Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Sunday October 26th

I had arranged to do my good deed for the week on Sunday. My mother in law had mentioned that she was going to pay a local ne'er-do-well £100 to clear her garage. I told her that, to save her money, I would borrow one of Adrian's fleet of vehicles and clear the garage for her. I assured her that I would do this 'soon'. After weeks of stalling my MiL, 'soon' had arrived.

Adrian knocked on my door an hour earlier than we'd arranged. Or so I thought. The clocks had gone back in the night, but feeling pleased with myself this year, I had remembered and changed the time on my mobile phone as soon as I had wakened. However, by some witchcraft, it transpired that my phone had already gone back an hour, unassisted, so was now two hours earlier than GMT. How does it know when to do that? In every way my phone amazes me. It photographs, video records, entertains. As my friend Elis pointed out on our Exeter trip, if our grandfather's were alive and saw the things that these tiny devices could do, they would think that we were in league with the devil. (As blog reader's will know, our ancestors' belief that good will ultimately triumph over evil, would have been restored, minutes after that statement, as Satan's box of tricks was to drop a bollock, as it's SatNav lead us, not to the desired comedy venue, but into a residential cul-de-sac.)

Anyway, Adrian arrived (when I was still in my TV underpants), and dropped the keys off to his pick-up. Not wanting to waste time. I threw on some clothes from my DIY collection, and headed out of the door. I then headed back in the door, and checked that the oven and all the switches were off, and headed out the door. I then headed back in the door, to check that the iron, which I had not used, was unplugged, and headed out the door. I then headed back in the door, checked the back door, which I hadn't used, set the alarm and headed out the door. I then locked the door, tested it three times, said aloud 'the door is locked' and got in the pick-up.

Like the rest of Adrian's fleet (two Transit vans, a Toyota saloon and a Mercedes convertible), the pick-up is testament to the short-comings of the British MOT system. Adrian's love of a bargain and gung-ho attitude to all things 'handy', mean that the area surrounding his house is home to vehicles in various states of (dis)repair. Adrian is a keen amateur mechanic and electrician who also, due to his strong faith, has an unshakeable belief in life after death. This is a heady brew. Adrian can often be found driving vehicles that, to the more critical eye, might be deemed 'dangerous'. Indeed, he had previously loaned me another vehicle which, after I had driven it, I deemed to be 'f*cking lethal'. The possibility that Adrian's pick-up would transport me on a one-way journey to meet my maker, who may, or may not, be called Jehovah, was outweighed, in true Welsh style, by the fact that it was free. In fairness to Adrian, the pick-up seemed relatively roadworthy, the only niggles being a drivers' side window that leaked, a drivers' side wing mirror that gave an unimpaired view of the road beneath the door, and a fuel cap that was in every way identical to a piece of folded carrier bag held on with an elastic band. These features made Adrian's pick-up only a distant second in the 'Most Dangerous Pick-Up I Have Loaned For Free' competition.*

On arriving in a Swansea ,with a wet right arm and thigh, following heavy rain, I was pleased to see my wife. I was even more pleased when she informed me that I had missed her mother's breakfast. I was keen to press on, so I backed the truck up to the garage, and opened the up-and-over door. My MiL's garage is not unlike the cauldron described in the Mabinogion, the magical vessel which never empties, no matter how many people are fed from it. I made twelve trips to the Penlan skip in the Micra, in one day, not twelve months ago, to empty my MiL's garage of, what can only be described as, tat. That same garage was now once more filled to the rafters with kipple. (Yes, kipple. Look it up.)

By five in the afternoon I had returned to my MiL's house, after three full truck-loads of unwanted kipple had been deposited in the main Swansea skip. I say unwanted, I mean unwanted by normal people. Skip workers, on the other hand, seem to be genetically predisposed to locate and store items, discarded by others, which they think may be of some value. This 'Junk Gene' is what causes their wild scramble from container to container. There scurrying is invariably rewarded with a pile of broken toasters, Buckaroos, tennis rackets, and so forth, which can be found next to their deck chairs, and which they guard jealously.

Good deed accomplished, I accepted the offer of a ham and cheese sandwich from my MiL, in preference to the alternative, (warmed) bacon in a (dry) bap. This was followed by a too-sweet coffee and a Twix. Replete, I kissed my MiL and headed home to Cardiff to meet my wife, who had already gone ahead in the Micra.

On arriving home I cashed in my Brownie points by letting my wife make dinner, whilst I, thanks to the wonder of Sky+, watched 1 x MotoGP Races, 0.5 x Rugby League matches and 2 x NFL games. I didn't watch the third NFL game as I was taking the pick-up back to Adrian in the morning and had agreed to 'help him out' for the day. I wanted to enjoy the experience fully.

Before bed, I checked the oven knobs, front and back doors and electrical switches (twice), made myself a blackcurrant squash and ate two indigestion tablets.

* My friend Todd's pick-up, located in Calgary, which I drove several times, was considerably more dangerous than Adrian's vehicle. As there is no MOT in Canada, Todd's truck was totally un-roadworthy. It was severely rusted in all the major weight-bearing areas. It had no working instruments or fuel gage. It ran on propane, which was pumped directly into a huge, corroded, tank, welded onto the load-carrying area, just behind the occupants heads. In short, it was like driving a bomb to rugby practice twice a week. I genuinely winced every time I turned the key in the ignition. Still, it was free.

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