr Gibson, left.
It was snowing. Naturally, the wind changed direction so that it was blowing straight into my eyes. My daughter’s swimming kit was sitting on the front seat. I had to put her goggles on and pull my scarf up round my face.
I drove back from just past West Linton looking like a First World War fighter pilot.
By the time I reached home, my hands were frozen into a steering wheel-clutching shape. I couldn’t even lock the car. I didn’t even bother.
The next morning I was raging when I realised that the criminal classes of Leith let me down by ignoring the bloody thing all night and refusing to steal it.
I had to sweep six inches of snow off the driver’s seat just to get to the garage.
Our wheels of misfortune
We have always bought more mature motors, lacking the fancy toys of newer cars.
By the time they’ve come down the consumer chain to us, that strange button marked ‘Memo’ doesn’t work, there’s a weird clicking noise coming from somewhere under the dashboard, and the CD player has a disc stuck in it marked Sounds Of The Sixties which we can’t get out – and we never get around to installing a new player. The heating is usually variable.
We are, eventually, the merciful Angels of Dispatch for the elderly Citroëns, Renaults and Rovers.