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Pride goeth, car dothn’t

A word of caution.

Never make the mistake of imagining that fortunate coincidences are in some way permissive!

I have Posted before on the story of the girl I met at a party but was too shy to ask for a date. Two days later in the middle of the London rush hour I get on a cr0wded underground train and find myself, against enormous odds, standing jammed-in the car right next to her. Bingo! But life is not like in Dr Zhivago. The date was your worst nightmare and we never met again.

Yes, there was a lesson to be learned. But it was not the one I expected: I had begun my lifelong career as a comic adult.

So. Forty-five years later and two days ago, I was having trouble starting my car. The battery wasn’t properly charging and on cold mornings it would go flat. The garage man measured the output from the charger, which is called the alternator, and it was unexpectedly normal. So he suggested I needed to buy a new battery, although the old one looked perfectly fine to me.

Well, the battery shop wanted £94.99 for their cheapest model, which is about £59.99 more than I paid for the last car battery I bought in 1999, and it came as a shock (haha!), so I didn’t buy it. I thought I would rather live with the problem. But the very next morning, a bank credit arrived in the post for exactly… £95. A penny change! And the car was refusing to start.

So, naturally, I to0k it as a sign that the Committee of Discarnate Entities who order my strangely dull but disorderly existence had woken up and voted to send me a sign that it was okay to buy the new battery. I went back to the shop on foot, wheeled the heavy item home in a blue wheelie suitcase, found some rusting tools and started trying to fit the new battery.

Of course, the Germans had ordered der engine kompartment so you can’t get at the bolt that holds the battery down. “Take zat, Englischer schwein!” Yes, they have a sense of humour. So, with the rain getting steadily wetter, I sloshed along to the garage, borrowed a get-you-started thing, lugged it back to the house, started the car, drove back to the garage, where the mech dismantled the engine compartment, fitted the new battery and began running the voltmeter over the electrics, and guess what?

It wasn’t charging up to the right voltage. So they measured it again, and (mirabile dictu) it was. So they measured it once more for luck and it wasn’t again. And they said, you know what? It’s probably the alternator after all.

So now I have two batteries, one discharged but still relatively new; the other slowly discharging and not now returnable to the shop, and I’ve spent the money I needed to spend on fixing the problem with the alternator on buying a cheap, short-life battery I don’t need. And that’s another lesson learned, although at my age I am rapidly running out of future opportunities in which to apply all this newfound wisdom.

You see, it is only human vanity – the Greeks called it hubris – that makes you think Someone Up There is really watching out for your best interests. Most of the time, they are enjoying just taking the piss.

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