It was a normal Thursday evening and we were sitting in the car waiting for my 8 year old to finish football training. “Have you got any food Mum?” said my five year old daughter who despite having demolished two bowls of pasta and a pot of trifle was complaining of being hungry.
“Only the shopping but you have had your tea so you’ll have to wait until we get home,” I said.
She glared at me, but accepted my decree and went back to watching Lego Batman on her Amazon Fire.
At he end of the session I went to collect big brother. I could see the car from the pitch so let little sister stay in the warmth. We were not gone for long. But it was long enough for trouble. I opened the back door and realised that something wasn’t quite right. The car stank of strawberries. And bananas. I looked at my daughter. Her hair was hanging in front of her face like a curtain and her cheeks were shining with sticky, dewy liquid. She was lolling in her car seat drowsily like a baby in a milk coma.
“What have you done?” I asked even though it was obvious. She had climbed into the boot and gone through the shopping, eating two bananas and a punnet of strawberries.
“I told you not to eat any of this.” I said trying to be outraged. Her brother burst into hysterical laughter.
“I was going to make you some strawberries and ice cream at home, but its too late, you have eaten them all.”
“On no Mummy. I didn’t know,” she wailed and immediately started to cry. Her brother enjoyed this immensely – then realised he wouldn’t be having strawberries either. “You are the worst sister ever,” he yelled and began to cry because he was tired, he didn’t score any goals and as it was the end of term and he was generally exhausted. They both cried all the way home. Sigh.
“You know nothing Norm Snow,” I said and called the RAC
Tonight I was driving along the A5 on my way to Milton Keynes to collect my son and his friend from a laser quest party when the lights on the dashboard systematically began to flash
Flash: The ABS is broken
Flash: The VSA light is on (I don’t know what that is)
Flash: The yellow triangle with an exclamation mark on it is flashing. Emergency, emergency it shouted silently.
Flash: The wierd yellow jug thing is alight.
Flash: Flash: Flash: All the lights are flickering.
Excellent. Just what I needed when the mechanic husband was 500 miles away. I checked the dashboard again. The temperature read as normal and there was no smoke coming from the engine so I kept going because I was only about 5 minutes away from the party. As soon as I arrived and parked the car the battery light came on and once the engine was turned off, it would not turn back on.
I called the mechanic husband who talked me though a diagnostic electrical fault finder using an ap on my phone called Torque (Lite). “No Fault Detected” it said. Well that was no help at all. “You know nothing Norm Snow,” I said and called the RAC.
But then I had a brainwave. The party was at the Daytona go-karting track. Where there are cars, there are mechanics and sure enough there was a trainee mechanic on duty (Sam) who kindly came out to take a look. He and fellow parent Paul, quickly worked out that the alternator was failing to charge the battery. This was confirmed 45 minutes later by the RAC mechanic and his gadgets.
By this time there had been approximately 12,000 acts of kindness bestowed upon me by friends from the wonderful Deba who took my 8 year old home with her and her lovely boys; Jorge who waited with me for the RAC to arrive – and put his life at risk as I drove home with just sidelights on to keep the battery going (the RAC van was close behind); Paul who pulled out his jump leads and diagnosed the problem, and Paula who took home my son’s friend (because I was supposed to). The wonderful Wendy who kept my daughter for 18 hours longer than she originally planned to and the lovely Sam who went above and beyond the call of duty to make sure that the RAC were able to sort out the car.
So despite the fact that this is the second car failure I’ve had this month I feel lucky. Lucky to have a lot of lovely friends and a car that might break sometimes but I still have one. Unfortunately I don’t have a tumble dryer and the cash that I had ready to buy a heat pump condenser dryer (more efficient, no vent required), is going to be spent on an alternator and a battery. My dreams of a laundry free living room are on hold.